7 Current Gen Games Harder Than Dark Souls

Ryan King


The gameplay reveal of Dark Souls 2 has been insightful. But is Dark Souls really this gen's hardest game?

Published on Apr 11, 2013

Is Dark Souls the hardest game this gen? Some will debate that Demon's Souls is tougher. Others will say that… well. We've got seven games below that could come up as viable counter-arguments to Dark Souls being the toughest game this gen.

The only criteria we've applied is this is taking into account the game's difficulty on default and not games when they've been cranked up to the hardest difficulty setting - so that means no Call of Duty: World at War, no Lost Planet, no Vanquish, no Left 4 Dead, etc.

You probably won't agree with all of these entries, so let us know your own suggestions.

Ninja Gaiden 3

There should be no surprises that a Ninja Gaiden entry has made the list.

The series is notoriously tough, and it's been hard to say whether the crushing difficulty is the result of masterful tuning by the evil bastards at Tecmo Koei or if it's what happens when a studio cranks up the number of enemies and their max damage output, before saying "that'll do" and hoping the player will figure it out.

Ninja Gaiden 3 is the only time when it seems to be the latter. Fights feel unbalanced and unfair, enemies crowding round you so you're forced to block, then scooping you out of block with a throw that can't be escaped. You have to deal with that, while you deal with off-screen projectiles, while you have to deal with the splash damage even if they don't connect with Hayabusa.

It's really, really, really hard.



Turn white to absorb the white bullets, turn black to absorb the black bullets. Opposite colours do damage, both to you and to enemies. That's the famous mechanic behind Ikaruga and initially it doesn't seem like too much bother, as you have ample time to switch the colour of your ship to match the bullet patterns.

By 'initially', we mean the first 30 seconds or so. Suddenly a hailstorm of black and white bullets rain down along with black and white lasers, demanding you switch your ship to the right colour to survive, let alone ensuring you're the right colour to shoot the enemies ahead.

Ikaruga's difficulty comes from how it challenges you in unusual ways, demanding insane hand-to-eye co-ordination and finger dexterity so you can survive long enough to understand bullet patterns, let alone learning them. Ikaruga is ridiculously hard but in a good way.


Super Meat Boy

We'll just leave this video here. Just look at it. Admittedly it's sort of cheating - it's the hardest level in Super Meat Boy - but even getting to this point is hard enough, let alone conquering it. You need the patience and precision of a machine.

Devil May Cry HD Collection

This is included for Devil May Cry 3, which sails into this list based on the last fight against Vergil alone.

Its reputation as a difficult game was inspired by the original release of Devil May Cry 3, which booted you back to the start of the level when you died unless you spent orbs on continues. A Special Edition release of Devil May Cry 3 followed and that had a Gold option, mercifully taking you back to the last goddess statue when you died. As you can imagine, this helped out a great deal with boss battles and its this Special Edition that's included on the Devil May Cry HD Collection.

That doesn't take away from how hard the bosses can be though, particularly Cerberus, Agni and Rudra, Beowolf and - of course - Vergil.

The original Devil May Cry will also push your skills further than most games. Just ignore Devil May Cry 2, the soft filling between two tough bits of Dante bread. Ahem.



It was the poster child for Stupidly Hard Platform Games before Super Meat Boy took its crown but that's not to say N+ is easy. Far from it. It's not just as hard as what is, quite possibly, the hardest game on Xbox 360.

The overall difficulty isn't as intense as some of the other games on this list but it has painful difficulty spikes to account for that, with some levels demanding monk-like patience levels as you die, retry, die, retry, die, retry, die, retry.

While Super Meat Boy sees you die because you know where you're supposed to go but don't quite have the dexterity or timing needed to navigate through the obstacles ahead, in N+ you tend to die trying to figure out the right path to safely get past those obstacles. And then when you do figure out the path, you need to actually pull it off…


Hard Corps: Uprising

Another digital download title, this is a Contra title with the difficulty that entails - tricky bullet patterns, frantic pace and hardcore bosses.

You can actually grind your way through Uprising simply by accruing points for power-ups and abilities, so you can reflect, dodge and vault your way through bullet patterns. Investing time means unlocking new tools to help you survive, as well as learning the patterns.

That means you have a mobility you never had in older Contra titles but switch to Rising Mode, which turns all extras off and leaves Hard Corps: Uprising in its original vanilla form, and you'll see just how tough Hard Corps: Uprising is.



It doesn't seem to be a difficult game, being a mix of date-sim and block puzzles. It's only the latter that provides challenge in the typical way, as you pull and push blocks to climb a tower.

Then as the plot winds towards its conclusion and the end credits loom in view, a dozing programmer fell on the Make-Everything-Bastard-Hard lever and cranked it up to impossibly hard. Boss battles are ridiculous in Catherine. While the block puzzles are hard enough - often you can ruin the tower early on without knowing until you realise further progress is impossible - the unpredictability of boss battles make

In terms of raw difficulty, is Catherine harder than Dark Souls? It's debatable. But when the red mist descends and you're screaming at the TV, there's no denying its difficulty is certainly more frustrating to endure.



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