Suggest a hard single player game
November 7, 2022 2:13 PM   Subscribe

My 17 year old wants some game recommendations. He wants something hard, prefers single player for PC, Switch or (less preferred) Xbox. Ideally not a 3D game. Ideally he’d like something with a vibe like Bloodborne or Blasphemous or Inscryption. A good story is a plus but not necessary.

Games he likes: all the FromSoftware games, Hollow Knight, Slay the Spire, Enter the Gungeon, Celeste, Risk of Rain 2, Hades, Dead Cells, NieR:Automata, Salt and Sanctuary, Inscryption, Escape from Tarkov (not so much for the gunfights as for the difficulty and the gritty realism). And also Smash and Red Dead Redemption, though he says those are pretty different from the other games he’s listed, which could be confusing.

Games he has tried and doesn’t like or feels sure he wouldn’t like based on watching gameplay: Cuphead, Darkest Dungeon, The Binding of Isaac (even though it matches all his criteria), Risk of Rain 1, Salt and Sacrifice, Mortal Shell, NieR Replicant.

What do you suggest?
posted by Redstart to Computers & Internet (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Another one I forgot to mention in the dislike list: Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy
posted by Redstart at 2:19 PM on November 7, 2022

Best answer: Here are a few suggestions, all available for PC on steam:

Hyper Light Drifter
Nuclear Throne
Rogue Legacy 1 or 2
Katana Zero
Ori and the Blind Forest 1 or 2
Dungeon of the ENDLESS
Axiom Verge
Cave story
Hotline Miami

These represent a pretty wide selection of genres and difficulties, but I think they are in line with the games you listed. My top pick is probably Hyper Light Drifter since I think it really nails it as a 2D the invokes the feeling of playing a Fromsoft game even though the gameplay is totally different.
posted by axlan at 2:29 PM on November 7, 2022 [6 favorites]

Well, he's already on board with a lot of what I was going to suggest, but if he likes Celeste he might enjoy Super Meat Boy, which is another extremely hard platformer.

Maybe Metroid Dread, although I'm less confident about that one.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:29 PM on November 7, 2022

Out of left field: Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. It's a long-running favorite, free (and open source) online play in a web browser and offline play on any platform. Definitely hard, several decent online communities for it, and they update it with new content regularly.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:57 PM on November 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

Bayonetta 1 and 2!
posted by billjings at 2:57 PM on November 7, 2022

Into the Breach can be quite difficult, but it is turn-based and more puzzle-like.

Seconding Furi and Dungeon of the Endless, but the latter is also (mostly) turn-based. Furi is the "only the boss fights" of games.
posted by meowzilla at 3:30 PM on November 7, 2022

Hardest game I've played in the last year is definitely Sifu. I completely gave up, and I love almost all the games you list. It is 3D but not too complex/graphics-intensive.

Metroid Dread was great, very fluid and fun to play with good challenge.

Phoenotopia: Awakening was a good metroidvania/adventure game. A little more on the platforming side but lots of challenges.

Lots of bangers on Axlan's list, HLD is definitely a top pick.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:36 PM on November 7, 2022

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, the Castlevania-with-the-serial-numbers-filed-off from Koji Igarashi, the genius behind Symphony of the Night, is available for (at least) PC and Switch, and I found it tough enough that I didn’t beat it.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 4:06 PM on November 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

My partner played Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. He said it was hard because the penalty for dying was really steep (lots of lost money, and XP, maybe also some gear?). I don't know that he ever beat the final boss.

If that definition of "hard" sounds good to your kiddo :)
posted by tinydancer at 4:24 PM on November 7, 2022

Monster Train - similar feel to Slay the Spire. Another good one in this genre is "FTL: Faster Than Light", but it has a pretty different look and feel.

Rain World - similar look and feel to Hollow Knight, with a big focus on coherent ecosystems and meaningful (but not permanent) death
posted by Phssthpok at 4:59 PM on November 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

if hard is what he’s after, he should try Super Meat Boy
posted by dis_integration at 5:13 PM on November 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Muahahahaha, NetHack - Wikipedia. There are 2d graphical implementations. OMG people have spent decades and decades and decades on this game, they've thought of almost everything.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:30 PM on November 7, 2022

Castle in the Darkness
Hyper Light Drifter (x1000)
posted by wellifyouinsist at 6:18 PM on November 7, 2022

He wants a hard single player game? He likes Slay the Spire? Can he handle lousy graphics? If so, he has hundreds of addictive hours of gameplay ahead of him with Dream Quest. It is impossible to overstate how fun, addictive, and influential Dream Quest is. I'm not joking. I know many people discard the game out of hand because of the graphics. They're missing out.

