Dark Souls is hands down one of the hardest games you'll play, but that's not why you'll want to play it. Game director Hidetaka Miyazaki has spoken out against the popular view that the only truly fulfilling titles are those which beat their players raw.
"I personally want my games to be described as satisfying rather than difficult," he told the Metro in an interview (the translation is a bit "murky" by the paper's admission, so apologies for any Engrish). "As a matter of fact, I am aiming at giving players sense of accomplishment in the use of difficulty.
"Having said that, however, it is true that Dark Souls is rather difficult and a number of people may hesitate to play. This fact is really sad to me and I am thinking about whether I should prepare another difficulty that everyone can complete or carefully send all gamers the messages behind our difficult games.
"However, I suppose gamers do not particularly prefer easy games," Miyazaki went on. "What they want is interesting and worthwhile games to play, so I think it is natural that hindrance or stress that does not attribute to such interesting and worthwhile elements will be removed in the end.
"If the number of easy games is increasing nowadays, I guess it is because difficulty is not related to interesting and worthwhile game elements in many games among players."
For my part, I'd suggest that too many "high difficulty" modes are founded on blind luck and repetition, and too many "low difficulty" modes hinge on reducing NPC health by half. Here are eight "hardcore" difficulty modes which are heading in the right direction.