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The Most Brutal Bosses Ever

There are two types of gamers: those who are in it for the artistry, the narrative, the aesthetic, and the fun; and then there are those who are gluttons for punishment. The latter are looking for a challenge, an obstacle to be conquered, enemies to be slain in a righteous fury. They're the kind of people that keep FromSoftware in business. They enjoy having to repeatedly throw themselves at seemingly invincible foes because once they are indeed vanquished, victory is all the more sweet. 

But Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice are by no means only games with tough bosses. There are plenty of others that surprise and terrify players with unduly brutal bosses, some of which might feel like they were actually meant to be in another, tougher game. Bosses are all the more challenging when the gameplay had been breezy before the big bad shows up. Here we go over bosses that made players question their sanity, stare askance at the screen, and wonder if their 20-plus hours of previous gameplay had all been for naught. That's how brutal these bosses are.

Even your save file can't save you from Photoshop Flowey - Undertale

Undertale is a unique game in which players are given a choice: go on the usual killing spree as dictated by the JRPGs that the game is modeled after, or choose to be a clever pacifist, petting dogs and complimenting tsundere planes. (Because that's a thing.) Going the neutral route and avoiding violence where you can might make the encounter with Photoshop Flowey, or Omega Flowey, all the more nightmarish. 

Flowey had been just a little homicidal flower before. Nothing to worry much about. After absorbing human souls, however, Flowey turns into a creature that takes up the whole screen, all thorny vines and horrifically realistic eyes. This abomination makes your typical bullet hell look like child's play. There's also the fact that Photoshop Flowey gets meta: he knows about your save files and uses them to his own advantage by reloading the fight before the player is able to strike the final blow, effectively making you start over. And over. This is all while having to witness the grotesque mandibles snap and the maniacal, clown-like face Flowey has now instead of his signature smile. Fighting Photoshop Flowey is a bad time.

Guardian Apes die twice - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sure, the Guardian Ape is not the most handsome of creatures, what with that big red scar and the sword through its neck, but he's just looking for love. He tends the Lotus of the Palace in order to attract a new mate and thus will do anything to protect it ... including beat the life out of the player over and over again. He attacks with big, flailing moves and, uh, farts. You read that right: there's none of that sneaky, attack-from-behind nonsense here. These gaseous clouds inflict some considerable poison damage too. Watch out for ... monkey projectiles. 

When you at last use the sword in its neck to behead the beast, don't get comfortable. This Twilight Zone King Kong isn't done with you yet. It uses the sword to continue the attack, carrying about its severed head and occasionally placing it back onto its neck to let out a bloodcurdling roar that causes area of effect damage. It moves clumsily, creepily, but refuses to go down. The real defeat comes when Sekiro reaches down its exposed throat, and tears out the squirming centipede that has infected the Guardian Ape. When it goes down the second time, it stays down.

The horror story behind Giygas is seriously brutal - EarthBound

What do you expect the boss to look like in a kid's game? An angry dragon-turtle like Bowser? A mustachioed mad scientist like Eggman? How about a disembodied face twisted in pain? Because that's what players, young and old, have to face down at the end of their playthrough of the classic SNES title EarthBound

Giygas is the embodiment of evil, the universal cosmic destroyer. He's the bad guy, but rather than wanting to kidnap princesses or steal emeralds, he is on a mission to "sentence all of reality to the horror of infinite darkness." A not-so PG entity in a fairly PG game, the alien invader shows a twisted face in the final showdown, apparently inspired by a rape-turned-murder scene from an adult film that director Shigesato Itoi accidentally witnessed as a child. That's brutal in its own way, and so is Giygas' own backstory. He'd been raised by humans, the secrets of alien power stolen by his adoptive father. Thus he was forced to invade earth to destroy the humans if he couldn't recover the secrets. In all this, he just misses his mom, and is lulled into defeat by the lullaby she used to sing to him.

Roll the dice against King Dice and you could lose bigtime - Cuphead

Cuphead is another game known for being particularly rage-quit inducing. The bosses are intricately designed and very challenging, with tons of cartoony projectiles and multiple phases that will make players ask, "Wait, there's more?" There is, especially when it comes to taking on King Dice. The thing is, you don't take on King Dice himself as you fight his nine minions and their own innumerable forces, each with their own unique attacks. Roll the dice and wish for luck, because there's a long battle ahead once you reach the aptly named Die House. 

The gauntlet begins with the Tipsy Troop, followed by Chips Bettigan, and just when you're feeling like you have the hang of things, you'll have to face the cigar from hell, Mr. Wheezy. Next, Pip and Dot will have you dodging spiked dominoes, and then you'll have to move quick to dodge the skulls thrown by Hopus Pocus. Tired yet? There's still Phear Lap, Pirouletta, Mangosteen, and Mr. Chimes to face before ever getting the chance to wallop King Dice himself. The cherry on top is that players have the unlucky opportunity to be randomly forced to start over. Talk about brutal.

Ludwig is Accursedly difficult - Bloodborne

"An unsightly beast. A great terror looms. Ahh! Ludwig the Accursed is coming!" 

