After watching a friend play Dark Souls 3 earlier this week, I was left with a question: why do we torture ourselves with such difficult games? By all accounts, hard games shouldn’t be fun. They chip away at our confidence with mind-numbing repetition and punishing enemies. They confuse us with complicated mechanics and frustrating level designs. Some games even mock our shortcomings right to our faces. But for some reason, we endure. Our inner sadists rejoice.
Similarly, watching other people play these games is a testament to human empathy. We feel the triumphs and failures just as strongly as if we were experiencing them first-hand. Or maybe we just like seeing other gamers fly into fits of rage. Whatever your reason for watching, here are this week’s #CruxPicks for streamers playing the hardest video games on Twitch.
Every aspect of Getting Over It is designed to make players lose their cool. Equipped with nothing but a sledgehammer, players must grapple with the game’s oversensitive controls and unfair physics, all while being mocked by Foddy’s patronizing commentary. Still, streamers keep coming back to this abusive rage game, seemingly content to test the limits of their patience. Iroh185 is one of them.
Remarkably, Iroh manages to keep a sense of humor while attempting to scale the impossible mountain. Perhaps it’s because the song requests and encouragement from his tight-knit community help distract him from Getting Over It’s infuriating difficulty. Or perhaps he’s simply fueled by the determination to beat the game that caused the demise of his precious gaming chair.
It really doesn’t matter which Dark Souls game you choose - all of them are hard af. The series’ newest installment expands upon character abilities of previous games, but don’t let the improved accessibility of the weapon system lull you into a false sense of security; Dark Souls is harder than ever. Enemies are faster, bosses have multiple stages, and as always, timing is of the utmost importance.
No one understands this better than MissHardmode, a self-proclaimed “Souls nerd.” She’s completed Demon Souls, Bloodborne, and all three Dark Souls games. Aside from the occasional profanities, MissHardmode’s level of calmness when playing Souls games is monk-like, which gives her broadcasts an almost meditative quality. If it weren’t for all the bloodthirsty monsters, that is.
The Binding of Isaac may be an old game, but it still has a solid viewership on Twitch thanks to its replay value. The procedurally-generated levels keep players and viewers on their toes, while the slew of unique items and hidden secrets promise grotesque, darkly comedic moments around every corner. That said, The Binding of Isaac is notoriously hard, and players keep finding ways to make it harder with unofficial challenges.
If you’re after pointers, look no further than seasoned veteran Larsfest, who holds the second-place record for the longest Eden streak of 808 wins. Normally, watching someone play a game on repeat would sound boring, but Larsfest’s affable manner and sagely advice keep streamers engaged. He walks viewers through his strategy while cracking jokes and chatting with followers. Oh, and sometimes he sings.
Before Binding of Isaac, there was Super Meat Boy, a platformer created by the same designers who apparently love to watch us suffer. SMB takes the classic formula for difficulty in a platformer and kicks it up by, like, 10 notches. Players will fail, and they will fail often. But what makes it such a delight to play (and watch) is the fluidity and pacing. Levels are short, and players instantly respawn when they die, making SMB an ideal game for speedruns.
Vorpal is a glutton for punishment, it seems. He regularly streams some of the hardest video games on Twitch, including SMB speedruns. His channel is stripped down to basics, so don’t expect much aside from impressive gameplay and occasional voice commentary. However, when he’s not concentrating on achieving his goal of a 106% run, Vorpal will spare a few minutes to interact with the chat. So, if you appreciate no-frills channels where the games take center stage, Vorpal is your dude.
Do you like nearly impossible boss fights that require you to carefully analyze your enemy’s every move if you want to make even an iota of progress? Cool, then you’ll love Cuphead. Don’t be fooled by the carnivalesque, 1930’s Disney-style animation, because this game is a real pain in the ass. Each stage is more frenetic and menacing than the last, making it difficult to focus on the one thing you need to conquer it: a solid strategy.
Luckily, HotButterToast is an excellent mentor. He’s currently on his second expert playthrough and has plenty of wisdom to bestow upon his followers. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t suffer missteps – he does, and quite a few of them at that. Even so, he’s a pleasure to watch. You can tell he’s thoroughly invested in the game, so his high energy feels genuine and not at all forced. You’ll be right there with him as he celebrates his wins and bemoans his failures.
The Hardest Video Games Reap the Greatest Rewards
So, what is it that keeps us coming back to the hardest video games despite their punishing cruelty? Maybe it’s the unparalleled sense of achievement we feel when we finally beat one. Perhaps it’s our insatiable and innate desire to learn from our mistakes and overcome. Or it could be that we simply can’t stop thinking about besting that one damn boss that keeps annihilating us. Whatever it is, it certainly makes for compelling content. As long as you don’t rage quit first.