Dear friend, are you prepared to delve into the world of Dark Souls speedrunning? I‘m thrilled to be your guide across this vast and treacherous realm.
Our journey begins with the game itself – a modern icon of challenging gameplay. Next we‘ll scale the pantheon of legends who conquer Dark Souls at a blistering pace. And we‘ll uncover the hard-earned skills that set masters like Kahmul78 apart.
There will be epic moments of glory, disastrous falls, and lessons for those bold enough to attempt this trial themselves. So steel your nerves, skeleton, and let‘s praise the sun together!
What Makes Dark Souls So Punishing?
Dark Souls enraptured players through a formula now synonymous with the "Soulsborne" genre. But what specifically sets these games apart? Why do fans praise the difficulty?
It starts with the meticulous combat. Reckless button mashing gets you nowhere. Precise timing and stamina management are key.
Dodge rolls have brief invincibility "i-frames" at the start. Miss the window and you‘ll take damage.
Attacks deplete your stamina. Run out mid-combo and you‘re stunned, vulnerable to devastating counters.
Weapons have varied damage, swing speeds, and range. Picking the right tool for the job is critical.
"Poise" lets you withstand hits without interrupting swings. But lose poise and you‘ll be staggered.
Mastering the basics takes practice. One missed dodge or overextended swing can spell doom. Patience and composure win the day.
But punishing combat is only part of the picture. The world itself tests your limits.
Enemies don‘t scale to your level. Expect savage beatdowns if you explore too greedily.
Losing all HP doesn‘t just cost life, but your souls too. Farming souls to level up takes time.
Bonfires serve as scarce checkpoints. Dying can mean an arduous trek just to reach your bloodstain again.
Cryptic storytelling leaves you to piece together the lore, with minimal guidance.
Dark Souls refuses to hold your hand. These twin tests of combat and exploration forge veterans through blood, sweat, and tears. Now let‘s see what the best of the best can accomplish…
Speedrunning Categories and World Records
While casual fans take 50+ hours, expert speedrunners have torn through Dark Souls in under 30 minutes. How is this possible?
By mixing precise play with glitches and exploits, top runners dash right for the end credits. There are different categories based on what‘s permitted:
- Any% – Finish game as fast as possible by any means. The max boss run is arguably the most impressive display of mastery. Let‘s examine Kahmul78‘s record-breaking 2018 run that shattered expectations.
Kahmul78‘s Legendary All Bosses Speedrun
At ESA Summer 2018, Kahmul78 stunned spectators by defeating all Dark Souls bosses in 1 hour, 26 minutes, and 49 seconds. For context, most casual players spend 5-10 hours or more just struggling against notorious bosses like Ornstein & Smough.
By expertly exploiting damage, poise breaks, parries, backstabs, and more, Kahmul78 tears through the game‘s toughest enemies with precision. He meticulously selects optimal routes, never wasting time or movement. His execution under pressure is machine-like.
Some highlights include:
One-shotting the Taurus Demon by plunging from above.
Nearly skipping Capra Demon by killing dogs and exploiting the fog door.
Baiting enemies into deadly falls in areas like Sen‘s Fortress.
Parrying and riposting Silver Knights in Anor Londo rather than fighting normally.
Manipulating AI and terrain – luring enemies into tight spaces.
Skipping massive sections via Wrong Warps and elevator tricks.
Flawless maneuvering around lethal hazards such as Archers and Painted Guardians.
Kahmul78 displays an uncanny mastery of Dark Souls. Every movement has purpose. Every attack is carefully timed to break poise and posture. He makes no wasted motions while navigating perilous cliffs, traps, and ambushes.
This run proves that even the merciless world of Dark Souls can be conquered through preparation, practice, and sheer skill.
The Making of a Speedrunning Legend
So how did Kahmul78 attain such an astounding level of skill? Let‘s look at his background.
Kahmul78 has been playing Dark Souls since its launch in 2011, accruing over 2000 hours of playtime. He dove heavily into PvP, reaching top competitive ranks. This sharpened his mastery of mechanics like backstabs and parries.
He began speedrunning in 2014, slowly chipping away at his times through practice and optimization. In an interview with Speedrun.com, Kahmul78 emphasized how incremental improvement is key:
"I improved my time very slowly over many runs. It wasn‘t until at least 400+ runs that I was able to get a time close to what I have now. You really need to grind it out and focus on improving small sections at a time."
Rome wasn‘t built in a day. Kahmul78‘s godlike reflexes and strategies were honed over thousands of hours across hundreds of attempts. He also engaged heavily with the speedrunning community, learning from other top players.
Let‘s look at what it takes for an aspiring runner to follow in his footsteps.
Starting Your Dark Souls Speedrunning Journey
For those looking to dip their toes into Dark Souls speedrunning, the most important thing is mindset. Speedrunning is a test of patience and consistency. Expect many, many failed attempts before achieving clean runs. Focus on small increments of progress.
Here are some tips:
Pick a category – Start with a more accessible one like Any%. Move up to max boss runs once you have fundamentals down.
Watch top runs – Study videos from WR holders like Kahmul78 to learn strategies. Take notes!
Join communities – Discords like SpeedSouls offer coaching, resources, leaderboards, and more.
Learn efficient routing – Plan the optimal paths through levels and boss sequences.
Drill tough techniques – Practice things like parries, backstabs, ripostes, menuing, etc.
Review attempts – Save your runs and watch later to analyze errors.
Focus on execution – How consistently can you perform under pressure? Identify weak points.
Track progress – Use timers and leaderboards to quantify your improvements.
With enough devotion, you can reach amazing levels of skill. But be prepared for hundreds of hours of practice to achieve mastery.
The Legacy of Dark Souls Speedrunning
Thanks to players like Kahmul78, Dark Souls speedrunning has become a vibrant community. There are constantly new strategies being discovered that shave off precious seconds. Leaderboards remain hotly contested over a decade later.
Speedrunning has also helped keep the game relevant. It serves as great marketing every time a new world record is set at a major event like ESA or AGDQ. Millions of views on speedrun videos attest to the popularity of Dark Souls as a competitive game.
The series‘ punishing difficulty has also inspired many other "Souls-like" action RPGs to carry on its brutal legacy. However, few can capture that potent sense of achievement delivered by defeating the original Dark Souls.
So while armchair fans like myself can only marvel at Kahmul78‘s skills, anyone can take the first steps into Dark Souls speedrunning themselves. Just be prepared for the long road ahead to stand atop the podium one day.
By mastering this most demanding game, speedrunners show us that with enough determination and practice, we all can overcome once impossible challenges. Just don‘t you dare go hollow!
Your Dark Souls Guide