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"So that's Painkiller--more proof that the best way to blow off steam is to blow off someone's nadgers."


Catharsis is a purification or purging of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art -- a factor first identified by Aristotle; it can bring about spiritual renewal, and it provides a release from tension.

In other words, it's stuff you do to relieve tension or get stuff off your chest.

Catharsis exists in all media--the term "catharsis" as applied to art comes from Aristotle's Poetics--but for most of history, most people had to watch others suffer and triumph, and they had to use empathy to connect the dots. Now, even the empathy-deprived can experience catharsis -- you can suffer and triumph personally through your favorite videogame character. Since it's not in the real world, you will not be breaking any real-world laws, and your character will get extra lives if you mess up the drama. Everybody wins!

This trope is subjective. Stress relief for one gamer can be frustration for another, even on things that people agree are calming: A 6 on one scale (1 - 10, 10 being the highest) can rate 37 on someone else's. The cathartic experience can also backfire when using human opponents, such as in online-enabled fighting games or first-person shooters, where a string of victories can be ruined by an upsetting loss from another player at the far end of the skill divide.

It's not just violence, either. Many games are just as capable of making you feel warm and fuzzy when you take a constructive option and help the pile of pixels instead.

The existence of this effect, with both videogames and other media, is sometimes cited by opponents of banning pornography and violent video games.

Related to Video Game Cruelty Potential. Not to be confused with In-Universe Catharsis, though overlap is certainly possible. Or the webcomic Catharsis, for that matter.

See also: Percussive Therapy.

Examples of Catharsis Factor include:


Sports games

  • The Punch Out games:
    • In the NES game, sometimes it's more satisfying to spend all three rounds walloping on Glass Joe, countering his every attack and letting him hang on by a thread rather than just catch him in his titular glass jaw and knock him out in one shot.
    • In Super Punch-Out!!, Narcis Prince doesn't let anyone punch his face. Which makes getting in a face shot, then laying on the rapid fire jabs to the face so much more relaxing.
  • Store up enough finishers in the latest WWE wrestling game and unload them one after another...especially if it's a wrestler whom you can't stand. Use the create-a-wrestler feature to make pretty much anyone you can't stand, give them a pathetically wimpy moveset, and go to town on them by unloading finisher after finisher, letting go of pinfalls just before the 3 count, repeatedly breaking weapons over their heads and releasing submission locks just before the tapout until you feel all better. Wrestling games can be teriffic stress relievers.
    • Not to mention with the addition of "Create A Storyline" features, you can not only make the person who you hate, you can write a storyline featuring them and watch your favorite wrestlers insult them to their face, disparage them, and make them cry, then beat the crap out of them, maybe even alongside your own avatar. Juvenile, maybe, but giggle-inducing after even the worst day? Oh hell yeah.
      • You could also use traditionally silent or uncharismatic wrestlers to completely take the piss out of a wrestler you hate that has a fanbase.
  • After your favorite sports team suffers a demoralizing loss, there's little better than to punish the victorious opponent by putting every last slider in your favor and defeating a simulated version of them 255+ to nothing.
  • In early iterations of the FIFA soccer games (one example is the world cup '98 version) when the opposing goalkeeper was holding onto the ball you could scythe him down without the fear of receiving a card. Makes it a little better when he gets booted in the air after saving every shot.

Fighting Games

  • Street Fighter: How many people have felt better after a bad day by putting in the latest game and demolishing whoever was in your way (computer AI, opponent through internet, etc)?
    • Even better. When playing Street Fighter 4 online, breaking the countless hadouken/shoryuken-spamming cheap-ass players' pattern, and absolutely demolishing them... while using Dan.
    • Kat shows us how it's done.
  • Ah, Super Smash Bros. What can be more cathartic than using Training Mode to turn whichever Nintendo character has recently displeased you into your unmoving personal punching bag? How about spawning Smash Balls and mercilessly flattening them with Final Smash after Final Smash?
    • Hit them out of the ballpark with the Home Run Bat, perhaps? The resulting KREEEENG!!! is perhaps the most satisfying sound in Smash.
  • Beat Em Ups like Final Fight and Streets of Rage provide ample opportunity to grind Mooks into the pavement and feel good about yourself.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy has the appealing option of using your personal least-favorite character as a punching bag. Penny Arcade shows us how its done.
    • In Dissidia 012, expect a lot of people to use Aerith against Sephiroth.
    • And long before Dissidia, beating the tar out of Sephiroth was done most gleefully in Ehrgeiz.
  • The easiest difficulty of Battle Arena Toshinden is called "Stress Relief." 'Nuff said.
  • Mortal Kombat and its Fatalities. Reducing a particularly hatable character into small, bloody chunks can be quite cathartic after a long day.
    • Same sorta thing for Samurai Shodown and Guilty Gear with their finishers. Hell, the former has a Rage System, just perfect for letting off steam.
    • Especially great in MK: Armageddon in which the player gets to improvise a fatality, and is therefore allowed to commit all sorts of atrocities on their enemy before finishing them off. It allowed quite a few to fulfill a very long fantasy of theirs: ripping Goro's arms off and bludgeoning him to death with them.

