Some games are satisfying to play. They provide a sense of achievement when taking on a tough challenge. Recently, some of the most renowned video games relish making players earn their victories and fail time after time again in order to do so.


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Some games can make gamers feel like a genius as well, stumping them on a puzzle until the solution finally clicks. This brings a rush of dopamine flowing through the brain. Sometimes, the greater the struggle, the greater the reward. Here are just some examples of video games that leave one feeling like they achieved something.

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6/6 Portal 2

Portal 2 is the perfect balance between brainy puzzle-solving and over-the-top antics. Trapped in AI GlaDOS’s maze of puzzles in the ruins of Aperture Labs, Chell must use her Portal gun to navigate each room filled with platforms, companion cubes, and death traps, for science.

Anyone who has played Portal 2 knows that rush when they make it through another one of GlaDOS’s devious obstacle courses. Falling from high enough to get the momentum to go through a portal and fly across a chasm is an adrenaline rush. Playing through each puzzle is about putting all the pieces together, which may seem overwhelming at first, but it all comes together. And the final boss fight is one of the more creative and cathartic fights in video games.

5/6 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda franchise is known for many things, from its cute Koroks to its Arthurian Master Sword and cyclical struggle of good versus evil. The games are also known for their intricate puzzles. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s open world is populated with over a hundred shrines and miniature dungeons that each contain a unique puzzle or challenge.

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Nintendo did a great job of keeping the puzzles interesting. They require the use of one’s combat abilities, the runes of the Sheikah slate, and a brain. Tasks may include activating switches, raising platforms, or completing electrical circuits. Sometimes it is possible to finagle a solution that was not what the developers had in mind. Nintendo left a lot of room in Breath of the Wild to experiment with the tools given and to come up with creative uses for them.

4/6 Ace Attorney

When justice gets served in this franchise, it is served with style. The Ace Attorney games follow the rookie lawyer as he tackles a number of cases for clients, including childhood friend Larry “The Butz” and the star of a children’s action show, who have been accused of egregious crimes.

Gameplay is a combination of point-and-click adventure, cross-examining witnesses, and logic. All the action is presented with the same over-the-top zaniness that Japanese animation is known for, with giant word bubbles of “Objection!” and “Take This!” popping up on the screen. Cross-examining witnesses and picking apart testimony is like doing precision surgery. Presenting that final piece of evidence that destroys the suspect’s cover has as much impact as landing the final blow on an enemy in any other game.

3/6 Hades

Fighting one’s way out of the Underworld in Hades can be a grind. Each combat arena is randomly generated, so no playthrough will be exactly the same. Enemies are brutal, as they can easily swarm Zagreus, the son of Hades, if he is not careful. Bosses can be just as challenging, if not more so. They are fast and relentless. If Zagreus dies, he is revived, only to start his trial over again.

Falling in battle does not mean that Zagreus has accomplished nothing. It always feels like he is improving, even if he doesn’t make it to the end goal. Every time he fights, he gets a little better with whatever weapon he uses. Getting one room farther than the previous record run feels like winning a marathon. Through the journey, Zagreus might learn some things as well.

2/6 Caesar 3

Rome was not built in a day. Building a city in Caesar 3, a strategy game for any Classics geek, will not be an easy task, either, but the rewards are worth it. The Emperor has handed down the task of creating new settlements and opening trade routes to expand the Roman Empire.

City management will require juggling multiple elements, from infrastructure to water management and pleasing the Gods. It is worth it to see the citizens’ settlements evolve and for the small town to become a prosperous city. Just don’t overtax the people. They tend not to like that.

1/6 Beyond Good And Evil

UbiSoft has had its share of controversy as of late, but one thing gamers can still be grateful to the company is Beyond Good and Evil, a project helmed by Rayman creator Michel Ancel. The game follows Jade and her warthog Uncle, Pey’j, teaming up with the activist group known as the IRIS Network. Together, they uncover the motives behind the planet’s interplanetary war with the alien race known as the DomZ.

As Jade goes undercover and exposes more evidence of a cover-up by the planet’s military organization, the Alpha Sections, the people start supporting the IRIS Network’s cause. They begin protesting in the city, chanting, “No DomZ! No Alpha! All for IRIS!” Broadcasting the evidence of the DomZ and Alpha Sections in the final chapters feels like breaking the story of the century. Beyond Good and Evil is, at the end of the day, about what it really means to be a journalist.

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