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Gabe Hawkins
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What is the most challenging game you've ever played? Did you enjoy it? How challenging do you like your games to be?
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p55carroll
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I couldn't say for sure. When a game gets too challenging for me, I get frustrated; and if I'm frustrated frequently, I abandon the game. Up to that point, however, I might enjoy the game overall.

Some games, like SpaceChem, are just too starkly challenging for me. I tried to get into that, and I probably would have continued if my little successes had kept leading to more little successes. But before I knew it I was having to work my brain to the max, and sometimes even that wasn't enough. Too much work for me.

The most challenging classic game I've ever played might be Checkers, which many people mistakenly believe is an easy game. I've managed to become an advanced novice, at least, in chess and go, but I'm still a beginner at checkers.

A challenging strategy video game I've pretty much abandoned (or at least set aside indefinitely) is Imperialism. It's a beautiful game design, and many of its features appeal to me, but it's just too hard for me at anything beyond a tutorial level. It'd take a tremendous amount of work for me to get the hang of that game and become a half-competent player.

Games I continue to play and enjoy, despite their being too challenging for me sometimes, include Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword and Age of Wonders III: Eternal Lords. On lower difficulty levels, they're great fun for me and very satisfying. On higher levels they have me tearing my hair out.

Some of the fights in Baldur's Gate have been nearly impossible for me, to the point of making me want to abandon the game. I nearly gave up in Durlag's Tower in the first game, and I think I'm going to avoid Watcher's Keep in the third, as I've already run into an encounter I can't handle.

I love challenge in a game, but I greatly prefer to be hand-held and walked gently through the challenge. I hate being thrown into the deep end and told to swim.

That's why I've taken to playing RPGs only with walkthroughs. I'm too easily discouraged otherwise; when I get stumped, I'm out. Ideally, in any game I play, I'd like to have an expert mentor to help me through tight spots--to give me just the hints or nudges I need whenever I need them. Then I'd be free to play my own way without running into dead ends or disasters all the time, and I'd probably learn faster too.

Even with a mentor, though, I don't think I'd like truly tough fights--games, or parts of games, that require tremendous speed and precision on top of a great deal of know-how and tenacity. Such situations are so tense that I only end up exhausted and relieved, not satisfied.

Finally, the type of challenge matters. For example, I'm much more interested in learning to manage a big, complex enterprise than in learning to solve specific puzzles or develop speed and dexterity.
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Geoffrey Burrell
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Raid On Bungeling Bay. I couldn't figure this game out for some reason.
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John Middleton
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I never figured out how to get out of the first hole...
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Super Ghouls N' Ghost (SNES)
You need to beat the game twice.

The 2nd time around, you need to obtain a weapon that's now available, beat the last level with it, where it'll THEN grant you access to "the actual final boss".

This alone isn't too bad, but the game is typically unforgiving, so that doesn't help (or does, depending on how you look at it).

ADDITION: Also, while that "2nd time around weapon" is powerful, it has NO magic/spell counterpart. That right there sets you back some.

ADDITION2: back then, action games like this usually didn't have a save mode, so you had to play it all through in one sitting. The younger me would've been fine with this, but not sure how I'd fare this day in age doing that same thing.
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Joerg Schaefer
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I try to play nothing which is too difficult for me to beat. Life is frustrating enough.

The most difficult game I recently played and which is my benchmark whether I want to play something, is Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship. Anything harder than this and I pass.

What annoys me without end are games that mostly aren't too difficult but have difficulty spikes that force me to give up like Hand of Fate .
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Anything in the Battle Royale genre. I've tried to get into four different games but I just don't have the time/inclination to "git gud." You start out sucky and have to lose and lose and lose until you get good enough to lose marginally less badly. I play three matches and I'm like "those were fun losses, time to go work on my Wurm Unlimited village until I pass out."
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Kyle
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More recently, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished, Ys Origin, & Kingdom Hearts had some really frustrating bosses/sections.

In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time I was really just frustration with some of the camera angles and trying to get through later fights with button mashing - not really the type of challenge I enjoy. Actually, all the above experienced similar frustration during certain boss fights. This is why I prefer turn-based games.

I guess Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines was a good challenge. At least that one let me save pretty much whenever/wherever I liked (including several times vs The Chang Brothers). The You Only Die Once a Night quest is practically impossible, though; I tried to finish it several times.

I like when there are clever strategies for boss fights to figure out, but I guess don't like them to be too challenging; I'm not really in it for the challenge. I don't mind dying to a boss a few times or something (and then looking up a strategy), but if you can't continue after a certain point, it gets really disheartening (I'm looking at you, Final Fantasy VIII). If I'm having trouble, I've taken to looking up speedrun strats because really, I'm here for the story and don't have time to waste on repeatedly failing a fight/section.
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Krzysztof Zięba
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Played, or completed?

Played would probably be Super Hexagon or Furi.

Completed - Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is probably the one I would point to, or maybe Rayman Origins on account of its last two stages (and not even the actual last stage, I gave that one a hard pass).
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Simon Woodward
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Define "played". I played a couple of hours of Dark Souls. Managed to get to the Taurus Demon once. Very repetitive and little margin for error.

Generally I like to feel a sense of progress in a game, which mean not getting stuck, or repeating something a lot. So I'll dial down the difficulty if I'm dying too much. Or abandon the game if this strategy doesn't work. I generally start on "Normal" though.

I did complete Mass Effect 3 on the hardest difficulty. Wasn't actually very hard.