Role-Playing Games

  • Ah, RPGS, where your party is all-powerful and can slaughter faceless mooks by the dozen. Alternatively, load up the save file you have in front of a particularly hated boss and beat the crap out of them for a while. For added fun, equip the weakest/strongest equipment you have, just because you're feeling vindictive and want to humiliate them.
  • Fallout, where the above is made even better by the ability to hit specific body parts and incur Bloody Hilarious injuries.
    • Fallout 3:
      • And once they're dead, they will remain there. Forever a testament to what happened.
      • This is why the Experimental MIRV is in the game because as we all know, There Is No Kill Like Overkill. Seriously, it only takes 2 mini-nukes to kill the most powerful enemies on normal and this fires 8.
      • In Fallout3 and Fallout: New Vegas, the majority of your enemies are some of the most despicable scum there is, which makes killing them very satisfying; but by far the most satisfying feeling is utterly annihilating Fiend or Legion encampments.
        • Or, in Fallout 3, utterly exterminating all of Paraside Falls (the main Slaver base). Even moreso if you bring Fawkes with you.
  • The Valkyrie Profile series, with its ability to let you beat the enemies with a ridiculous amount of overkill. It is extremely satisfying to finish off a boss, or even a mook, with a chain of four Soul Crushes. Valkyrie Profile Covenant of the Plume actually encourages you to beat already-dead enemies relentlessly to get better items.
  • There are few things quite as cruelly satisfying as playing a game with a New Game+ system and the sort of setup where almost every boss is That One Boss. Just save before whatever boss made you bang your head against a wall the most the first time through and keep beating the crap out of them over and over in the most humiliating ways you can think of. Cue Last Scenario.
  • Remember all those Disney villains who gave you nightmares as a kid? The Kingdom Hearts games allow you to beat the stuffing out of them with a giant key.
  • Pokémon. Level 100 + Low level forest area = Ahh...
    • Alternatively, a level 100 mon against the Elite Four. Enjoy as one all powerful creature beats the crap out of the five toughest opponents in the game and feel all your anger melt away. Nothing will make you feel more badass than that.
      • Heck, it doesn't need to be the Elite Four. In one of the games where you can rematch gym leaders, take them on with a high-leveled Pokemon that's insanely weak against their type. There's nothing quite like curb stomping Gardenia with a Swampert or sweeping Pryce's team with a Dragonite. Bonus points if they gave you trouble before.
  • Mass Effect has catharsis in a lot of the usual ways, but it also has emotional catharsis, where you can feel awesome for doing things ranging from shutting down a sleazy reporter with a heroic speech to just punching her in the face.
    • Sniping some poor schmuck between the eyes with a tank round. Makes the frustration of driving the damn thing worth it.
    • Slaughtering enemies with the Mako's cannon; seeing them fly while slowly disappearing is satisfying.
    • In Mass Effect 2 shooting some guy wearing armor in the head with a sniper round makes a plink sound and it is so satisfying. Really all of the combat in Mass Effect 2 fits this due to its improvement over the combat in Mass Effect 1.
    • There's also biotically lifting enemies, then pushing them off into bottomless pits.
    • Upgrading the Normandy's defenses and weapons systems, so that you can watch Joker one-shot a massive enemy warship.
    • In Mass Effect 2, you can hug a Woobie.
    • In Mass Effect 3, being able to beat one giant boss by calling in an orbital strike, or another by setting another giant boss[1] loose on it so you could sit back and watch them duke it out.
    • All of the Renegade Interrupts in the second and third games, although the third game subverts this by rewarding you with long-term rewards for not taking some of them.
  • In Dragon Age, you can hit people in the face with a shield. Repeat, you can hit people in the face with a shield. You can build an entire character around hitting people in the face with a shield; while you won't be nearly as powerful as a mage, it'll all be worthwhile for the sheer cathartic factor.
    • Most players prefer to stab, cut, maim, crush, burn, freeze, and shock their enemies, much more cathartic than just hitting them.
  • Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga use the Press Turn Icon System. Short version, the number of times the player gets to go per time the opponent does is entirely dependant on skill level: the player can go up to ten times (after a sidequest in Noctune) for every time the opponent tries to pull something and is denied by your party build. Obviously, a game with a mechanic designed to let smart players kick that much ass has to be Nintendo Hard to compensate, and they are. Oh, they are. Players who do something stupid will die: those who learn to work the system will curb stomp their enemies. The feeling of godlike power smiting one's enemies is even better after fighting the Demifiend, and getting to experience what it was like to be one of the demons you utterly annihilated. The protagonist of Nocturne, aka you, the player, is the hardest RPG Bonus Boss of all time. It makes the player feel rather godlike.
  • The final boss fight of Xenogears is an exercise in pure catharsis just based on who the boss herself is. For roughly 90% of the game Miang Hawwa smugly manipulates, murders, and eventually genocides her way through the plot, pushing several characters--heroic and villainous alike--into BSODs, removes the second strongest character from the party via a Grand Theft Me, and serves as That One Boss for many players. Near the end of the game, it's even revealed that since she was, for all intents and purposes, the "Eve" of the game's Adam and Eve Plot, and is technically immortal, every disastrous event to befall mankind can be traced back to her machinations in one way or another. So the game lets you beat the tar out of her with its titular God-robot while the giant disembodied head of the Big Bad watches.

