Top 10 Most Difficult Games of 2017 [Best Recommendations]

Most people that play video games play with the intention to beat them. Whether that means getting a high score, finishing all the levels, seeing the entire story unfold, or collecting all the secrets, the goal is the same - finish the game and see the credits roll. While most games offer some level of challenge for players and make you restart at least a few times along your journey, some take the challenge to the next level. Some video games are just straight up difficult, leading to countless restarts and even some rage-quits. And a lot of gamers love it!

There has been a growing trend in creating video games that offer a real challenge to players. While difficult video games have always been around, more and more new ones have been developed and marketed as being challenging. 2017 was no different, offering the gaming world quite a few difficult titles. So whether you’re looking for a challenge to overcome and truly feel satisfied when you beat it or looking for games you definitely want to avoid because you can’t stand restarting that many times, we have made a list of the Top 10 Most Difficult Games of 2017. We guarantee you’re going to be challenged!

10. The Surge

  • System: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
  • Developer: Deck13 Interactive
  • Release Dates: May 16th, 2017

The Surge is set in a dark, dystopian future where humanity has exhausted the Earth’s natural resources. Technology has advanced so far that humanity has suffered, having grown accustomed to decadent lifestyles. This has lead to environmental diseases, as well as created a severe strain on the world’s social services now. Now you play to survive, doing whatever you can to live in this harsh future. You will fight plenty of enemy robots battling with a special exp-suit that gives you significant power and can gain new powers by literally tearing the robotic limbs off your enemies.

If you like post-apocalyptic environments, gritty storylines, and crazy-hard boss fights look no further than the Surge. With a plotline heavily just focused on surviving, you can bet that everything in the game is going to try its best to kill you. And it’s definitely going to succeed - you’re going to die many, many times as you explore this dystopian world. The Surge is a challenging shooter and role-playing game that will test your ability to play shooting games and to have fast reflexes, quick thinking, and good aim in really difficult battles. You’re probably not going to be able to blast through this one in a weekend.

9. Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City

  • System: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Developer: FromSoftware
  • Release Dates: Mar. 28th, 2017

Dark Souls III was already a massive title, and in spring 2017 the DLC The Ringed City was released to add even more to it. This DLC added on a whole new contested region to the original game, along with new armour, weapons, and more. The Ringed City is set as the final chapter of Dark Souls III, leading your adventurer to a place long thought lost full of ancient beasts and enemies. As the Age of Fire comes to a close, you’re right in the middle of its fate.

When people think of difficult games, Dark Souls always comes up. The series is infamous for its crushing brutality, along with controllers broken in frustration and plenty of rage-quitting. It’s only fitting that we would include the series’ latest DLC The Ringed City on our list. Recommended for players that are level 100+ and battles that are described as “insanity,” The Ringed City brings another challenge to gamers that aren’t tired of punishing themselves enough yet. For players strong and brave enough to make it through Dark Souls III, 2017 brought an all new challenging horror to test everyone’s limits in The Ringed City.

8. Nex Machina

  • System: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Housemarque
  • Developer: Housemarque
  • Release Dates: Jun. 20th, 2017

Nex Machina is an arcade-style top-down shooter with a heavy focus on action and combat above all else. It takes place in a gritty sci-fi future where you have to clear rooms by defeating hordes of robots. Additionally, you can choose to save defenceless humans in the rooms to boost your score even more. The action is fast-paced and brutal, giving you very little reprieve as you blast your way through Nex Machina’s levels. Basically, do your best not to die and take out as many robots as you can in the meantime!

Nex Machina’s action gameplay is definitely challenging, and the stages can be very daunting for players that go into it not knowing what to expect. The death penalty the game gives you is also steep. When you finish each level, you are given a random assortment of power-ups. But if you lose a life, you lose a power-up. The only way to recover it is to go back to where you died. But if in doing so you lose ALL of your lives, you’re reset with only one power-up and no way to get them back other than restarting the entire level from the beginning. And we guarantee you’ll never be able to beat a lot of the bosses without multiple power-ups. Get ready for a lot of resetting and maybe some rage-quitting, and enjoy the challenge of Nex Machina.

7. Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy

  • System: PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: Vicarious Visions
  • Release Dates: Jun. 30th, 2017

Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy is not a completely new game; rather, it’s a reboot of the first three original games in the series. That means it includes the remastered versions of Crash Bandicoot, Cortex Strikes Back, and Warped all in one new game! In all of them, you play as the hero Crash Bandicoot as he tries to stop his mortal enemy Doctor Neo Cortex. The new trilogy adds updates to the original games spinning and jumping gameplay by adding save points, time trials, and more. And all the while, it keeps the spirit of the original series for old fans, too!

