11 Hardest Video Games of 2017

Sundered PS4 trophies

There have been many controversies surrounding hard games this year. From a professional being too incompetent to complete a tutorial, to complaints about constant comparisons, it’s been a weird year. Most of the games on this list are fairly difficult, either by intended design, or somewhat bad design, but it’s likely that most of the games have been completed with the DK Bongos or at least a Guitar Hero controller.


Rise & Shine

Rise & Shine game

Developer: Super Mega Team
Publisher: Adult Swim Games

Despite its cute appearance, Rise and Shine is a fairly difficult action-platformer featuring a kid (Rise) and a witty gun (Shine), especially until you really get the hang of it. Some reviews say that the game’s difficulty already spikes after a third of the game and only keeps rising from that point on, even if it’s a fairly short game. In fact, one of the reasons why the user review Metascore is barely above 60 is because there are people complaining about the difficulty. Another complaint about the game is that it was full of references but had almost no substance, although some others say the exact opposite.

Jimmy found the game interesting and fast-paced, requiring focus and an itchy trigger finger, occasionally bringing puzzles into the mix instead of hitting the player with battle after battle, as you switch between Shine’s different modes to clear your path.


Dead Cells

Dead Cells

Developer: Motion Twin
Publisher: Motion Twin

Although it’s still in early access, Dead Cells generated a lot of hype when it first entered the fray in May this year. The rogue-lie metroidvania action-platformer has you battling your way through a castle that’s never the same in a fairly difficult adventure. The combat is difficult in the sense that your whip only really does any noticeable damage if you hit an enemy with the tip and the many other weapons are usually only powerful in combination with a certain movement or other type of attack.

As the map constantly changes, so too will your playstyle be forced to adapt as you make different decisions that will impact your game (though not necessarily story-wise). The game definitely doesn’t hold your hand, as there are also no checkpoints, forcing you to wander through an entirely new castle from scratch every time you die.



Ruiner PS4 review

Developer: Reikon Games
Publisher: Devolver Digital

Ruiner is a brutal cyberpunk action shooter that captured the hearts of many when it came out in October. Even the reviews that find the game too hard or think that there’s something wrong with the gameplay agree on the fact that the style and design of the game are great, although some have a quarrel with the lack of story, too. Maybe a better phrasing is the scarcity of story, as the game has one, but tells more through small dialogues and subtlety than with movie-length cutscenes.

Ruiner also has an upgrade system, a watered down version of what you find in most RPGs that makes some things easier, but overall, it stays a difficult, fast-paced game that gives you little room to breath both in a manner of speaking and literally, as fights often take place in claustrophobic corridors and alleys.



Cuphead Title

Developer: StudioMDHR Entertainment Inc.
Publisher: StudioMDHR Entertainment Inc.

Killer flowers, unusual protagonists and the ability to play the already hard game without shooting once if the game itself isn’t enough of a challenge for you are only part of what made Cuphead the sensation it is. Harking back to the era of 1930s cartoons, this run and gun action game is not only made with hand-drawn animation, but also watercolor backgrounds, and the jazzy soundtrack was made especially. Some Steam reviews complain about the game being too hard, and a certain reviewer who will not be named was too incompetent to complete the tutorial, although that speaks measures about them and not about the game itself.

The game also has a two-player mode, where one player plays as Cuphead, while the other plays Mugman as they shoot their way through worlds that look much happier brighter than they really are.



Elex RPG

Developer: Piranha Bytes
Publisher: THQ Nordic

Set in a post-apocalyptic Science Fantasy world, ELEX is an action role-playing game by the creators of the Gothic series. Most reviews place the game at 6/10 – some praise it as being some of the best they’ve ever seen, while others really didn’t like it. The combat system is called buggy, clunky and annoying by some, while others defend it with a “git gud” attitude, claiming that you just need to know when to press the button to keep your flow going. Some really enjoyed the plot, while some others found it to be bare, and others found it enjoyable except for the last few missions.

It’s arguable that the difficulty of ELEX comes from the fact that the game hits you with enemies that are much more powerful than you are, not giving you much chance to slowly level up, but instead only to get used to the combat system quickly, or die.


