Some games come with built-in game challenges, asking you to do something out of the ordinary or extra difficult for a satisfying achievement. But when achievements aren’t enough to make a game more difficult, gamers get creative and invent their own game challenges, devising rules, mods, and storylines of their own to keep things exciting. Some of these change the way we physically play games, which gives us a deeper appreciation for their mechanics, and some open up the world of the games, providing alternate scenarios, or games at an angle. These can enrich and open up the world, which helps keep even an expansive medium from growing stale.
Though not all game challenges are hits, there are some great ones out there perfect for encouraging a new playthrough of your favorite games.
Pokémon Nuzlocke Challenge Makes Each Battle Life or Death
The Nuzlocke Challenge is, for many players, their first exposure to game challenges. There’s as many ways to play Pokémon as there are players, but the Nuzlocke Challenge redefines what can easily be a pretty straightforward experience to a gut-wrenching game of attachment and sacrifice.
The challenge goes like this: any Pokémon that faints is considered dead, and must be released. The player can only catch the first Pokémon in any area, including if they fail to catch it due to fainting or fleeing—there are no second chances. And while it’s not a hard and fast rule, many Nucklocke Challenge players say that all Pokémon must be named to ensure maximum attachment on the part of the player.
It’s incredibly difficult, and makes battle more stressful than if you play it without these restrictions. For those looking for even greater challenges, there are modified versions of the Nuzlocke Challenge, including limiting evolutions, banning Pokémon Centers, and requiring “set” battles.
The Sims 3 Homeless Challenge Is an Eye-Opening Experience
Because The Sims is a fairly open-ended game—there aren’t really any conditions for winning, and most players just keep playing until they get bored—many players have developed their own rule systems and win conditions to keep them entertained. The Legacy Challenge is one of the most popular, but the Homelessness Challenge, popularized (but not entirely invented by) by game developer Robin Burkinshaw resulted in an enormously moving story.
This game challenges players to remove their Sims’ money and requires them to live off of public resources, including sleeping on park benches, using the gym for showers, and finding food in public places. Burkinshaw details his experience with the challenge on her blog, Alice and Kev, which amassed a huge following thanks to great writing and the way it explores how a simple gaming challenge can inspire empathy in the player.
Alternate Controllers Make For Difficult Game Challenges
While rhythm games had their heyday in the last decade, they’re coming back with a vengeance—and not just because Rock Band 4 is on the horizon. Players looking for their own game challenges are using other controllers, whether it’s Dance Dance Revolution dance pads or Rock Band guitars, to make already challenging games even harder.
Game peripherals can make a familiar game a whole new experience, such as this player who beat Dark Souls in just over 11 hours using a Rock Band guitar. There’s also this player, who destroyed Spelunky using a dance pad. If you’ve mastered the standard approach to Bloodborne, why not try playing it with an entirely new controller to make it a thrilling new experience?
Living as an NPC Isn’t Easy, As Seen In These Game Challenges
Though The Elder Scrolls games do boast compelling stories, they’re also frequently loved for their open worlds and multiple approaches to creating a character. That’s why games writer Christopher Livingston was able to take such a unique approach to The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. Rather than playing the typical hero, Livingston chose to play as an NPC, making his way through the rich fantasy world with only a handful of trade skills and a dream.
The result is hilarious, as Livingston guides Nondrick through the frequently dreary life of a non-playable character, dealing with a lack of funds, low levels, and wolves. It’s a hilarious look at alternate experiences The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion can provide, and Livingston has even taken on the same challenge in Skyrim as one of Nondrick’s descendants, proving the exciting (?) life of an NPC never ends.
What are your favorite alternative game challenges?