Dark Souls speedrun record considered unbeatable for 3 years gets absolutely smashed thanks to a Silent Hill fan and the last weapon anyone expected

Dark Souls
(Image credit: FromSoftware / YouTube via Catalystz)

A Dark Souls speedrun record thought to have been nearly perfected was eventually bested with help from a Silent Hill player who devised a whole new strategy.

In 2021, Dark Souls speedrunner CapitaineToinon smashed through the record for the souslike's fastest category. 'Any% Force Quit' simply tasks runners with defeating Gwyn, the game's final boss, as quickly as possible by any means necessary, while allowing the 'Force Quit Wrong Warp' glitch that could, put simply, allow users to essentially teleport to certain spots around the game's map. In his effort, Capitaine beat the rest of the field so hard that it all but buried the category. Until now.

Capitaine's record stood for an eternity in speedrunning circles - and its endurance was largely shaped by how well-optimized the run was. On what was considered the only viable route, Capitaine had simply done so well that no one was ever likely to overtake him. It would be three years before that happened, and it was neither further optimizations nor even a Dark Souls player that would beat his record.

As explained in a video by Catalystz, the original route relied on the player using the Wrong Warp glitch to cut out a large portion of the game, jumping straight to its final area. To do that, players would have little wriggle room - kill Quelaag and the Bell Gargoyles to ring the Bells of Awakening and open Firelink Shrine, defeat Ornstein and Smough to get the Lordvessel to allow them to enter the shrine, and then head to Gwyn for the final showdown. The record run started with the Hunter class and its short bow weapon; with the Master Key as a gift, the latter's ability to open pretty much any door that might stand in your way felt pretty essential. This route, which also relied on the Club weapon and featured trips to Blighttown and Sen's Fortress, had been gradually optimized over six years, meaning that by the time Capitaine broke through the 20-minute mark, it was clear why Dark Souls players thought there was little room left for improvement.

Capitaine spent nearly four years at the top, with the Club route that he'd perfected still broadly considered untouchable. That is, until a Silent Hill speedrunner took another go at the category. That runner, OpaqueGlassJar, hypothesized the use of an entirely different weapon - the Black Knight Sword had a brief moment in the speedrunning spotlight back in 2013, but had been almost forgotten by modern runners.

Opaque suggested an entirely new route, starting with a trip to the Undead Merchant to purchase a bow, meaning runners weren't locked into using the Hunter. From there, runners would gamble on a drop from a Black Knight, and if they got lucky, they could continue the run towards Taurus Demon, who can be glitched off his bridge for a quick kill. Another glitch would allow for the upgrading of the Black Knight Sword for some extra damage. From there, the runner takes on the Bell Gargoyles, eventually Wrong Warping back to Firelink Shrine and skipping all of Blighttown on the way to Quelaag before the rest of the run continues in much the same way as the original route.

It was clear to the Dark Souls speedrunning community that this route could be faster, but it was re-optimized before anyone could even run it. Another runner, AndrovT, suggested the use of the tricky Havel Tower skip, which saved an extra 20-30 seconds from that route. From there, a whole raft of different glitches - negative duping, delayed fall damage cancels, manipulation of the game's stored data, and more - allow the runner to make it to Quelaag and continue the rest of the run.

Once this new run had been discovered, Capitaine's original record of 19 minutes and 49 seconds - a record which, at 15 seconds faster than second place was considered almost untouchable for years - was swiftly beaten by ten seconds. And then another eight seconds on top of that. Capitaine would get the count down to 19:09, but it was eventually dropped all the way down to 18:51 by a runner called QueueKyoo, who holds multiple other Dark Souls speedrun records across different categories.

That record, which beat Capitaine's original effort by more than a minute, is yet to be broken despite the flurry of efforts that followed the discovery of the new run. In spite of his success, however, QueueKyoo doesn't seem to have enjoyed the run very much - in stream highlights included at the end of Catalystz's video, you can hear the runner 'celebrating' their success: "Finally, oh my God, christ. I can finally stop running this stupid quadruple-farming bullshit. Fucking, holy shit. Thank God."

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Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.