First-person Shooters

  • Half Life 2. Sure, you can blast your foes with grenades and rocket launchers, or pound them with a double shot from a shotgun, but the most fun thing everyone loves to do is using the Gravity Gun to pick up stuff and hurl crap at enemies, or pick up larger objects and people and fling those too once the gun is powered up. There is also always the option to smash faces or Headcrabs with the crowbar.
  • Any of the Left 4 Dead games. Start a round where you have a sniper rifle in the saferoom, but don't leave the saferoom. Just shoot off headshots from the safety of your safe house. The AI director even realizes that you're doing this and spawns more zombies for you to kill. Ahhhhhh... For those of you with the second game:~ map c1m1_hotel mutation 14. Thank you, no applause.
  • GoldenEye. Invincibility. All Guns. Infinite Ammo. Pick a level.
  • Similarly, Nazi Zombies.
  • In Unreal Tournament, there were a lot of ways to blow off steam by blowing off heads, but the best by far were:
    • Using the official chainsaw mutator and going melee-only against the lowest-difficulty bots to 100 kills
    • Playing the beach Assault map and singlehandedly holding off the invasion with 15 minutes of sweet, sweet headshots.
    • Unreal Tournament 2004 + Conduit + Vampire + Super Berserk + Slow Motion Corpses = Your very own Matrix/300 cutscene.
  • Alien vs. Predator. Skirmish. Marine-Smartgun. Don't even have to aim. Just press LMB and watch the limbs fly.
  • What's that? You've played through every Marathon game on each difficulty, and countless fan mods, and think the edge has gone out of the game? Now that you've gotten really good, go back and play through on "Kindergarten" or "Easy" and watch as you effortlessly slaughter Phfor and save the galaxy without breaking a sweat. It's so much fun.
  • Bioshock. Fort Frolic. Waltz of the Flowers. You know what I mean!
  • Postal 2. So very much. Especially with the AWP mod. And ESPECIALLY with AWP and the extra weapon mods
  • Modern Warfare: Few things in life beat flipping that switch or popping open a laptop to unleash a world of hurt on the unwitting fools facing you.
  • Painkiller: You have hordes upon hordes of mooks and some of the most creative weapons ever to reduce them to Ludicrous Gibs with. Arsenal and enjoyment options include (but are not limited to):
    • The titular Painkiller - a staff with a crown of rotating blades at the end (jumping with that in a horde of zombies), which can be launched at enemies, either pulling them toward you or shredding them to pieces.
    • Shotgun/freezer - freezing an invincible monster rushing at you and then blasting it to pieces with the shotgun (or freezing a flying one and watch it drop like a stone and shatter on the ground)
    • The epic Stakegun - a pneumatic catapult that launches metre-long wooden stakes which can pin enemies to walls, floors, ceilings, support beams and other enemies, combined with a grenade launcher for dispersing that pesky crowd that gets in the way of the above activity (this is the weapon that will chew off a big chunk of your time and you'll love it), or you can impale a grenade on a stake effectively turning yourself into a fully mobile artillery gun which can blow up almost anything anywhere
    • The famous rocket launcher/chaingun combo, often praised as the most practical gun ever, with one of the hardest but most satisfying activities - propelling enemies into the air by shooting a rocket at their feet, then blowing them apart in mid-air with a perfectly timed second one (seriously, watch a video of this)
    • And of course the shuriken launcher/electrodriver - turning mooks into pin cushions, frying them, or the combo mode - charge and shoot the whole disc with shurikens which will electrocute everything around it.
    • Then there's Demon Morph mode.
  • Yes, there are days in Team Fortress 2 where things just won't go your way. And then there's the days when you're playing as a demoman and a friendly medic gives you a kritzkrieg, basically turning you into the anti-god allowing you to one hit kill every living thing that dared to spawn on the other team.
    • Or, in the same vein, playing the same Demo, going against the last point of any attack/defend map that just happens to have a TON of enemy engineers. Generally, friendly medics are often LOOKING for a Demoman in these situations, so you're effectively guaranteed to get an Ubercharge. Watlz into the last point, and start laying stickybombs. You have eight seconds of Uber, and eight bombs. Detonate them just as the Uber ends, and watch as the entire enemy sentry-nest goes up in smoke. Then enjoy the worship from your team, because you just won the round in a single motion.
  • Wolfenstein 3D: Shooting up Nazis.
    • Featured in the two secret levels of Doom II, where the SS Troopers are deliberately placed on the map in groups of four. Perfect for shooting with a Rocket Launcher...
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 : Crouched beside a tree with a bead on a running enemy across the map, adjust for distance, lead the target, squeeze the trigger, and watch as the falling tracer round collides with the unsuspecting head. That's a very satisfying release.
  • And then there's DOOM. After nearly 20 years, the sound of the shotgun pumping is still the most satisfying thing you will ever hear.
  • Bulletstorm. Oh, the numerous ways of destroying your foes.
  • Perfect Dark: Go into multiplayer, set the number of sims to 8, disable shields, and add the FarSight. Now see how many you can pick off in the course of ten minutes. (Over 100 is a good goal.)

