The Most Difficult Dark Souls Game: Unraveling the Toughest Challenge

Choose the game you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Feb 21, 2024 05:37
Are you a seasoned warrior in the realm of Dark Souls or just daring to take on the challenge of conquering these brutal games? Either way, we invite you to join our epic quest to determine the ultimate face-off: "What is the most difficult Dark Souls game?" At StrawPoll, we've crafted a thrilling ranking where you can cast your vote and make your voice heard in the never-ending debate among the Dark Souls community. But wait, there's more! If you believe we've missed out on a formidable contender or a hidden gem, fear not, for you can valiantly suggest a missing option to our ever-growing list. So, don your armor, sharpen your swords, and prepare to face the darkness as you embark on this legendary journey to decide which Dark Souls game reigns supreme in difficulty. Let the battle begin!

What Is the Most Difficult Dark Souls Game?

  1. 1

    Dark Souls III

    Many fans consider Dark Souls III to be the most challenging game in the series. With faster combat, aggressive AI, and a relentless difficulty curve, Dark Souls III is sure to test even the most seasoned players.
    Dark Souls III is an action role-playing game known for its challenging and unforgiving gameplay. It is the third installment in the Dark Souls series and offers a dark and atmospheric world filled with menacing enemies and epic boss battles. Players navigate through treacherous environments, uncover the mysterious lore, and strive to survive against all odds.
    • Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
    • Release Date: April 12, 2016
    • Genre: Action, RPG
    • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
    • Difficulty: Very challenging
    Dark Souls III in other rankings
  2. 2
    Bloodborne, a spin-off game from the Dark Souls series, is known for its fast-paced, aggressive gameplay and challenging boss fights. The game is set in a Gothic-inspired world filled with Lovecraftian horrors that will keep players on edge throughout their entire playthrough.
    Bloodborne is an action role-playing game exclusively released for the PlayStation 4. It was developed by FromSoftware and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Set in the fictional city of Yharnam, players take on the role of a hunter seeking the cure for a mysterious blood-borne illness. They venture into the gothic and dark world, encountering terrifying creatures and challenging boss battles along the way.
    • Genre: Action role-playing
    • Platform: PlayStation 4
    • Release Date: March 24, 2015
    • Mode(s): Single-player
    • Developer: FromSoftware
  3. 3
    The original Dark Souls game is still considered one of the most difficult games of all time. The game's intricate level design and punishing difficulty make it a true test of skill and patience.
    Dark Souls in other rankings
  4. 4
    Shadows Die Twice is a departure from the traditional Dark Souls formula, with a focus on stealth and swordplay. However, the game is just as challenging as its predecessors, with boss fights that will test even the most skilled players.
    Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an action-adventure video game developed by FromSoftware. Set in Sengoku-era Japan, the game follows a shinobi named Wolf as he embarks on a mission to rescue his kidnapped lord and seek revenge on his enemies. Known for its challenging gameplay and intense combat, Sekiro offers a unique blend of stealth, exploration, and swordplay.
    • Release Date: March 22, 2019
    • Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
    • Genre: Action-adventure
    • Single-player: Yes
    • Difficulty: Very challenging
  5. 5
    The game that started it all, Demon's Souls is known for its punishing difficulty and unforgiving gameplay. The game's unique online features, which allow players to leave messages for each other and invade each other's games, make it an even more challenging experience.
    Demon's Souls is an action role-playing game developed by Bluepoint Games and SIE Japan Studio. It is a remake of the original Demon's Souls game released for PlayStation 3. Set in the dark fantasy kingdom of Boletaria, players embark on a treacherous journey to save the realm from a dark force called the Old One. The game features intense combat, challenging enemies, and a richly detailed world.
    • Platform: PlayStation 5
    • Genre: Action role-playing
    • Release Date: November 12, 2020
    • Mode: Single-player
    • Resolution: 4K (PlayStation 5)
    Demon's Souls in other rankings
  6. 6
    Nioh is a Souls-like game set in feudal Japan, with a focus on fast-paced combat and challenging boss fights. The game's complex skill tree and loot system make it a tough game to master, but the rewards for doing so are well worth it.
    Nioh is an action role-playing game (RPG) known for its challenging gameplay and intense difficulty. Set in the fictionalized Sengoku period of Japan, the game follows the protagonist William as he battles a variety of supernatural enemies. Nioh incorporates elements of Japanese history, folklore, and mythology into its narrative, offering a unique blend of historical fiction and fantasy.
    • Platforms: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
    • Genre: Action RPG
    • Release Date: February 7, 2017 (PS4), November 7, 2017 (PC)
    • Difficulty: High
    • Game Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
  7. 7

