Stock up on chill pills!
Some of these games are difficult from beginning to end. Some merely include an insanely frustrating sequence or gameplay element. But all of the following titles will make you want to pound the desk, break something, or maybe even scream loud enough to wake up the block.
But you know what you won't end up doing? You won't quit the game.
It's a love/hate relationship. Get used to it.
And with that, we start our tour through self-flagellation with a little indie game that will have you restarting again and again ... and again and again. And again.
FTL: Faster Than Light
You've done every preflight check imaginable. You're outfitted to the teeth with the best weapons, crew, and technology. You're confident that your strategies as a space captain are flawless. Then you warp into a supernova guarded by hostile drones, and everything goes to hell. Time to start over!
FTL is one of those games that you can (and will) fail at a hundred times in a hundred different ways, yet you'll still feel the need to return for more. It's one of those rare games where even failure can be fun.
Read our full review of FTL.
Too many games turn us into needy, privileged softies. They tightly hold our hands with excessive directions, tips, and combat assistance. But Dark Souls throws all of that under the fire-breathing bus, and showers players with tough love.
Dungeons are littered with traps that are exceedingly difficult to detect. It's only when you burst into flames or are instantly crushed that you begin to connect the dots. Watch your step!
Making mistakes and learning from them is probably the most fun part of the game. You begin to feel yourself level up as you become hyperaware of your surroundings. Make it through these trials, and you'll be stronger for the wear and tear.
Read our full review.
When you start bending the laws of time, space, and physics, things tend to get tough.
Generally we recommend Braid any chance we get, but this may be the most appropriate time to bring up the cryptic storyline and ever-changing gameplay mechanics that will leave you literally rewinding and dying time and time again.
Sure, it will take a little extra time and a lot of extra brainpower to beat Braid, but upon completion you should expect an Ivy League diploma in the mail.
What is there to say about any zombie apocalypse? It's always difficult to survive! You will find death—and believe us, death will find you in this zombified mod for the military sim Arma 2.
You start with nothing in a zombie wasteland where you have to scavenge for food, tools, and weapons. Just be careful, because your fellow survivors are looking out for themselves and won't bat an eye if they have to kill you for a can of beans. Congrats! You get to start over with—you guessed it—nothing.
Despite the difficulty and learning curve, the mod is fun and addictive. We guarantee that you won't quit roaming the hills of Chernarus after your first death.
Check out our review of the mod!
QWOP is probably the most stupid time-waster on the Internet, but it's also a ton of fun—if you can control your urge to throw your keyboard out the window.
In a nutshell, you control a runner's thighs and calves in the 100-meter dash by using the letters Q, W, O, and P. Sound easy? It isn't. The moment you press any of those keys, you'll realize how ridiculously tough this game is.
Your average distance before hitting the dirt or flipping over backward will be in the single digits. Scream and yell all you want. You know you're having fun.
Best of all, it's free and available to play right now. Go get good and frustrated!
Super Meat Boy
Let's return to the days of challenging side-scrollers and high scores—back when being better actually meant something, and you were known only by your initials at the arcade. Super Meat Boy is the game to prove your worth ... by those standards, at least.
Take control of a slippery, slidey boy o' meat as you navigate past grinders, cliffs, and other dangerous obstacles. You'll need a quick thumb and precise timing, or maybe the patience of a saint and some anger management will do.
When you finally complete a level and drop your controller in exasperation (we recommend a gamepad controller), you get to enjoy watching every one of your deaths play out simultaneously. Sometimes there are hundreds at a time. Wow.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
You're going to find yourself in dire situations. You're going to wish for an easy way out. But when it comes to kicking alien butt, it all comes down to tactics, determination, and a little luck.
Assembling a squad to take on the alien menace is the easy part. Then you have to outfit your people with top-of-the-line gear and skills, and proceed to killing the baddies—permanently.
If you play XCOM: Enemy Unknown correctly, you won't be restarting, no matter how bad it gets. You have to rely on your own resourcefulness to escape tight situations, or simply face "Game Over." Yes, it can be frustrating, but it's damn rewarding when you succeed.
Check out our full XCOM: Enemy Unknown review!
If you have only 30 to 40 seconds of free time and your patience is still intact, fire up Super Hexagon.
You navigate a small triangle through a moving maze of walls that constantly shift and switch directions. Touch a wall, and the game is over. You can consider yourself a winner if you last 60 seconds. That's it!
The music and spinning visuals make for a dangerously hypnotic experience that you'll find yourself slaving over for hours. Check out the trailer to get a taste—but stock up on some eyedrops, because you'll need them.
This groundbreaking puzzle game is beloved for its humorous writing, top-quality voice acting, and innovative gameplay. But it also provides irresistible, pull-your-hair-out frustrations.
Using your “portal gun,” you manipulate time and space to enter seemingly inaccessible chambers. Whether you're taking the solo route or teaming up with a buddy, the challenges will keep you scratching your head.
League of Legends
If you're looking for a fun, free, and frustrating game to sink some time into, look no further than League of Legends. Part MMO, part real-time strategy, it's tough to learn and even tougher to master.
Because the game relies so heavily on teamwork, joining in as a new player is a daunting task. Get ready to enroll in the school of hard knocks, as veteran players will certainly let you know what you're doing wrong. But once you get past the hazing period and learn a few tactics, you too will love the intricate play styles of each hero (there are a ton) and the elation of team victory.
Cart Life puts you into the shoes of a self-employed street vendor, and explores the difficult life that comes with the job. The free version of this monochrome side-scroller lets you play as either a coffee vendor or a newspaper vendor, and each character has its own set of work challenges and personal demons to deal with. Take on their addictions, responsibilities, and hopes to make an honest living. Gamer, meet real life.
Despite its dark and dreary theme, the game is an interesting take on the working-class rat race, and all that's required to scrape by.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead isn't frustrating in a gameplay or difficulty sense. It's a straightforward point-and-click adventure that only occasionally tests your brainpower and reflexes. No, it's the sublime storytelling and events left out of your control that will leave you with sadness and frustration—but we wouldn't want it any other way.
When you finally begin to trust (and even like) your fellow survivors, that's when all hell breaks loose. Anyone could die, get hurt, abandon you, or lose something of great value, and most often it's beyond your control. There is no god mode. You're just an average Joe trying to maintain some semblance of society as it comes crashing down around you.
Find out why you should play at least episode 1.
13 PC technologies that need to disappear, stat!
So you've played through all these games and are ready to do some real smashing. Why not choose one of these fine PC technologies that need to get the boot?
Click here to check out the slideshow, and get inspired to kick some tech butt.
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