Real-Time Strategies

  • Dawn of War Dark Crusade. Load up the Abandon All Hope map as Tau and ruthlessly crush your enemy...with your own casualties measured in single figures.
    • Dawn Of War 2. The remote-controlled bombs used by Sgt. Cyrus. They are horrendously powerful and you get to set them right the noses of your unsuspecting enemies and then detonate them at your own discretion which is guaranteed to give you a majestic feeling of power over death each time. It's like nukes only you get to use them A LOT.
    • Particularly in the Chaos Rising expansion to Dawn of War 2. Give Avitus the Signum, boost his skills until he unlocks the "Artillery Specialist" ability, and make it rain Death From Above once every sixty seconds. Enemy holed up in a heavily fortified position and armed with heavy weapons? Just have him call down strikes for a few minutes, then walk into the charred and cratered remains of the former enemy position. Try not to trip on any of the Ludicrous Gibs and smoking rubble left behind...
  • Pick a game in the Total War series. Any game. Now load up a custom battle. Give yourself as many units of elite cavalry as you possibly can and the enemy only masses of peasants. Then turn your horsemen loose and watch them cut through the unwashed rabble like scythes through a field of ripe grain. Wasn't that fun?
    • Gunpowder siege weapons + a cowardly enemy hiding in the city center = bowling for peasants. There's just something so cheering about seeing a line of enemy infantry launched into the air as a cannonball skips down the main avenue. Especially if your opponent has been rude on the world map, or put up especially annoying resistance on the city walls.
    • In Rome: Total War, setting up a battle with maxed out Seleucid Armored Elephants, verses Roman Incendiary Pigs, on the Grassy Flatlands. Just send all your elephants right into the center of the Roman Swine, then sit back, relax, and watch flaming pigs fly.
  • Supreme Commander. "Add unit" cheat. 1000 Mercy guided missiles right over an enemy base. I've never seen fireworks so pretty.
  • Starcraft, as well as its sequel. Loading up a game online against one of your noob friends or an easy computer and utterly demolishing them with a "Zerg Rush". Good times.
    • Or perhaps not rushing them, but waiting, teching up and steamrolling the crap out of them with some of the more epic units. (Carriers, Thors, Battlecruisers, etc.) Oh, and the occasional nuke of course.
      • Or even better than the occasional Nuke: build as many nuke silos/ghost academies as you can, fill them all with nukes, set them all to a control group so you can have them rebuilding and launching nonstop, send in a few dozen ghosts and turn the map into a nuclear wasteland.
  • Dominions 3. Effortlessly crushing AI enemies despite crippling cheater advantages because you know the magic system and they don't never gets old.
  • Black and White: You can let off steam by tormenting your villagers or you can cheer yourself up by playing with your creature and watching the mostly-contented villagers of a well-managed village.
  • Dungeon Keeper II... HOO BOY where to begin? You can slap your minions around to make them work faster, or if you're feeling particularly vindictive slap them to DEATH, toss them into the dungeon and let them rot, hurl them into the arena to fight for your amusement (And of course, if they survive you get a more powerful creature out of the deal), and of course... The torture chamber. Then you have the heroes, which once incapacitated you can send to be tortured until they break and join your cause... And then slap them around like you do your minions. Then, for those with a less sadistic side, you can take control of one of your own minions and cruise around your mighty sprawling dungeon, viewing it from their perspective and marvel at all you have accomplished. There are a lot of ways to unwind while plaything this game.

