The Games Done Quick events are becoming my favorite weeks of the year. Each one is a demonstration not only of a speedrunner's skill, but also how utterly breakable games can be when you take the time to poke around. But keeping up with the 24/7 schedule isn't an easy task, so here are seven exceptional runs worth watching. Some are notable for the skill required, others for their absurdity, and two that demonstrate what happens when everything goes wrong.
Doom (2016) in 54:10
It can sometimes take years for speedruns to reach maximum efficiency, but this jaunt through last year's Doom is already damn impressive on a number of levels. The highlight comes early when runner blood_thunder in order to get outside of a level in order to skip several time-consuming fights. This skip requires carefully walking a half-invisible tightrope where every pixel counts. The whole ordeal lasts for an agonizing few of minutes. It's one of the rare moments during AGDQ that my stomach was in knots. Also, there's some hilarious surprises sprinkled in as blood_thunder hijacked in-game cinematics and replaced them with his own.
Dark Souls 3 in 58:50
In a sense, speedrunning is very much an example of mastery over a game—so if there's one that refuses to bend the knee, it has to be Dark Souls 3. For tackling Dark Souls 3, 'Bubblesdelfuego' is a champion not because of its cruel difficulty, but because the run itself relies on elements completely out of his control. Early on, things get off to a rough start when an enemy won't play nice and commit suicide by jumping off a ledge so Bubbles can take its sword. But later, things when an out-of-bounds exploit causes the game to completely crash. While the speed at which the run is completed isn't impressive, Bubbles' ability to persevere certainly is.
Hitman: Blood Money 36:52
about why this Blood Money speedrun might be my favorite from AGDQ 2017. It's not as technically impressive as other games on this list, but the amusing and informative banter from saintmillion is the perfect match for the sheer absurdity of what he accomplishes with a few simple tricks. Instead of using glitches to break the game, saintmillion uses Agent 47's coin—at one point mesmerizing half a dozen characters including several armed bodyguards just by brandishing it in front of them. Blood Money used to intimidate me with its difficulty, so seeing saintmillion reduce it to a silly joke is oh so satisfying.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in 56:11
Speaking of great commentary, I didn't see better than kz_frew as he strolled through GTA: Vice City. It's no secret that speedruns are sometimes diminished by the awkward commentary that accompanies them, but Kz_frew is entertaining and informative throughout. He explains each moment clearly—even taking time to explain the plot—regardless of how demanding the run becomes, and there are moments it gets pretty demanding. Also, special kudos for the ending where he goes out of his way to defeat the final boss by running him over with a car inside of his own mansion. That's style.
Quake in 15:10
Sometimes the classics are the best. That's the case with this Quake speedrun which, if you've never seen it before, is an amazing display of spatial awareness and reflexes. It takes a few minutes to really heat up, but eventually coolkid is sprinting through levels at a frantic pace using perfectly-timed grenade boosts to propel him forward and upward. I'm not one to get motion sickness from videogames, but coolkid's run is so fast its dizzying. Also, there's a lovely moment where he wastes 10 seconds calling after a zombie like it's a lost kitty cat so he can crush it in a doorway. Show-off.
Furi in 40:12
Aside from insane ROM hacks, Furi might be the most challenging game played at Awesome Games Done Quick. It's one part bullet hell and one part Dark Souls and all parts savage. If you don't believe me, take a minute to watch studio, the speedrunner, tackle battle. Several phases, each with their own complex patterns that require perfect timing and positioning, and studio is able to keep the commentary going the whole time. I get anxiety just from watching it.
Salt and Sanctuary in 9:57
Grimelios did a back to back speedrun of Salt and Sanctuary but it's the second of the two that is my favorite. Salt and Sanctuary is basically a 2D Dark Souls, so it only makes sense that, like the Dark Souls 3 run, it would be just as uncooperative. At just under 10 minutes, you might wonder what could possibly go wrong, but when you realize that the world record is 4:47 the answer is "a lot." This whole run hinges upon one enemy using a specific attack on Grimelios which, while random, is usually pretty common—except when 10,000 people are watching you apparently. Again and again, Grimelios cannot get the beast to cooperate and attack him the way he needs to, which leads into a vicious cycle of failing, trying again, and failing harder. Every time you think it couldn't get any worse, it does.