Inspired by Kai Cenat, disabled Elden Ring player uses one finger and his voice to beat Malenia after 700 attempts with no summons: "I wanted to show it can be done"

Elden Ring
(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease which affects your nervous system and muscle control, forced 20-year-old gamer Szymon, or DeadlyPG on Twitch, to get creative with his setup. He's now gotten comfortable with voice commands using a program called VoiceAttack, and after being inspired by streamer Kai Cenat's legendary Elden Ring marathon, he's used it to overcome one of the hardest bosses that developer FromSoftware has ever cooked up: Malenia, the Blade of Miquella. And it only took 700 tries.  

"The reason I decided to try and complete the game and get to Malenia and beat her was watching Kai Cenat when he did his marathon recently," Szymon says in an interview with GamesRadar+. "Seeing that he's not a very good gamer, no offense, and he did it, that really motivated me and made me want to do it. I guess I just told myself that I can do it." 

Szymon isn't technically paralyzed, he explains, but his muscles are so atrophied that, for gaming as one example, he can really only move a single finger. But he speaks just fine, as you'll see on his Twitch streams and as I hear over Discord, so his voice has become his weapon of choice. He plays with a normal PC and microphone, and VoiceAttack converts what he says into assigned inputs in-game. Say left to hold A, say dodge to dodge, and so on. Each game gets a different command profile, with Fortnite being the most complex at around 100 words. 

Szymon uses 46 commands for Elden Ring, and some had to be custom-made for Malenia. The command "ninety" will make his character turn around and run away from Malenia's notorious Waterfowl Dance combo, for instance. Other commands more closely mirror in-game actions – "Juice" is used to chug an Estus Flask, "Charge" for a charge attack, and so on. Sometimes VoiceAttack struggles to register certain words, so Szymon finds a workaround, like swapping "Skill" for "Still." 

"Once I make a new command it takes me maybe a few days to learn," Szymon explains. "For the most part, I have them memorized. Some of my most-used commands for Elden Ring are, obviously, dodge, the whole game is based on dodging ... I try to make them as brief as possible. Even then, there's usually around a one-second delay, so it's quite hard, especially with a game like Elden Ring where precise timing is really important." 

What a way to start

Szymon had never tried a FromSoftware game before Elden Ring, and he says it's the most reflex-demanding game he's ever played. "I'm loving it though," he adds. "After I'm done with Elden Ring, I'll have to go back and try some of the other games like Dark Souls." 

"When I started playing Elden Ring, I was really terrible," he reflects. "It took me like 20 hours to figure out how to sprint. I was bad. I had some issues with voice commands where my interact button would hold for one second, and I didn't realize that makes it do something else. I couldn't open a door, so I was stuck in the starting area on the first door for 45 minutes, and I thought I had to reset the game because it wasn't working." I ask if he ever tried parrying, and he says he did but it "went horribly" due to input delays. 

Malenia, widely regarded as the hardest boss in Elden Ring – though the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC has something to say about that – posed a steep challenge, but Szymon wanted an even greater one. 

"I think I just got quite lucky," he says. "Honestly, Malenia was so difficult. There were so many times I got so close and I'd die and be so sad. I still can't believe I've done it. I tried my best to not make it super easy, which in hindsight might have been stupid. I decided not to use any summons, any magic spells, or be over-leveled. I decided to put those challenges on myself because I wanted to show it can be done. If I can do it with voice, anyone can beat it."

Elden Ring Malenia boss fight blade miquella goddess rot cheese

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

"The main attack that I struggled with was Waterfowl Dance," he says of the Malenia grind. "That attack gave me a lot of trouble. Around maybe 100 attempts in, I figured out I can just run away from her, so that's what I made that command for. But when you're right under her when she does it, it's really hard to dodge. I found, watching another stream, that I could use [the Ash of War] Bloodhound Step, so that's what I used on a dagger. I'd switch to that and dodge all of it. Around 500 deaths in, maybe 600, I finally figured out the timing to dodge it without anything else, just dodging it precisely. I'd still take a lot of damage, but I'd survive. 

"To be honest, by the end of fighting her, the hardest part was actually not even Waterfowl dance, but that she moves really fast. Sometimes she'll jump at me and with the delay of the voice commands I won't be able to dodge fast enough and I'd get stuck."

Compared to other games he's played with this setup, Szymon says that, once he got the hang of things, he felt like he was dying more to his own mistakes rather than the limitations of voice commands. "With this game, it does feel like I have more control," he explains. "It's just learning the timings and the animations of the enemies that lead to certain attacks. It feels like I can predict it better."  

Onto Shadow of the Erdtree

With Elden Ring being his first FromSoftware game, and having played it with an unconventional setup, Szymon has a unique perspective on the brutal reputation that these action RPGs have cultivated. 

"Honestly, I beat Malenia and I felt really happy for like 15 minutes, and then after I was like, I kind of want to fight her again," he says. "It's oddly addicting even though it's so painful. I'm loving this game. It's one of the best games I've ever played. It's so satisfying. Something you struggle on for hours and hours and hours, you try and find different strategies, and eventually beating that is so satisfying." 

As he heads into Shadow of the Erdtree, Szymon is feeling more confident with a few key bosses already vanquished, but he's "scared of some of the later bosses" which can give even Malenia a run for her money. "The DLC is a whole other level," he says, echoing much of the Souls community. "Everything just one-shots me. It's getting to a point where I really have to learn timings. But it is really fun." 

Elden Ring

(Image credit: FromSoftware, PCGamer)

I asked Szymon if he has any advice for people with similar disabilities or limitations who are looking to get into games – which are, by and large, a heck of a lot more welcoming and approachable than Elden Ring. He reckons "you have to accept that it's gonna be harder. That doesn't mean it's not gonna be fun and enjoyable and doable. I think that as long as you take time to really focus on what your challenges are, you can then think about a way to help you." 

"For example, for me, I never knew voice commands were even a thing. If I'd never heard of it, I may have never found a way to play a game. I found something that works for me, and I'm sure it won't work for everybody, but I'm sure there is something that works for everybody. Just try. Keep trying. What's the worst that can happen? It's fun." 

"I was robbed of the fight": Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree player suffers an empty victory after the final boss glitches out and takes 32,000 damage in one hit.

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.