None of the games in the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy are easy to complete, but the first title especially is the most challenging. Crash Bandicoot was always a difficult game requiring quick thinking and super-fast reaction times. The updates to the game have only made it harder, too. Now a lot of the jumps that were already challenging in the original game require even more precision in the remaster, so it’s best to plan on reloading quite a few times to get through the levels. Remastering these games didn’t get rid of the difficulty that they posed when they first came out; instead, they have brought it to a whole new generation of gamers.

6. Hollow Knight

  • System: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Nintendo Switch (2018)
  • Publisher: Team Cherry
  • Developer: Team Cherry
  • Release Dates: Feb. 24th, 2017

In Hollow Knight, you play as a knight in an abandoned kingdom called Hallownest. To add to the feeling of abandonment, not a lot of things are directly explained to you, so the story must be gathered and pieced together through the environment and interactions. The (genderless) Knight begins their journey hoping to explore the ruins of Hallownest and uncover its secrets and treasures. However, they quickly discover that the old residents of the city are still there - only now they’ve become cursed and possessed beings. The Knight traces this curse to a sealed temple that is causing the infection and begins a journey to lift the seals and save Hallownest’s former residents from their unfortunate fate.

Hollow Knight is primarily about exploring and combat. Through defeating enemies, players earn the game’s currency, as well as a power called SOUL to help them heal and use special powers. One of the game’s difficult elements is that when you die, you lose all of your currency as well as get limited on how much SOUL you can collect. The only way to get those things back is to return to the point of your death and defeat your own Shade. Boss battles are very challenging and likely to require multiple attempts to beat. And Hollow Knight has a lot of secret items to collect - some of which are very well hidden, and equally well-guarded. Completing everything will certainly be a challenge to any gamer.

5. Nioh

  • System: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Developer: Team Ninja
  • Release Dates: Feb. 7th, 2017

Nioh is set in a fictional version of real Japanese history, where amidst the civil war between clans near the start of the Edo period, another threat is present - yokai. And these youkai are adding to the already significant death toll in the country. When William, an Irishman in pursuit of another man, arrives in Japan he undergoes training and learns to fight as a Japanese warrior. It turns out that the man he is seeking is directly connected to the yokai that are slaughtering so many people. This his journey takes a slightly different route as he tries to not only find his quarry but stop the yokai threat as well.

Nioh is brutal, we will be honest with you. The combat is incredibly challenging and fast-paced, requiring practise, skill, and patience to master. But it’s so beautifully animated and the story isn’t bad either, so when you get caught up in the aesthetic of the setting and the mood of the game, well. The challenge becomes worth it, and you feel immense satisfaction when you find success. But it doesn’t get any easier as it goes, and Nioh will punish you with hard boss battles and difficult fights again and again and again.

Don’t expect to just sit down, relax, and enjoy a game of Japanese history, because that’s not what Nioh is offering. It offers a brutal ride that will definitely test your skills at playing an adventure game.

4. Ruiner

  • System: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Publisher: Devolver Digital
  • Developer: Reikon Games
  • Release Dates: Sep. 26th, 2017

Fans of Blade Runner and all things cyberpunk will be interested in Ruiner. This top-down anime-style shooter is set in a gritty, cyberpunk world. You play as a sociopathic character desperately searching for his kidnapped brother, guided all along the way by a hacker. The system itself will do everything in its power to try to stop you as you try to find him and uncover the dark truths of the world you live in. Along the way, you have to adapt to fight by using augmented weapons and even parts of the enemies you defeat, all while you try to tear down the corporations that are set against you.

Ruiner is what gamers refer to as a “bullet hell” game. You’re constantly going to be shot at from absolutely every direction while doing a lot of shooting yourself. And you’re going to die - a lot. If you’re not willing to see a game over screen hundreds of times, Ruiner isn’t for you. It does have a fair number of checkpoints to restart from at least, and it’s a good thing because you’re likely to restart many times. Ruiner does have an easy mode if you get too frustrated. But be warned that its easy mode is still far above the difficulty of average games. If you’re willing to get a bit ruined yourself, you can try finishing Ruiner.

3. Rain World

  • System: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Adult Swim Games
  • Developer: Videocult
  • Release Dates: Mar. 28th, 2017

In Rain World, you play as a unique Slugcat just trying its best to survive in a world that doesn’t really make sense. The Slugcat has lost its family and has to search this inhospitable environment to try to find them. All the while, the realities of foraging for food, escaping enemies, and finding shelter before torrential rainstorms are ever-present. If the Slugcat isn’t able to make it to these safe shelters in time, the rain will flood the world and possibly plummet the Slugcat to death as well. To progress through the levels, the Slugcat needs to hibernate in these safe rooms a certain number of times, and accumulate a specific amount of karma points. Too bad you lose karma points every time you die!

