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13 Games to Play After ‘Elden Ring’ No Longer Satisfies Your Masochistic Desire for Self Punishment

Are you just now getting through your fifteenth no armor, fists only, level one playthrough of Elden Ring? Are you looking for another challenge? Do you have this aching need to be punished? To have your body broken and your spirit crushed?

First of all, what the hell? Second of all, don’t worry! I have compiled a list of games known for their punishing difficulty, nihilistic atmosphere, or even both. Some of these you’ve probably already heard of or played, though I tried to stay away from the more obvious picks (sorry, Binding of Isaac and Super Meat Boy, everyone already knows who you are) to serve you up some delicious suffering. But be warned: I am going to be judging you the entire time.

#1 — Literally Any Soulslike

Let’s go ahead and get these out of the way. Otherwise, they would take up the whole list and then some. You already know the From Software games: Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, etc. You also already know the many games they inspired: Ashen, Nioh, Darksiders III, Lies of P, the list goes on and on. I’m recommending them here, but you’ve probably already played them all, haven’t you? I bet you have. Now that that’s out of the way, we can move on.

#2 — Ghosts ‘n Goblins

A game for people like you. People who mash themselves through Elden Ring and crawl away thinking it just wasn’t BS enough. Sick bastards who never get enough of pain. People Hellraiser would be unsettled by. If you manage to make it all the way to the end of the game, you are rewarded generously. And by generously, I mean by having to replay the entire game on an even higher difficulty to unlock the actual ending. Eat your heart out.

#3 — Blasphemous

If the Lands Between is a bit too cheery for you, you can always hop into the Spanish Catholic-inspired world of Blasphemous. Though not as difficult gameplay-wise, Blasphemous is practically dripping with religious guilt. The main character, The Penitent One, wears a spiked helmet filled with blood. A perfect avatar for you and whatever it is you feel like you need to punish yourself for.

#4 — Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

This quiz game based on the popular game show offers a different kind of pain. The thinking kind. What’s more punishing than the realization that fifth graders are smarter than you? This game will make you realize just how long it’s been since you’ve studied algebra. It turns out lumbering around like a neanderthal grunting the usual four letter words isn’t great for your vocabulary retention. Maybe if you weren’t so busy punishing yourself, you’d have the time to visit a bookstore. For you, I recommend getting something from the Self Help section.

#5 — Scorn

If Scorn’s looks-like-H.R.-Giger-and-Zdzisław-Beksiński-had-a-baby art style is not dreadful enough for you, then don’t worry. The atmosphere is complimented perfectly by the absolutely miserable gameplay. Especially the shooting. One terrible combat sequence and even a filthy little punishment glutton like you will be begging for mercy, or some simple little baby game like Dead Space.

#6 — I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

An adaptation of the sci-fi horror short story by Harlan Ellison. This is a point-and-click adventure game where you play as a group of humans whose whole purpose is to be tortured physically and psychologically by an Artificial Intelligence who hates mankind. That’s right. You get tortured by an AI who hates you. That’s the game. Most people would play this game and then maybe be a little nicer to ChatGPT or Siri, but not you. This is the future you dream of. Try not to drool all over yourself.

#7 — Disco Elysium

In Disco Elysium, you play as an alcoholic POS who everyone hates for being an alcoholic POS. You stink. Your face gives people the creeps. You’re fat. Your girl left you because you’re such a loser. Everyone insults you. Your own thoughts insult you. Sound like a good time? Sound like a great game for you to play and enjoy? I bet it does. Why do you do this to yourself?

#8 — Spelunky 2

If you enjoy being mercilessly, endlessly battered, then this is the game for you. The cute aesthetics may make you think this game will be a fun and innocent kids game, but when you’re hit by a dart trap onto a snake that knocks you into a pit of spikes, you will realize that you are not in a fun kids game. You are in hell. And you love it.

#9 — Ecco the Dolphin

Speaking of kid games with brutal difficulty, in this game you play as an adorable dolphin on an adventure to reunite with his lost pod of friends. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. The plot quickly takes a turn into Lovecraftian levels of cosmic horror, involving ancient civilizations, time travel, and a malevolent race of aliens. Not only that, but the game itself is difficult as hell. So difficult that most who play it never get past the first level. Please, pull your pants back up. It might be worth your time to dust off the old Sega Genesis for this one. Or boot up an emulator.

#10 — Enter the Gungeon

Rounding off the cute-but-insanely-tough series of punishing games, we have Enter the Gungeon. In this game, everything is either a gun or a bullet. The enemies are bullets that shoot guns. The guns are guns that shoot bullets. Sometimes the bullets are guns that shoot bullets. Sometimes a bullet shoots a gun that shoots bullets while you shoot back with a gun that shoots guns as bullets that shoot bullets. I can’t make it any clearer than that. The game is hard.

#11 — Uno

Only when your best friend hits you with a Draw 4 will you truly know pain.

#12 — XCOM 2

The cool soldier you’ve spent the past five hours customizing and equipping with the best gear, the soldier with all the best abilities, the soldier with a really cool nickname, will be killed because he missed a point blank shotgun attack with a 95% hit chance. This will cause your rookie soldier to panic, scatter, and get picked off. Your grenadier will get mind controlled and shoot your medic, who will then start to bleed out. This will all happen in the span of two turns. XCOM 2 is vicious in just how quickly things can go wrong. Much like your overall direction in life.

#13 — FemDomination 2

Let’s be honest. There is a pretty good chance that your obsession with mercilessly punishing yourself through brutal video games is a s*x thing. Everything is almost always a s*x thing. So let’s stop pretending and get to the kind of punishment you’re actually looking for. No, I’ve never played this game. I just googled for this type of game and picked a random game I thought you’d be into. Then my work laptop was confiscated and I had a meeting with Human Resources, so thanks for that. Enjoy the game. I hope it gives you the sick kicks you’re looking for.

So there you have it. A bunch of games for you to be battered, beaten, insulted, and humiliated by. Hopefully they should keep you occupied long enough for researchers to discover what exactly is wrong with you. Of course, if you can afford all of these games, you could probably also afford to see a therapist. But we both know you won’t, will you? You are perfectly content writhing in your own blood and tears. You disgust me.

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