Hack-and-Slash Games

  • Koei's Musou/Warriors series of games (Shin Sangoku/Dynasty, Sengoku/Samurai, Orochi, and Gundam). Got frustration? Vent by pounding the ever loving tar out of wave after wave after wave of Mooks.
    • Especially cathartic in the Gundam editions, due to robot limbs flying all over the place and lots of explosions. There is nothing more cathartic than unleashing a Wave Motion Gun from on high and seeing several hundred Mooks explode in waves.
      • Even more so in 3 when taking over a field causes the mooks in that field to explode in a chain reaction upon the slightest hit.
      • And they're coming up with a Fist of the North Star edition. Do we even have to elaborate?
  • Drakengard is very much this; why not take a dragon and just rain hellfire against giant phalanxes of troops that are completely powerless to hurt you? Or if you so wish, hop down and singlehandedly slash through the innards of thousands.
  • Ninja Gaiden 2 for the Xbox 360 was almost entirely That One Level and That One Boss, but if you managed to beat it you could restart from the beginning with all the upgrades you'd accumulated. Cue a 5-second slaughter of entire rooms of formerly-infuriating ninjas.
    • The God of War series started that back in 2005. Along with costumes to allow extra health, or infinite magic, as well as looking silly (there is no way you can feel stressed when you're watching a cow swing its milk jugs around to whack skeletons). With the second, however, the second playthrough gave you the Blade of Olympus. The weapon that shoots laser beams, can suck out the souls of enemies and is a massive game breaker in your hands as soon as you begin the game. Pure bliss.
  • The Mark of Kri has unlockable arenas, the first of which only sends basic, melee-attack-only enemies at you, all of whom die instantly and spectacularly with the use of the game's ultimate weapon. Not only can you rack up over 50 kills per minute, but your acts of violence will leave the survivors of them to run from you in horror.
  • Condemned and its sequel Bloodshot. Both games consist mostly of picking up pipes, nail bats, bottles and sporting equipment and beating the ever loving crap out of anything that looked at you funny. And even without weapons you had punches, kicks, headbutts and vicious environmental kills; including but not limited too: Curb stomps, slamming heads in doors, throwing people into TV sets, hurling them off the side of buildings, and best of all, curb stomping them into a filthy toilet.
  • The Force Unleashed is basically God of War with Force powers, So feel free to hit some poor sap with a lightsaber, then shock him with lightning and throw him into a bottomless pit.
  • The PC version of Devil May Cry 4 adds the unlockable "Legendary Dark Knight" difficulty, which can be described as "Normal with lots of enemies." Once you get a bit of practice, it becomes surprisingly cathartic to just carve a bloody swath through hordes of baddies.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine: Seriously, just charge into a group of enemies and start slashing (and shooting) away.