The Surge

The Surge PS4 Review

Developer: Deck13
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive

Only the developers of Lords of the Fallen, which infamously flopped in 2014, would’ve been able to improve on their formula and hit us with The Surge three years later, positively surprising most of those who knew. In the hardcore sci-fi RPG where you pummel down robots while in a mech. Boss fights are also much harder than the sadly commonplace “hit them until they die” types you see in too many games nowadays, requiring new tactics for each boss, with each having their own specific timing and attack patterns that you need to figure out to survive.

The game’s premise is that a company called CREO melded humans with machines in a big to try and fix the many problems that earth and humanity are faced with thanks to climate change, and basically, it all goes to shit, leaving the creepy atmosphere of the game’s dystopian future to be explored.


The End is Nigh

The End is Nigh

Developer: Edmund McMillen, Tyler Glaiel
Publisher: Edmund McMillen, Tyler Glaiel

Unknown to many, The End is Nigh released under everyone’s radar, swinging onto Steam with very similar gameplay to Super Meat Boy, but a style more comparable to that of Limbo. It starts with the end of the world, as you make your way through the sinister pile of what’s left of it, looking to make a friend out of anything you can find. Even the Steam description takes the piss out of the game, but don’t let appearances deceive you, as in typical Edmund McMillen fashion, the game is highly difficult until you really get the hang of it, and even one of the selling points of the game is “stress”.

The End is Nigh is not hard because the controls suck, because it’s badly designed, or because of any other such reason. Instead, it’s hard because it’s designed to be hard, putting the player through countless trials after the end of the world, “but that’s ok because you are probably already dead anyway.”


Rain World

Rain World

Developer: Videocult
Publisher: Adult Swim Games

Living in Rain World are many vastly beautiful creatures, although they look as dangerous as they are intriguing. You play a slugcat as you hunt your way through the hauntingly eye-catching backgrounds, trying to survive and defend yourself against many larger creatures. Being one of the smallest creatures on this world, it’s not easy, but careful actions and preparation can go a long way. When even rain is a threat, you always have to be on the lookout, managing your limited resources as you try to explore the vast world. You need to take care where you sleep, how you sleep, and many factors determine whether you survive or not.

Some found the harsh nature of Rain World too punishing, calling it unpredictable or too hard, while others thoroughly enjoyed the unsettling yet beautiful nature of the game, praising the game’s unique style.



Absolver PS4 review 3

Developer: Slocap
Publisher: Devolver Digital

Some say that Absolver is an innovative, fun, and even a great game, whereas others say that while the idea is cool, the game itself was rushed to market without any substance of any kind. The story seems to be very scant, although it is a multiplayer game, so that is to be expected. The combat system depends on many different variables, like timing or location, meaning that it doesn’t make any sense to just memorize patterns to only get your face kicked in after every new try because the enemy is an actual human and can adapt to your moves.

Absolver is sometimes compared to For Honor, a game which also had a somewhat complex combat system, although the latter got quite a bit of negativity for other reasons, too, whereas Absolver has the fortune to be relatively unknown, as many of the negative Steam reviews are just people who are salty that they sucked at it.



Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
Publisher: Thunder Lotus Games

From the creators of Jotun comes a metroidvania that is more than just eye candy (though it definitely is that too). The art and animation is hand-drawn, and while some of the levels are procedurally generated, some of them are hand-crafted, too, as you fight your way through an eldritch world, trying to survive against giant bosses and hordes of monsters. The game is designed to have you die a lot, although the game goes further than death, as you level up and customize your character when you die.

Some of the Steam reviews on the game are people complaining about the difficulty or about certain mechanics, although they all agree that it looks beautiful. Someone even compared it to Cuphead, meaning it as a bad thing, although most people loved that game.




Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Koei Tecmo, Sony Interactive Entertainment

From the studio that brought the Ninja Gaiden games, famously known for being hard, even from the “tutorial” and already having difficulty spikes in the first levels came Nioh, and was universally pretty well-received, although the recent PC port has gotten a lot of negative feedback, especially due to broken keyboard controls. The game as it was originally released on PS4, though, is difficult because that’s how it was designed to be and not due to bad controls.

The game pits you as a samurai against hordes of humans and demons in the Sengoku period of Japan. Learning enemy patterns and weaknesses by playing is the main way to succeed and very few will be able to do so on their first try without dying several times.

Those were the 11 hardest games of 2017. Which did you especially have problems with, if any? Do you have any tips for those having trouble (other than “git gud”)?

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