7 must-watch speedruns from Summer Games Done Quick 2017

Summer Games Done Quick isn't over yet, but there's already a Mad Max-style trail of demolished games lying in its wake. Doom? Destroyed. Half-Life 2? The bastards skipped the best parts. Dark Souls 3? Completely humiliated. In fact, few PC games have walked away from the event with their dignity intact. Speedrunners are a savage group.

This year has had a fantastic showing of PC games—many of which have never been run at the event before. There's the return of some old classics which, while fun, we've already covered at Awesome Games Done Quick 2017 and SGDQ 2016. But, this year, we're calling out some new contenders you should be sure to watch. 

Dropping it like it's hot in Divinity: Original Sin 

Time: 23 min 47 sec

Let's start strong with my favorite speedrun from SGDQ 2017. This is Divinity: Original Sin's first showing at the event and the results are spectacular. For one, I have to acknowledge that runners Shaddex and Drtchops manage to beat a 50-plus hour, relatively linear RPG in just over 20 minutes. That's thanks to a string of ingenious skips which largely rely on a pair of pyramids each player has in their inventory that allows them to teleport to the other instantly. At one point, Drtchops clips a pyramid through a wall and Shaddex warps to it, skipping 90 percent of the game in one fell swoop.

The best part, however, comes from the main objective of the run. See, Divinity's combat is pretty damn tough and the two under-leveled players don't stand a chance in hell against the unavoidable final bosses. So they spend almost the entire run going around the world gathering over 60 heavy barrels to put into an indestructible chest until it's so heavy that they can simply drop it on the final few bosses and kill them instantly. It's one of the funniest game exploits I've seen. If you watch one run this year, watch this one.

Getting sabotaged in Clustertruck 

Time: 26 min 43 sec

Ignoring that this high-octane platformer took longer to beat than Divinity: Original Sin, this Clustertruck run has an excellent twist. If you're not familiar, Clustertruck has Twitch integration that allows viewers to alter the game by voting in the chat. Speedrunner 097Aceofspades continually has to contend with very thin trucks, trucks with lasers, or inverted mouse controls. But halfway through the run, Clustertruck's developer hacks into the game and starts screwing with him in the best possible way. It might not be anywhere near the world record, but this run is so unpredictable and fun to watch. 097Aceofspades never once loses his cool even when the entire world seems to be conspiring against him.

2B or not 2B in Nier: Automata 

Time: 1 hour 43 min 05 sec

Nier's combat can be complicated for people who have use of two hands, but Halfcoordinated makes it look easy with one, pulling off some very technical skips to bypass huge sections of the game. If you haven't played Nier, you don't have to worry too much about spoilers either since every cutscene is skipped and Nier doesn't make any goddamn sense anyway. The only thing is that the whole run is set to a constant barrage of Nier puns from the commentators that range from clever to cringey. If you're a fan of dad jokes, this is your El Dorado (also Halfcoordinated's dad sends him a message via donation that's really cute).

Trying to beat each other's meat in Super Meat Boy 

Time: 21 min 14 sec

Nothing makes you more aware of how bad at videogames you are quite like watching two people crush Super Meat Boy in 20 minutes. This head-to-head race is a photo finish because both Fimbz and Warm_Ham are just so damn good. Despite the odd mistake, watching them tear through each level is almost dizzying. It's speedrunning in its purest sense because neither runner exploits game-breaking bugs to gain an edge. Instead they each use a series of very subtle tricks, like pausing the exact same frame that they jump to basically trigger auto-jumping and bounce through a level extremely quickly. 

Out of bounds in Mirror's Edge Catalyst 

Time: 1 hour 03 min 49 sec

This is probably my second favorite run this year for one reason: It's nearly impossible to tell when Matchboxmat is exploiting the game. See, Mirror's Edge Catalyst boasts a big open-world to run around in but the game still pushes you along a linear path from objective to objective. In the true spirit of parkour, Matchboxmat uses many of Faith's abilities to go outside the intended path and pull off some legitimately impressive stunts without actually breaking the game. Unless you're familiar with Mirror's Edge, you might not even realize the moments when he's gone out of bounds or is doing something extra tricky because, like the best parkour, it all looks so effortless. The best speedruns are those that give you a newfound appreciation for a game, and after watching this one I felt a much deeper fondness for Catalyst.

Slipping through Dishonored 2  

Time: 35 min 14 sec

Similar to Mirror's Edge Catalyst, this Dishonored 2 run is all about inventive use of Emily's powers to quickly skip through entire levels. Speedrunner Bloodthunder whips through each zone so quickly you'll forget that this was supposed to be a stealth game. Because Dishonored 2 is so story-driven, there's a lot of unskippable cutscenes that need clever tricks to avoid. The most common one is finding ways to damage yourself after the cutscene begins in order to interrupt it, like when Bloodthunder tosses a bottle in the air that'll hit him in the head seconds later. Also there's an exploit called the "Jesus Jump" that let's you skip across water like a rock, so extra points for that.

Gotta go fast in Freedom Planet  

Time: 44 min 19 sec

One of the best showings at Games Done Quick is always traditional platformers like Mario and Sonic. They just never get old. But this year, I was blown away by Fladervy's run of Freedom Planet. My love for this run comes down to two things. First, Freedom Planet is a wonderful homage to classic Sonic games in a way that very few imitators ever achieve, which also means that watching it as a speedrun is as thrilling as the real deal. Secondly, Fladervy is an absolute machine. Not only are the levels large and very intricate, but he navigates them at such a breakneck speed it's sometimes hard to keep up. Fortunately, the commentary from his friend fills in all the gaps and you'll quickly begin to appreciate Fladervy's skill. Like Super Meat Boy, this is a speedrun that relies heavily on dexterity and muscle memory rather than exploits.