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Top 10 Brutally Difficult Realistic Games

VO: Dan Paradis WRITTEN BY: Dimitri Vadrahanis
While most video games cater to a more casual audience, there are still plenty of games that go in the opposite direction and strive for authenticity. This list focuses on games that have their realistic mechanics providing the bulk of the challenge. Seriously, it’s probably easier to do some of these things in real life. To have your ideas turned into a WatchMojo or MojoPlays video, head over to http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and get to it!

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Top 10 Brutally Difficult Realistic Games

Who says gaming is a relaxing hobby? Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our top 10 brutally difficult realistic games.

We think it’s fair to say that most games cater to casuals, and that’s not a bad thing. Fun might be subjective, but making your games simpler and more accessible just means you’ll attract a wider audience, and more sales. However, there are still plenty of games that go in the opposite direction and strive for authenticity, and this list is focusing on those that have their realistic mechanics providing the bulk of the challenge. Seriously, it’s probably easier to do some of these things in real life.

#10: “Spintires” (2014)

Driving games are a dime a dozen, but there are none quite like this all-terrain sim that has you travelling through backwoods Russia in beat-down cars. The real challenge here is in navigating through the world as fast as possible to avoid running out of fuel, but that’s not all. Hit one too many boulders and your car might erupt into flames, so you end up having to take your time with the safer, longer routes. These two simple ideas are at constant odds, but provide a compelling challenge, especially in hardcore mode where its physics will push your patience to its absolute limit.

#9: “Stranded Deep” (2015)

On top of all the usual things to manage in a survival game like food and sleep, Stranded Deep sets itself apart by also having dynamic day/night and weather cycles that will have you hunting around the island on the brink of starvation at one minute and running for cover the next. The real scales-tipper here though is the sheer hostility of the environment. Whether you’re out at sea surrounded by sharks or on dry land getting attacked by snakes, you’ll need to channel your inner Bear Grylls to get out alive.

#8: “Kingdom Come: Deliverance” (2018)

If you’re tired of class-based skill trees and linear progression look no further than this RPG where combat, and therefore your survival in the world, is based on your true abilities. Becoming a great swordsman or archer relies on the player learning the intricacies and timing of their chosen weapon to break through enemy parries and overcome their foes, and is a time-consuming, but rewarding process. That’s not all though, because the for the entirety of the game, players need to keep an eye on their hunger, energy, and yes, cleanliness levels to stay in tip-top shape. Medieval knights didn’t have it easy, and neither will you.

#7: “Dangerous Waters” (2005)

Enthusiast class simulation games have gone through a resurgence in recent years, but Dangerous Waters is still one of the best, and still has us just as confused as the day it came out. Sure, you can delegate to your crew if you want, but the fun is in using your sonar and periscope data to make split second decisions and then manually drive the platform to escape danger or attack the enemy. Avionics might be simplified to the point where it won’t be considered a straight “learning sim,” but we still believe seasoned vets should get their submarine licenses in the mail considering the 700-page manual it comes with that’s basically required reading.

#6: “SWAT 4” (2005)

Fair warning: if you’re looking for a casual fun experience to shoot some bad guys, this is not it. On top of having no saves when you’re on a mission, the lack of healing means every fight is a tense one where one stray bullet will often kill you instantly. The biggest hurdle though is the fact that you must follow strict rules of engagement at all times. You’ll need to master that trigger timing in between “so slow that you get shot first” and “so fast that you accidentally shoot civilians,” and let us tell you it’s a narrow one when you’re aiming for takedowns, and not kills.

#5: “Insurgency” (2014)

If you thought CS: GO was the most realistic counter-terrorism FPS games out there you haven’t been looking hard enough. The laughably low time-to-kill and realistic subtleties in body positioning as players aim, peek around corners, and snipe means that experts keep a low profile and avoid exposing themselves which leads to tense firefights and slow, methodical movement. Once you’ve finally got that down it’s time to grab your night vision goggles and head on over to the night maps because there’s even more to master when it comes to dealing with fire, explosions, and muzzle flashes that restrict your ability to see and adds to the extremely high learning curve.

#4: “This War of Mine” (2014)

War is hell, and nothing exemplifies that old saying better than this incredibly bleak and depressing game that tells the story of those innocent people struggling for survival as the battles rage. The realism, and difficulty, comes from the decisions that you’ll be forced to make. Can you hold out an extra day before you start rationing, and starving? Do you let that stranger into your shelter? Should you save the woman in trouble you find in the streets? They’re all tough questions because they all have consequences, and will probably have you feeling like an awful person for choosing incorrectly on more than one occasion.

#3: “The Long Dark” (2017)

Ah, Canada. So cold, snowy, and sparse. Well, that’s the picture this title paints when trying to recreate the challenges of surviving in a frozen wasteland, and it turns out to be a brutal combination for the player. Survival requires careful calorie counting, and when you run low you’ll need to hunt. Makes sense, right? Except you can’t hunt for long, because it’s so damn cold you’ll freeze to death. You’ll need to find the animals first so short hunting trips are rare, and the long ones have you needing even more calories! It’s a catch-22 where you’re screwed no matter what you do.

#2: “Operation Flashpoint” series (2001-2011)

Don’t get us wrong, being a lone wolf is always fun, but when it comes to rewarding gameplay nothing beats splitting up with your squad to take down the enemy, and that’s where this game shines most. One or two bullets will put you down, so everything comes down to how well you can work as a team. Whether it’s flanking the enemy soldiers firing at you on all cylinders, calling for a medic when downed, or traversing long stretches of terrain to take objectives, coordination is always required in situations where one weak link will break the whole chain.

#1: “ARMA III” (2013)

ARMA’s greatest strength is its massive maps and large player counts that result in huge firefights, realistic tactics to reduce fatigue and secure objectives, and artillery bombardments to break enemy lines, but that’s not all is has going for it. Even on a smaller scale, weapons are so carefully crafted that they each have unique ballistic properties. Your weapon will heat up while firing or might malfunction underwater, and every round is subject to bullet drop and the environmental factors like wind to calculate its trajectory. It’s a complete package that has a huge learning curve, but when you see your team inches away from victory, you’ll know it was all worth it.

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