Platformers

  • The latest Prince of Persia game is extremely soothing, thanks to its smooth, free-flowing parkour platforming and breathtakingly beautiful environments.
  • Psychonauts. The kaiju parody Perspective Flip known as Lungfishopolis. You play the role of the monster, while in a crowded city that has perfectly breakable buildings. What's more, if you go in there again after the plot happens, said city is due to be demolished. You do the math.
    • Along with Rule of Funny, this has got to be why you can use pyrokinesis on squirrels in the camp. Raz himself seemed to acknowledge this trope both in Sasha's Shooting Gallery ("Shooting things is fun and useful!") and Waterloo World ("I can set wood on fire with my mind, you know") to a wooden game piece). The second is kind of justified, given the day he'd been having...
  • Star Wars: Episode 1 for the PSX gives you the ability to slice Jar Jar to ribbons with your lightsaber in the second level. You get a "game over" if you do though.
  • Iji. It's a pretty bleak storyline, but if you complete a Pacifist Run and save Dan, you get a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming ending and you've earned it. Opening up single-sector play and running amok with a Velocithor is pretty fun too.
  • In Jak II Renegade, you can take a break from the Nintendo Hard missions and just drive around the city in your hovercar... at ground level, reveling in the screams of the annoying civilians and evil guards as you send them flying. If you like, you can also easily knock hoverbikes out of the sky with a well-timed love tap and watch them explode. If the fancy takes you, you can also turn your machine gun or BFG on the surrounding vehicles and pedestrians.

Simulation Games

  • The Sims. Seeing your Sims happy, or rehabilitating a tormented Sim can make you feel better.
  • Building deathtraps in Rollercoaster Tycoon and Theme Park then letting people on.
    • Which can sometimes be necessary catharsis while you're playing the game, given the infuriating AI...
    • Deleting the fence around the lion exhibit in "Zoo Tycoon"
      • Or just picking up the lions and moving them out into the giant crowd of people watching the friendly cats play. The horrified screams as your poor guests futilely try to run in terror are as soothing ointment to a wound.
    • Or dropping someone into the exhibit full of orca whales.
      • Or, even better, dropping someone into the Tyrannosaur and Velociraptor paddocks if you have the Prehistoric Creatures expansion pack. Jurassic Park recreation anyone?
      • Skipping the expansion pack by playing Jurassic Park Operation Genesis and let a T. rex run through your five-star-park or delete the fence of the Raptor Pen.
  • Dwarf Fortress. If you can stand losing, often, and learn to play the game well, rigging up horrible deaths for all involved can be quite calming. Had a bad day? It's remarkably easy to flood your entire fortress and sit there watching the buggers break down as they flee the ever-rising watery death.
    • Alternatively, go to adventure mode, train up wrestling, find a humanoid enemy (giants are good) and systematically cripple every joint in their body before throttling them to death. Repeat until the stress has gone away...
  • Harvest Moon is surely near the top of the list of games inducing catharsis through sheer calming energy. Living on a beautiful farm waking up each day to tend crops and feed animals and then leisurely walk around the town talking to people you are befriending? Could anything be better to wipe away the stress of a busy day?
  • In a similar vein, the Animal Crossing games can be unbelievably cathartic if you've had a stressful day, especially as you usually have fewer obligations than tending a whole farm like in Harvest Moon. Just take a stroll round the town to the tune of that ultra relaxed music, saying hi to your friends, maybe doing a little fishing or catching bugs.

Tabletop Games

  • If your GM is aiming for this, you can make some hilarious memories of burning down a forest when you're supposed to be a protector of Nature, giving an enemy a death without a drop of dignity (using his head as a hat, for instance), and several more incidents of Crossing the Line than you can shake your finger at.

Puzzle Games

  • DROD, the most action packed puzzle game in existence. Slaughtering hordes of overgrown roaches, hunting down goblin after goblin, or meticulously cutting apart a gelatinous monster, all while outsmarting the room layout. Blood, guts, and the satisfaction of hard earned victory.
  • Lemmings - There comes a time in which there's nothing more soothing than discovering the most fun and artistic ways to set them up for when you activate the Nuke button. Maybe you want 100 packed into a tiny area, so that you can make an explosion so powerful that you can cleave through steel plates. Maybe you want to see the perfect timing for when explosions go off compared to when they start counting down. Maybe you want to see if you can properly time the explosions to make art out of the remaining parts of the level. Or maybe you just want a virtual storm of confetti to celebrate your birthday. Regardless of which it is, you know you're in for some fun when you hit the button and hear that pleasing "Oh, no!"
  • Portal certainly has a way of making the most frustrating puzzles awesome in retrospect. Even though all you technically did was put a cube on a button, you leave the test chamber singing "I am so smart! I am so smart! Oh, I am so smart!"
    • Portal 2 gives you a pure, concentrated dose of sweetness at the ending: show me one player who didn't fall to mush when they heard 'Cara Mia' as they ascended to the surface.

