Hardest Games Across all Platforms
Everyone has their interpretation of what makes a game hard, from endlessly dying to ultra-rare platinum trophies to try and collect.
The difficulty comes in all forms, from bullet sponge enemies to one-hit kills, but as long as the game is fair and achievable, we still enjoy the challenge they present.
Some players make it their mission to collect ultra-rare platinum trophies as a badge of honor on their profiles, while others it becomes a sense of pride and achievement to finally beat a game that you have spent hours trying to conquer.
The difficulty sets their game apart from other titles for some developers, and they pride themselves on making the most difficult game fair.
Below is the list of titles that we believe are amongst the hardest for different reasons.
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Released 2011 and Developed by FromSoftware
Reason for difficulty: Lack of Tutorial and Trial and Error Gaming
Dark Souls is always on people’s lips when they talk about difficult games, and the developer, FromSoftware, prides itself on making challenging but fair games. But what makes Dark Souls so difficult?
Let’s start at the beginning.
Dark Souls was born from the game Demon’s Souls (currently available on the Play Station 5), a title that has been argued to be harder than all the Dark Souls games combined. Demon’s souls set a precedent for all FromSoftware games to follow; this game is going to kick your butt.
Dark Souls fits this bill.
As gamers, we have been conditioned to a fair amount of hand-holding when we start a new game, and Dark Souls changes this by not having a tutorial that can come across as very daunting to new players.
The lack of information you receive at the start of the game makes the systems within seem unfair while you spend your time familiarizing yourself with the game’s nuances.
Dark Souls encourages you to proceed with caution, learn from past mistakes or find new areas to explore. Players must decide if resting at a bonfire to regain health and healing charges is worth it when all the enemies you have just spent hours killing will respawn and could make matters worse.
Depending on your progression, that can be a significant trade-off.
These decisions can not be taken lightly, and that is where Dark Souls has you hooked.
Dark Souls is a hardcore dark fantasy that requires a lot of thinking and concentration to really make your mark, but the challenge lies not in conquering the game but surviving while trying to understand it.
Released 2020 by Team Ninja and Kou Shibusawa
Reason for Difficulty: Overwhelming Management Systems
Although a recent release, Nioh 2 has already created a stir amongst hardcore gamers when it comes to challenging games.
The biggest reason this game is challenging is down to the number of management systems you have to keep on top of and balance throughout the game. The main culprit of this is the gear system which has you constantly checking if the “Greaves” you just picked up are better than the last five that you have acquired over the previous 5 minutes.
This constant need to clear through gear and number crunch the benefits of each one takes away from the game as a whole and makes it incredibly difficult to understand where you’re going wrong when you die quickly.
Aside from the gear, the depth of the game is impressive. Death is a lesson as every enemy must be approached with a different strategy and weapon to really succeed. Again, back to the rucksack to see if that weapon is better than the previous four I just got killed using.
There is a counter that balances it out for everything hard, but only if you can take advantage of it.
Released 2020 by Studio MDHR
Reason for Difficulty: Frustrating and Enforces Rage Quitting Regularly
We recently wrote about Cuphead in our best Indie Games list, and it is still up there as a game to play or at least attempt. We thought it was worth mentioning again as one of the hardest video games of all time.
As far as difficulty goes, there is an easy mode, but that detracts from how the game has been designed!
With a focus on boss battles which include a world record amount, the game pushes you to study every enemy from their attacks, mannerisms, and the sounds they make.
All this information is needed to topple these immensely difficult bosses to make them pay their soul contract. Very few players can say they have beaten a boss within Cuphead on their first try, and those that have will graciously admit they might have got lucky.
Now don’t get me wrong, the game is never unfair, frustrating but not unfair. While you endure level after level of frustration, take solace in the stunning hand-drawn game visuals and fantastic soundtrack within.
A stunning game in looks and sounds, but the patience of a saint is undoubtedly needed to harness the true emotion and enjoyment of the game entirely.
Released 2010 by Team Meat
Reason for DifficultyBlood Splattered Replays to See Your Mistakes
The name gives away a lot, but it doesn’t fully prepare you for the 300 hazardous levels that lay ahead of you.
As a nod to the platforming genre that Super Mario Bros made so famous, Super Meat Boy’s gameplay can only be characterized by fine control and split-second timing that will go wrong the majority of the time.
