Question Survey: What are the hardest games you've played?

Aug 23, 2022
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PCG wants to know about the hardest games you've played. We want to hear about the most grueling, most punishing games you can think of. Fill out the survey below to answer the prompt and we'll include some of the best answers in an upcoming article.

We ask that you give us the name of the game, one or two sentences about why you chose it, and your name/handle so we can quote you. If you don't have an answer for one of the prompts, feel free to skip it, and please keep your responses civil.

Here is a link to the survey.

If you need some examples, you can read what games the PCG staff thought were extra challenging over here.


Community Contributor
The hardest game I played; I stopped playing soon after I realized I wasn't likely to ever even beat the tutorial! Dang it, I want to brag about the hardest game I ever beat! ;)

I'm guessing that mods should not be counted. I don't think any games were modded in the article.

Strategy is tricky to rank because they typically have great difficulty options. Almost all of them are easy at the lowest difficulties, all but impossible (for me anyway), at the hardest. Complexity is a tricky call, too. Europa Universalis 4's base game is fairly complex. Throw in 14 expansions and... yow.
The hardest game i played was probably Ultima 9, not becaus the game is actually that hard but becaus it is so bad that it was hard for me to even want to play it
That game was abysmal, buggy, somewhat incoherent & inconsistent in Ultima Lore, and should never have been released. A sad, sad end to one of the greatest and most influential RPG series of all time.

@PCG Tyler C - I filled out the survey from the PCG article, so I won't do it twice. I only had two relative entries:

Hardest Single Player Game: Divinity Original Sin 2
Hardest 90's Game: Duke Nukem 3D
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Hardest Single Player Game: Divinity Original Sin 2
I forgot about Divinity 2, the last areas were tough and the last battle was brutal. Should have had that one there somewhere.

Strategy games is a hard one for the reasons @Zloth stated, they're usually as hard or as easy as you want them to be. Otherwise EU IV for sure, just for sheer complication

From 2022 Elden Ring, its still hard but the most accessible Souls game yet because of the open world and spirit summons to help out.

Hollow Knight for hardest single player game. I'm still playing it very occasionally and actually made a small amount of progress the other day. No idea how close to the end my main save is, 4 saves with a good amount of time in each and still havent finished it but I still go back and try sometimes. Theres no way to brute force it you just have to learn the patterns and time things right, similar too..

Hardest From game for me was Sekiro no question although I've no experience with Bloodborne and very little with Demons Souls.

Rogue Like I put FTL because I havent played that many and I never could beat the final boss.

FPS I put Doom Eternal, because its harder than 2016 Doom. There might be tougher retro shooters out there but I haven't really played those.

Finally 90's game I put Z No idea if its actually hard or if my tiny teenage brain just couldnt adapt because RTS at that point meant turtling inside a giant base behind guard towers until you had enough units to just roll over the AI. Its the only game I remember from the 90's I spent a good amount of time trying to learn and never could do ok at.

Some of these answers might be different on a different day, because
C&C on Hard—those Nod missions without a base are murder.

Crysis—couldn't handle the second half on hard, once the aliens show up.

Age of Empires—too frustrating with the just bad AI and micro.

C&C Generals ZH General's Challenge on Brutal—that took me a summer to complete, even with having plenty of experience in the campaigns beforehand. One of the experiences which cured me of the need to beat games or play on hard difficulties.

The Talos Principle—stated and discussed in this thread.
I got to the end* of Ghouls and Ghosts but that was on the Sega Megadrive. *I really only got half way through as the game just starts again and you have to beat it twice to properly get to the end.

That involved playing over a weekend when I was about 12 and leaving the game on overnight as I wouldn't have been allowed to stay up too late.


Community Contributor
Fire Pro Wrestling World - the only game where I couldn't beat the %)(*@ tutorial. I'm a little tempted by Getting Over It because it looks so hard, I'm afraid to even try it.

FPS and 90's game - Hmmm, I picked Descent but Doom Eternal forced me down to easy mode, which I don't think Descent ever did. My reaction time isn't quite the same now as it was in 1995, so it isn't easy to compare.

PvP Multiplayer
Air Warrior. Do you know a split-S from a barrel roll? No? Prepare to die, dweeb.

The Dungeon Of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet Of Chaos. OK, so it came out in 2020. There's a new DLC showing up soon so it's still an 'active' game. Otherwise, the only 2022 game I've played in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, and that game is not hard. (At least not on normal mode.)

Kenshi - the only survival game I've played that's remotely hard.

Blah, I've already forgotten. Difficulty seems about the same for all the MMOs I've played.

Hearts of Iron 3. Even on easy with no DLC or mods, it's a hand full.

I didn't know what to do with Soulslike. I tried looking up the definition and ran into an article from PC Gamer decrying the term. As near as I can tell, soulslike is an action RPG that has some sort of semi-interesting death handling because it expects you to die. (Semi-interesting meaning anything other than "game over" or auto-reloading the most recent save.)
I think I remember FTL's boss being pretty doable with lasers, because if you angled them right you could hit like 3 rooms at once. But it's also been years since I played that game so I have no idea how accurate my memory is.
I probably only got to that boss twice in around 20 hours, so you could be right. It was very hard compared to the rest of the game anyway.

I didn't know what to do with Soulslike. I tried looking up the definition and ran into an article from PC Gamer decrying the term. As near as I can tell, soulslike is an action RPG that has some sort of semi-interesting death handling because it expects you to die. (Semi-interesting meaning anything other than "game over" or auto-reloading the most recent save.)
Theres a wiki for it, but I guess youve seen that.

To me it means it has some kind of Bonfires as save points, and when you save normal enemies respawn. Tough boss battles and a lot of environmental storytelling rather than exposition. The ones I can think of are all 3rd person or 2d side scrolling. Death typically means losing your XP or Souls, or a portion of them, youll leave them in the spot you died available for recollection, if you can make it there.

Until Elden Ring I would have said an interconnected world with unlockable shortcuts, without a mini map or waypoints so you have to actually learn the way around. I guess Elden Ring has that inside the legacy dungeons though. Maybe a large variety of weapons, except Sekiro only has one option and it has everything else. Havent played a lot of the 2d Soulslikes so I'm not sure how they handle that.