Wide-Open Sandbox

  • Games like Grand Theft Auto (III and onward, at least). Two words: Pedestrian Bowling.
    • One more word: Trainer. Although the games are fun to begin with, a whole new level of wanton destruction can be added by taking advantage of the numerous options game trainers provide.
    • And the cheats! Hammer in a flying car cheat, switch to some epic music on the radio and take off into the air. At 88 miles an hour.
  • Prototype. There's nothing like a negative impact for the wholesale slaughter of Blackwatch military personnel or smashing up dozens to hundreds of vehicles just by going from A to B, using humans as projectiles to smash vehicles.
    • When the map starts to split up into areas that are either military controlled or plague-infected, there's an uncommon amount of fun to be had in stealing someone's identity (along with the rest of them), proceeding to go into the red zones, and promptly playing what amounts to Double Dragon 3D: Zombie Edition.
    • The game can also be used for Video Game Caring Potential, as you punch up zombies to save civilians.
    • Try picking up a random human, jumping into the air and smashing them into the ground. Then press the grab button again. You can loop this ground smash forever, and the helpless squishy mortal won't ever die. Pick one that looks like your enemy of the week!
  • The Spider Man 2 movie game. Half the game's fun is using Spidey's abilities to defeat Mooks in the most painful ways you can come up with. Using webbing to continually pull an enemy into the air for flying punches, even after their health is gone. Webbing a crook to a lamp-post and beating the snot out of them for as long as you like. Doing the latter after slamming them into the ground with webbing about six times (an actual combo). Slinging them into the nearest body of water or off the nearest building. Punching them in the kidneys over and over before throwing them into another crook. Swinging them over and over around your head for use as a living projectile/shield. Shooting webbing into their eyes and watching them stumble around in a blind panic. And best of all: pile drivers off the Empire State Building.
    • Just swinging around the city is good for relaxation.
  • Bully. Added catharsis for young players due to the school setting. Look, mom, I'm skipping school! Look, mom, I'm locking a man in a porta-potty and rolling him down a hill with the help of my delinquent girlfriend! I'm on a panty raid! I'm beating up everyone! And for those who were bullied by preppies, you can now shoot one with a potato gun and run like hell.
    • The simplest and arguably most satisfying aspect of Bully is the ability to tackle boys and drive your knee into their junk. Their reactions are priceless.
  • Shadow of the Colossus to a HILT. No matter how many replays, every time you face one, a small part of your brain tells you to run and never look back. And they get bigger. And bigger. And bigger. And defeating them just gets all the more satisfying.
  • You tell me that using the Keys to the City pack in Crackdown, spawning thirty oil barrels, spawning cars, and then driving cars into the mountain doesn't make the adrenaline rush, especially as you toss a single Limpet Charge into it and walk away with the camera facing you.
  • Assassin's Creed II, especially during the Carneval in Venice. Randomly shoot your gun off in the middle of a crowded square, poison a passing soldier and toss coins at his feet and watch as the poisoned guard starts swinging his sword around tossing guards and civilians alike into the canal, use people as fall cushions after a nice session of Le Parkour and punch the crap out of those annoying bards. There's a lot to do in Renaissance Italy.
  • Minecraft. Play the regular mode and plant a ton of dynamite all over the place and make yourself a safe spot high up in the map, just floating there, with a block of dynamite ready to fall upon hitting it, and save the map. Load it in survival mode and wait for a few mobs to form, then hit the dynamite to turn on the timer and make it fall to the earth. The explosion can be so big that even maximum fog won't save you from the lag, but the resulting aftermath? Worth it.
  • Red Faction, but especially Guerilla. The feeling of breaking everything with your giant sledgehammer makes you feel incredibly relaxed.
  • If you get frustrated while playing Just Cause 2, no worries! Travel to the right military base and steal an armored car or a heavily-armed helicopter! Hook mooks to cars and drag them along! Flip cars over during high-speed chases! Hook mooks to a jumbo jet or a military fighter! And so on.
  • Mount and Blade, from firing a hail of arrows with your troops while defending a castle to riding down infantry while heavily armored shrugging off blows, provides a lot of this.
    • There is a particular amount of entertainment to be had in the sequel, Warband, which allows you to still do things like chase after looters. The introduction of a weapon which can only be described as an extra-long baseball bat with nails in it lends newfound hilarity to the idea of chasing down peasants and clubbing them senseless with said weapon. Or you can get a literal plain old stick and whack them about the head with that too.
  • Saints Row plain and simple, for added fun, create a character to use cheats, and abuse them. The Third is even better with this- want to utterly annihilate your foes with an airstrike, or a tank, or a VTOL equipped with lasers and missiles? It's got you covered.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is sometimes called Prototype's predecessor. There is nothing quite as satisfying as cruising around the city on a skateboard you made out of a bus, or the fact you can use a lamppost to work on your golf swing, using people as the balls! Sadly, if you advance the story enough, the game starts to punish you with Demonic Spiders for your wanton destruction.

