Most games are designed to be casual, giving players a burst of entertainment while demanding little time commitment. Then there are games that demand that a players sink in countless hours. Though, not only do they demand time, they also demand that complicated systems be learned, deep lore be studied, and stressful decisions be made.
These are the games that require commitment on another level. They may not be for everyone, but are deeply rewarding to those that have what it takes.
Total War Franchise
Ever fancied managing every level of a massive, globe spanning war? Ensuring that settlements are happy and producing war engines, balancing growth and industry in each settlement, all while engaging in diplomacy with dozens of nations? Oh, and don’t forget you’ll also have to control armies of thousands of different platoons in real time, when it comes to the actual battles.
The Total War franchise is infamous for being perhaps the most demanding series of games ever made. Most that try playing bounce off, unable to commit the absurd levels of time. Those that do penetrate the systems will likely never be able to play a less demanding game again.
Similar to Total War, but with a less hands on approach to fighting wars, the Civilization franchise is equally as demanding. Players take a nation from the Stone Age through to the future, managing resources, building cities, and otherwise engaging in massive diplomatic negotiations.
A single game in Civilization can take upward of a real-time week, which speaks for itself. It is recommended that a player take a break and go do something less stressful every dozen or so hours. Like perhaps checking out NBA expert picks and putting down a few high stakes bets.
Widely seen as the most detailed, astoundingly in-depth survival game of all time, Project Zomboid truly is on a level of its own. Players are asked to survive a zombie apocalypse, taking into account a brutally realistic set of circumstances. Fresh water must be sourced, a sustainable output of food established, and shelter constructed. All while avoiding thousands of the marauding living dead.
Already very stressful, Project Zomboid ramps up the tension by making a single zombie bite deadly. How about losing a hundred hours of progress in an instant?
Crusader Kings 3
Crusader Kings 3 is similar in many ways to the Civilization franchise, only with an added layer of often hilarious relationship drama. While managing a vast, expanding empire the player must also marry, have a family, and deal with everything that family life entails.
The idea behind the Crusader Kings franchise is that much of the conflict that occurred in days of old was based around personal drama. Or to put it another way; running a kingdom is easy, but not if your king happens to be an eccentric, jealous husband that will start a war to avenge his hurt feelings. A demanding game, even if it leans more into dark humour than others on this list.
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