People get into video games for fun, but also to relax and get out of the hardships of real life. An easy game you can finish in a few hours is the last thing you need then. In fact, only high difficulty and challenging tasks can actually get your mind off real life problems.
Back in the day, games used to be difficult. Otherwise, they would’ve been too short. They’re more complex these days, but this is often an issue of difficulty because they tend to be easier too. It’s not always a general rule though.
Top 30 Hardest Games Ever Made
With these thoughts in mind, here are the hardest video games ever made.
Monster Hunter Freedom is a mix between the first two games in the series. Developers grabbed all the good things and mixed them into one game.
But then, the game is brutally difficult. Hunts are nearly impossible, while controls are a mess because the PSP doesn't have a second thumbstick. G-Rank missions will also give you some headaches.
Spelunky looks easy and cute when you first load it up. It’s quite addictive too, but not because of how fun it is. In fact, it’s addictive because of how frustrating each level is. And you’ll be willing to die to complete it.
Literally, every move or step in this game could kill you. Traps are hidden everywhere. Enemies kill you straight away too. Sometimes, all this drama hits you at once.
28. Takeshi’s Challenge
Based on Takeshi Kitano, this game is a side scrolling platform where you’re an employee trying to escape corporate life by looking for a treasure somewhere far.
So far, so good. But surprisingly, Yakuza is after the same treasure. Unexpected threats will come out of nowhere, killing you again, again and again.
27. I Wanna Be the Boshy
More than a decade ago, I Wanna Be the Boshy was a real hit. Difficulty made it nearly impossible to complete though, but it was made in a fun way. Spikes everywhere, squares in the air, spikes on walls, no matter where you looked, there was a risk of death. But that’s what made it so funny.
The game is inspired from a different title, I Wanna Be the Guy. It was notorious for its difficulty, yet some people bragged about finding it easy and that’s how the sequel came out, only to shut them up.
Ikaruga is a classic, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy title. In fact, it was famous for being a deal breaker. Part of the arcade wave, it felt like it was made to drain your pockets whenever you gave it a shot.
It’s an old school shooter, but it’s far from what you have today. There are bullets coming from all directions, at all times, continuously. Good luck with that!
This game used to be ruthless. If you ask an old school gamer about it, chances are they’ll speak out of their own traumas. Indeed, it was a nightmare.
The problem is the first levels were quite easy, just to hook you in. But then, it hits you out of nowhere. That turbo tunnel is mission impossible. If you manage to do it, you might complete the game.
How hard can a Mario game be? Everyone has been through these games. Sure, some levels are a bit challenging, but that’s it. Well, things are different when it comes to this particular release.
It wasn’t a major hit in the western world, mainly because Nintendo thought the game was simply too difficult for the western audience. While not one of the best-selling video games out there, it definitely gained some reputation for its trouble.
Bullet hell games stand out and have a genre on their own, but Mushihimesama feels like a completely different kettle of fish.
Normally, you get to memorize some patterns as you go through bosses. You know what to expect, despite the slight differences between them. Well, Mushihimesama will impress you because every single boss hits out of nowhere. It’s like a completely different game starting out of nowhere.
22. Demon’s Souls
Exploring levels and different scenarios makes this game stand out. It’s a timeless classic that will give you a unique experience. However, it’s got its ups and downs.
The moment you’re about to complete a level, it feels like everything changes. Bosses are nearly impossible and will give you a different feel of frustration, something you’ve never experienced before.
21. Dark Souls
If you think hard games are retro, Dark Souls comes to beat this misconception. It shows you that impossible missions are available in modern games as well.
It takes time to understand the mechanics, how invincibility frames work, well, pretty much everything. If you put in the time, chances are you’ll manage to clear the game.
20. Ninja Gaiden II
Every single game in the collection is renowned for its difficulty. Clearing them is a challenge, regardless of how experienced you are. However, Ninja Gaiden II is on a different level.
