The Most Difficult Game to Play: A Challenging Experience for Gamers

Choose the game you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Sep 19, 2023 06:54
Step right up, gamers and challenge seekers! StrawPoll proudly presents the ultimate face-off - the ranking of the most difficult games to play. Do you have the skills, the patience, and the determination to conquer these notoriously tough titles? Cast your vote now (if you dare) and see if your favorite makes the cut. Can't find the game that made you rage-quit and throw your controller across the room? Fear not! You can suggest a missing option and let others share in your struggle. Join us on this epic quest to determine the gaming world's most grueling and unforgiving challenges. Will you emerge victorious, or will you be lost in the depths of gaming despair? The choice is yours. Embrace the challenge and dive into the StrawPoll ranking of the most difficult games to play!

What Is the Most Difficult Game to Play? (September 2023)

  1. 1
    This game is known for its punishing difficulty and requires players to have excellent timing, strategy, and patience. The game is unforgiving and will punish players for making mistakes.
    Dark Souls in other rankings
  2. 2
    This game is a platformer that requires precision and quick reflexes. Players have to navigate through challenging levels filled with obstacles and enemies, all while avoiding deadly traps.
    Super Meat Boy is a challenging platform game where players control a small, animated meat cube named Meat Boy. The game is known for its intense difficulty, requiring precise timing and precise control of the protagonist. It features various levels filled with hazards and obstacles that players must navigate through. The game is renowned for its unforgiving difficulty and addictive gameplay.
    • Genre: Platformer
    • Platform: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Nintendo Switch
    • Release Date: October 20, 2010
    • Difficulty: Extremely Difficult
    • Number of Levels: Over 300
    Super Meat Boy in other rankings
  3. 3


    Studio MDHR
    This game is a side-scrolling shooter that requires players to have quick reflexes and excellent timing. The game is known for its challenging boss battles that require players to learn patterns and avoid attacks.
    Cuphead is a visually stunning and challenging indie run and gun game. The game follows the adventures of Cuphead and Mugman as they traverse strange worlds, battle bizarre bosses, and collect soul contracts in order to repay their debt to the devil.
    • Platform: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS
    • Genre: Run and gun, Platformer
    • Difficulty: Very high
    • Art style: 1930s cartoon-inspired hand-drawn visuals
    • Gameplay: Retro-style side-scrolling action with boss battles
    Cuphead in other rankings
  4. 4
    This game is a stealth-action game that requires players to have excellent timing and strategy. The game is known for its challenging combat and requires players to master parrying and dodging.
    Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an action-adventure game developed by FromSoftware. It is known for its punishing difficulty and intense gameplay. Set in Sengoku-era Japan, players take on the role of a shinobi warrior seeking revenge on his enemies. With a focus on precision combat and stealth, the game challenges players to master various combat techniques and overcome formidable enemies.
    • Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
    • Genre: Action-adventure
    • Difficulty: Very challenging
    • Setting: Sengoku-era Japan
    • Gameplay Mechanic: Combat and stealth
  5. 5
    This game is a platformer that is known for its punishing difficulty. The game requires players to have quick reflexes and navigate through levels filled with deadly obstacles and enemies.
    I Wanna Be The Boshy is a challenging and punishing platform game that takes inspiration from classic video games. It is known for its high level of difficulty and requires precise timing and execution to progress. Players navigate through various levels filled with deadly obstacles, tricky platforming segments, and relentless boss battles.
    • Release Date: 2010
    • Platform(s): Windows
    • Genre: Platformer
    • Difficulty: Extremely Hard
    • Number of Levels: Multiple
  6. 6


    Team Ninja
    This game is an action RPG that requires players to have excellent timing and strategy. The game is known for its challenging combat and requires players to master different weapon types and stances.
    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
    Nioh in other rankings
  7. 7


    This game is an action RPG that requires players to have excellent timing and strategy. The game is known for its challenging combat and requires players to master dodging and parrying.
    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
    Bloodborne in other rankings
  8. 8


