Games are supposed to be enjoyable, right? Though there’s merit in simulating unattainable adventures and powers in the name of escapism, certain titles are just too damn stressful or anxiety inducing. Perma death? OK, some may get their kicks from it but not I. These aren’t bad games at all, some are great, but they’re not for everybody… like those with heart conditions and blood pressure issues.
Almost cinematic in how nerve-wracking it can be, Alien Isolation is the stressful game by definition and the game play loop centers around the very concept of the fear of being relentlessly hunted. Outwitting a clever AI in creative ways has players sweating and needing to take multiple day breaks in order to even contemplate diving back in.
Frantically trying to juggle refugees, terrorists, feeding your own family, befriending the local guards, and pleasing your boss, all while quickly scanning dozens of different documents is pretty damn stressful. Though, getting it right and entering ‘the zone’ can feel like an almost religious experience.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is just freaking terrifying. A genuine physical reaction to simulated fear on steroids. End of story.
DayZ is a paranoia simulator. The countless threats a player is exposed to at all times is unfathomably hard to stomach even at the best of times: zombies, other players, broken bones, hunger, thirst. It’s like micromanaging the uncontrollable.
Every Single Battle Royale Game
PUBG, Fortnite, Realm Royale. Name your poison. They are all the same. That manic search for loot, constantly checking over your shoulder, 99 other people hunting you down, snipers, campers, a closing circle; the list goes on. All for a brief victory screen. It makes you wonder why people put themselves through it in the first place.
The Last of Us
One word: clickers. Those one-shot-and-you’re-dead monstrosities cause even grown men to quiver in fear at even the mention, let alone hearing their anxiety-inducing squawks. And then there’s the fact every decision has some sort of trade-off so you’re constantly weighing up the pros and cons of every course of action.
FTL: Faster Than Light
First off, Perma-death. Nothing new, but add in the absence of saves and procedural-generation at every turn and things get stressful real quick. Having no conceivable notion of what lies ahead means every decision is made in absolute ignorance. That’s without considering managing a crew, repairs, and finding weapons/shields to help you along the way, well that is if the proc-gen is kind enough to supply them in the first place.