That fact of the matter is that with video games in today’s age, some developers are opting to mainstream their titles as much as they can in order to satisfy their fans and draw new ones in. This means things like drawn-out tutorials, no consequence for death, and no real challenge. With this streamlining of games, people who have been playing them for a long time should have noticed that they are nowhere near as difficult as they used to be. Some may argue that most games today completely hold the players’ hands and reward them for accomplishing nothing.
Thankfully, there are still modern games out there that provide a challenge. They provide such a challenge, in fact, that they take serious dedication and commitment to beat, and provide no help whatsoever. Want to test yourself? Play one of these games.
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (Playstation 2)
Atlus, the developers of this game, are most known for the Persona series and the surprise hit, Catherine, in North America. A trend with their role playing games is that they are beyond difficult, and this one certainly takes the crown for difficulty. When the apocalypse consumes the world, and demons roam the destroyed streets, only the Demi-Fiend, who the player controls, can determine the fate of the world.
It’s a turn-based RPG with a system like Pokemon. Players must recruit monsters in battle by talking to them and pleasing them with gifts and money. They use these monsters in battle to fight, or they can fuse them with other demons to gain a new form with new skills. It’s an intricate system that many people won’t get to enjoy, which is a shame, because the story is mature and it’s loads of fun. Many won’t enjoy it because it’s rare to find and it breaks the player. Grinding for experience, maintaining the right combination of monsters, and having blind luck are all needed to survive this game. If the main character goes down, it’s game over. You have no chance to revive him with another party member, so the pressure is always on to keep him safe. But with one unlucky death spell or critical hit to take him out, even in random battles, expect to see the ‘game over’ screen frequently.
The Binding of Isaac (PC)
A mother’s love turns into pure delusion, and so Isaac must escape into his basement in order to run from his deranged mother, who is after him because she feels that God has told her to kill her son. What comes next is an insanely metaphoric trip through Hell. Issac traverses through dungeons similar to the dungeon style of the original Legend of Zelda and must collect power-ups to take down his foes.
Where it gets interesting is that every enemy is a Biblical reference, a manifestation of Isaac’s horrible childhood, or a manifestation of his inner demons, and the majority of them are grotesque. The power-ups Isaac collects deforms his body in nasty ways, and Isaac shoots projectile tears to take his foes down. It’s something that has to be seen to appreciate the pure disgusting beauty behind it.
The catch is that every single game is random, and this means EVERYTHING is random. While the game is hard enough, especially due to a lack of health pick-ups, more often than not, the player will find the utmost useless items and perish because they couldn’t accomplish anything. What’s worse is that there is no saving, and when you die, it’s game over for good and you must start again from scratch. A full round should only take about one and a half hours, but considering the amount of times you’ll die and how many times you have to beat the game in order to get the real endings, expect to rage-quit easily. This game is definitely not for the feint of heart, or patience.
Super Meat Boy (XBLA/PSN/PC)
For those looking to test their precision, look no further than this title. SMB is a platformer, meaning players must jump around and navigate a level and reach the end. The premise is that Dr. Fetus has kidnapped Meat Boy’s girlfriend, Bandage Girl. Meat Boy sets out to save her. But this game is all about the journey. It starts off easy enough, and soon turns into a nightmare, especially for those who aim to complete the full game.
Absolute precision and timing are needed for this title, and players will be tested. Expect deaths to reach the thousands. The game is all about the satisfaction of beating a level you just thought you wouldn’t be able to do. It’s grueling, and some levels can have you stuck for hours. Thankfully, respawning in a level takes a fraction of a second, or else it would be unbearable. Considering the plethora of characters to unlock – which all have different gameplay mechanics – and the secret levels to find, SMB is one game that thoroughly rewards players for taking a challenge head on.
Dark Souls (Xbox 360/ Playstation 3/PC)
Another Atlus title and perhaps the most recognizable title on the list, Dark Souls has infuriated many gamers worldwide, and for good reason. Don’t expect any help in this title, because you won’t get any whatsoever. This adventure RPG will crush your self-esteem with video games when it rends you asunder. Any enemy in the game can take you down with relative ease, and expect to go down often. When you die, you respawn at a save point, but lose all of your spare experience and humanity points, unless you can make it back to where you died and collect your belongings. If you can’t, all of that is gone, which can translate to many hours of hard work gone in a single hit from something you just didn’t quite expect.
What makes the game even more difficult is that other players have the ability to ruin your life. If you play online, players can intrude in on your game and kill you and take your belongings. They can even leave hints on the floor that can help or hinder you. Find a hint left by a complete sociopath and you’ll find yourself cursing the being who made this vile person who gave you false information. Expect plenty of tension, something modern games aren’t able to do so well anymore.
Braid’s difficulty comes in the form of its meticulously crafted puzzles. Tim, who the player controls, sets off on a quest to find the princess, and to explain any more of the plot would be a massive spoiler. But Tim has the ability to rewind time, which allows for the correction of mistakes. Soon, many more intricate mechanics are introduced, culminating in some mind-shattering puzzles that take some deep thinking to pull off. While the game isn’t terribly difficult, with the exception of certain levels, which can leave players stumped for quite some time, getting the actual ending to the game is.
There are stars located in the game that can be collected. When all of them are collected and brought to the final level, it gives the actual ending to the game. Finding these stars on your own is beyond difficult. They are hidden so well that obtaining even one can be considered an accomplishment. Finding all of them though? Good luck with that.
Tim Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.