If you’ve ever found yourself sweating over the pad, desperate to slug through “just one more battle” before calling it quits, then chances are, you were playing a game torn directly from FromSoftware’s casket of nightmares. Thank to those guys, we’ve had to embrace death more times than we’d like to compensate for. And with each new addition to their blood-soaked portfolio, the difficulty curve only escalates and induces double the amount of determination deep within our core.
For years, we’ve waded through blood, sweat and tears, just to reach the other end of the yellow brick road. From lengthy boss battles with no chill whatsoever, to the elusive enemy mobs that flank your every footstep, FromSoftware has a real knack for piling up the hyperactive challenges. But which of the many games under their belts proved to be the cruelest of them all? Well, let’s break it down. Here are, in our opinion, the five toughest FromSoftware games, ranked.
5. Dark Souls 2
As a way to induce even more anger, while also giving players a run for their money, FromSoftware made the decision to cash-in on Souls by conjuring up another slice of absolute madness. Fortunately, it was only half the game the first Souls was, meaning its gameplay was just a smidgen more forgiving than the last, and a whole lot more fluid than the god-awful Demon’s Souls entry.
Still, a Souls game is, of course, a Souls game, meaning nobody ever really wins. We just suffer for a certain amount of hours, and then finally figure out how to put one foot in front of the other without stabbing ourselves in the chest. Dark Souls 2, although one of the easier entries in the portfolio, was still an absolute beast of a video game, and still contained all the necessary ingredients to make a challenging experience. It’s just that, well, we only died 2,876 times, as opposed to the 3,019 in the other games.
4. Dark Souls
Following on from the global success of Demon’s Souls in 2009, FromSoftware brewed a brand new and exciting chapter to the Souls series, effectively changing the face of the role-playing genre forever. Was it hard? Why yes, yes it was. Was it satisfying? Well, technically, after suffering through the first playthrough, yes. Did it make us want to go back and do it all over again? You bet.
Dark Souls was the beginning of a new era for the gaming giants, and an excuse to amplify the difficulty in video games for the sake of getting players riled up and battle-hardened for the challenges ahead. And it worked. Dark Souls, along with its open-world structure and relentless battles, all amounted to a fantastic experience. An experience we initially hated — but one we also learned to love once we nailed the mechanics and the clunky motions.
3. Dark Souls 3
After playing it relatively safe with the player in Dark Souls 2, FromSoftware suddenly made a U-turn out of the blue and drived the series directly up a cliff, crash landed it at the apex, and then booted the player out without so much as a latex glove to keep warm. That’s when we knew Dark Souls was back and doing what it did best. From that moment, the challenges booted up in full force.
Dark Souls 3 featured some of the biggest and most brutish boss battles of all time, with techniques and move sets that could slaughter you if you so much as put a toe out of line. Of course, that gave us more of a reason to stay the course and learn its every nook and cranny, just so we could experience the pure satisfaction after bringing each and every one of them down. Still, it was one heck of a journey, and one we quickly planned to revisit almost immediately after escaping its evil clutches.
2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
After getting a little too comfortable with the Souls series, FromSoftware needed a change. Settings were in need of a facelift, and all previous eras needed a new background. Souls was out, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, thankfully, was in. The rest as you know, was history in the making. But true to the FromSoftware formula, the shinobi-based entry retained its stupidly difficult style, keeping the studio bolted to its reputation for producing some of the hardest games to ever grace the industry.
Sekiro was a lot of things, of course. Difficult, yes. Almost too difficult, you could even say. But with its emotionally charged storyline and unravelling character progression, it made us want to shove through every obstacle with brute force, no matter how much of a threat each one posed. And, like most games under the FromSoftware hammer, once you had the tactics down, it soon became an absolute blast to play. It’s just that, you know — it took a lot for us to get to that milestone where we actually started to enjoy it.
Bloodborne is, of course, FromSoftware’s magnum opus of the last decade, no word of a lie. And there’s a reason why it waltzed away with almost every nomination at The Game Awards back in 2015, too. Thanks to its rich and immersive, albeit slightly tainted and Gothic world, the game quickly caught the eye of most fans in the room without even having to show off its flawless combat system.
Being a product rubbed together by FromSoftware’s own two hands, of course, we didn’t really need to see the combat to know it would be the highlight of the game. And it was, along with all its memorable mixed bag of creatures and bosses. The setting, in all fairness, was just a blood-laced cherry on top of a darn black forest gateau. What more can we say? The game was a masterpiece that hooked us from the get-go. It’s just a shame it beat the absolute living daylights out of us.
So, how would you rank them? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.