Other

  • Katamari Damacy. There's just something calming about pushing around an unstoppable ball of death.
  • Tetris, starting at the highest level you can.
  • God Hand. The credit song even lampshades this with the line "The Godhand helps me work out my stress!".
    • Main game giving you fits? Go to the practice ring and beat on the dummy. You take no damage and can use all the Reel/Roulette/Wheel Moves you want.
  • Ratchet and Clank, but Up Your Arsenal and the Tools of Destruction trilogy in particular. Especially with New Game Plus. You do not know catharsis until you've eradicated all life on some lonely little asteroid with the behemoth of a gun that is the RYNO 5. This particular model is a multi-barrel rocket launching chain gun with a multi-barrel homing missle launcher wrapped around it that plays the 1812 Overture during sustained fire. You will achieve nirvana using this gun.
  • The Torture Game 2. Someone piss you off? Use the face creator feature and import their face onto the torture subject, then go to town on them with the various weapons and torture instruments.
  • Basically the entire point of Ant City
  • Robot Dinosaurs That Shoot Beams When They Roar. Not that hard, and you get to be a dinosaur that shoots beams when you roar.
  • Plants vs. Zombies: the Zen Garden, in which there are no zombies. The most unnerving moment in it is not having enough money for a record player. Also, the later stages of an easy-difficulty daytime survival game, as you watch zombies amble onto your spike rocks to fall from a hail of burning gatling pea ammunition.
  • Flat Out 2, Simcade (Sim-arcade?) which provides a number of highly satisfying ways to run into other cars (or make them run into pre-rendered or ungodly heavy scenery crap). Available modes are Race (heavily-themed courses with a large amount of scenery to demolish at very high speed), Event (smaller track, usually designed for extra speed or with a calculated chance for collisions), Demolition Derby Exactly What It Says on the Tin, or Stunt (use a jetcar to get up to speed and then launch the driver through the windshield for things like High Jump, Darts, etc). When in a suitable mood for completely wanton devastation, the Wreaking Havok that this game provides is highly enjoyable.
  • Total Annihilation has flying transport units that can "transport" enemy units, especially if they're AI...Oh, the possibilities!
  • It's more-or-less safe to say that part of the draw of the Super Robot Wars games is giving you the ability to blow up certain villains that a lot of people don't really like. The visceral explosions when they go up certainly don't hurt, either. The effect is tripled if the villain in question is a Karma Houdini.
  • The Hitman series, especially Hitman Blood Money. Going back to earlier missions with fully upgraded weapons, you'll wish there were more people to kill. Also, notBowen's How Not To Play Hitman series just shows how much fun you can have not having to adhere to 47's professionalism.
  • Are you dissatisfied with Homestuck's recent turn of events? Are you tired of Vriska and wish she could get her comeuppance? We feel your pain.
  • For A Ranking all the missions in Valkyria Chronicles Selvaria DLC, you unlock a bonus mission where you get to play as her... in Valkyria form. Yeah. Blowing up General Damon's tank is also pretty satisfying.
  • Non game example. Bully Beatdown. Watching bullies get their asses handed to them by professional MMA fighters is quite satisfying.
  • Frustrated by traffic? Spent hours in 2 MPH rush hour? Annoyed at people cutting you off and then driving slower than you were? Rejoice, for there is Burnout, and there is Traffic Checking[2] and there is Crash Mode [3] and there is Road Rage [4] and there are Aftertouch Takedowns[5]. Word of caution: you probably shouldn't go out and drive in real life for a while after a good session of Burnout.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum and its sequel, Batman: Arkham City. You're Batman. Not just The Dark Knight, not just vengeance and the night, you're the Goddamn Batman. So satisfying.

Notes

  1. remember all those times you died at the hands of the Thresher Maws?
  2. ramming into same-way, non-competing cars from behind to send them flying, which can be weaponized against opponents
  3. deliberately smashing into heavily-congested intersections to trigger the biggest, explodiest crashes
  4. a game mode where you can keep driving endlessly as long as you keep smashing opponents into the scenery
  5. if an opponent takes you down, you can steer your wreck in midair to try to crash it into them as payback
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