There are many games out there that are punishingly difficult, and gamer’s will admit bowing down to without shame. But for every “Dark Souls,” “Ninja Gaiden,” and “Ghosts and Goblins” out there, there is another type of game that is equally challenging, but one that fewer people will admit to being beaten by.
They are games that beat us not with waves of impossible enemies, or random death traps, but instead with complex rules, hours of learning, and serious brainpower requirements. They aren’t games that challenge our reactions, but rather our intellect. Regardless, they provide equally grueling experiences that only the most elite of gamers will ever see the end of (if there even is one).
These are some of the most complicated games of all time.
There are a lot of simulation games out there that cover every topic from Earth to ant colonies. However, as difficult as some of those can be, few are as challenging as “Tropico,” which places you in the role of a dictator over a small island.
What separates “Tropico” from other sim titles is the sheer number of things you have to oversee. There’s a surprising amount of aspects required to rule over a helpless populous, and almost every action in one field can cause horrific and unfixable problems in another, making it almost impossible to keep all the political, social, and economical needs in balance
To be fair, on the easier difficulties, “Tropico” is not much more grating than “SimCity.” Bump that difficulty up to one of the more realistic modes though, and you get a game that’ll have your virtual dictator reaching for his emergency revolver when the peasants come rioting, around the same time you do.
Of all the 4X strategy games that require you to build a world (or universe) expanding empire from virtually nothing, few, if any, have ever dared to be as daunting as “Pax Imperia.”
Latin for imperial peace, “Pax Imperia” charges the player with building the largest empire the universe has ever known. While there may be similar games out there, “Pax” gets the nod due to it coming out at a time (1992) when this concept was foreign to games, and as such “Pax” throws an infinite amount of options at the player, without giving them much of a frame of reference as to how to use even the most crucial elements.
“Pax Imperia” is one of those games you can spend years perfecting your craft at before mastering it. Like many punishing games though, the amount of effort you put into it, is equal to the enjoyment you get out of it.
Rainbow Six: Rouge Spear
You may not associate action games with complexity and, if you’ve only been playing them for the last few years, it’s probably not the word that springs to mind when describing the “Rainbow Six” series either.
However, 1999’s “Rouge Spear” shatters both of those perceptions with its punishing form of strategic team based special operations. Every mission requires you to craft the perfect plan, which can then fall apart in an instant if you don’t flawlessly execute it (and even then, you’ve got little hope). Oh, and the few moments of action are often one shot for a kill (which applies to you and the enemies…but mostly you.)
As frustrating as “Rouge Spear” can be, I actually miss the wait and see approach it took to the shooter genre. If you’ve never played the series’ original games before, give this one a shot if you want to experience a thinking man’s action game.
It’s easy to forget that before “World of Warcraft,” MMO games were among the most daunting and complex of all gaming genres. Of those games, the crown jewel may be “EVE Online.”
“EVE” would be complicated enough on its own as most of the gameplay revolves around navigating a series of really detailed menus and performing hundreds of hours of mundane tasks, but the game’s hardcore players have turned the title into a whole different animal. Trying to jump into “EVE” as a newbie will thrust you into a universe of politics, economics, and caste systems that are as challenging to learn and overcome as any in the real world
“EVE” is not for everyone, and anybody sane will most likely give up on it before even the 20 hour mark. Press on though, and you may find every other game to be to suddenly be too simple.
A theme with the other games on this list is that they eventually reward you for all of your efforts with a one of a kind experience. This is not the case with “Dwarf Fortress.”
Oh sure, somewhere beneath its text based graphics, 90% based on menus gameplay, and learning curve so steep that a publisher of technical manuals created a 238 page illustrated guide that just shows how to get started, is probably a game that provides moments unlike any other, but good luck ever sticking with it long enough to even find the surface to scratch.
“Dwarf Fortress” may be a game about constructing the ultimate stronghold for your gang of dwarves, but its real purpose is to crush souls and make Mensa members feel inadequate. The real kicker? It’s main mode is essentially unwinnable.
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