The Hardest Video Games of 2020

Video games come in many different shapes, sizes, and flavors, so finding the perfect one is a matter of personal taste

This is doubly true for video game difficulty, as some players will not play certain games simply because they are too easy or too hard

In this list, we’ll take a look at the most difficult video games ever made and rank them according to their overall difficulty

We’ll be updating this list in the future with new titles, so be sure to check back and let us know if we’ve missed any games!

Witness release date: January 26, 2016

The game starts out easy enough, but quickly increases in difficulty as later puzzles combine the rules of earlier ones, requiring you to think laterally to solve them

Release date: October 18, 1987

While you can practice to learn the stories and patterns of each boxer, even seasoned players can be stymied by the game’s final boss, Mr Dream (aka Mike Tyson)

Enter Gungeon release date: April 5, 2016

Enter the Gungeon takes things to a whole new level, introducing procedurally generated dungeons and increasingly tough enemies with unique attack patterns

Ghosts n’ Goblins Release date: September 4, 1985

The levels are filled to the brim with useless enemies and weapons that will most of the time kill you because your character can only take two hits before dying

Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels Release Date: June 3, 1986

2 to be the official sequel to Nintendo’s iconic platformer, it was actually preceded by Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels

Originally released in Japan as Super Mario Bros

2, the game is notoriously difficult compared to other entries in the series

It featured gimmicky warp pipes that sent players backwards instead of forwards, poisonous mushroom power-ups that would actually make Mario smaller, and time-sensitive levels that required precision

Super Meat Boy Release Date: October 20, 2010

Speaking of challenging platformers, Super Meat Boy is another game that uses new elements and gameplay mechanics to continuously keep players on their toes

Once you feel like you’ve mastered the controls or how to get past a certain hazard, the game decides to throw more at you, including deadly spikes, spinning saws, and electrified walls

The only thing that saves Super Meat Boy from appearing higher on this list is that it respawns very quickly after each death; The last thing anyone wants to do after dying is stare at a long loading screen

If Super Meat Boy wasn’t hard enough, game designer Edmund McMillen’s Zelda-inspired dungeon crawler The Binding of Isaac will definitely push you

Each race contains rooms, enemies, and procedurally generated items that can change Isaac’s appearance and give him new abilities that will either make things easier or extremely difficult

Celeste Release date: January 25, 2018

Similar to Super Meat Boy, Celeste is a challenging platformer that only increases in difficulty as your character climbs a snow-covered mountain

To reach the top of the mountain, you’ll need to traverse a series of handcrafted platform levels that emphasize precise jumps and dashes

However, the most challenging part of Celeste has to be its “B-side” stages that remix previous levels and fill them with collectibles that always seem to feel beyond your reach

Mega Man 9 Release Date: September 22, 2008

Although the Mega Man series is known for its extremely hard difficulty, Mega Man 9 stands out as one of the most challenging entries in the long-running platforming franchise

As a result, it features some of the toughest boss fights to date, and many of the game’s achievements are borderline impossible to get on your first playthrough

Battletoads Release Date: June 1, 1991

Like many retro games, the main source of its difficulty comes from having a limited number of lives which are then shared between players

Even if you were to play solo, you’d still have to overcome the nightmare-heavy motorcycle levels that require split-second reactions

Dwarf Fortress Release Date: August 8, 2006

The fact that the Dwarf Fortress community has adopted the motto “losing is fun!” it already tells you everything we need to know about the difficulty level of the game

Darkest Dungeon Release date: January 19, 2016

Darkest Dungeon takes its side-scrolling dungeon design and cranks the difficulty up to 11, throwing out challenge after challenge

In it, you’re tasked with guiding a team of adventurers through hellish procedurally generated environments filled with enemies, traps, and rewards

XCOM 2 Release Date: February 5, 2016

The XCOM games are no joke when it comes to throwing players into difficult situations where they are forced to wage war with a race of highly intelligent aliens

It seems fitting then that XCOM 2 features some of the most robust enemy AI to the point where you’ll feel like you’re up against actual aliens

God Hand Release Date: September 14, 2006

It has four levels of dynamic difficulty, and on the highest, enemies will bombard you with attack after attack

Shinobi Release Date: November 10, 2002

While the game’s graphics and overall tone suggest you’ll be playing stealth, it’s actually the opposite, as your sword will drain your health if you go too long without a kill

Combine that with aggressive enemy AI and the fact that there are no checkpoints between the starting area and the final boss battle, and you have a recipe for one of the hardest games of the PS2 era

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Release date: October 27, 2017

While playing Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, you’ll find that it’s often hard to appreciate where the enemies are coming from and how they always seem to have you in their sights

We can put this down to your character’s limited first-person view, poor game design, or developer MachineGames’ desire to punish players

The degree of challenge can be further increased by playing on higher difficulties, with the “Mein leben” option being the most brutal, giving you only one life for the entire campaign

Date of last release: September 4, 2013

The Outlast series helped redefine the modern survival horror game by throwing players into increasingly painful situations with no means of defense

Takeshi’s Challenge Release date: December 10, 1986

Takeshi’s Challenge was originally meant to be an 8-bit game show modeled after Takeshi’s Castle, but things took a strange turn after Takeshi himself got involved in the game’s development

As a result, players were treated to one of the most unconventional titles in video game history, complete with obtuse objectives and inexplicable mechanics

You can get a “Game Over” screen by making the most random mistakes, like not obeying when the game tells you to leave the controller untouched for an entire hour

Ecco the Dolphin Release Date: December 23, 1992

From its strangely dark story and uncomfortable atmosphere, Ecco the Dolphin is a top contender for weird video games of the 1990s

Spelunky Release Date: December 21, 2008

The goal is to reach the end of each level, having collected precious treasures, without falling victim to the numerous enemies, traps and unforgiving dangers scattered throughout

Cuphead release date: September 29, 2017

Don’t let Cuphead’s vibrant hand-drawn visuals fool you; the game is essentially a love letter to retro run and gun games that required you to memorize enemy attacks or risk a “Game Over”

In it, you take on the role of Cuphead and his brother Mugman as the duo complete a series of bosses and platforming levels to repay their outstanding debt to the devil

Dark Souls Release Date: September 22, 2011

We decided to include Dark Souls over its predecessor Demon Souls due to the increased difficulty of its enemies and the complex (borderline confusing) aspect of its levels

If you want to be really punished, you can opt to play online, which allows other players to pop into your game and wreak havoc in the middle of an already challenging fight

Bloodborne release date: March 24, 2015

Bloodborne takes the edge off Dark Souls in the difficulty department due to how much it rewards aggressive playstyles

In the Dark Souls games, you can usually get away with blocking and countering whenever an opening comes up, but in Bloodborne, it’s kill or be killed

If you don’t proactively take out enemies and apply pressure on bosses, the AI ​​will quickly notice and relentlessly pursue you

Nioh Release Date: February 7, 2017

While Nioh falls under the “Soulsborne” umbrella of challenging action games, it manages to distinguish itself with a more offensive approach to combat through its stance system

Players must perform different stances that affect their damage depending on the enemy, and the window for hitting an opponent is relatively small

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Release Date: March 22, 2019

From the software’s best and most brutal game to date, Sekiro will have even the biggest Soulsborne fan clutching their controller in frustration

While it puts more emphasis on stealth mechanics and even gives players a combat hook for quick escapes, its technical sword fighting is more demanding than any other From Software game

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