Unlike other remakes, this one is more difficult than the original. Other than that, the fast paced show is flawless, but you’ll probably get a bit frustrated repeating the same levels over and over again.
19. Nioh 2
The action takes place somewhere in Japan. If you love action RPG fights, you’ll love this game. But there’s a very fine line between loving and hating something. Repeating levels a million times doesn’t make you love it more, but actually hate it.
The learning curve is quite steep, but that’s what makes it so interesting. It gives you a bit of a headache, but it’s totally worth it.
18. God Hand
God Hard is one of those ultra active games, with incredible 3D graphics, lots of action, and believe it or not, over 100 different moves to unlock and combine together. Just think about the countless possibilities.
The game play is unique and impressive, but learning the game takes time and many lost lives. Boses are unforgiving and chances are you’ll quit before the end of each level, especially after playing it so many times.
17. Elden Ring
Pretty much every game from FromSoftware has a reputation and Elden Ring is one of the most popular ones. It has an open world design, great graphics, and a lovely story.
The good news is if you run into a problem, you can just go in a different direction. But that makes it even more confusing because you’ll miss on crucial details, so you’ll have to go through all the drama to make sense of your missions.
Cuphead is like a tiger dressed up in a swan. Visuals? Stunning. The protagonist? Lovely! The soundtrack? It stands out.
But then, the first boss will make you question your choices. The second one makes it even harder, as bosses become exponentially more brutal. And wait until you get to King Dice.
15. Super Meat Boy
This game is brutal by definition. Basically, players are thrown into a meat grinder and become history. The campaign in single player mode is not too long, but its difficulty makes it take ages.
Believe it or not, there are about 300 levels to go through. Controls are smooth, the gameplay stands out and the story doesn’t get boring at all. But then, it’s just so frustrating when you die.
14. Geometry Dash
Geometry Dash isn’t necessarily difficult, but rather impossible to guess. While different, all levels take you through some nicely colored gauntlets. But once you hit something, you’re dead.
The problem is you only have one control and that’s jumping. Doable, but there are lots of portals and once you go through one of them, everything changes, making the game even more confusing.
13. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sekiro feels like the type of game designed to make people quit before clearing it because, well, it’s nearly impossible to do it. You play as a master shinobi, so you do have some useful skills, but it takes time to master them.
The problem is when you end up fighting bosses. Even small and basic bosses will hit ruthlessly out of nowhere before you even realize what you’re doing.
12. The Witness
Believe it or not, The Witness doesn’t even let you know that you’ve completed the game. It doesn’t have a game over screen, probably because developers never expected anyone to finish it.
It’s a puzzler that allows taking challenges on a beautiful island in any order. Sure, you’ll leave the difficult ones for the end, but which ones are easy? In many cases, you’ll end up looking for solutions online.
At first glance, Celeste is pretty doable. The main campaign is challenging, but you'll finish it at some point. But then, you have the optional content and that's when things get messy.
The first ones are the B sides, which are the original levels, but harder. The C sides make the game impossible. You’ll probably need many days to clear everything.
Contra is not for everyone. No matter how good you are, this game is for those with tons of patience because you will repeat certain levels countless times.
Even if you get dozens of extra lives, you need to put in some real effort. Killing enemies is not hard. The difficult part is paying attention to all the projectiles coming your way.
You'll probably need more than 1,000 lives to complete this game and it's not an exaggeration. The action takes place in the world of Disgaea and involves criminals, souls, and penguin bodies. Weird, but interesting.
The levels are doable once you get used to the controls and the potential dangers. But bosses are terrible. Perhaps that’s why you get 1,000 lives at the beginning of a game. Still not enough though!
8. Dwarf Fortress
You have a simulator allowing you to build dungeons. How hard can it be? But give it a try and you’ll realize construction is far more sophisticated than you thought.
