Tears, fears and Doggos: Best PlayStation games of the past decade (2010 - 2019)

Hardest video games

1. Dark Souls (and the spawn of a new genre)

Dark Souls combat

Source: FromSoftware (Image credit: Source: FromSoftware)

This should be self-explanatory at this point. Dark Souls became synonymous with difficulty this decade. If any game was had even an ounce of the unforgiving gameplay that Dark Souls had, the comparisons would be drawn in an instant. I'm guilty of it, too, even though it did spawn the Souls-like genre as a result. Dark Souls takes no prisoners and parts are so difficult that it borders on downright unfair. There is no hand-holding; no reprieve; no ability to bump the difficulty down. You either "git gud" or die trying. It's almost a right of passage to complete a Dark Souls game. -Jennifer Locke

2. Super Meat Boy

Super Meat Boy

Source: Team Meat (Image credit: Source: Team Meat)

If you don't die at least a few hundred times while playing Super Meat Boy, you're either an all-powerful platforming god or you haven't played it. Each level requires such precise timing that there is no room for error. Jumps that should become muscle memory at a certain point will almost always give you a hard time. Super Meat Boy is just diabolical, and there are no checkpoints in a level to give you a moment to catch your breath. You finish it in one go or you don't finish it at all. Good luck. -Jennifer Locke

3. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

It took me hours to defeat what I thought was the first boss in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It turns out that it was only a mini-boss of sorts, and would be one of the easiest to defeat. I was stuck on the Chained Ogre, another early-game mini-boss, for several days. Enemies you wouldn't give a second thought to in any other game could kill you in an instant, even a rooster. You want to save the game and heal yourself? Good luck, because the enemies will respawn. This game crushes your very soul. It chews you up and spits you out into an unforgiving world. -Jennifer Locke

4. Celeste

Celeste screen

Source: Matt Makes Games (Image credit: Source: Matt Makes Games)

This platformer, released in 2018, is not only a part of a genre defined by difficulty, but it manages to overcome a lot of its peers by being demanding in multiple areas. To complete Celeste, you need skills in timing, jumping, speed, and even combat, which comes in handy with ever-changing encounters. The game is also emotionally demanding, letting you experience the mind of a person struggling with mental health issues that become real. Therefore, the difficulty is warranted. The game is so tough that the developers (thankfully!) built in an assist mode. They recommend that you don't turn it on unless you have to so you can experience the game in all its challenging glory, but in many of our playthroughs, we kept it on a lot. -Carli Velocci

5. XCOM 2

I've been playing XCOM games since the mid-90s, so I'm used to aliens murdering my crew and me without any mercy. XCOM 2 brought that to the next level. Unlike the reboot of the series, we humans were put on the run, and when I say these aliens want you to die fantastically, I'm not kidding. For every recruit that got a promotion, at least two died. You're continually outmanned, outgunned, and up against tech that is built to make the game more challenging. Luckily, it made humankind the rebels fighting back against oppressive alien overlords, and that made every win more satisfying. -Jen Karner

6. The Witness

The Witness game

Source: Thekla Inc. (Image credit: Source: Thekla Inc.)

Puzzle games are a guilty pleasure of mine. I've played enough that there aren't many left that get me to take our a pen and paper to solve. That's what The Witness did. It takes such a simple premise — drawing paths on grids — and makes it so difficult by not explaining the parameters by which you must solve the puzzle. You need to figure out everything on your own. When you factor in that these puzzles can get progressively harder as you progress, it makes completing the over 500 in the game a daunting task — but one that's immensely satisfying when you beat it. -Jennifer Locke

7. Nioh

Nioh is challenging in a similar vein to Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Combat requires players to be tactical, not just button mash in the hopes of success. The enemies aren't pushovers, either. Some of the more formidable bosses can even one-shot you. Needless to say, playing Nioh takes a tremendous amount of skill and practice. Thankfully the game has a lot of mechanics and tools at your disposal to use in combat, but if you don't use them properly they might as well be worthless. -Jennifer Locke

8. Alien: Isolation

Alien Isolation

Source: Feral Interactive (Image credit: Source: Feral Interactive)

In space, no one can hear you scream. With a xenomorph hot on your tail, you'll need to do everything in your power to stay one step ahead, and sometimes this means trying not to make a sound. You spend Alien: Isolation running from the titular alien. You can use a motion tracker to dial in on its position, but using it will also alert the alien to your own. It's a calculated risk/reward scenario. The xenomorph pursues you relentlessly, and one wrong move will cost you your life. You don't have a lot of ammunition or weapons with which to save yourself, either. All of this culminates in an experience that is both challenging and stressful. -Jennifer Locke

9. Beat Saber

Beat Saber Oculus Quest

Source: Beat Games (Image credit: Source: Beat Games)

There were a lot of discussions when making this list around letting hard modes be considered. Beat Saber on easy is just that, easy. It's a fun distraction for a few minutes and the music is good to listen to. On medium things become a little challenging but it's still an enjoyable way to play. Hard mode — and the insanity of expert mode — is a great way to get a significant workout and offers a challenging experience. The physicality of VR games makes them exponentially harder than most of the games on these lists by virtue of having to use your old body to play not just your thumbs. -James Bricknell

AC Staff