As the medium has become more commercialized, the difficulty of video games has definitely softened in recent years. In the name of profit, developers and publishers today certainly seem more interested in creating more player friendly experiences to encourage accessibility.
Games of old forced you to explore and discover, to learn attack patterns and experiment with strategy. But now, waypoints, pop up hints and difficulty sliders all but walk us through too many gaming experiences without ever resorting to trial and error. Certainly, this makes for less frustration and a more cohesive narrative experience, but it also removes much of the satisfaction and sense of achievement in beating a game.
There was a time when all video games were difficult. Many titles of the NES/SNES era were merciless in their hardship, providing little in the way of guidance and torturing gamers with relentless waves of enemies that make today’s video gaming adversaries look like fluffy bunnies by comparison. Cheap deaths, absurdly obscure puzzles, ludicrously lengthy passwords, and a total lack of save points had players tearing their hair out and smashing controllers on the floor.
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Of course, not driving people insane with ridiculously hard game design was probably a smart move on the part of developers, but highly difficult games are now making a comeback. The Souls series has been reputed for its challenging gameplay ever since it first debuted back in 2011. Since that time, we’ve seen a host of new IPs imitate that same emphasis on punishing difficulty. It’s almost become a sub-genre, enjoyed by people who relish in the satisfaction of beating tough game design.
Dark Souls III is the latest entry in this renaissance of challenging titles and is revered as a game only to be attempted by the bravest and most skilled. That being said, the games listed in this article are even more unforgiving and would no doubt turn even the hardiest Souls veteran into an aggravated mess after attempting their brutally tough level design.