Some of the most satisfying gaming experiences come from those moments we learn without a tutorial in sight. It’s time for some of the very best games that refuse to hold your hand.
We like a challenge no matter what genre we like to spend our time in. Nothing feels quite like tackling a problem head-on without any help whatsoever. It’s a bit like letting no one help you with your yearly jigsaw at Christmas. Where would the fun be if other people found the side pieces? And that’s what’s important to recognize.
If you played a hundred or so hours of Assassin’s Creed last year but didn’t find it quite deadly enough, Valheim was made for you. Your northern warrior needs to find their way out but is going to have to start with a hoe before going anywhere near colossal boss battles. The thrill of discovery is too good to ruin here.
KINGDOM COME: DELIVERANCE
Ancient nightlife in a way that you’ve never had before but it’s the intricacies and granularity of this world that makes it so rich to experience for the first time. He’s a peasant and your actions, or well inaction, have a genuine consequence and it’s this lack of guidance or direction that means you can truly have your own adventure.
This game is far too busy to get you up to speed with its ins and outs but this means that the challenge of getting to grips with this world is all the more exciting. Go find your spacey bliss alone in the dark with only your tears for company. No one is going to save you. You’re going to have to help yourself. In space, no one can hear you sob.
THE BINDING OF ISAAC: REBIRTH
Continue to try and escape the endless basement of monstrosities. The concept remains the same: avoid nasties, use tears as weaponry, and collect new powers. Only you can make those calls as you progress deeper into Hell on the quest for mega Satan. It’s like driving blind but The Binding of Isaac always makes the experience worthwhile.
THE LONG DARK
This commits to no hand-holding. This is about the realities of a grim and murderous natural world. All that wondering is just a bit too existential for you. The pure adrenaline rush of heading out into The Long Dark’s world is built on the unknown. There are no labels on where to find food. Sometimes, only cabins entirely stripped of supplies await your desperate body as it shelters from the deep freeze.
A guide with no real suggestion as to what will come out to meet you. When you do eventually head out on your very own ghost hunting expedition, you’ve only got your torch as you investigate each room. What could possibly go wrong? Sure, briefly reading over the purpose of each tool will be fine, but ultimately the only way to survive…is to die. Die with friends, die on your own, but each time that you do, you will learn what went wrong and what you’ll have to do next time.
Even the multiplayer is the opposite of hand-holding but never in a frustrating way. Every procedurally-generated world that you fall into has the potential of survival and while you could always head to Reddit, nothing beats striking out on your own to desperately start a fire and keep the monsters at bay. Every discovery seems random at first but becomes a little more bearable.
Intro 00:00 1 Valheim 01:07 2 Kingdom Come: Deliverance 02:01 3 Elite Dangerous 03:04 4 The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth 03:57 5 The Long Dark 04:52 6 Phasmophobia 05:50 7 Don’t Starve 06:46 Outro 07:41