In order to unlock hard mode you need to beat the game once. Then go to the speedrun mode and select hardmode. I recommend also turning off all cutscenes to make it go quicker as well as the stable seed option that makes it so that enemy movements and boss attacks are consistent between retries. My exact settings were: Hard, stable seed, skip cutscenes, action only, skip replay, dragon dash max, show timer, show death count, katana and factory. Hard has the same room layouts as the normal mode, but it adds a lot more lasers, automated turrets, more enemies, and tougher enemies more frequently.
THIS IS HARD, and you will die a lot, but the game retries incredibly quickly and once you finish a room then your good and never have to do it again. You also don't have to do it all in one sitting. If you exit out to the main menu during a speedrun than you can just resume it later by selecting speedrun and it will ask you if you want to continue. For reference this took me 3 hours and 45 minutes to beat with no cutscenes and 1219 deaths.
This mode introduces two new enemy types to deal with:
1. Karate fighter: These guys look similar to the melee enemies that can block your sword with their own strike except they're in a red outfit. You CANNOT dodge through these enemies, they will kick you back and stun you for a second. You just need to attack them head on with a single strike. These can be annoying because rolling through enemies becomes basic instinct after playing the game a lot and this enemy led to my death a lot.
2. Machine Gunner: These guys look like rambo and have a large machine gun. They shoot incredibly fast when your in their line of sight. If you can take these enemies out without alerting them than that's the best but if have to go head on with one, (and you will in hardmode) Than use
to slow time, parry the first bullet back by hitting it, then dodge roll through the next, then parry the 3rd, then dodge roll the 4th, and so on and so forth until he's dead. The machine gun enemies also appear on the motorcycle level as well on hard.
Just some general tips:
- Use your deaths to experiment and figure out a path through the room a little bit at a time.
- Don't forget to use
to look around outside of your normal line of sight. Use this to scope out rooms before you enter.
-Use your time slow
a lot. It recharges pretty quickly and is basically necessary to even complete the game on hard. I barely used it on normal but I was using it practically every room on hard.
-There's a lot more turrets so get good at dodging them. If you can dodge their first volley than they need to cool down giving you enough time to get in and destroy them.
-If possible, use the environment kills such as the exploding barrels and the laser walls you can control to wipe out as many enemies as possible at once.
-As far as I could tell, it's not possible to sneak out of the prison with the extra enemies so you need to kill everyone.
-The motorcycle level sends more gun enemies at you and also includes machine gun enemies now.
-Shield enemies can be killed with the door if they get close enough but only if their back is turned, otherwise the door will just bounce them back a little bit.
-The boss fights aren't too bad with the exception of the final boss. V is pretty much the same. Mr Kissyface gave me some difficulties and he takes more hits to kill than normal but was overall pretty easy if you memorize his pattern. The helicopter is pretty much the same but there will be a couple of homing rockets as well when he sends the rows of rockets.
-The cameras on slaughterhouse are impossible to dodge on hard so you have to do the Null gamma test and have to deal with Leon's sniper throughout the level. In hard mode the sniper shot is explosive so its harder to dodge but its also capable of killing enemies.The Final Boss
Her first phase is incredibly difficult and requires planning on each step of it to be executed perfectly. Her second phase isn't too difficult, especially if you use time slow, but the first phase requires you to eliminate the enemies she sends out as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Once you hit her the first time, she sends 2 guys with rifles on the outside doors. Stand next to one of the doors they come out of them and kill that one instantly. Stand between the outside door and the nearest inner door as the other one shoots. Deflect the bullet back and kill them.
As that is happening the next wave will be arriving, it consists of two shield enemies on the inner doors and karate enemies on the outer doors. If your between an outer door and an inner door, than slash the first shield enemy in the back as he comes through and then immediately turn and kill the karate one closest to you. DO NOT ROLL but run to the other shield and karate enemies who should be on top of each other at this point and slash. The slash will kill the karate enemy and knock the shield guy back, also putting your sword on cooldown, now roll behind the shield and kill him. If your positioning is wrong on this part then sometimes the shield guy will shoot instead of blocking your sword and kill you.
When the shield enemy dies, the boss should already be back and is either about to aim at you or already aiming so avoid the initial attack and go for another hit. Once you hit her a second time another wave of enemies will come. This wave consists of two karate guys from the inner doors and two of the skinny melee guys on the outer doors. I didn't really make a plan for this since they die so easily so just take them out as quickly as possible and remember not to roll towards a karate guy. Make sure to be between an inner door and outer door as you finish them off before the next wave comes.
The final wave of enemies is the hardest. Its consists of two shield guys on the inner doors again and then 2 machine gunners on the outer doors. Start this wave just like the second wave. Kill the first shield guy immediately as he comes through and then turn and slash the first machine gunner as fast as possible. Then use time slow as he dies and turn around. The other machine gunner should have started firing and you need to deflect, then dodge, then deflect, then dodge, etc, like I detailed above. The deflected bullets should kill the second shield guy first and then the second machine gunner. The boss will then come back, hit her for a 3rd time and the first (and hardest) phase is over. Here is a clip of me doing it. The clip starts right after I hit the boss for the first time.
The second phase is pretty easy and doesn't need that much of an explanation. The major difference is that two sets of turrets come out after the first hit, one set on each side as opposed to just the single set on the left side on normal mode. Her final horizontal attack also comes from the left instead of the right like in normal. Finally don't forget to grab the knife and throw it at her immediately after the third hit before she suicide bombs you. I'll include a clip of me doing it. Once again, not nearly as hard as the first phase since her moves always follow that set pattern if you have that stable seed setting on and then it's just straight memorization.