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Mechanical
Challenge
 

Games offer us challenges on many levels. When someone plays a game too much it’s easy to think they are taking an easy route to something entertaining, like junk food. But video games are generally hard work. It takes time to understand their systems, mechanics, objectives and worlds.

There are a small group of games that hone this challenge down to the mechanics of moving around the environment. Whereas many games simplify getting around, these games make the complexity and depth of their movement systems part of the joy of playing them.

Rather than relying on the stats of your character or player, you have to execute the moves yourself with timing proficiency and instinct. Rather than offering assistance, these games leave you to it. Whether you rise through the league tables or just improve compared to your family, the satisfaction of getting to grips with something so monumentally challenging is really satisfying.

This might be understanding how the propulsion of your car lets you take to the air and hit a perfect shot in Rocket League. Or, perhaps, it’s using the limited running and jumping slightly better than other players to get a win in Fall Guys. Maybe it’s learning the perfect combination of angles and trajectories in Videoball. Or it could be learning the complex move lists in a game like Street Fighter.

These games all have a complex control system in common, that can be put to use in imaginative and creative ways to get the edge over your opponents.
 
This list includes 293 games from the last 43 years, with 4,112 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to combine dexterity and instincts.

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Teardown

Release Date: 29/10/2020, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC, PS5 and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

Teardown is a creative traversal game where you plan and execute a heist in fully destructible environments. Play involves knocking routes through the destructible buildings to set an escape route to steal the key cards. It’s an unusual game because...

Rocket League

Release Date: 28/08/2018

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Rocket League is a sports action game where you drive futuristic cars to score goals with an oversized football. It's a game that sounds ridiculous but is actually a huge amount of fun to play and requires a lot of expertise. What's not obvious from the...

Osu!

Release Date: 16/09/2007, updated in 2021

Out Now: Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Osu! is a rhythm action game where you tap the screen in time to the music similar to the Elite Beat Agents games. This starts as a simple challenge but develops in speed and complexity. At higher levels, the games is an esport with people competing to...

The Long Dark

Release Date: 22/09/2014

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Cartoon, Day and Night and Open World

The Long Dark is a thoughtful exploration-survival game where you have crash-landed in the icy Canadian wilderness after a global disaster and must find a way to survive. Through exploring, crafting and fighting you must look after your body...

Cuphead

Release Date: 29/09/2017, updated in 2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On, Cartoon and Hand-Made

Cuphead is a running, jumping and shooting game that looks like an old Mickey Mouse cartoon. You play on your own or with someone else and work across the screen, jumping gaps, shooting enemies and avoiding projectiles.

Elden Ring

Release Date: 25/02/2022

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Open World, Persistant World and Weather

Elden Ring is a role-play game set in a fictional world created by fantasy novelist George R. R. Martin, with a focus on combat similar to Demon's Souls and an open world with real time and weather like Zelda Breath of the Wild.

Drink More Glurp

Release Date: 06/08/2020

Out Now: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Drink More Glurp is a wacky sports game where you take turns to play athletic challenges. The twist is that you have to control your over-long arms with a separate joystick and your body is a wheel you can roll along on if you lift your arms right up...

Lonely Mountains Downhill

Release Date: 22/10/2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World

Lonely Mountains Downhill is a racing game where you traverse a mountain on a bike. Make your way through thick forests, narrow trails and wild rivers. Race, jump, slide and try not to crash all the way from the peak to the valley. You choose your route...

Dead Cells

Release Date: 10/05/2017, updated in 2023

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Dead Cells is a running, jumping and fighting game where you are escaping a prison. In a bright pixelated world you must accurately time attacks and dodges to defeat a wide range of enemies. It's intentionally hard, and you will die a lot. But each time...

Boomerang X

Release Date: 08/07/2021

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Hand-Made

Boomerang X is a shooting platform game where you explore worlds and fight enemies with a boomerang-like shuriken weapon. Unusually, you can warp to your boomerang once thrown meaning you can slice, fly, and blast through arenas swarming with evil...

Get To The Orange Door

Release Date: 30/05/2019

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

Get To The Orange Door (GTTOD) is a platform game where you run, jump and shoot your way through minimalist levels. Movement is parkour in nature, meaning that you use architecture, street furniture and other objects to get an advantage when getting...

