10 Video Games That Punish You For Being Smart

Sometimes players are too smart for their own good.

hellblade senuas sacrifice
Ninja Theory

Experiencing a video game is essentially a mental battle between the developer and the player. Players are constantly trying to outsmart the game, and it's up to the developers to accommodate the decisions they may make.

The greatest titles achieve this balance, giving a game world a flexible set of rules that allow players to feel smart and enjoy a sense of agency in their experience. Think about the sheer amount of ways to solve puzzles in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or shooting The End before the official boss fight in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

Other games, however, punish players for being smart and playing well. These are either direct punishments that subvert what players are expecting when they think outside the box, or when the developers have simply failed to account for a gameplay decision and so come up with an arbitrary in-game reason as to why it can't work,.

Whatever the reason, all of the following games knocked you down a peg just when you thought you were being clever.

10. Undertale Has A Tragic Twist For Levelling Up

hellblade senuas sacrifice
Toby Fox

In modern gaming, players can attain a thrilling power trip by maximising how they spend experience points and level up their characters. Shrewd use of upgrade trees, grinding for maximum points and indulging in these systems usually results in easier combat encounters and a larger gameplay toolset.

Undertale fully understood the player's desire to strive for more experience points gained from defeating enemies, and quite cruelly saved a twist surrounding this feature for the very end of the game. Early on you're told that you gain EXP for killing enemies and LV points increase attack power and player health. Naturally, because you've probably played a video game before, it's easy to assume these acronyms stand for 'experience points' and 'level' respectively - pretty standard stats in this medium.

The twist reveals this not to be the case however, as these stats have been tallying how much of a dick players have been during their play through. EXP actually stands for 'execution points', which according to character Sans is a "way of quantifying the pain you have inflicted on others." Similarly, 'LV' is actually gauging your own 'level of violence'.

Both stats have essentially been marking just how much of a murderous psycho you've been while playing Undertale, something which factors heavily into the title's twisted ending.


Writer. Mumbler. Only person on the internet who liked Spider-Man 3