Super Meat Boy
Super Meat Boy came onto the scene back in 2010 and spawned an entire wave of rage-inducing platformers that would test millions of gamers worldwide. It demands of you god-like precision and pixel-perfect timing to advance, and that’s only the first couple of worlds!
Respawns are instantaneous, though, and once you get the hang of things the game becomes at least manageable. Surprisingly, for such a fast-paced game, it is often patience that is the key to success: take things slow and think things through. Otherwise, you are going to end up as just another piece of meat.
Spelunky continues the trend of hair-pulling platformers and takes it a frustrating step further… by making it a rogue-like. Sure, you can open up shortcuts to avoid starting from the very start, but you will often find by skipping those earlier levels you won’t have the resources needed to succeed.
There are devious traps to contend with, and deadly foes lying in ambush. Few things are more upsetting than ruining a great run by accidentally aggroing the shopkeeper… who will pursue you with his shotgun until the end of time.
Hotline Miami 2
Both of the Hotline Miami games are tough, with instant death punishing the slightest mistake, but Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number takes things to a whole new level. Unlike some other games on this list, though, the frustrating design choices definitely don’t feel fair, and in fact, detract from the game as a whole.
This is because of the addition of off-screen gunmen, who will instantly kill you from far out of your field of view. This leads to forced trial and error, and a sense of fairness that wasn’t present in the first game. Not a deal breaker, by any stretch, but these moments may draw some colorful language out of you when things get really tough.
Don’t be distracted by the beautiful artwork and cutesy characters, Cuphead is one of the toughest games around, and you will come to know and loathe some of the later boss encounters in particular.
While the majority are well designed, some rely too much on RNG which can lead to multiple un-earned deaths. I am, of course, referring to King Dice, which may be one of the crueler boss encounters ever devised. You need to cross board to fight him, fighting mini-bosses along the way, and depending on what number is rolled you may even need to start the whole process over again.
And of course, if you reach him, losing the actual fight against King Dice will mean you will need to cross the board again, meaning you are probably going to lose hours of your life trying to proceed, with your very sanity at the mercy of RNGeesus himself.
FTL is a fantastic game, that despite random elements that may infuriate, still remains a joy to play. You see, FTL too is a rogue-like, and you can lose hours due to chance or bad luck, although thanks to some savvy game design, you at least feel like you have learned something along the way.
The problem lies in the random nature of the game. Sometimes you are just going to run into tough foes before you have had a chance to improve your ship sufficiently, or you may find yourself stranded and out of gas. Both of these scenarios occur frequently enough to be painful, but hey, at least the music is soothing enough.
While the majority of Catherine plays out like a semi-interactive visual novel, the actual gameplay that plays out during the main characters dream sequence can be, fittingly, a nightmare. This takes the form of block pushing puzzles of fiendish difficulty, that must be completed under brutal time constraints, even on the easiest difficulty.
The most frustrating aspect of this is the incredibly tight time constraints, and that progress here is mandatory to continue with the story. The strength of Catherine is its story, and it can be incredibly frustrating to find your progress stymied. Stick with it though, as the conclusion is well worth any frustration you might feel.
The Monster Hunter series is a long and storied one, and giant monsters have been frustrating players for more than a decade now. Because of the lengthy process of actually tracking the monster, studying it and following it to its lair, it’s quite easy to see why.
Once you actually engage, its not just your patience that will be tested, but your stamina as well. Hunts are lengthy endeavors, with some lasting almost an hour if your prey manages to escape and recuperate. Few things will cause you as much pain as painstakingly tracking a Rathalos, battling all over the map, only to be ambushed by a Puke Puke and killed before you can strike the final blow.
FromSoftware Games in General
The Souls series, Bloodborne and Sekiro included, are renowned for their difficulty, and it’s a subject I’ve tackled before. Even if you are a seasoned veteran of these titles, chances are these games have given you cause to rage long into the wee hours of the morning.
And while they certainly are tough games, I’ve always found them to be fair, if you are willing to play by the game’s rules. Repetition is something that is encouraged, but I would be lying if I said hadn’t wept tears of frustration over a certain duo that call Anor Londo home.
Sekiro seems to be the pinnacle of this, as many players have expressed frustration over some of the games later boss’s. Time will tell whether it truly is the toughest content the studio has devised, but if Bloodborne’s DLC is anything to go by, there may be worse in store for us yet.