Tren (Dreams)

Release Date: 01/08/2023

Out Now: PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Hand-Made

Tren is a traversal-puzzle game set in a hand-crafted world as a wooden train, sailing boats and helicopters. You control points, shunt trucks around, operate cranes and generally move cargo from one location to the next. Like an escape room with toy...

Jusant

Release Date: 31/10/2023

Out Now: PC, PS5 and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Jusant is a climbing traversal game where you take a challenging-yet-meditative climb to the top of a tall tower. You use the trigger buttons to hold on and the stick to jump and reach for the next position. In this way you methodically work your way up...

Threes

Release Date: 06/02/2014

Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, PC, Web and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Threes is a puzzle game where you slide numbered tiles on a grid. When they collide they combine their numbers, like Triple Town. You can match 1's and 2's with each other, the white tiles can match cards that are multiples of 3...

OCO

Release Date: 11/08/2021

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

OCO is a sliding and jumping game set with simple colourful levels each set in a rotating planetoid. Unlike other platform games, you control everything with a single button. Each different colour of platform you slide along grants different abilities...

Phantom Abyss

Release Date: 21/06/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: Mac, PC and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Phantom Abyss is a running and jumping game where you charge through temples to get to the exit. Your only tool is a whip that interacts with objects and can propel you forward. Along the way are numerous traps and difficult jumps to avoid. There are...

Black Skylands

Release Date: 09/06/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Open World and Pixels

Black Skylands is an adventure game where you pilot an airship through a sprawling open world of floating islands. You play Eva, who's ship has been destroyed and father killed. Your task is to rebuild your home from the deck up, arm and prepare for...

Mario Strikers Battle League

Release Date: 10/06/2022

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Mario Strikers Battle League Football is a sports action game and the latest in the Mario Strikers series. Like the previous games, it offers a five-on-five battle sport that combines football and ice hockey with...

JellyCar Worlds

Release Date: 10/12/2022

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

JellyCar Worlds is a puzzle game about a car made of jelly traversing a squishy world. You use the physics properties of the car and the objects in the world to get from A to B. It's an action puzzle game that stands out for the joyous novelty of a...

Jett: The Far Shore

Release Date: 05/10/2021

Out Now: PC, PS4 and PS5

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

Jett: The Far Shore is a sci-fi adventure where you play inquisitive pilot Mei, exploring a mysterious planet on a nimble jet-powered craft. It draws on films like 2001: Space Odyssey and takes its time building atmosphere. Once it gets going it becomes...

Baby Steps

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night and Open World

Baby Steps is a tongue-in-cheek traversal game where you play Nate, an unemployed failing son who sets out on a journey of putting one foot in front of the other. The twist is that you must control and place each foot individually while ensuring you...

Earthblade

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Earthblade is a running, jumping and fighting game from the creators of Celeste and Towerfall where you explore a ruined earth and discover its hidden past. You gymnastically traverse through the levels, fighting...

En Garde

Release Date: 16/08/2023

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

En Garde is a swashbuckling fighting game where the focus is on the poise and grace of fencing. You use your foil to parry, riposte and lunge through a world of enemies. It stands out not only for the unusual sporting sword fights but for how you must...

Rekt 2

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Rekt 2 is a stunt racing game where your car works like a skateboard. Play brings the previous game's fast action jumps, tricks and battles to 16-player online matches. It stands out for the simple joys of landing jumps and bumping other players off...

Lovely Planet

Release Date: 31/07/2014, updated in 2016

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Wii U and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, 3D Third-Person and Hand-Made

Lovely Planet is a shooting game which focuses on athletic flow and accuracy rather than headshots and gore. You jump and shoot your way through five worlds full of treacherous enemies with your trusty pop-gun. It's an unusual, almost balletic, shooting...

Fortnite

Release Date: 25/07/2017, updated in 2018

Out Now: Android, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World

Fortnite is an online multiplayer shooting game where 100 people compete to be the last player standing. You stealthily traverse the world to collect weapons, out-maneuvering and out-gunning your opponents, while a storm gradually shrinks the playable...

