From Software's Souls series is notorious for its punishing difficulty. Yet just being hard wasn't enough for some people. They needed to make things extra hard. Do things like completing the entire game without ever levelling up or using a shield. Then other people had to come along and put those already impressive tasks to shame by playing these games with cumbersome guitar or bongo controllers, completing a campaign without getting hit, or figuring out buff concoctions that can fell colossal bosses in one hit.
To commend the most impressive Dark Souls challenges we've seen bested, we've assembled the following compilation:
First off, there's Lobos Jr, who speedran the first Dark Souls in just over three hours using no healing items or bonfires. That means no levelling up or using magic.
He later managed a no bonfire run of Dark Souls 2, this time without getting a single game over.
Next, there's Vic Wraith besting Dark Souls 3's final boss on NG+7 (the eighth cycle of the game where the difficulty reaches its highest plateau) while remaining at Soul Level 1, not wearing any armour whatsoever, and only using a torch as a weapon.
Vic Wraith is still critical of his performance here. "Sadly it's not flawless. I can't believe I let myself get hit by that kick at 18:22," the pro player said. "I will do the fight again, because I really want this to be flawless."
Vic Wraith also completed Dark Souls 3's most challenging boss, The Nameless King, under similar conditions, but actually using a proper weapon. They plan to give the fight another go sometime using a torch, and then again with a broken torch. "I'm 99 per cent sure I won't be able to do it, but it's worth a try," Wraith said. Bless 'em.
This isn't even their most difficult prey either, as Vic Wraith bested Dark Souls 2's hardest boss, the Fume Knight, on NG+7 at Souls Level 1 using nothing but a broken ladle. Barely doing any damage to him, this fight goes on for an insane 51 minutes. That's just madness!
But truly Vic Wraith's most impressive run is taking on Bloodborne baddie Laurence at NG+6 (the difficulty cap for Bloodborne) using only a torch. They say you can't fight fire with fire, so it should come as no surprise that thwacking away at an ignited beast with a torch won't do much damage (even at level 189). The resulting fight takes an astronomical 89 minutes.
It only gets crazier with Celesterian Games, who toppled the hardest bosses of Bloodborne, Ludwig and Lawrence, on NG+7 by manipulating the controller with his feet. Note that he's still wearing socks on the Ludwig fight, which doesn't seem to influence his control at all. And on the Lawrence fight he nonchalantly chomps down on an apple while keeping the sort of unamused poker face usually reserved for characters behind desks in Coen Bros. films. That's quite the feet!
For a more recent example of this, Celesterian Games completed Dark Souls 3's final bosses using the same technique. That ought to keep him on his toes!
If playing barefoot wasn't enough, what about bare-fisted? That's how Celesterian Games defeated Ludwig in this NG+7 run where his character isn't even using a weapon.
Next up is Dargonsouls defeating Bloodborne hardest non-DLC boss, Ebrietas, Daughter of the Cosmos, in one punch:
He's at level 171, but it's not the level that Dargonsouls is taking advantage here, but the buffs. As described by the player on Reddit, they had to max out their beasthood on enemies just before the fight, allowing them to do 1.7x damage. They then equipped gems for a 12.2 per cent striking boost and a 27 per cent damage modifier when near death. From there it's just a matter of hitting Ebrietas in the head with the Stake Driver's charged attack, i.e. the most powerful attack in the game.
We've likewise already written about YouTuber neptunusequester, who managed to do the same with Dark Souls 3's Pontiff Sulyvahn.
gbbearzly, who's best known for playing these games with instrument controllers, once ploughed through Dark Souls using voice commands. Here's a video of them taking out what many consider to be that game's most challenging boss encounter: Ornstein and Smough.
Arguably the most impressive Dark Souls run we covered in February, in which Twitch user The_Happy_Hobbit completes an entire run of Dark Souls without taking a single hit from an enemy. He also doesn't block with a shield, use magic, or implement any glitches to skip sections of the game. We'd embed it here, but it's a Twitch video and those play automatically, which everyone finds annoying.
Currently The_Happy_Hobbit is trying to complete Dark Souls 3 without taking a single hit and he's gotten pretty close. Last night he set a personal best, making it about 80 per cent of the way through before meeting his maker at Anor Londo.
Of course there are countless other incredible Souls videos out there. Did we miss any of your faves? Be sure to let us know in the comments.