The hardest PC turn-based strategy rpg games * Updated

Written by Marcello TBL

The hardest pc turn-based strategy rpgs

Thanks to community tips, I’ve prepared a list for all the lovers of the most difficult PC turn-based RPG/strategy games. Titles developed to be played at high difficulty often suggested by the developers themselves, games with permadeath, games that often make us swear to God.

As in other lists that I made, this will be updated often, listening to suggestions through my twitter account or directly in the comments below. Let’s start.


Xcom: Enemy Unknown

The series that I love most, a must in the turn-based strategy games category. A deep management phase and tactical fighting. In Xcom: Enemy Unknown there are 4 difficulty levels; Easy, Normal, Classic and Impossible. My advice is to play it Classic to enjoy the right game experience but if you are a masochist choose the Impossible difficulty and get hurt!

Then in the advanced options, you can activate the famous Ironman mode, which will disable the option to save the game at will, which will make each of our choices permanent, and when our best soldier is killed, he will definitely die.

And finally there are SECOND WAVE options that will be unlocked after the first campaign completed, and here we find many options that can make the game even more difficult, like; rarest psionic skills, higher cost of the satellites, reduced weapon damage etc. In the official Xcom wiki, you will find a table summarizing the differences between the various difficulty levels. Humble Bundle link.


Xcom 2

The sequel of Xcom: Enemy Unknown. In the game, it was hypothesized that the alien invasion of the first title has won and conquered the earth. Now we find ourselves guiding the resistance on a mobile base. This title, like the predecessor, is also famous for its very high level of difficulty, the difficulty levels are always 4, but in this case; Rookie, Veteran, Commander, and Legend.

Veteran is the recommended level of challenge for the veterans of the XCOM series even though I’ve always chosen the Commander difficulty. Optionally we can activate the ironman mode that will automatically take care of saving game making our choices definitive.

Here too there are several options that allow us to customize our gaming experience, then with the various DLC the game was made even more difficult and challenging. Surely one of the hardest turn-based strategy game ever. Here some details from the official XCOM 2 wiki. You can find it on Humble Bundle


Battle Brothers

This pearl produced by Overhype Studios puts us in the shoes of a group of mercenaries who wanders around the world looking for contracts to be completed in order to earn money and fame. Very simple to a superficial look, but in reality, we are talking about one of the most appreciated turn-based strategy games of the last few years thanks to the profound management of the single mercenaries and to their high level of challenge.

Before starting a new campaign we will be able to choose separately the difficulty level of three aspects; combat, economy, starting funds. For each of them, we will have the beginner level, veteran, and expert. We can then decide to start the campaign with more money and have more difficult fights, and vice versa. Add to this the possibility of activating the ironman mode which will disable manual saving, making everything more difficult. You can find it Humble Bundle link


Darkest Dungeon

A turn-based RPG that has been a great success thanks to its style and above all to the great difficulty level. Darkest Dungeon is a dungeon-crawler in 2d, where we will lead a group of soldiers through dungeons full of dangers.

Returning to the difficulty level, we can choose between Normal Mode, Radiant mode, Stygian Mode and Bloodmoon Mode (difficulty level related to Stygian Mode and the Dlc Crimson Court). Even in Darkest Dungeon every soldier who is killed in a dungeon cannot be brought back. You can get the Ancestral Edition on Humble Bundle store.


Lords of Xulima

Turn-based dungeon crawler RPG I’ve played and reviewed lately. This is a very challenging game where it is essential to carefully develop the party to be able to get to the final battle. For my playthrough I chose the veteran difficulty, (the one recommended by the developers themselves) alternatively we can choose normal and impossible.

I can assure you that the veteran level represents already a very challenging level, both for the fights and for the exploration phase. Find more information in my review of Lords of Xulima. You can find it on Humble Bundle store.


Human Extinction Simulator

I’ve never personally tested this turn-based strategy ship simulator game. In Human Extinction Simulator we will drive spaceships on hexagonal grid and we will have to survive the alien threat. The game was shown to me by my twitter’s friend Wildstorm (also a great lover of turn-based games).

By checking a few comments and reviews found online, they all speak of how difficult the level is a bit too high, so Human Extinction Simulator has entered my long list of games to try.


The Age of Decadence

The Age of Decadence is a turn-based, hardcore role-playing game set in a low magic, post-apocalyptic fantasy world. One small detail of this turn-based RPG is that we can even get to the end of the game by completely avoiding fights.

Even for Age of Decadence, the difficulty level is set high. Recommended by my twitter’s friend Loïc HERVE, he also suggested the next game on this list.


Dungeon Rats

A turn-based, party-based RPG set in the Age of Decadence world and focused on squad level tactical combat. A game focused on very challenging fights that gave him the reputation of difficult turn-based strategy RPG.


Ash of Gods

Released a few months ago, Ash of Gods is a turn-based strategy RPG that combines tactical combat, CCG elements, and a continually evolving story in which no one is safe from death, including the main characters.

The ironman mode has recently been added, making the adventure even more difficult. Game suggested by one of the most experienced in the field of turn-based strategy and tactical games, Rui Castro. Look for it on Humble Bundle store


Steam Marines

Steam Marines is a squad based Roguelike set on a steampunk spaceship. It features tactical play focused on positioning and careful use of resources. Built to keep you on your toes as you progress through the decks of your besieged ship while clearing enemies and trying to reach each level.

The game has 4 difficulty level. The “normal” difficulty already gives you a very challenging adventure.


The Battle for Wesnoth

The Battle for Wesnoth is an open source, turn-based strategy game with a high fantasy theme. Explore the four corners of Irdya in seventeen solo campaigns and dozens of multiplayer maps, taking part in countless adventures as you go.

The game receives continuous updates, which add new contents and new challenges. If you’re looking for a difficult turn-based strategy game for more free, The Battle for Wesnoth is for you.


Temple of Elemental Evil

A classic RPG based upon the famous Greyhawk adventure and using the D&D 3.5 ruleset. Parties of up to 5 adventurers and up to three NPCs with 9 starting points, depending on your alignment. Tons of different monsters, feats, spells and magical items.

Have you played any of these hardest turn-based strategy/RPG games on the list or do you want to suggest me other games? You can do this by commenting on the article below or by contacting me on my twitter profile.


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Marcello TBL

Italian Dad in love with Turn-Based RPGs and Indie Games. In 2018 he started Turn Based Lovers and now he can't live without it.

7 thoughts on “The hardest PC turn-based strategy rpg games * Updated”

  1. I played recently “The temple of elemental evil” and this game is really hard too. Game hast also an ironman mode, which I believe is impossible (maybe after hundreds and hundreds of hours). It’s a more or less 1 to 1 implementaion of the D&D 3.5 rule system, which is very nice, but on the other very complex too.

    • Hi Tapio, thanks for your suggestion. I will update my article with “The Temple of elemental evil” as soon as possibile. Moreover if you like, you can write a review for this title. My website is at your disposal 🙂


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