I beat all the bosses (including DLC) in Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012). One in particular was fairly challenging. But you can level up by changing and upgrading cars. The griding/level up system is pretty clever for making hard games manageable.

I almost completed Final Fantasy X, some of those fights were a bit challenging.

Since a few people have mentioned it, I've beaten Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time a couple of times, but I don't think of it as particularly tough. A couple of the fights were tough the first time through, is all.
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The most challenging game I've ever played is Ancient Domains of Mystery which took me a little over 20 years to beat, as I played on the default mode, which allows only one save per character, which is deleted if that character dies.

I prefer challenging games, but not games that are pure reflex / reaction time challenges, or rhythm challenges; I'm awful at both of those things and know it. So, for example, I will never play Cloudberry Kingdom on its more difficult settings.
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Lord_Kristof wrote:
Played, or completed?


manukajoe wrote:
Define "played".


Come on guys, a game that you've "played"

More seriously, these questions are open ended, always. Take it wherever you want. I was thinking any game you spent any amount of time with, so 10 minutes or 10 hours. But hearing about ones you've beaten is interesting as well!
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ghostpants wrote:

Come on guys, a game that you've "played"


Well, I don't think this question is without merit! What's the more difficult game, one that I've played for two minutes and abandoned in a fit of rage (Super Hexagon) or the one I stuck with and almost lost my mind trying to beat (Rayman Origins)?
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Lord_Kristof wrote:
ghostpants wrote:

Come on guys, a game that you've "played"


Well, I don't think this question is without merit! What's the more difficult game, one that I've played for two minutes and abandoned in a fit of rage (Super Hexagon) or the one I stuck with and almost lost my mind trying to beat (Rayman Origins)?


That would be for you guys to decide! lol
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p55carroll
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Lord_Kristof wrote:
ghostpants wrote:

Come on guys, a game that you've "played"

Well, I don't think this question is without merit! What's the more difficult game, one that I've played for two minutes and abandoned in a fit of rage (Super Hexagon) or the one I stuck with and almost lost my mind trying to beat (Rayman Origins)?

You could be like me and comment on both experiences, then go on to flesh out a short essay on the topic.

(No, don't do that. One "tl;dr" person at a time is enough.)
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Lauren Allbritain
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I've played several challenging games and abandoned them because they were too hard. The most challenging game I have completed (not 100%, 84%, it was that frustrating) was Wallace & Gromit in Project Zoo. I kept dying in pits. I rarely died from enemies, I seem to recall that there were relatively few enemies in that game, a lot more pits. I skipped pretty much every bonus level; they were so hard, and they had no save points!
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Ghosts N' Goblins and Super Ghouls n Ghosts are both regarded as being particularly unforgiving. I have played both but not gotten far at all.

Interesting to see Rayman Origins listed here several times, I did beat that one. Certainly the Land of the Livid Dead was beyond my ability. But I personally don't consider that necessary to get through to consider it beaten.

Some other games I found difficult and managed to beat:

Ori and the Blind Forest
Shovel Knight
Mega Man X
Cave Story

I got to the final boss on Viewtiful Joe and gave up there. It was pretty tough.
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Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. H.G. Wells
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manukajoe wrote:
Since a few people have mentioned it, I've beaten Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time a couple of times, but I don't think of it as particularly tough. A couple of the fights were tough the first time through, is all.


I gave up on that game early along. I found it quite difficult and coupled with the fact I wasn't enjoying it I had no reason to improve.
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I keep thinking to myself, "why is this question so hard to answer??"

I suppose partly because if I enjoy a challenging game, it almost inevitably begins to feel less challenging as I grow more and more proficient. I know that Demon's Souls is hard, but don't think of it as frustrating or unfair, and I mostly remember my efforts working rather than not working.

I know that there are games I played when I was still very young, where my age and inexperience still shape I feel about them. Dragon Quest II is a very difficult game by most accounts, and I remember thinking it was hard. But I don't have any real sense of how I would feel about it now, and it also seems moot, as the early Dragon Quest games don't seem all that fun to me irrespective of their difficulty.

If I think of the recent past, it was very difficult to clear Breach Mode in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, but that's because the developer used it almost as a way to hoodwink their own publisher (essentially by keeping microtransactions away from the main campaign). Breach mode has a lot of fun ideas, but is designed to be very unforgiving so as to force the user into spending real money. I finished it without doing so, but was aware the whole time that I was teetering on the edge of a cliff.
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JohnRayJr wrote:
I suppose partly because if I enjoy a challenging game, it almost inevitably begins to feel less challenging as I grow more and more proficient.


Yeah, I generally don't even play truly difficult games because I know they are far beyond my capabilities. Like there are games as difficult as Rayman Origins or Ori and the Blind Forest only instead of dying and immediately respawning in the same section as with those two games if you die you have to begin again from the start of the game.
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Ryan Ahr
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Probably Dead Cells. It's a Rogue-like, but the core game play and even the name are a nod to Dark Souls. On top of that, it adds a metroidvania element to it that's crucial for finding decent gear with which to take on the games extremely difficult end game areas. The thing is, beating stages quickly also nets great rewards so...trying to find your play style and getting it to work are just the start of what you face in that game.
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Dark Souls as my very first Soulsborniro game was probably the most challenging game I've played, and that's why I keep coming back to that genre (and company).

I fell in love with the idea that I would actually have to develop some skills to make progress, and that every major chapter of the game required new skills. (And then, after getting to the final boss, discovering that there were universally useful skills that I had completely neglected the first time through, like parrying!)

I think some of the Megaman titles might qualify, but I never went very far in any of them after the first one so I can't really count them on my list.
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