Video games have never been the easiest activity for players to get into. While they are certainly fun, each game presents its own unique set of challenges players must overcome.
Platforming, riddles, quick reflexes, and real-time combat versus AI or other human opponents are just a few examples of these obstacles. While some games are logically easier than the others, some may be so challenging that they stick in players’ memories for years.
This list comprises games from the early 2000s and is ranked from easiest to toughest. Difficulty is subjective by itself, so it makes sense that different players might find different games more challenging than others. Despite that, there’s no denying a few games have certain elements that might give the average casual player a run for their money.
So here’s the Top 10 Toughest Video Games.
Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening (2005)
Dante’s Awakening, the third installment in the Devil May Cry series, comes in last. It is the first game in the series chronologically speaking and portrays the beginnings of Dante. In order to vanquish his evil twin brother Virgil and come to terms with his past, Dante must play a third-person action-adventure game.
Despite being ranked No. 10 on our list, the game is not any simpler than most others. In fact, the original game was so challenging that Capcom created a Special Edition that allowed players to lighten up on the challenge and made it suitable for series beginners.
Supergiant Games’ Hades is a roguelike dungeon crawler. In this game, players take on the role of Zagreus, a fictitious Hades son who is trying to escape Tartarus and his father’s control. It’s a fun element in the game that if Zagreus perishes while traveling, he will still get resources and experience back in Tartarus. In essence, this mechanism strengthens Zagreus every time he tries to flee, enabling him to move across the world more quickly.
Because Zagreus must restart the game from the beginning if he dies, this game is challenging. The fans is split on this; some believe it to be overly severe while others believe it to be the ideal balance of enjoyment and challenge.
Studio MDHR’s Cuphead is a run-and-gun shooter with platforming features. This game’s popularity is derived from the rubber hose animation and graphics, which are evocative of the first cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s. But don’t be fooled by the cute graphics and whimsical music; if players aren’t prepared, the game may be severe.
The levels can be fairly difficult to complete with the addition of bullet-hell features. Despite being challenging due to their various phases and delightfully created and animated, defeating the boss bouts with either Cuphead or Mugman feels incredibly satisfying. Players must guide the siblings to victory by paying the siblings’ debt in order to prevent them from making a bargain with the Devil, which never ends well.
The dungeon-crawling adventure experience offered by Darkest Dungeon may be the most lifelike one yet in a video game. In this roguelite role-playing game by Red Hook Studios, players enter a dark, medieval world where they begin as an explorer exploring the tunnels beneath their mansion in search of wealth.
The majority of players won’t be familiar with this voyage. They will have to handle actual issues like hunger and worry. Players and the members of their party may experience numerous status states as a result if these problems spiral out of control. While some of these ailments may even benefit the group as a whole, the majority of them can make combat difficult and even result in the party’s demise. This mechanic makes the game challenging for any inexperienced adventurer, especially when combined with the party members’ permadeath.
In Japan, fans of the franchise adore the Shin Megami Tensei games. Despite not being as well-known elsewhere due to a lack of localization, the series often lagged behind and consequently failed to appeal to a global audience. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, Atlus’ first real third-person 3D game with the now-iconic Demi-Fiend as the protagonist, brought an end to all of this.
Nocturne modifies the battle systems of the earlier Shin Megami Tensei games with its turn-based combat system, which is now reminiscent of old-school RPGs. The series also had a press turn feature that gave the player an extra turn in battle if they dealt the enemy a critical hit or hit its weak spot.
Each of the demons that the Demi-Fiend encounters can be battled, vanquished, and, if they so desire, recruited to their side. As the game advances, demons can also be combined to produce stronger devils. The game received positive reviews after its first release, however many players were discouraged from continuing the plot due to the game’s steep learning curve. This was resolved with the recent release of the remastered version, which added a Merciful difficulty setting and propelled this game to the No. 6 position on this list.
The Ninja Gaiden games have always been challenging, but the sequel released in 2008, Ninja Gaiden II, reached a new extreme. Even on “regular” difficulty, these opponents roughhouse the player; but, when the difficulty is set to Master Ninja, they constantly assault with vicious grabs and projectiles that devour the player’s health.
Later levels see enemies equipped with cannons that fire with uncanny accuracy and regularity. Sometimes it’s impossible to survive, let alone kill anything. The internet, of course, implies that someone completed the entire task in four hours without getting struck once.
Dark Souls was a generational series that defined a period. It created the Souls-like genre and popularized the appeal of increasingly difficult games. Because the three games in this series are so similar to one another, they are all combined into one entry. They all share a common overall lore despite taking place in diverse places.
The grueling levels come in second place behind the boss fights as the series’ standout feature. Each location has breathtaking scenery, if not entirely overshadowed by lethal adversaries who are always trying to murder the player. Additionally perilous is the idea of rest stops, or “bonfires,” as they are referred to in the series. The majority of the defeated opponents resurrect if the player takes a break and replenishes their health at these bonfires, adding to the difficulty of moving through older regions or making a run-up to an area’s boss.
Bloodborne is the second FromSoftware title on this list and a departure from the Dark Souls series. In the country of Yharnam, players assume the role of a hunter who battles monsters straight out of a Lovecraftian nightmare. The twisted monsters like Ludwig and Orphan of Kos followed the more human-appearing foes like Lady Maria and Gehrman.
When it was first launched, Bloodborne was a breath of new air, giving players a momentary break from the Dark Souls-style of action with a faster-paced battle style and no shield. The quicker-paced battles, while entertaining, also meant that slight mistakes could be heavily penalized, making it a challenging experience for less experienced players.
Elden Ring, the most recent blockbuster from FromSoftware and its first attempt into an actual open world, has been sweeping the globe in recent months. Although there are many good reasons for this, some fans had issues with this contemporary classic. The majority of the game’s early issues, which mostly affected the PC version, afflicted the game at launch. These difficulties varied from framerate issues to questlines that were broken. But the difficulty spike was always the most obvious problem.
In contrast to prior FromSoftware games, which were typically played by the diehard SoulsBorne group, George R. R. Martin’s involvement with Elden Ring helped the game get widespread recognition. Many casual players were drawn to this game as a result, and they later discovered for themselves how severe the game mechanics can be for those who are not accustomed to the difficulty curve.
Sekiro was a masterpiece of the genre and is our choice for the hardest FromSoftware game and top overall on this list. The main character, the titular Sekiro, leads players on a journey across feudal Japan in Sekiro, which pushes the limits of the genre-defining Souls games.
With some FromSoftware magic sprinkled in, the game gives players a taste of what it was like to be a shinobi during the Edo period. Both adversaries from Japanese mythology and the likenesses of well-known fighters from the time are featured in the game. With the use of his armament, which includes his go-to katana, explosives, and a prosthetic arm among other things, Sekiro plays through a brutally difficult but ultimately satisfying environment.
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