Dream Quest invented the rogue-like deckbuilder. It inspired Slay the Spire. The developer (Peter Whalen) went on to work for Blizzard's Hearthstone, where he was responsible for some of the game's most iconic cards and the much-loved Dungeon Run mode of the Catacombs & Kobolds expansion. Dungeon Run, in turn, inspired its own full-fledged Hearthstone game mode: Duels.

All this is to say that although most people have never heard of Dream Quest, and many who have heard of it refuse to play it because Whalen did the graphics himself, it's a damn fine game — one of my faves of all time and I've been a gamer for more than 40 years! — and it is super, super difficult. The ultimate aim is to unlock everything through gameplay on the most difficult mode (velociraptor) without buying a single unlock. This can take hundreds of (sometimes frustrating) hours, but it's so rewarding. Highly recommend this, and suspect your kid might enjoy it if he gives it a chance.
posted by jdroth at 7:41 PM on November 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

FTL is a terrific pausable realtime space roguelike. It's an oldie but goodie.

I found it compelling and challenging and it was a super fun game to get better at, it really does a great job teaching you how to play.
posted by Sauce Trough at 9:10 PM on November 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Second Nethack and DCSS. They're kind of flip sides of each other -- they're the same genre (traditional roguelike) but take pretty opposite design philosophies. I've beaten Nethack; can't say the same for DCSS.

Also second Spelunky (and its sequel). They look cute, but they're fiendishly difficult (albeit very well-designed). I do pretty well at Spelunky 1 (after dozens of hours of trying) but Spelunky 2 seems designed for people who thought S1 was too easy...

Along similar lines, I really enjoy Downwell, which is clearly Spelunky-inspired. Not quite as tricky but it's very inexpensive, and available on basically every platform.

Also, an obligatory plug for Prey (the 2017 one, not the 2006 one), which is one of my all-time favorites. Very immersive, great atmosphere/setting, and not for the faint of heart. Arkane's other games (the Dishonored series, Deathloop) are also well worth a look.

(as a huge FromSoftware fan, I gotta say: your kid has some good taste! Bloodborne is basically my favorite game ever.)
posted by neckro23 at 10:26 PM on November 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

+1 for Spelunky. Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy is also worth a look -- it's much simpler mechanically than most of these games but scratches the same "overcoming frustrating obstacles" itch.
posted by panic at 10:33 PM on November 7, 2022

Oh, never mind on the Getting Over It recommendation -- just saw your comment!
posted by panic at 10:33 PM on November 7, 2022

The two Nioh games (Nioh 1 / Nioh 2) should be up his alley. They're strongly inspired by Fromsoft games, but they ramp up the complexity of the combat systems fairly significantly. They've got some of the same grimy, bloody feel of Bloodborne. Not quite up to the same quality, but nothing really is!
posted by dudekiller at 1:11 AM on November 8, 2022

There are so many great games here. I'm just adding Dwarf Fortress to the pile.
posted by cCranium at 10:51 AM on November 8, 2022

I'm not sure if Dwarf Fortress fits. It's free so it's easy to look into but it's also hugely complex and takes many people several hours of research (e.g., watching YouTube videos, reading guides) just to get started. There is a paid version coming to Steam next month that will include (for the first time) a tutorial so it may be worth holding off until then.

If your child has any interest in simulations, RimWorld is a more accessible game heavily inspired by Dwarf Fortress. It has a lot of depth, particularly in the hundreds of mods that are freely available. It's definitely one of those games that sometimes I'll fire up on a weekend and just enjoyably lose many hours directing my merry band of misfit survivors.
posted by ElKevbo at 4:46 PM on November 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

Your son's taste matches mine pretty well. I would wholeheartedly second FTL and Spelunky (would probably start on the Spelunky 2 at this point)
posted by Ned G at 8:16 AM on November 9, 2022

Wolfenstein 2 (this is old though), Elden Ring, Sekiro, Hotline Miami 2 (possibly harder than the first).

I'm sure he will have heard of Elden Ring and Sekiro - they're FromSoft games.

Recommendations are from someone I know who has played a lot of FromSoft games.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 9:49 AM on November 9, 2022

Yeah, +1 for Rimworld over Dwarf Fortress, just on the accessibility factor and the much less vertical learning curve.

If your kid likes games that have emergent story and character, then Rimworld (or DF) are great choices. That's the magic bit of those games, how these super random super rich environments produce memorable fictional experiences.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:10 AM on November 9, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions! So far he has tried and finished Katana Zero and he said it was really good.
posted by Redstart at 11:49 AM on November 10, 2022

« Older Last ditch donations   |   Is a wool mattress topper worth it? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments