Learning curves can be steep in some games while in others it is simply a matter of choosing the shiniest weapon and pulling the trigger. The conventional wisdom is that video games have grown intensely more realistic but less cerebral. Think chess versus checkers…but checkers with graphic violence and all the carnage and mayhem your appetite can handle. We are talking Heroes of Might and Magic versus Grand Theft Auto. 

Certainly not all video games are steeped in the “shoot’em up – beat’em up” genre as evidenced by the popularity of Madden Football, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, and NBA 2K to name just a few. And while some gamers prefer titles that are rife with sports betting stats used by casual bettors and professional statisticians, others gravitate towards more complex and challenging video games. 

Let’s create our own subjective list, based on a variety of reasons, of the most difficult games of all time and see if you agree?

  1. Dota 2 (2013)

Dota 2 enjoys enormous mainstream popularity and is one of the esports staples that features big-money tournaments for professionals, who not only understand the game but play it at a world-class level. However, for many of us, it’s a fascinating game that seems impossible to master. There are so many moving parts and a plethora of complicated mechanics that can turn off those who are looking for a game with a low barrier to entry. 

Dota 2 is not such a game because, in addition to cultivating and improving your own character, there are battle tactics that must be coordinated with your teammates. It can all be a bit much but if you have the time and the inclination, Dota 2 can keep you mesmerized for countless gaming hours. 

  1. Myst (1993)

This is a throwback to another era but it was once cutting-edge technology that kept fans locked away in their PC bunkers for days on end. It’s a logic-based, problem-solving albatross that can morph from an enjoyable time killer to near obsession. Although the aesthetics pale in comparison to today’s splashy graphics, the mental acuity it takes to progress in this game is taxing at best. Although it is a vestige of the early ‘90s, it still holds a cult following for puzzle-solvers who enjoy this kind of mental “stimulation”. 

  1. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (1987)

Unlike Myst, this is not a difficult game to learn or navigate. Actually, it is quite the opposite, and for those who were born when the original Punch-Out!! came out in 1983 and were old enough to actually play, you might remember this as being a staple in any arcade room in America. It starts out tame enough as you are Little Mac fighting a skinny dude named Glass Joe (alluding to glass jaw). Well, it won’t take long to shatter glass and send Joe to the canvas but the characters grow increasingly more difficult and it won’t be long before you’ve spent all the money in your wallet and coins in your pockets only to be defeated time and again by Mr. Sandman. 

It wouldn’t be until 1987 when the PC version made its appearance and instead of Little Mac, you were now Mike Tyson, the heavyweight champion of the world and the “Baddest Man on the Planet”. This version pretty much follows the same pattern as the arcade game where it hooks you in but in the end, pits you against a fighter who is seemingly indestructible…Mike Tyson. Yes, Tyson fighting Tyson, and assuming you are the former then you can be certain the latter will emerge victorious. #Frustrating

  1. Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening (2005)

This is a game whose difficulty settings harbored an infuriating secret when it was first released in the western market. Unbeknownst to those who bought this game on the first go-round, the normal setting was, in fact, the difficult mode, and the frustration level rose exponentially as each subsequent attempt at going forward in the game was just as fruitless as the original. The jig was up when the Japanese developer that published this title, Capcom, re-released it with the normal setting intact. That was of little solace to those who bought the original and had already spent hours swearing at their monitors. 

  1. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)

Our No. 1 will cause rancor amongst its many, and we do mean many, unabashed fans. The graphics are beautiful and there is plenty to like so don’t mistake this for being an unworthy game, it’s just that it can be brutally difficult. Let’s allow a reviewer named Peter to give you his one-star review of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice:

“One of the most poorly executed games I have ever played. The damage scaling system is completely off, even after boosting your attack power 18 times you see ZERO difference when fighting enemies. To add to that, enemies are boosted totally unevenly to yourself, and they were far OP in the first place.

“Games should be fun, Sekiro lacks any element of this. Instead of forcing players to memorize move sets of bosses for hours on end. Then after performing almost flawlessly, you’ll find one slip up resets all your efforts; as most enemies (standard) never mind bosses will one-shot you. 

“Combine that with the ridiculous set up of 3/4 stage boss fights with no checkpoints in between and what you have isn’t a game…

“It’s a complete mess. Disappointing when you look at the hype this game had and what it could have been. Sekiro totally misses the mark.”

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Learning curves can be steep in some games while in others it is simply a matter of choosing the shiniest weapon and pulling the trigger. The conventional wisdom is that video games have grown intensely more realistic but less cerebral. Think chess versus checkers…but checkers with graphic violence and...