The Dark Souls games are viewed by many to be some of the most anxiety-inducing, heart-pumping games ever released, but they aren’t as stress-inducing as Mario Kart. In Dark Souls, players traverse across a medieval landscape filled with monsters and enemies lurking behind every corner. The games are most famous for how unforgiving they can be. More often than not, one hit could be enough to kill a player and send them back to their last save point. These games also helped popularize many in-game features which are now popular in modern AAA and indie titles, like forcing players to go back to the spot where they died in order to recollect their loot, as seen in Hollow Knight and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
Games in the Dark Souls series are among the most difficult titles ever released, but the question stands, are they the most stressful? To find the answer, Bonus Finder put together a team to conduct a study to try and figure out which game is the most stressful. They assembled a group of 14 active games and measured their heart rates as they played 16 of the most popular, and challenging, games currently available on console, PC, and mobile devices. The findings of this study turned out to be quite interesting.
In a surprising turn of events, the most stressful video game found in the study from Bonus Finder was actually Mario Kart. The party racing game took the top spot in the study, as players’ heart rates rose by an average of 21 beats per minute, which was a 32.81% increase on the groups 64 BPM resting heart rate. In second place came FIFA 20, then Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and, shockingly, in fourth place was Dark Souls. Fortnite rounded out the top-five with DOOM, Street Fighter, and Battlefield all barely missing the cut.
The main takeaway from this study seems to be that single-player games lack the same stress-inducing capabilities of their multiplayer counterparts. Not having someone to compete against seems remove some of a game’s edge. Take Mario Kart, for example. The game is lighthearted, but it’s also a constant battle to get into first place. Then, once it’s claimed, it’s another battle entirely just to hold onto the positioning. Someone in first place has to watch their peripherals and deal with the constant stress of other racers creeping up on them. That, plus the fear of Blue Shell or any number of different Mario Kart items coming out of nowhere to help someone steal the lead position.
FIFA is a game of constant back and fourths. A lot of the time, one goal can be the difference maker. This means every goal counts, and it isn’t easy to score them. Once a FIFA player falls behind, the pressure is on to try and put the ball in the back of the net before the other team starts to build on their lead. As for Modern Warfare, running across the battlefield can be extremely stress-inducing. Any opening can leave a player liable to be sniped from halfway across the map, so it’s best to always be on guard.
While Dark Souls may not have been as stressful as the other three games that ranked ahead of it, the game did feature the highest peak BPM of any game. When going up against the boss Darkeater Midir from Dark Souls 3, players’ heart rates reached heights of 127 BPM, or a 98.44% increase on the groups resting heart rate. So, while Mario Kart is the more stressful game overall, it doesn’t hold a candle to a boss fight from Dark Souls.
Source: Bonus Finder