10 Hardest Secret Bosses In Gaming, Ranked

Demi-Friend from Shin Megami Tensei and Nameless King from Dark Souls 3 pose side by side

For expert gamers, few things provide a harder and more exhilarating challenge than fighting a strong secret boss. Indeed, just when it seems like the endgame is near, a supremely powerful baddie inevitably seems to pop up out of nowhere and deliver a humbling dose of physical punishment that increases the difficulty of beating the game significantly.

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As such, some secret video game bosses are so big, powerful, and difficult that games certain gamers have yet to figure out how to defeat them. Whether optional or not, the hardest secret video game bosses on record continue to torment players everywhere.



10 Sans – Undertale

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Undertale is a 2D RPG that follows a child tasked with slaying various monsters and solving puzzles in The Underground. In most narrative Routes, Sans is a friendly NPC. However, during the “Genocide” Route that allows players to kill all the game’s bosses, Sans becomes an extremely difficult secret boss that is much harder than the final boss, Asriel Dreemurr.

Fighting the secret skeletal baddie leaves very little room for error. Sans’ speed, agility, and dodging skills make it almost impossible to land a clean hit, requiring laser precision to hit his limited weak spots. Beyond precise marksmanship, players need expert platforming abilities to outmaneuver San’s relentlessness, which includes assaulting a player’s menu screen in a disorienting attack.

9 Queen Sigrun – God Of War

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Sigrun appears in God Of War

Queen Sigrun is the most formidable Valkyrie in the hyper-violent video game series God of War. Players can only fight Sigrun after defeating all the other Valkyrie bosses and unlocking an epic battle arena. However, most gamers will instantly rue the decision to do so, as Sigrun mounts one devastating attack after another that depletes a player’s morale as much as their health.

The hyper-aggressive Sigrun possesses the skill sets of all seven Valkyrie bosses before her to increase her might dramatically. Between the spinning, flying, and head-crushing moves she performs, Sigrun will give expert gamers a perpetual migraine trying to figure out how to defeat her. Luckily, gamers can adjust the difficulty level in GoW‘s settings if Sigrun is too hard to beat.

8 Emil – Nier: Automata

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Emil appears in Nier-Automata

Nier: Automata is a popular action RPG found on Steam that imagines a war between alien-made machines and manmade androids. While the game isn’t all that popular on its own, its level-99 secret boss Emil has become notorious for its insane difficulty level. Emil is a large, grinning, disembodied head that will easily overpower players thanks to its strength in numbers.

Aside from the large head firing destructive lasers, Emil dispatches a full army of smaller floating heads that leave nowhere to run or hide. An absolute chore of patient counterattacks, the game encourages players to reach level 50 with fully-upgraded weapons before daring to summon Emil and his minions to a duel.

7 Rodin – Bayonetta

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Rodin appears in Bayonetta 2

Rodin is a demon weapon-maker and merchant in the Bayonetta franchise who becomes a secret boss in the first two entries. Known as Father Rodin and later Rodin the Infinite One, the brutal boss is an immortal, supremely powerful demon that is even harder to beat than the games’ main bosses, Baldur and Loptr, respectively.

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In Bayonetta 2, Rodin has such a powerful attack that can almost deplete Bayonetta’s entire health with one hit. Moreover, Rodin is impervious to such attacks as Witch Time and utilizes Wicked Weaves countermeasures to block attacks from all directions. If that wasn’t hard enough, healing potions can’t be used during the intense showdown with Rodin, leaving gamers with limited options to defeat him.

6 Culex – Super Mario RPG

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Culex appears in Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG is the first role-playing Mario game in history. Like most Square Enix games published at the time, it also featured a secret boss in the form of Culex, a sadomasochistically difficult enemy to beat for such an otherwise light and easy game.

Culex is an interdimensional demon who hovers in a corner of a cave and draws immense offensive and defensive powers from four crystals that give him an HP of more than 12,000. Each crystal channels different elemental energy and attacks independently, giving Culex three times more power than the game’s main final boss, Smithy. For a game that favors story over combat, Culex is way harder than any secret boss in a Mario game has any business being.

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Karstaag appears in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

After being resurrected from the grave, Karstagg the mighty Frost Giant returns in Skyrim – Dragonborn to severely test players in a secret boss fight. Once summoned, Karstagg relentlessly stalks players and brutally pounds them with his overpowering signature stomp that is nearly impossible to counter.

Between the damage dealt and the lack of defense to stop the punishing stomp, Karstagg is incredibly hard to flee from and take on directly. Even with the right armor and weapon combo, Karstagg’s indefatigable army of Ice Wraiths makes it very hard for expert strategists to gain ground and emerge victoriously. The best bet is to activate God Mode, and hope to land a few well-timed blows.

4 Lingering Will – Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Lingering Will poses in Kingdom Hearts 2

When it comes to the hardest secret bosses in a children’s game, Lingering Will from Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix is infamous. Even more powerful than the mighty Sephiroth, the only way to fight Lingering Will is for players to beat the whole game and unlock all the worlds, an outrageously difficult task on its own.

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Once completed, the fight with Lingering Will instantly demonstrates the secret boss’ dominance across the board. His ranged and CQC attacks are supremely powerful, deliver massive damage, and are nearly impossible to block. Worse yet, Lingering Will flies across the arena and summons eclectic drones that trap players in a triangle of lightning that cannot be escaped from.

3 Penance – Final Fantasy X

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Penance appears in Final Fantasy X

While Osma from Final Fantasy IX deserves a mention, Penance in the follow-up game is cruel beyond belief. To fight Penance, players must first defeat The Dark Aeons, a collection of eight optional bosses that also increase in difficulty. If that wasn’t hard enough, Penance boasts an unfathomable 12 million HP to go with a formidable range of offensive attacks and defensive guards.

As the most powerful boss in the entire game, Penance wields the omnipotent Judgment Day skill, which is so mighty that instantly reduces a player’s HP by 99,999 and their MP by 999. That doesn’t even account for its litany of immunities and resistances that include everything from death and zombie to petrify and magic break. Unless players acquire Yojimbo’s Zanmato, fighting Penance is a futile endeavor.

2 Demi-Friend – Shin Megami Tensei V

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Demi-Friend appears in Shin Megami Tensei V

Shin Megami Tensei V is a stellar open-world game also known for its hard bosses, main and secret. However, nothing could prepare players for the task of defeating the demonic Demi-Friend in Part V, a secret boss so difficult that the only way to even fight him is to start a New Game Plus.

Aside from wielding such devastating Severe Almighty Damage attacks as Friekugel, Gaea Rage, Deadly Fury, Magma Axis, and Almighty Pleroma, players with forbidden moves will be nullified and instantly killed on contact. Demi-Friend can also revive the dead with fully restored HP to keep waves of baddies coming at players until they simply give up. Even if players deplete half of Demi-Friend’s health, the bar will automatically replenish and continue to torment them.

1 Nameless King – Dark Souls 3

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Nameless King appears in Dark Souls 3

Dark Souls 3 is notorious for its insanely hard bosses. While the dragon Darkeater Midir is no joke, nothing tops the challenge of defeating The Nameless King, a 2-in-1 secret boss battle that boasts twice the challenging difficulty.

First, players must locate Archdragon Peak and summon the bosses, which is quite hard on its own. Afterward, players must defeat the Nameless King’s mount, King of Storms, who rides around on a gigantic Wyvern. The reward for victory is facing the even more harrowing Nameless King, a barbarous tyrant who channels bolts of lightning to constantly electrocute players into oblivion. The dual challenge easily makes Nameless King the hardest secret boss in the Souls series and video games writ large.

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