This may come across as an easy play with unlimited lives, but after you have attempted the same level 10 plus times only to fail at the same trap, it becomes more than problematic.
When you finally complete the level, that sense of euphoria is short-lived as you watch the blood-splattered replay simultaneously, showing your mistakes in all their bloody glory. That is without considering that every level is timed, and to fully complete the game, you need to achieve an A+ rating on all 300 levels.
The easiest way to play Super Meat Boy is to spend your first few attempts at each and every level as scouting missions without worrying about time. This can become tiresome, but each level features endlessly clever ways to obstruct your path and frustrate your progress while taking pride in leaving as much meat juice in every trap possible.
Unforgiving gameplay and level design make this an inaccessible game to some players, but we can’t deny its charm. Plus, imagine being able to say you have beaten it!
Released 2019 by FromSoftware
Reason for Difficulty: Brutal Samurai Revenge
While previous titles from the same developer focused on mastering your own playing style and… dying a lot, this game focuses on stealth, exploration, and combat. It is the latter that really makes the game shine but also the quality that makes it difficult to master.
Unlike most games, the enemy’s health isn’t an issue, but with your trusty Katana, you attack the posture and balance to finally get a single killing blow. In principle, it sounds simple, but it requires precision timing and tactics within a thrilling exchange of clashing blades.
Sekiro is a tough game to master, and because the timing windows between telegraph and delivery are varied and often narrow the learning curve steep. Every enemy is equally challenging and rewarding as they require you to change your tactics for each encounter. Once you can confidently stand toe to toe with your enemy, you will feel like a true Samurai.
Combat aside, the death of your character encourages you to balance risk and reward. Yes, you can resurrect but will your tampering with the forces of resurrection have unforeseen consequences?
A brutal yet spectacular game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice punishes you for every misstep, but victory is as intense and gratifying as if you’d cut down the foe yourself.
Released 2019 by Nintendo
Reason for Difficulty: Trolling at its Finest
The single-player story mode featuring 100 official courses would not in itself warrant a place on this list, but, as mentioned, it’s the uploaded player-made courses that we can’t ignore.
Giving players creative freedom to design whatever stages they want using bits a piece from the Super Mario Bros franchise translates into powerful fiendishness that you see everywhere online.
The only caveat on any uploaded level is that the creator must have beaten it from the beginning and each checkpoint to prove the level is possible. A fact that, in some cases, is as equally impressive as it is terrifying.
A subculture of trolling and fiendishly complicated puzzle makers have found and used exploits to get around the need to prove the level can be completed.
Nintendo goes out of its way to provide a level design tutorial that teaches players the Nintendo way of level design, but this philosophy doesn’t reign supreme.
You don’t have to look far to find levels that throw this way of thinking out the window. One such level requires the player to enter a 752-digit binary passcode by way of breaking blocks to obtain the key to the level’s exit. Add in a 500-second timer, and this level becomes the stuff of nightmares.
The game also features an Endless Challenge mode which involves completing as many random courses as possible with 15 lives. These are set to a difficulty decided by the player, but the real challenge lies in doing this on the hardest difficulty and seeing how many courses you can beat.
Released 2015 by Ubisoft Montreal
Reason for Difficulty: Single Player Not an Option
While Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege doesn’t appear to be one of the toughest games on face value, this online tactical shooter is only playable in a team of 5, which, without you, will find yourself or your entire team killed or downed at least once per game.
Communication is vital, and unfortunately, players who do not have a team to play with don’t usually like to communicate with others, which makes the game nearly impossible to master alone.
Team killing has become a constant thorn to players, and Ubisoft has tried various methods to stop this from happening. Still, as you sit out another round while watching everyone else being killed, you wonder if they are doing enough.
Add in the mouse and keyboard users on consoles, and it quickly becomes extremely hard to play. PC users are not without issues like the frequent use of wallhacks and aimbots makes this game extraordinarily unfriendly and inaccessible to new players.
If you are lucky enough to be in a team of 5, the grind is still ahead as the need to learn the maps, location of cameras, and ideal starting points isn’t for the faint-hearted. While communication is the key to success in the game, it’s also the main point of toxicity from random players.
With all this being said, a narrow win or a complete team wipe is still a fantastic feeling and achievement but can rarely happen in Ranked or Quick Matches.
With a team of friends, this is a brilliant game, but on your own, it becomes a different story where extreme skill is rewarded. If you’re looking to play this alone, we suggest finding some online groups on social media where you can find some like-minded gaming buddies to team up with.
