Proof that video games really do make the world a better place, Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) returned earlier this month to raise a whopping $3.4m (£2.4m) in the name of cancer research.
Three. Point. Four. Million. Dollars. All towards the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Never before in the existence of the speedrunning charity event had the $1m and $2m donation mark been hit faster, with the total sum even managing to exceed the previous year’s impressive haul of $2.7m.
Of course they weren’t the only records broken during the online-only event between 9 and 16 January, as nine new speedrunning world records were set across a variety of genres.
The talent on show was nothing short of extraordinary. Where you see a humble platformer, they see the Matrix itself, stressing every sinew and anticipating every spike pit minutes in advance to make it all the way to the title sequence before most players have even reached a boss. It really is quite something to behold.
Not least the performance of Michriz, who was able to complete the notoriously difficult Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice while blindfolded – yes, blindfolded, finishing the entire game in a smidgeon over two hours.
He’s certainly earned the right to kick off this list, and without further ado here are the wildest speedruns from AGDQ 2022.
Michriz completes Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in 2:00:35 (Blindfolded)
You get the sense that in another life Mitchriz was definitely a ninja. We don’t say this because he looks fetching in black, but rather because he managed to complete the notoriously difficult Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice while completely blindfolded. Using only sound cues, he’s memorised his strides and attack combos to devastating, near superhuman effect. Whereas most of us would spend the time trying not to bang into a coffee table, he’s able to sit down and blitz through the map in little over two hours, some 45 minutes under the estimated finish time. Epic doesn’t cover it.
InsertLogic completes Kena: Bridge of Spirits in 28:35 (World Record)
Frankly, it should be illegal to be this good; it’s a sort of cheat code in itself. And yet, by the time InsertLogic reaches the end of his journey on Kena: Bridge of Spirits, you’ll feel as if you’ve been shoulder to shoulder with him. As he takes on the role of eponymous spirit guide, you can almost hear the cogs whirring in his head as he figures it all out under immense pressure, solving puzzles and eventually wrapping things up in under half an hour – a hell of a feat. Visibly emotional upon learning he’s broken the World Record on hard mode, it’s just the sort of heartwarming content to keep you cosy on a cold night.
ShadowthePast completes Webbed in 17:21 (World Record)
If you want to watch a speedrun but are a little short on time, check out ShadowthePast’s Herculean effort on indie game Webbed, which he finishes with aplomb in 17 minutes and change. Considering there are so many obstacles in such a short space of time, it’s a quite mesmerising performance as ShadowthePast webs his way through the game and provides commentary on his workings, such as the potential movements of a boss. The moment the penny drops that he’s broken a World Record (his PB was over 18 minutes) is pure gold. Watch for a bit longer and you can also hear him reveal the reason why raising money for cancer research is so close to his heart. A true winner in every sense.
Jaxler completes Pumpkin Jack in 53:17 (World Record)
Ordinarily, in-game ghouls are supposed to scare the player, not the other way around. So, then, spare a thought for the poor spectres on Pumpkin Jack who will have soiled the bedsheets upon seeing Jaxler come thundering towards them with a giant lantern for a head and supersonic reflexes to evade their attacks. Whether by foot, horse or a runaway train cart, Jaxler doesn’t let up, brushing all obstacles aside with ease to register a quite spooktacular speedrun of 53 minutes and 17 seconds. A new world record.
dlimes13 completes Metal Gear Solid in 1:21:20
Those old enough to remember playing Metal Gear Solid on the PS1 (until the disc had more scratches than a DJ set at a PaRappa the Rapper concert) may think they had the game memorised. Well, think again. Nothing can prepare you for watching dlimes13 squeeze all of his experience and gaming genius to make it through the entire game in one piece in roughly an hour and 20 minutes. Revolver Ocelot? Piece of piss. The credits don’t show it but Solid Snake finishes so early he’s back home in time for a hot supper and a warm bath.
SpeedFrog completes Slay the Spire in 38:04
By far one of the best things about these speedruns is the chance to learn from the best, to see where you might be going wrong in a game and pick up some new tactics to beat it. So, if you’ve ever struggled with Slay the Spire, which has plenty of variables, SpeedFrog could be your new mentor. As part of his dazzling run here, he breaks down the ins and outs of his choices and card play as he finishes the game in 34 minutes.
cull and tounis complete Hades in 1:38:43
If you really think about it, speedrunning a video game is a bit like being Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, or Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow: relive a day in your character’s life enough times, ideally dying over and over in the most violent way possible, and fairly soon you’ll be able to anticipate obstacles without even thinking about it. Who knows, you might even get to be as skilled as cgull and tounis, who have clearly suffered the hard way in Hades as they’re able to dodge every threat in the underworld and finish it in just under one hour and a half. If you’re a fan of the popular dungeon scroller then watch and learn…
The next GDQ event will be an all-female affair. Running from February 27 to March 5, Frost Fatales will raise money for the Malala Fund, a charity helping to give girls across the world access to education.