Ludwig the Accursed from Bloodborne: The Old Hunters is a sight to behold. Too many limbs, too many mouths, and too many eyes, this great terror is more than just unsightly: he's downright ugly, and fairly hard to kill. All those limbs make it hard to get a good, clean shot in and keeping a distance only makes him angry. In his second phase, because this is a FromSoftware game after all, he remembers himself. Once upon a time he too was a hunter with the Healing Church, wielder of a mystical greatsword. 

Naturally, he uses this glowing green sword to kick the snot out of the player. No longer so beastly, but still a ghastly thing to look upon, he launches arcane attacks. His moves are much more graceful, now known as "The Holy Blade" rather than "The Accursed." This transformation, along with the horrible mutation that made Ludwig so accursed, makes him one of the title's more memorable bosses. 

18 hours of pandemonium against the Pandemonium Warden - Final Fantasy 11

This monster is notorious. Indeed, the Pandemonium Warden is one of two Notorious Monsters in Final Fantasy 11 that has gained an infamous reputation for physically harming players through the sheer challenge of trying, and failing, to defeat it. A guild called Beyond the Limitation hit their limit when a raid lasted over 18 hours. 

No breaks. No prior preparation. No one expected this foe to be so unbeatable. Adrenaline fueled players fought through the Pandemonium Warden's many shifting forms and formidable satellites. The only respite was in death. Finally, after 18 hours of fighting, Beyond the Limitation gave up after several members fell ill or even unconscious. One member said, "We decided to end it before we risked turning into a horrible new story about how video games ruin people's lives."

In light of this situation, Square Enix created a patch that made the Pandemonium Warden a little less impossible: it now only has a spawn time of two hours, and those satellites now have only 2,400 HP rather than 25,000. Now no one will suffer 18 hours of fighting to no avail because of the sadistic Pandemonium Warden.

The pre-nerfed God of Madness, C'Thun - World of Warcraft

What else should inspire terror but the old gods? In the early days of World of Warcraft, Eldritch horrors appeared as a challenge to the most organized of guilds looking for the fight of their lives. They found it with the Lovecraftian snowglobe known as C'Thun. C'Thun is a Sauron-esque eyeball balanced atop a nightmare of claws and tentacles. Very cuddly and very powerful, too powerful as it turned out. C'Thun quickly became infamous as an unbeatable raid boss, the bane of even the most experienced of players. Between the green eyebeam of death that dealt an astronomical 5 million damage and C'Thun's digestive juices, guild after guild was utterly wiped.

For 80 days, players threw themselves at this beast to no avail. This boss was broken; to beat it would take a mathematically impossibly coordinated raid. Ion Hazzikostas, who later joined Blizzard and eventually became the game director on World of Warcraft, did the math and figured that it would take 230,000 damage every 60 seconds to make a proper dent in C'Thun — and that's all while avoiding deadly eyebeams and tentacles. Blizzard had to execute a serious nerf in order to make victory possible.

Don't hold your breath when you fight Emerald Weapon - Final Fantasy 7

Emerald Weapon sounds like a cool drop that you get after defeating the boss. In reality, it is one of the most difficult enemies to beat in Final Fantasy 7. In the lore, the Emerald Weapon was released in order to protect the planet but is just fine attacking whoever might run into it via submarine. The Emerald Weapon is at the bottom of the sea, where oxygen is in short supply. This means that unless certain items are equipped, players have a total of twenty minutes to defeat the superboss. 

Easier said than done. This thing has 1 million HP. It's attacks are prone to one-shot-ing party members. Unlike some other enemies, the Emerald Weapon attacks with a pattern, not that this makes the attacks any less brutal. Aire Tam Storm will mow down two members easily, and a third will then fall victim to Emerald Blast. It takes some strategy and patience, patience, patience to take down this super duper boss.

The Valkyrie Queen of butt-kicking - God of War (2018)

There are many entirely optional bosses in 2018's God of War, available for those who want more time to swing the Leviathan Axe. These hardcore Kratos fans should be ready for the gauntlet before them; the Valkyries are no joke. The Valkyries are warrior's warriors, taking those who fall in battle into the halls of Valhalla. However, in the game, Odin has cursed them to stay in physical form. Odin's spite has driven them to insanity, and the only way for them to regain their senses is through a senseless beating. Kratos and Atreus must kill their physical forms to restore them. 

Naturally, the Valkyrie Queen takes the crown for the most difficult boss in the game. She literally comes out swinging, throwing Kratos' skull into the ground the second she is summoned. Sigrun has the power of all the previous Valkyries the player has fought, but she packs a more powerful punch. Unpredictable, fast, and downright tanky, dancing with her requires a skilled player. And a player with patience enough to listen to Atreus constantly yelling, "Look out, Father!"

Mr. X is indeed going to give it to you - Resident Evil 2

Just when you thought that the long-tongued abominations that drop from the ceilings were the worst part of Resident Evil 2, Mr. X makes an appearance. From then on, it's nigh impossible to escape him. He follows the player at a maddeningly calm pace, his booming footsteps haunting the nightmares of gamers everywhere. You might be able to knock off his fedora, but bullets have little to no effect on this persistent creature. He manages to appear at the least opportune times to remind Leon or Claire that he'd like nothing more than to bash their heads in. 