Rain World is brutal and unforgiving, for Slugcat and for you as a player. The enemies that spawn are random every time, so you cannot pass levels through trial and error. The game is only saved in the safe hibernation rooms, and when you die, you are sent back to those rooms and lose all your progress. And since there are over 1600 screens to get through, that might take some time. There is also very little instruction given when the game begins, so you figure things out on your own. The developers claim they wanted to simulate the feeling of being a rat living in the metro; you have to learn to survive and never understand the larger world around you. And Rain World does just that.

2. The End is Nigh

  • System: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, GNU/Linux, Mac OS, PlayStation 4 (2018)
  • Publisher: Edmund McMillen, Tyler Glaiel
  • Developer: Edmund McMillen, Tyler Glaiel
  • Release Dates: Jul. 12th, 2017

The End is Nigh begins with a game within a game as the main character, Ash, begins to play a retro video game that the player can also control. When the player eventually dies, the game within a game crashes. Sadly when Ash tries to salvage it, the cartridge breaks - and that’s when the real story begins. It turns out Ash lives in a post-apocalyptic world where he is the only survivor. With his game broken and nothing else to do, he decides to set out to rebuild his friend, help repopulate the world and start everything over again.

If you’re a fan of ridiculously hard video games, you probably know Super Meat Boy, which is one of the most infamous. Well, the End is Nigh has been called it’s “spiritual successor.” It’s made by the same man, so get ready for a challenge. With over 600 levels to try to get through by exploring and collecting items through platform-style gameplay, you’re going to lose. A lot. As you progress, you can collect tumours and game cartridges to unlock more mini-games as well. The End is Nigh has multiple possible endings, but whether you’ll be happy with them (or even make it to see them) is something you’ll have to find out for yourself.

1. Cuphead

  • System: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One
  • Publisher: StudioMDHR
  • Developer: StudioMDHR
  • Release Dates: Sep. 29th, 2017

Cuphead and his brother Mugman live in the Inkwell Isles in Cuphead, their only guardian being Elder Kettle. Despite Elder Kettle’s warnings to stay away from trouble, Cuphead and Mugman visit the Devil’s Casino anyway and become addicted to playing craps. When they hit a high winning streak, the Devil offers them an irresistible chance - if they can roll one more winning roll, they can have all the money in the casino. Losing means the Devil takes their souls. When Cuphead predictably loses, he and his brother beg for mercy. The only deal the Devil is willing to offer is that they collect the souls from the other debtors running from him before midnight the next night. Only then they might be able to keep their own souls!

Cuphead is an independent run and gun shooter game with really unique animation that looks like the 1930s “rubber hose” style. This helped to set it apart from other games in 2017, but another factor had made Cuphead popular was its surprising difficulty. The boss battles are incredibly challenging and chaotic, and there is always a lot going on on the screen at the same time. You had better have a lot of control over jumping as well because there is little margin for error and missing means you’re going to die. Even bringing along a friend so you can try to play in co-op mode won’t necessarily save you from frustration - but it will give you someone else to complain about, and to celebrate with when you eventually (maybe) conquer Cuphead!

Final Thoughts

Did just reading the list already make you want to rage-quit? These games offer a very serious challenge and difficulty level for gamers that are looking for something to really test their skills on. Either needing precise coordination, insane button-mashing skills, or even just pure dumb luck, you won’t beat these games on your first try. And that’s part of what makes them so fun - and of course, so satisfying when you see the credits rolling and knowing you conquered what many people could not. Where other gamers gave up, you persisted and finished. You can count yourself in the minority for completing these games!

Did we miss what you felt was the most difficult game of 2017? Did you finish any of these, or give up on any of them? Are there any you can’t wait to challenge or are definitely going to avoid now? Why do you like or dislike these new hard video games? We want to hear all your thoughts in the comments below!

Nioh-Complete-Edition-gameplay-2-700x394 Top 10 Most Difficult Games of 2017 [Best Recommendations]


Author: Jet Nebula

Living the dream in Tokyo, where you can find me working at a theme café catered towards women. When I’m not writing for Honey’s, I’m working on original dystopian science fiction or blogging about Tokyo’s trendy coffee scene. I spend my free time in Harajuku and Shibuya wearing alternative Japanese street fashion. I love video games, J-rock, tattoos, and Star Wars.

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