What was the hardest game you've ever played? A dangerous platformer, a choice-based emotional odyssey or a complicated tactical nightmare?
We couldn't decide on a single game that is the hardest of them all, so we've taken some suggestions from the gaming community and added some of our favorites to compile a list of the hardest and most challenging titles.
So, in no particular order, here are 22 of the hardest games ever made. If that's all too much for you, why not unwind with our selection of 16 of the world's easiest games.
1. Dark souls
Yes, we had a feeling that this one might arise. He has a well-deserved reputation for being tough, with a seemingly endless line of tough bosses who can (and will) stomp on you like you're an ant. And while we know it's only part of the learning curve, there are times when we've been trampled just as we were about to reach a campfire checkpoint and we may have shed some very small tears.
Solid choice. Don't be fooled by the colorful ambience, lively soundtrack and happy barbershop foursomes – Cuphead is tough. You only have 3 HP to see you through Cuphead's abundance of boss fights (there are more of these than regular platformer levels), and you'll have to keep learning new strategies to defeat them because each fight has multiple stages.
3. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege
Rainbow Six Siege focuses a lot on tactics, which can be difficult when you're just starting out and everyone seems to have mastered them all. But it's possible to achieve great things regardless of whether you're playing as a specific Operator or a standard Recruit, and some of the most smile-inducing moments in the game can happen when you face skilled opponents and manage to trick them into slipping.
4. Super Mario Maker 2
Super Mario Maker 2's regular levels can be quite challenging at times, but at least they're always fair. No matter how many moves it takes, you know it's possible to beat them in the end, even if you make a little mistake here and there. But then you take a look at some of the expert levels made by other players and realize that absolute perfection is being demanded. Worth trying? Course is.
5 Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Given that it came from the developers of Dark Souls, we shouldn't be surprised that Sekiro made the list. The bosses here are just as strong as their Dark Souls counterparts, and this time it's all about learning to break your stance so you can deliver that final blow before they recover. It's hard, but the sheer euphoria you'll feel when you finally get it done is so worth it. Difficulties aside, the game is also pretty to look at, presenting a fantastic interpretation of Sengoku-era Japan.
6. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
There's a bit of a learning curve here, and even the game's creators admitted that it was difficult. Almost every action you take needs to be calculated carefully because there isn't much room for error and villains hit you hard, but you also need to balance that with a desire to explore every nook and cranny you can find. Keep it up though, and before long you'll be dodging Sligs and Scrabs like a pro. Oddworld recently did a remake, but if you want to experience the original in all its polygonal glory, you can find it on PlayStation Classic.
7. Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy
Look, sticking your legs in a cauldron and dragging yourself up a mountain with a climbing hammer would never be an easy task. Losing control and falling back to the bottom again is also not an easy thing to experience. Take a deep breath, resist the urge to scream out loud as Bennett Foddy gently reminds you that there are bigger things in life to worry about, and try again. That's all you can do.
8. Super Meat Boy
Despite its simple control scheme, Super Meat Boy is anything but straightforward. Its design level is fiendish, throwing curveball after curveball at the player, requiring pinpoint platform accuracy to survive. Fortunately, resets are instantaneous and lives are infinite, which means you can keep playing against the dastardly designs of the Super Meat Boy indefinitely.
9. Ring Fit Adventure
Ring Fit Adventure is arguably the hardest game on the list because it asks you to exercise. Fortunately, the game makes this dreaded activity extremely enjoyable, sending you on a varied and rewarding fitness quest.
Stepping on a plug. Get a parking ticket. Finding out that your boiler has exploded. All these frustrations pale in comparison to the many failures you'll experience in each Battletoads level. This rock solid side-scroller can be played in co-op, but don't think it will make things any easier. Find this title in Rare Replay if you're up for the ultimate challenge.