Bullets, walls, and even exploding SWAT vans don't do much to deter this determined foe. Mr. X, sent to steal Sherry's G-Virus-laced locket and kill any Raccoon City cops left, is in it for the long run. When he at last loses his signature leather trenchcoat, you're gonna wish that he had kept it on. A flaming hunk of weaponized meat on his right side packs a deadly punch. You have to resort to overkill to actually kill Mr. X: a rocket launcher to the torso leaves little to no torso left of this persistent Tyrant.

Bungie's hot fix of Skolas - Destiny

Destiny's House of Wolves expansion brought on new challenges for players, and some were notably harder than others. "Skolas' Revenge" stood out as a particularly unforgiving battle that even the most seasoned of Guardians struggled with again and again. Described as prideful, vicious, and even delusional, it would make sense that this boss was a tough nut to crack. But even Bungie found the difficulty of the Level 35 Challenge was found to be unduly demanding. 

Bungie listened to the continuous complaints about Skolas' overpowered Scorch Cannon and how many, many players were returning from the Prison of Elders disappointingly empty-handed. A blog post showed that Bungie had examined the level, produced a very telling heat map of player positions, and thus decided to release Destiny Hot Fix 1.2.0.3. Skolas got nerfed carefully in order to preserve the challenge, but still make the Prison of Elders accessible for those up to the task of taking on the Kell of Kells.

Placenta beatdown by the Orphan of Kos - Bloodborne

Bloodborne: The Old Hunters is at it again, making monsters that are both admirable in their fighting skills and deplorable in their looks. The Orphan of Kos is a sad, skeletal thing that is first seen weeping and staring forlornly at the sky. Don't pity this man-child for too long, though, because it will quickly become the bane of your existence should you choose to take it on. It screams horribly as it swings its weapon of choice: a placenta. No seriously. 

The Orphan disconcertingly attacks like a real player would: it opts for spamming its most overpowered attacks and uses the ones that the player is most likely to be weakest to. This means a whole lot of Hulk-smashing around the beach battlefield. This screaming skeleton is brutal both in the way it throws its own placenta around and in how furiously it attacks the player. It's fast, and will even resort to fake-outs by feigning attacks and canceling animations.

Senator Armstrong wants to make Metal Gear great again - Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Okay, even among all the nightmare monsters and unbeatable baddies, Senator Armstrong from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is easily the strangest boss on this list. Sure, he's not swinging around a placenta or messing with your save files, but he looks like an accountant and quotes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his evil monologue. Said monologue is about America's military industrial complex. Try juggling that message while fighting this beefcake and his big, robot ant. 

Brutal is listening to this guy talk, talk, talk about making America great again. The giant robot fight is easy-breezy compared to taking on the juiced-up Senator. This guy doesn't flinch even as Raiden gives him all he's got. He stands, immovable, smiling through a hail of hundreds of punches. Why won't he die? Nanomachines effectively turn him into Iron Man upon impact. It takes a last minute deus ex sword to finally match his earth-shaking power and even then, this politician is determined to monologue right to the bitter end. Heart crushed, body broken, he still has some things to say.

The saintly and sadistic Isshin Ashina - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Before the final act of the game, Isshin Ashina was downright grandfatherly. He was an aged old man who liked sake and reminiscing. But make no mistake: Isshin was at one time a feared and revered warlord who used his might to seize vast swaths of land. Old and ill, he's no longer so scary, and thus his enemies circle like vultures. His grandson, Genichiro, is desperate to bring his clan back to the height of its former power. 

That's a seriously formidable power. In the final fights of the game, Sekiro is forced to fight both grandson and grandfather. Upon defeat, Genichiro bloodily sacrifices himself to bring back Isshin at his most powerful. Isshin chooses to honor his grandson and fights his friend Sekiro. He doesn't pull any punches either; he's brutally fast and strong. Aptly known as the Sword Saint, he cuts through even the most practiced player's posture. He also manages to juggle a sword, spear, and a handgun. And then he summons lightning, as if he wasn't already difficult to manage. Move fast, don't get hit, and try not to die.

Dead space and dead things - Dead Space

Everyone loves unkillable enemies, right? If for whatever masochist reason you do, then you'll love Dead Space. Necromorphs are creepy, crawly reanimated abominations straight out of The Thing, but they usually go down with a few well placed shots. "Strategic dismemberment" is also encouraged. However, there are a few variations that are hardier than others and thus are effectively unkillable, which makes for a terrifying playthrough. 

The Hunter is a massive necromorph with long, blade-like arms. It can quickly regenerate these limbs so dismemberment, strategic or not, is ineffective. It has tentacles hanging out of its lack-of-jaw and raptor toes, as if its ugly mug weren't enough to communicate what a nightmare this beast is. Thankfully, this thing is more fumbling than fast and thus the number one strategy for taking it on is simple: avoid, avoid, avoid. Run fast, don't look back, and for the love of all that is good, do not try to take on this brutal boss.