Released 2008 by Team Ninja
Reason for Difficulty: Graphic Violence and Gore
This is not a game for people that enjoy a good story or those that like a story to make sense, but it does have a depth in combat that is exciting as much as it is difficult.
The combat is a game of skill, not simply basic button bashing, while the need to learn your way around the complex system of attack, blocks, and counters is exceptionally daunting. Dismemberment is always on display which can be satisfying when it’s not happening to you, but more often than not, the overwhelming number of enemies becomes too much to enjoy the full gore effects.
Bosses are doable just about, but they are extremely hard work and require skill upon the skill of manual dexterity to accomplish.
Where most difficult games seem unfair, it’s always balanced out with an onus on the player learning and reacting. Ninja Gaiden does not play fair, enter a new area, and be beset upon by an unavoidable bunch of thugs who wipe out half your health in an instant.
This, coupled with a camera that doesn’t like you to see who is doing the dismembering it becomes a game for the most hardcore of gamers.
Endless enemies that have the power to knock you down in seconds, not for the faint-hearted.
Released 2015 by FromSoftware
Reason for Difficulty: Gothic Victorian Era Horror
Another game from the developers at FromSoftware, Bloodborne, is a game where gothic horror is brought to life with a fast-paced combat system and game world that changes as you progress.
Once again, FromSoftware utilizes the risk and reward system seen in its other titles with the safe space of Lanterns where you replenish health, but all enemies are repopulated. These enemies are often dense hordes that require an offensive approach to defeat.
The mastery of weapons and foes becomes essential very quickly, but the game does an excellent job of training you in the skills needed to survive. You just need to remember these while a grotesque Bloodlicker or Carrion Crow tries to kill you.
The game makes it clear that every failure or mistake is your fault, and this will mainly be down to not learning the timing of your attacks.
Patience and scouting your enemies is the only way to succeed, and dying is a learning curve that can only be learned the hard way.
A hardcore horror game for players with the will to succeed without giving up too quickly.
Released 2018 by Capcom
Reason for Difficulty: Dynamic Difficulty at its Finest
This is the 5th installment of the Monster Hunter series, and while that is an achievement within itself, do not fall into the trap of thinking it’s an easy game to master.
The difficulty comes in the way you play the game. Offline on your own is the most straightforward setting, but simple doesn’t always mean easy as monsters still need to be tracked, hunted, and trapped or killed. Not to mention that, alone, the fights can be excruciatingly long.
The difficulty ramps up when playing with others and does not go back down if the players leave the party or get disconnected early. This requires a good deal of communication and investigation into each monsters’ strengths, weaknesses, and behavior.
While this entry is more accessible to newcomers than its predecessors, it still needs to be admired for the challenging world that invites you in.
As mentioned, the game is playable solo; it is not a practical way of playing a game designed to be played with others.
It requires a lot of time and practice to master this game entirely, but the rewards are incredible when you finally take down a Rathian that has eluded you. Just don’t let a Rathalos join in, as they will happily gang up on you.
A must play with friends but expect quests to go awry for the unprepared.
Released 2019 by Nintendo
Reason for Difficulty: Exercise is hard!
This is not the first game people think of when you talk about difficult games but bear with us.
Many people turned to exercise to fill their time during the recent worldwide pandemic but with gyms closed Ring Fit thrived. For those who do not visit a gym often, Ring Fit gives us that exercise thrill while attacking enemies in turn-based combat.
The difficulty comes from the varying fitness levels of its users, which for some will make the game a breeze, but for a lot of us, this will be one of the hardest games you will ever play.
The game will start by asking you several questions to determine the difficulty settings, ranging from 1 to 30. People will often think they are fitter than they are and begin at a high number.
My advice? Aim low.
The difficulty can be changed as you need to and is mainly seen in the number of reps you are asked to perform in each exercise. Exercise that’s fun, but you only get out of it what you put in.
What is the hardest boss in Dark Souls?
This depends on your own unique skillset. While some are more difficult than others, the most difficult boss can vary from player to player. Many players consider Darkeater Midir from Dark Souls 3 to be the hardest boss in the entire game and, well… the whole series.
What’s the Fastest anyone has ever completed Cuphead?
According to Speedrun.com, the top placing run clocks in at 23minutes and 16 seconds!