11. The Witness
The Witness is one of the smartest and most unique puzzle games in recent years. As you explore a seemingly deserted island, you'll encounter a variety of different logic-based puzzles that require you to effectively move from Point A to Point B using a single line. What makes The Witness difficult is the sheer number of puzzles, as well as the requirements to complete each one. There are “rules” that must be learned and applied to subsequent puzzles to progress through the game and help uncover the secret of your world. Different puzzles around the island fit into elements of previous puzzles you've completed. There are some that require a close eye and some that require you to think completely laterally. Every puzzle you come across is like learning a completely new language.
12. Monster Hunter: World
Monster Hunter: World lit up the sales charts early last year, quickly becoming Capcom's best-selling game of all time. This was largely due to the fact that it was more accessible to newer players than its notoriously obtuse predecessors. But, what many newbies also discovered relatively early on is how difficult Monster Hunter games can be. Combat requires an in-depth knowledge of the many monsters you'll encounter: each monster has unique attack patterns that must be learned while waiting for the perfect opening to land your attack. Understanding the nuances between the 14 different weapons available to you can also pose quite a challenge, as each has a distinct playstyle that changes how you approach each fight.
In XCOM 2 (and its predecessor XCOM: Enemy Unknown), you take command of a team of military soldiers trying to eradicate a dangerous alien race. What makes both extremely difficult is the enemy AI, which is surprisingly smart (as aliens should be), so bugs should be kept to an absolute minimum. Oh, and when one of your soldiers falls in battle, that's it. They are gone forever, with no reappearance after the mission. If you're a perfectionist, you'll find that XCOM 2 is a bittersweet journey. Big battles are packed with futuristic technology, weaponry, and skills, but losing a teammate can be devastating, prompting many to restart each battle to ensure everyone makes it out alive. While there's nothing wrong with playing this way, it artificially increases the difficulty as you effectively play each battle perfectly, with no errors and RNG in your favor. XCOM game designer Jake Solomon mentioned that during playtesting, many found the initial campaign quite easy. So, to compensate, they increased the difficulty and moved the “standard” game mode to the easiest option: Rookie. So if you're entering the game's default Veteran mode for the first time, then you've got to work hard, Commander.
In VVVVVV, you will navigate with Captain Viridian through several different levels, full of spikes and other dangerous obstacles, as you try to recover the missing crew members. The unique mechanic in this platformer is that you don't jump in the traditional sense, but instead turn gravity to move between floor and ceiling as you navigate each level. This can create some mind-blowing scenarios where quick reflexes are needed to succeed. In addition to rescuing your lost crewmates, there are also optional trinkets that can be collected and pose their own challenge to recover. One of the most notorious is in an area called "Doing Things the Hard Way", which will require you to reverse gravity and fall onto a long spike lined with spikes... dying hundreds of times during this single puzzle isn't uncommon.
15. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
In Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, it seems like enemies are constantly having you in their sights, no matter where you are. To make things more hectic, there's little indication of the direction from where you're being shot. New Colossus' harder difficulties make it exponentially more demanding as its overall health and damage is reduced, and even the lowest difficulties pose a significant challenge. Good luck finishing the game on the 'Mein leben' difficulty – a mode that gives you a single life to get through the entire campaign, a feat that was achieved by around 0,1% of players.
As we mentioned before, Spelunky is an incredibly difficult exploration-based platform. You'll be traveling through procedurally generated caves in search of precious loot while avoiding countless enemies, traps, and obstacles. What makes Spelunky so difficult is that he preys on your greed. While the end of a level may be in sight, so is a treasure chest that is just out of reach. But if you die, you lose everything and have to start the race all over again. The constant timer in each level is sure to get your nerves on edge and ensure you keep moving. If time runs out, a ghost appears and starts chasing you out of the area, and if touched it will instantly end your run. Enemies and environments are extremely unforgiving, but each race will teach you a little more to (hopefully) help you in future races. You'll need all the practice you can get before Spelunky 2 will be released later this year.
