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Ten Games That Are Even Harder Than Elden Ring

'Elden Ring' is one of the best games ever made. It's also crushingly difficult and extremely hostile to new players. However, it's hardly the toughest game ever made. Today, we're looking at ten games that are even harder than 'Elden Ring.'
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Elden Ring is a brutally punishing role-playing game–and many critics consider it one of the best RPG titles ever made. However, its difficulty has sparked conversations on social media regarding accessibility and artistic integrity.

Elden Ring Featured
From Software

Some fans wish that Elden Ring and other “Soulslike” titles made by From Software offered a range of difficulty options for newcomers. Others argue the difficulty is necessary for the games’ storylines and their overall sense of accomplishment for overcoming impossible odds. 

No matter which camp they fall into, fans agree that Elden Ring isn’t even the toughest entry in the Soulslike series. Its open world and mechanics like the new mount, Torrent, make it easier than ever to explore and discovered alternative routes to victory. If you’re looking for something even more challenging than Elden Ring, you should try one of these skill-testing classics.

10. God Hand

God Hand is a 2006 action beat-em-up that received middling reviews at launch but has gone on to become a cult classic. It’s the final game that the ill-fated Clover Studios ever developed, and it bears all of that studio’s hallmarks. 

Players control Gene, a 23-year-old brawler who is crass and stubborn but possessed with a strong sense of justice. He bears one of the God Hands, a mythical artifact that imbues him with divine strength. 

The game utilizes a clever active balancing system to keep the action intense and engaging. As the player battles enemies and avoids damage, the tension gauge scales to keep the stakes topped off. The higher the gauge is, the more rewards players earn for defeating enemies. On the other (god) hand, taking damage and losing fights causes the gauge to gradually empty, leaving players with pitifully small rewards and a bruised ego. 

9. Dark Souls

Dark Souls is one of the most popular action RPGs of all time, and it’s also Elden Ring’s predecessor. From Software reinvented the action RPG genre with Dark Souls, focusing on methodical, slow-paced gameplay and punishing combat encounters. Players are rewarded for carefully watching enemies and learning their attack patterns.

Dark Souls isn’t just a tough game; it’s downright unfair in places. Sometimes you’ll follow the path the game suggests is safe, only to fall to your doom in a hidden spike trap. But beyond the cheap shots, Dark Souls is a brutal game due to how persistent its enemies are. 

The bosses never give you a chance to catch your breath. You have to read their moves and dodge or parry with perfect timing or risk losing your progress and having to start the fight all over again. Unlike Elden Ring, many of Dark Souls’ toughest bosses are a long hike away from the nearest respawn point, making the game that much harder than its descendent. 

8. Mega Man 2

Mega Man 2 is a side-scrolling platformer released for the NES way back in 1998. Fans of modern Mega Man titles might find this early entry a bit bare-bones. The Blue Bomber can’t slide, wall jump, or double jump in this title. Instead, Mega Man has to rely on his blaster and agility alone.

The game tasks players with defeating eight Robot Masters before squaring off with the villainous Dr. Wily in a final battle. As in all Mega Man entries, you earn the ability to use each Robot Master’s weapons after defeating them. Players are free to tackle the game’s bosses in any order they choose, allowing them to experiment in finding the best path through the gauntlet of enemies.

The game’s difficulty comes from both its vicious enemies and its devilish platforming sections. Many players have raged against Mega Man’s notorious disappearing platforms. If you can’t memorize their locations before they vanish, you’ll fall to your doom–and have to start the level over from scratch. 

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7. FTL: Faster Than Light

FTL: Faster Than Light is an indie roguelike released in 2012 for PC. It’s a starship simulator that tasks players with outrunning a deadly fleet of well-equipped rebels. Players command a Federation starship that they can upgrade and customize as they navigate numerous star systems.

The game is notoriously unforgiving for new players. Dogfights with enemy ships can go sideways in a matter of seconds, and quick thinking is the difference between surviving a chance meeting with pirates or having your run end prematurely.

Each run through the galaxy sees the game spit out a new randomly-generated map for players to navigate. As such, FTL has nearly endless replayability despite its vicious difficulty curve. Fans recommend for newcomers to try the iPad port, which introduces touchscreen controls in addition to the Special Edition content like new races and encounters. 