You need to create a fortress. It has to be effective, but also well-defended. There aren't too many clues either. Some people will find it dead boring, others will love the challenge. It's for a certain category of players.
7. Super Mario Maker 2
Super Mario Maker 2 is another surprising Mario based game that feels impossible to complete. The best part about it is new levels are being released on a regular basis due to the active user base.
Some of the levels you’ll go through are simply absurd. Some others are shocking. But all of them feel incredibly difficult.
Flywrench is at least strange. It’s not the most famous game produced by Messhoff, but definitely the most challenging one. The idea is simple and stupid. You need to guide an ugly spaceship through some mazes.
Every now and then, they change their colors. And they do it so badly that it feels like a new world, totally confusing. Besides, restarting again and again adds to your frustration as well.
Dragon's Lair, released in 1983, is a classic arcade game known for its stunning visuals and unforgiving difficulty. What makes it the hardest game is its gameplay mechanics based on quick-time events (QTEs), requiring precise timing and memorization.
With limited lives and no continues, players must navigate through beautifully animated scenes, making split-second decisions to progress.
Ghosts 'n Goblins is notorious for its punishing difficulty. Players control the brave knight Arthur, battling hordes of undead creatures to rescue his beloved princess.
What makes it even harder is the unforgiving gameplay, relentless enemies, and the cruel twist of forcing players to beat the game twice to see the true ending.
3. Kerbal Space Program
Kerbal Space Program, a space flight simulation game, presents players with the daunting challenge of building and launching their own spacecrafts.
With realistic physics and a steep learning curve, mastering orbital mechanics and achieving successful missions can be incredibly difficult. Trial and error, meticulous planning, and precise execution are essential for success in this intricate and rewarding game.
Stuntman is notorious for its challenging gameplay. Players take on the role of a Hollywood stuntman, tasked with performing daring stunts for various movie scenes.
What makes it tough is the precise timing and execution required to successfully complete each stunt. One wrong move can result in failure, pushing players to perfect their skills and overcome the demanding nature of the game.
1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a turn-based strategy game, stands out for its unique blend of intense combat and deep strategic decision-making.
As the commander of an elite military organization, players must defend Earth against a ruthless alien invasion. The game's permadeath feature adds an extra layer of tension, making every decision crucial and ensuring that no two playthroughs are alike.
BONUS 1: We didn’t find it as hard as possible but it should be mentioned in this list based on its name “The Hardest Game”. Since this game is based on the ol' good flash player we have embedded it directly in the browser and you can play it on PC, Android and iOS.
BONUS 2: What we found hardest and enormously annoying was another flash based game called “Cat Mario”. Try it out!
What's the hardest game to win?
Determining the hardest game to win is subjective and can vary based on personal skill and preferences. However, some games known for their significant difficulty and high skill requirements include Dark Souls series, Cuphead, Super Meat Boy, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Celeste. These games are renowned for their challenging gameplay mechanics and demanding levels of precision and perseverance.
What is the hardest video game in the world?
What's hard for some people could be easier for others. Any of the above mentioned games could rank as the most difficult release ever, but titles like Battletoads, Flywrench, or Celeste stand out with their high level of confusion too. Throw in confusion into a difficult game and you have a killer combination.
What is the hardest video game boss?
Part of the Elden Ring scenario, most players can agree that Melania is one of the hardest bosses in the video gaming industry. She has an incredibly high damage and mega quick attacks, while her move combos can never be predicted.
Summing It Up
Bottom line, these are some of the most demanding games you’ll ever play. And even if you choose them for their difficulty only because you’re sick and tired of easy games, you’ll most likely have a few rage quitting sessions while trying to clear them. If we are into old flash small games than the hardest games will definitely be “Cat Mario” and “The Hardest Game 1 & 2”. If we are more into retro arcade games the hardest game prize will go to “Ghosts 'n Goblins”. And finally the winner as the most challenging game in the world is XCOM: Enemy Unknown.