Striking the balance between making a game challenging enough yet not annoyingly difficult is just one of the many tightropes that game developers must tread.

However, sometimes a game can benefit from its renown for being a tough dog to tame, and achieve cult status as a result. Players may spend hours trying to complete that dreaded level or beat the big boss only a select few have attempted to slay before.

Below is a list of some of the most challenging video games ever made, as well as some that created special difficulty levels or mods to ramp up the difficulty further still.

Devil May Cry 5

Many first-time players of this game will be asking what it is doing on this list because Devil May Cry 5’s standard playing mode is so easy that it’s borderline boring.

But for those in the know, the game suddenly takes on a whole new dimension when played in “Hell in Hell” mode where your avatar will die after suffering a single blow to the body, turning what begins as a fun fantasy game into one fraught with fatal danger at every turn. One step down from this is the “Dante Must Die” mode, which also comes close to being impossible to navigate.

Texas Hold’em and Chess

Such is the scope of some games that the potential for players to improve is almost limitless. This is the case with the classic board and card games that have recently moved online, creating tight-knit gaming communities around the world.

Chess and poker are two such games with plenty of sites offering a few basic strategies to those just starting out, and others that cater to players who have become completely enveloped in a world of tactical manoeuvres, mathematical probabilities, and even chaos theory.

To survive in the contemporary world of these online games, you actually need to study as hard as you would for an exam or interview.

You will have to develop lightning speed reactions to complete some of these rock-hard games

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sometimes a player must adapt to a certain mode of existence a game requires for success and never has that been more true than with Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

This samurai-inspired game is developed by Fromsoftware, whose games are renowned for their high levels of difficulty.

There was huge controversy immediately after the game’s release in 2019, with ardent fans of the studio loving that the game hadn’t pandered to beginners. However, lesser dedicated players complained that it was virtually impenetrable and lacked varying difficulty levels to choose from. All-in-all this game is defined by how tough it is and that is why it makes our list.

Contra: Hard Corps

Sometimes a game’s very title can hint towards how difficult it will or will not be. Contra: Hard Corps absolutely lived up to its name, peppering players with so many bullets and random attacks that a level could take weeks to overcome.

The big bosses in this game were particularly difficult to defeat. On top of all that you had to complete the game multiple times over in order to fully accomplish all its branching storylines.

Battle Toads

Nothing enrages a gamer more than being killed through seemingly no fault of their own and Battle Toads had the innate ability to do that almost at will, during any point of a mission or level.

Perhaps the most frustrating levels were the speed bike levels, which required players to jump oncoming obstacles. That all sounds fine until you realize that said obstacles can move at the speed of light, giving you no time to react. Cue controllers being thrown at walls in frustration are a common reaction exhibited by players of this nerve-wracking game.