Wednesday, April 27, 2016

6 Video Games Where You Never Feel Safe

In real life, we prefer to feel comfortable and safe most of the time. So why, when we turn on a video game, do we often choose games that are dark and twisted? Think about it: You’ll crank up the A.C. and settle into your groove on the couch, then pick up a controller and grit your teeth as you struggle to take down the slavering monsters that await.
Those are the kinds of games we’re going to focus on here. Games that don’t let you to feel safe. Games that make you play by their rules. Games that put you through the wringer no matter how powerful you are.

Demanding? Yes. Stressful? Yes. Rewarding? Absolutely.

That’s why we play these games. When we face incredible odds and succeed, there’s nothing else like it. We don’t play stressful games because we want to feel threatened all the time. We play them for that feeling when we win.

1. Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 
lets you know you’re never safe very early on. You start out exploring a quaint European village that happens to be populated by zombies. But you were prepared for that; you’ve played this series before.

Soon you hear a distant buzz. A car engine? No, a chainsaw. It gets louder and louder. Suddenly, a man with a bag over his head is rushing at you. You don’t have time to think, let alone raise your gun, before he stomps forward and chops through your neck with a single pitiless strike.

Your head falls to the ground like a cabbage. The screen goes black. Bloody letters appear: “You are dead.” But you already knew that. Welcome to Resident Evil 4.

2. 1001 Spikes

In this game, death is such a constant threat that it’s almost comical. Enemies and traps abound, and you never know what form of death lies in wait when you take another step.

Darts shoot out of walls, spikes impale you from below, the floor crumbles underfoot. There’s no telling what grisly fate awaits the unwary traveler. Often, there’s no way to tell until it’s too late and you’re already dead.

The only solution? Keep trying. 1001 Spikes makes you memorize each level one step at a time in order to assemble a successful run. It’s a jungle out there.

3. Demon’s Souls

The Souls series has become popular enough now that most players know what to expect when they dive in (hint: lots of death). But when Demon’s Souls first launched in 2009, players had little clue what kind of punishments lay in wait.

The game starts you off with a tutorial that climaxes in a small room with a boss roughly 20 times your size. Not only does this monster kill you in one hit, but his health bar stretches across the entire screen.

You don’t realize until it’s too late that you’re supposed to die here. That’s just the type of game this is. After a warm welcome like that, you learn there’s no safety to be found here.

4. Etrian Mystery Dungeon

By and large, older games were more challenging than newer games. Playing the Etrian Odyssey series is like being transported back to a simpler time, when random enemies in role-playing games could be powerful enough wipe out your entire party.

And if you haven’t saved your game in the past hour? There are no autosaves here. You’re going to have to play through that area again. Etrian Mystery Dungeon may look colorful and inviting, but this dungeon-crawling game has teeth, and it doesn’t hesitate to bite.

5. Super Meat Boy

Seeing as you play as a bloody hunk of meat in this game, it’s not all that surprising that your character is vulnerable to nearly everything. In fact, the only things that don’t kill you are the floor and walls.

If you touch one of the zillions of saw blades, missiles, lasers, enemies, salt piles, spikes, or pits, you’re dead meat. There’s no armor. There’s no health bar or power-ups. There’s just a vulnerable little meat boy who has to start over if takes even the smallest scratch.

6. FTL: Faster Than Light

In case you haven’t experienced the terror of interstellar travel before, FTL will get you up to speed on the dozens of things you need to worry about. You’re in charge of all the systems on your ship, including oxygen, fuel, weapons, shields, and personnel.

As you travel through space, you’ll come upon combative aliens who want nothing more than to exterminate you. Any encounter could be your last, so it’s up to you to identify their weaknesses, formulate a plan of action, and carry it out — hopefully before they utterly destroy your ship.

It’s a great game, but it sure does keep you on edge.


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