    Matt Makes Games
    This game is a platformer that requires players to have quick reflexes and precise timing. The game is known for its challenging levels and requires players to navigate through obstacles and enemies.
    Celeste is a challenging platforming game that follows the journey of a young girl named Madeline as she climbs the treacherous Celeste Mountain. Created as an indie game by Matt Makes Games, it combines tight controls, precise platforming, and a captivating narrative.
    • Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
    • Genre: Platformer
    • Difficulty: Very challenging
    • Game Modes: Single-player
    • Graphics: Pixel art
    Celeste in other rankings
  9. 9

    The Witness

    Jonathan Blow
    This game is a puzzle game that requires players to have excellent problem-solving skills. The game is known for its challenging puzzles and requires players to think outside the box.
    The Witness is a puzzle video game that takes place on a mysterious and scenic island. Players explore the island, solve various puzzles, and uncover the secrets of the environment. The game features stunning and vibrant landscapes, intricate puzzles, and a richly detailed world to explore.
    • Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, iOS
    • Genre: Puzzle
    • Release Date: January 26, 2016
    • Graphics: Beautiful and vibrant
    • Gameplay: First-person perspective, exploration, puzzle-solving
    The Witness in other rankings
  10. 10

    Dota 2

    Valve Corporation
    This game is a multiplayer online battle arena that requires players to have excellent strategy and teamwork. The game is known for its complex gameplay and requires players to master multiple heroes and abilities.
    Dota 2 is a popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game that challenges players to work together in teams to destroy the enemy's base while defending their own. With a complex gameplay and a steep learning curve, Dota 2 is regarded as one of the most difficult games to play.
    • Tournaments: Frequent professional tournaments with large prize pools
    • Fanbase: Large global player base
    • Genre: MOBA
    • Platform: PC
    • Release Date: July 9th, 2013
    Dota 2 in other rankings

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Ranking factors for difficult game

  1. Complexity
    Consider the number of rules, mechanics, and strategies involved in playing the game. The more complex the game, the harder it will be for players to understand and master.
  2. Skill ceiling
    Analyze how much room there is for players to improve their skills and knowledge of the game. A higher skill ceiling means that there is a greater potential for players to become increasingly better, making the game more difficult to master.
  3. Learning curve
    Consider how long it takes for a new player to learn and become proficient in the game. A steep learning curve means that the game is harder for beginners and requires more time investment to become competent.
  4. Strategy and tactics
    Analyze the depth and variety of strategies and tactics available to players. A game with a wide array of options and choices can be more challenging, as players must learn to adapt to various situations and counter-strategies.
  5. RNG (Random Number Generation) and luck
    Determine how much the game relies on random elements and luck. A game with a heavy reliance on luck can be harder to consistently succeed in, as the outcome may be unpredictable and outside the players' control.
  6. Competitiveness
    Evaluate the level of competition present in the game. A highly competitive game can be more difficult, as players must constantly strive to improve and outperform their opponents.
  7. Timing and precision
    Assess how much the game relies on precise inputs, timing, or reflexes. This can make the game more difficult, as players need to develop quick reactions and fine motor skills.
  8. Multiplayer and cooperative aspects
    Consider how the game accommodates multiple players and cooperation between players. Team-based games that require coordination and communication may be more challenging than single-player games.
  9. Difficulty settings and customization
    Evaluate the availability of adjustable difficulty settings, or customizable options, that allow players to tailor the game to their desired level of challenge.
  10. External factors
    Take into account any external factors that may influence the game's difficulty, such as access to guides, walkthroughs, or a community of players willing to help and teach newcomers.

About this ranking

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


  • 191 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 game to play

Gaming has become an integral part of our lives, with millions of people worldwide indulging in video games for entertainment and leisure. However, some games are notoriously difficult to play, and only the most skilled gamers can conquer them. From strategy games to platformers, the gaming industry has produced some of the most challenging games that test the limits of a gamer's patience and skill. Determining the most difficult game to play is subjective, as each individual may have a different experience and skill level. However, the debate on the most challenging game to play has been ongoing for years, with gamers and critics alike weighing in on their opinions. Some of the games that have gained a reputation for being the most difficult include Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Cuphead, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. These games require a high level of skill, strategy, and patience, with each level presenting new challenges and obstacles to overcome. Whether you're a casual or hardcore gamer, playing a difficult game can provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction upon completing it. So, what is the most challenging game to play? It's up to you to decide.