10 Cruel Difficulty Modes You Can't Handle

These unforgiving difficulty modes should only be attempted by the most masochistic of players.

The Evil Within Ruvik
Bethesda Softworks

Whereas some games are known for throwing players straight into their notorious levels of difficulty in the hopes that they’ll persevere through the challenge, others are kind enough to give players the option to choose their preferred difficulty.

Allowing players to tailor the level of challenge to what’s right for them means that a game should never become too hard for them to beat. However, it also means that harder challenges are there for those looking for some extra layers of punishment.

Including higher difficulty settings can add to a game’s replayability by giving fans something to strive towards after beating the game for the first time. After rolling the credits on the remake of Resident Evil 4, for example, players can put their zombie suplexing skills to the test by playing the game on Professional difficulty. With stronger enemies, no autosaves, and perfect parries only, this mode should only be attempted by those well-versed in this title.

As difficult as Professional mode is, there are game modes out there that are exponentially crueller in their design. From masochistic tweaks to gameplay, permadeath, and uncompromising levels of challenge, it’ll take just as much patience as skill to overcome these ultra-hard challenges.

10. Hard Mode - Amnesia: The Bunker

The Evil Within Ruvik
Frictional Games

Set within the confines of a bunker during WWI, Frictional Games' Amnesia: The Bunker tasks players with escaping the claustrophobic tunnels by locating pieces of an explosive to clear the rubble blocking the exit. But with a monstrous presence hunting protagonist Henri whenever the lights go out, doing so isn't easy.

With a handful of limited and randomly generated resources available in each playthrough, players are forced to experiment to overcome each challenge, all whilst staying quiet and keeping the generator topped up to keep the monster at bay.

Even on its standard difficulty, The Bunker is far from being an easy game. However, those wishing for an even more harrowing ordeal can play on hard mode.

Described as an "intense nightmare" with "unforgiving encounters", this mode puts players' wits to the test. Here, the focus on experimentation and creativity is amplified as resources are even scarcer than before.

The monster is likewise made even more aggressive, with the slightest whirring of Henri's handheld flashlight being enough to draw the beast's attention straight to him.

If that's not enough of a challenge, the developers plan to launch an even harder Shell Shocked mode in the future.

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Glasgow-based cinephile who earned a Masters degree in film studies to spend their time writing about cinema, video games, and horror.