Celeste is a hardcore platformer that features a young woman named Madeline climbing a mountain while dealing with her own mental health along the way. Its main gameplay revolves around single-screen puzzles that you must pass through a platform. What makes Celeste difficult is the precision it takes to get through each puzzle, especially when you get to the last parts of the game. Your skill level is constantly challenged, but you will also improve with each puzzle you pass. Its difficulty feels like a constant slope throughout the game, pushing you just enough out of your comfort zone to progress. There are optional strawberries scattered throughout the levels that generally require more innovative thinking to obtain. Once you've completed the main story, you'll unlock B-Sides, remixed levels that are significantly more challenging than anything in the main story. If you are patient enough to go through all the B sides of the game, you will unlock the C sides which are almost impossible. You're ready for the challenge?
18 Dead Cells
Dead Cells might seem like more of a procedurally generated roguelike game, but once you've spent some time with it, you'll see that it sets itself apart in a number of different ways. Moment-to-moment gameplay includes exploring a series of interconnected corridors and collecting items and defeating enemies that stand in your way. This is very reminiscent of Metroidvania-style games, as there are a number of secrets to discover and many upgrades that can be obtained. As you progress through each race, you'll pick up scrolls that allow you to upgrade your Brutality, Tactics, and Survival - which modify your health and damage dealt with specific acquired weapons. Enemies are very relentless and many of them shoot projectiles or attack in groups. Health is also an extremely limited resource that becomes more available as you play more, but early on, the protagonist is very fragile. The various boss fights in the game are very demanding and depending on your character build will require a huge amount of skill to overcome.
Darkest Dungeon is a relentless dungeon crawler that puts you in charge of a pre-assembled team of adventurers trying to rid the property you've inherited from its mortal inhabitants. Each of the dungeons you enter is procedurally generated and filled with a host of unique traps and items to discover, as well as being filled with enemies. As you progress through the dungeons, you are equipped with a torch that is slowly burning. As the torch light gets weaker, your team gets weaker. There's a risk-reward mechanic at play, which a lot of the game revolves around. Will you journey deeper into the dungeon in hopes of finding valuable treasure or will you die at the hands of many enemies?
20. The Binding of Isaac
Created and developed by Edmund McMillen (who also co-created Super Meat Boy), The Binding of Isaac is a top-down roguelike dungeon crawler that shows no mercy. You control Isaac, a boy who is stripped of all his belongings by his mother to protect him from the outside world. Each race begins in the basement as you explore a set of procedurally generated rooms that take inspiration from The Legend of Zelda dungeon designs and are filled with different enemies, loot, and secrets. There are nearly 200 unique types of enemies, and each has a unique attack pattern that should be quickly identified when you enter a room, as there are also plenty of traps and other projectiles that you'll also be busy dodging. There are also nearly 550 unique items that can be found and collected that change Isaac's appearance, giving him new abilities.
21. Enter The Gungeon
Dodge Roll Games studio's first game was aptly named as one of the key mechanics you need to master at the start, well... the dodge roll. In Enter The Gungeon, your objective is to progress through a series of procedurally generated floors, eliminating waves of enemies and trying to stay alive. As you descend deeper into the dungeon, enemies become more difficult and resources are limited, requiring a lot of will and skill to proceed. Each enemy has a unique bullet pattern, with bosses becoming complete hellish nightmares. Movement is essential, as is learning to use cover to your advantage. There are over 200 weapons you'll find throughout the Gungeon, and each has its own unique skill that you should quickly learn and use to your advantage. With limited health and tough enemies.
The penultimate game on our list draws a lot of comparisons to the “Soulsborne” game series because of its grueling combat and tough boss encounters, but Nioh sets itself apart with a more offensive combat style. You are able to seamlessly transition between different positions in battle that affect your damage output. His High Stance deals more damage while sacrificing speed. His Medium Stance offers a more balanced approach during combat, and his Low Stance favors speed over damage. Reading your enemy and finding the right moment to transition between positions can make or break any encounter. Nioh's boss encounters are where the game really shines and can be extremely difficult even for experienced players as enemies offer an extremely limited window of opportunity to attack. Understand the different combat skills,