    The Surge

    Deck13 Interactive
    The Surge is a sci-fi Souls-like game set in a dystopian future. The game's unique limb-targeting system and challenging boss fights make it a difficult game to beat, even for experienced Souls players.
    The Surge is a challenging action role-playing game that takes place in a dystopian future. It offers a similar gameplay experience to the Dark Souls series, combining intense combat, strategic thinking, and intricate level design.
    • Release Date: May 16, 2017
    • Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
    • Genre: Action role-playing game
    • Single-player: Yes
    • Difficulty: High
    The Surge in other rankings
  8. 8
    Lords of the Fallen is a Souls-like game that takes place in a dark fantasy world. The game's challenging combat and punishing difficulty make it a true test of skill and patience.
    Lords of the Fallen is a challenging action role-playing game (ARPG) developed by Deck13 Interactive and CI Games. Inspired by the Dark Souls series, it sets players in a dark fantasy world where they must battle formidable enemies and powerful bosses in order to save humanity from an ancient evil.
    • Release Date: October 28, 2014
    • Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
    • Single-player: Yes
    • Genre: Action, Role-playing
    • Difficulty Level: Hard
    Lords of the Fallen in other rankings
  9. 9

    Salt and Sanctuary

    Ska Studios
    Salt and Sanctuary is a 2D Souls-like game that combines challenging gameplay with Metroidvania-style exploration. The game's punishing difficulty and intricate level design make it a must-play for fans of the genre.
    Salt and Sanctuary is a challenging action role-playing game that draws inspiration from the Dark Souls series. It presents a dark and unforgiving world where players must navigate treacherous environments and face brutal enemies to survive. The game features a deep, intricate lore and a variety of character classes with unique abilities and playstyles. With its intense combat, intricate level design, and atmospheric visuals, Salt and Sanctuary offers a tough but rewarding experience for fans of difficult games.
    • Developer: Ska Studios
    • Publisher: Ska Studios
    • Release Date: March 15, 2016
    • Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
    • Genre: Action role-playing
    Salt and Sanctuary in other rankings
  10. 10
    While not strictly a Souls-like game, Hollow Knight shares many of the same challenging gameplay elements and exploration-focused design. The game's punishing difficulty and intricate world-building make it a standout title in the indie gaming scene.
    Hollow Knight is a challenging action-adventure game set in a dark and atmospheric world filled with intricate landscapes and mysterious creatures. Inspired by the Dark Souls series, it offers a similar level of difficulty and a deep, interconnected world to explore. The game revolves around the journey of a tiny insect-like creature, the Hollow Knight, as they navigate through treacherous environments and confront formidable enemies in order to uncover the secrets of their decaying kingdom.
    • Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
    • Release Date: February 24, 2017
    • Genre: Action-Adventure, Metroidvania
    • Single-Player: Yes
    • Difficulty: High
    Hollow Knight in other rankings

Missing your favorite game?


Ranking factors for difficult game

  1. Enemy difficulty
    The strength, abilities, and behavioral patterns of the enemies and bosses in the game play a significant role in determining difficulty. This includes the damage output, health, and diversity of enemies encountered.
  2. Level design
    The complexity and layout of the game world can affect difficulty, as players need to navigate through it and overcome environmental hazards. This includes the placement of bonfires, shortcuts, and checkpoints, as well as the overall size and interconnectedness of the game world.
  3. Balance between risk and reward
    The effectiveness of the player's equipment, abilities, and leveling up should be considered in terms of the challenges they must overcome. This includes the availability of powerful weapons, efficient healing items, and meaningful character progression systems.
  4. Learning curve
    The ease with which players can understand and master gameplay mechanics, including combat, movement, and interactions with NPCs, will impact difficulty. A steep learning curve may frustrate newcomers or those unfamiliar with the Dark Souls series.
  5. Accessibility to information and guidance
    The amount of in-game instruction and guidance available to the player can affect the difficulty. Dark Souls games often have cryptic or minimalistic storytelling, which can make it difficult for players to understand objectives or strategies.
  6. PvP and online features
    The difficulty of player-versus-player (PvP) encounters and the extent to which they are a part of the core game experience should be taken into account. Additionally, any benefits brought by the online features, such as co-op gameplay, player messages, or invasions, can impact difficulty.
  7. Amount of content
    The total amount of content in the game, including optional areas and bosses, should be considered when determining difficulty. A more extensive game with many optional challenges can be considered harder than a shorter one with fewer optional routes.
  8. Variety in gameplay styles
    The ability to adapt to different playstyles, such as using different weapons or magic abilities, can affect the difficulty. Games that allow players to explore various playstyles can be considered more accessible than those that force players into a specific, challenging playstyle.
  9. New Game+ and optional difficulty modifiers
    The presence and difficulty scaling of New Game+ can influence the overall difficulty. Similarly, any optional difficulty modifiers that the player can choose to activate (e.g., the Company of Champions covenant in Dark Souls II) should be considered.
  10. Punishment for failure
    The severity of the consequences for dying or failing in the game should be taken into account. This includes the loss of experience points or progress upon death, the cost of revival items, and the duration of debuffs or penalties applied to the player.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult Dark Souls game. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or game is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 167 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each game once every 24 hours. The rank of each game is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most difficult dark souls game

Dark Souls is a series of action role-playing games known for their brutal difficulty and unforgiving gameplay mechanics. Developed by FromSoftware, the franchise has gained a cult following for its challenging gameplay, intricate level design, and deep lore. Dark Souls has spawned multiple sequels and spin-offs, each with its own unique challenges and gameplay mechanics. Despite being praised for their difficulty, the Dark Souls games remain a contentious topic among gamers, with many debating which entry in the series is the most difficult. From the original Dark Souls to the latest release, Dark Souls III, each game presents its own set of challenges and obstacles that will test even the most seasoned players.

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