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5 Video Games That Punish You For Being Bad

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We can't really speak for everyone, but surely you must agree that being reminded of how bad you are at a video game isn't the most motivating thing in the world. On the contrary, it's actually rather disheartening, and it raises the question: why exactly do some developers continue to implement such ruthlessness into their games? Well, here's the thing, you see. As it turns out, a fair amount of gamers actually enjoy being mocked or slapped on the wrist for failing. Perhaps, then, it's the need to overcome the challenge that drives them.

Over the years, we've seen a whole bunch of games laugh at us for, well, trying to succeed. Having said that, no new game has come anywhere within spitting distance of being as intentionally pretentious as these five.

5. Sifu

It's funny, because, on the surface, Sifu isn't that much of a threatening game. Or at least, visually, it isn't all that threatening, as it's mostly made up of cartoon-like visuals and vibrant backdrops. But its combat, being the unforgiving beat 'em up brawler that the game is, is a far cry from harmless. And it takes its toll on you, too, especially if you're bad at the game and can't make heads or tails of its combat system.

In Sifu, the punishment for being knocked out by an enemy is to lose another year of your life. And, what makes this worse is that the more you get knocked out, the more your aging counter tallies up, which means you can age thirty or forty years in a matter of levels. And, seeing as there's no going back once you've started the campaign, you're basically made to master the game without toppling over the age limit of 70. Bottom line is, if you suck at Sifu, then you'll have to restart the whole thing over again…and again…and again, until you get it right.

4. Dark Souls

It's certainly no secret that Dark Souls is a tough game; it practically cemented its place in the wall of the world's most tough-as-nails games for harboring such an unforgiving combat system. But what makes the series twice as tedious is its ability to mock you for being bad at the game. And to think, having to endure the endless cutaways that roll out whenever you die really is, in all honesty, the least of your problems.

As you'll come to learn, failing in Dark Souls means losing a section of your health's percentage. As you become more Hollow, your life will gradually whittle down to a pittance, effectively making enemies twice as hard to butcher. You become frail, and, eventually, everything just turns into a monotonous grind to clamber back to a tolerable position. It's relentless entertainment, pure and simple. And yet, it's also partly the reason why the completion rate is astronomically low. Go figure.

3. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

There's nothing worse than being constantly reminded of how bad you are at a game. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, for example, does a pretty tidy job at making you feel worthless each and every time you fall in combat. Thanks to the rot that slowly covers another section of Senua's arm every time you fail, you're forever reminded that, no matter how well you think you're doing, chances are, you're still going to fail in the end, anyway.

The good news is, contrary to popular belief, there is no actual permadeath in Hellblade. This isn't to say you can go galivanting about without so much as a care in the world. But, it does mean you can gradually progress through the story without worrying about having to restart from the beginning. Even still, being reminded of your lack of progress is never exactly a good thing.

2. Guitar Hero

Much like real life, learning how to play guitar in a virtual studio doesn't happen overnight. The problem is, learning to play said plastic color-coded guitar does involve facing the music. And when we say music, we're talking about crowds of angry fans who'd much rather boo you off stage for being bad than mildly supportive of your decisions to hit all the wrong chords. And boy, if you struggle to thrash out a single solo — then you'll know about it.

Fortunately, Guitar Hero has always been forgiving when it comes to things like tutorials and practice jams. But when it comes to playing live on stage, a few wrong notes can send the whole venue against you, causing the song to abruptly end and the entire crowd to basically hurl you off stage. The good news is, there's an easy mode; we like this mode. Easy mode is good.

1. Singstar

There's honestly nothing worse than belting out your favorite tracks in a fit of joy, only to be given the message that you're practically tone-deaf, and that every note you sang was a few miles south of the original. And in the case of Singstar, the old-but-gold karaoke series, it tells you when you can't sing, and does a fantastic job at reminding you by replaying every single note that you bombed on during the song. Does this alleviate the pain any way? Meh.

Anyway, putting any of the Singstar games into the easiest mode does allow for you to hum through the tracks and still rack up a pretty lofty score. Try and sing in one of the tougher modes, though, and you'll soon find out exactly how ruthless the game can be. Can you sing? Maybe. Will Singstar reinforce that by telling you how much of a good job you're doing? Not in a million years. Singstar doesn't want you to sing — it wants to hurt your feelings.


So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.