Forza Horizon 5

Release Date: 05/11/2021

Out Now: PC, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Day and Night, Open World and Weather

Forza Horizon 5 is a fast-paced racing game where you drive all manner of different vehicles in races and across the vast open landscape. Building on Forza Horizon 4, this fifth entry to the series is set in Mexico,...

Party Animals

Release Date: 20/09/2023

Out Now: PC, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Party Animals is a fighting game where wobbly animal characters go toe-to-toe. Like Gang Beasts, the novelty is in the game physics that recreates realistic movement and impact with a cartoon rag-doll feel.

Just Shapes & Beats

Release Date: 21/06/2018

Out Now: PC, PS4, Stadia and Switch

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Just Shapes & Beats is a two player rhythm game where you dodge bullets in time with the music. As well as this unusual premise, play extends the novelty as you have to both avoid the various shapes and move to the Beats. It’s a new spin on the shoot...

Demon's Souls

Release Date: 05/02/2009

Out Now: PS3 and PS5

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Persistant World

Demon's Souls is a fighting and exploration game where you take on monstrous enemies in tough-as-nails combat. You navigate interconnected locations while fighting enemies with weapons and magic, timing your attacks, dodges, and parries exactly. It...

Disc Room

Release Date: 22/10/2020

Out Now: PC, Switch and Xbox One

Components: 2D Overhead and Hand-Made

Disc Room is an action survival game set in a sprawling intergalactic slaughterhouse. You are a scientist from the future exploring the facility and must get through each room that is filled with sharp discs by running and dodging. You have special...

140

Release Date: 16/10/2013, updated in 2020

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch, Wii U and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

140 is a sliding, rolling and jumping game where you control a changing geometric shape to traverse a minimalist world. It's challenging for the timed jumps and reactions but keeps distractions to a minimum with its abstract colorful graphics.

Gonner (Series)

Release Date: 22/10/2020

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Gonner 2 is a running and jumping game where you defend yourself by shooting enemies in a chaotic procedural environment as a small character called Ikk. You'll need a large amount of patience as you die a lot. To progress you need to hone your shooting...

Everyday Shooter

Release Date: 14/02/2008

Out Now: PC, PS Vita and PS3

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Everyday Shooter is a collection of shooting games presented as a music album. The shooting action is familiar but here the dissolute sounds of destruction are replaced with guitar riffs harmonizing over the soundtrack. The visuals join in the...

Neon White

Release Date: 16/06/2022, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5 and Switch

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, Cards and Cartoon

Neon White is a fast tactical shooting game where you use Soul cards to gain special attacks and moves. You play an assassin handpicked from Hell to exterminate demons in Heaven to earn your place there. It's unusual because of its combination of...

Street Fighter V (Series)

Release Date: 16/02/2016, updated in 2020

Out Now: PC and PS4

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Street Fighter V (Street Fighter 5) is a competitive fighting game. First introduced in 1987, this classic game from Japan has inspired a whole genre. You choose a champion fighter from around the world, each with unique abilities, then fight one-on-one...

Cursorblade

Release Date: 06/11/2023

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Cursorblade is a shooting game where you are a mouse cursor and use your mouse motion to move, attack and deftly dodge the deluge of bullets. Control is one-to-one with your mouse, in this way, you move through the anthropomorphized flora and fauna to...

Crab Game

Release Date: 29/10/2021

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

Crab Game is a competitive action game where you play mini-games based on the Squid Game Netflix show challenges. Similar to Fall Guys, each requires you to be the last player standing to claim the win. Here, however, the game has a darker feel with...

BedWars (Roblox)

Release Date: 19/01/2017, updated in 2023

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Open World

BedWars is a game played on Minecraft (since 2017) or Roblox servers (since 2021). It's a team game where you start on an island and must protect your bed and build bridges to attack other teams' beds. The trick is the ecosystem of items and crafting...

Geometry Dash

Release Date: 13/08/2013, updated in 2017

Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Geometry Dash is a running, jumping game. It features over 20 stages where you play as a customisable small cube, which you use to dodge 2D obstacles to the rhythm of electronic music using a single button to control the cube. If you hit any of the...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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