Some people play games to escape the stress of everyday life, but for others stress is part of the appeal. We’ve already featured PC’s most relaxing games, but what about its most stressful? Here are some nerve-shredding contenders.
Stress is a vital part of Souls’ dark magic. Knowing that death lies around every corner, and that it has genuine consequences, adds a sweat-inducing tension to every enemy encounter. If at first you don’t succeed, die, die, and die again.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
The shadowy candlelit halls of Brennenburg Castle make for a haunting setting. The presence of the creature is bad enough, but managing your lamp’s ever-dwindling oil and your fragile ‘sanity’ meter only add to the stressful turmoil.
This infamous shoot-’em-up by genre masters Treasure was recently released on PC, and enduring its hectic, challenging levels will test the steeliest of nerves. It’s worth it, though, because finally beating a level feels amazing.
The combat is the weakest part of Remedy horror Alan Wake, but it does a great job of stressing you out. Its shadowy enemies circle and flank you as you fight them, and keeping track of them is difficult in the dark, foggy environments.
Minecraft can be quite serene by day, but when night falls and those pesky Creepers start loitering around things you’ve spent hours creating, your nerves begin to fray. You’re better off just hiding in a hole and waiting patiently for sunrise.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead revels in making you feel stressed, by constantly throwing split-second decisions at you, some of which can cruelly decide the fate of characters you’ve grown attached to. Being invested in the story adds weight to every choice.
Silent Hill 2
Most horror games go for cheap scares, but this is a masterclass in slow, gnawing terror. Whether it’s your eerie pyramid-headed stalker or cockroach-like creatures suddenly scuttling out of the dark, SH2 is not for the easily riled.
Papers, Please brings the horror of bureaucracy to your PC. As a border guard you have to deal with terrorist attacks, spies, refugees, and a strict rule book, and any mistakes can result in the death of your entire family. No pressure.
You’ve found a gun, you’ve got a bag full of beans, and you’re warm, dry, and well-fed. You should feel relaxed, but now you’re a target for other every player on the server. Even suicidal fist-swinging bambis can undo all your hard work.
Another World is a brutal platformer that uses rotoscoped animation, as made famous by the Prince of Persia games. Every screen presents a puzzle-like platforming challenge that requires maddeningly precise timing and dexterity.
Call of Duty
Pick any of them. Playing Call of Duty online, for most people, involves repeatedly dying at the hands of some dick with double shotguns, who then insults your mother in a squeaky voice. Not always, obviously. But often.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
While The Walking Dead uses characters the developers wrote to make their impending deaths a source of stress, XCOM does it with characters you’ve made yourself. To this day I’m still sad about my poor, dead veteran sniper. Sniff.
Our game of the year in 2014, and one of the most insanely stressful horror games I’ve ever played. Creeping through Sevastopol and never knowing when Giger’s beast is going to emerge from the darkness… man. I need a lie down.
Valve’s ultra-competitive MOBA (well, whatever you want to call it) is stressful whether you’re a seasoned thousand-hour veteran or a dumb newbie embarrassing yourself in the lanes. One bad play or dumb mistake can cost you a match.
Super Meat Boy
The Dark Souls of 2D platformers, Super Meat Boy’s levels get increasingly more difficult until your nerves are as raw and bloody as its meat-based hero. And the more stressed you get, the worse you play. It’s a vicious cycle, man.