6. The Simpsons (1991 Arcade)

Arcade games have a unique relationship with difficulty. Modern games have largely sanded off the rough edges and left gamers with more accessible, stress-free experiences. Arcade games, on the other hand, make more money by beating the player and asking them to put more quarters in the machine. 

That design ethos is on full display with the 1991 Simpsons arcade game. The game sports gorgeous presentation, smooth pixel-art animation, and extremely tight beat-em-up gameplay. It’s definitively excellent, but it’s also unfairly difficult.

It’s easy for enemies to lock the players into a series of uncounterable attacks. It’s common to see a great run through The Simpsons end after a player suffers only a single hit. Once they’re stunned from that attack, enemies gang up on them and reduce their HP to zero in no time.

See Related: Best Games to Play After Elden Ring

5. Ninja Gaiden II

The NES version of Ninja Gaiden enjoys a reputation for being one of the hardest games ever created. However, it’s got nothing on its 3D sequels, like 2008’s Ninja Gaiden II. The stylish and over-the-top action looks amazing to spectators, but it’s incredibly demanding of players.

Players control Ryu, a deadly ninja on a quest to stop the rival Black Spider Ninja Clan. Ninja Gaiden II is much bloodier than its predecessors, sporting vicious melee combat and copious quantities of enemies. The voice acting and story are far from impressive, but the boss fights more than cover for these shortcomings.

Ninja Gaiden II pushes even veteran action players to the brink. If you want to try your hand at one of the hardest games ever made, this title is for you.

4. Devil May Cry

Devil May Cry is one of the most influential action games ever made. It’s a stunningly stylish hack-and-slash title that pushes the limits of players’ reflexes and pattern recognition. It’s a fast-paced game that rewards bold risk-taking and quick thinking. It’s also got one of the most ridiculous storylines of any video game ever made.

Devil May Cry stars Dante, a smart-mouthed swordsman who bears an infernal lineage. He battles zombies, vampires, and countless other monsters of the night in a quest to learn more about his mysterious past. Fans of early 2000s Capcom titles will recognize the game’s art style immediately. 

The game challenges players to memorize enemy attack patterns and carefully time their attack volleys. Once you master the game, you can unleash blistering strings of attacks that will embarrass monsters and make you feel like an untouchable duelist. 

3. Rogue

It would be an understatement to call Rogue merely “influential.” The game is so fundamental to the video game industry that its name is a genre–the ubiquitous roguelike style can trace its lineage back to the 1980 original. Rogue is an RPG dungeon crawler that tasks players with exploring a deadly catacomb to discover the ancient Amulet of Yendor.

The game features procedural dungeon maps that shift with each playthrough. When players lose in the dungeon, they lose all their progress and items. Tackling the dungeon anew after each death adds an element of tension to every run and injects the game with limitless replayability. 

The game is also hilariously difficult. Despite being a fundamental RPG that has spawned its own genre, many players have never managed to break beyond Rogue’s second or third level. 

2. Super Meat Boy

If you found Mega Man’s platforming too forgiving, you’ll love Super Meat Boy. The frenetic action-platforming title is what happens if you inject modern gaming conventions into an old-school quarter-eating arcade title. Super Meat Boy keeps players engaged by utilizing short-but-sweet challenges and an immediate respawn at the beginning of each level.

Some blisteringly hard games feel like an overt waste of time, forcing players to traipse across lengthy levels countless times just to retry the one section they’re stuck on. Super Meat Boy eliminates this friction by letting players respawn right in front of the platforming challenge that keeps defeating them.

Overcoming challenges in Super Meat Boy is cathartic and fills players with a sense of accomplishment–right before throwing them back into the literal meat grinder of even tougher levels. 

1. Ghosts ‘n Goblins

No other game could top this list. If you chew through Elden Ring and don’t know what to play next, you should boot up Ghosts ‘n Goblins. This title borders on sadistic, pushing players to their limits in its opening moments and only ratcheting up the intensity from there.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins is so punishing that it eventually requires players to make nearly pixel-perfect moves to avoid enemies. Its quarter-gobbling gameplay has made the 1986 game shorthand for unfair games from the early arcade era. 

If you want to really test your gaming skills, dive into a round of Ghosts ‘n Goblins or any of its modern sequels. You’ll be tearing your hair out in no time!