Dark Souls is a tough game, deliberately so, and the challenge is part of the charm for many fans. But how do you test your skills at Bandai Namco’s gothic hack and slash adventure once you’ve mastered its every shadowy corridor? You start showing off.
Benjamin Gwin has already set an impressive standard for Dark Souls bragging rights. Last year, the player — who goes by gbbearzly on YouTube and bearzly on Twitch — made waves by mapping the notoriously challenging action RPG to a Guitar Hero controller. This year, he’s abandoned actual physical interaction with the game altogether and beaten it with only his voice.
Gwin used a piece of accessibility software called VoiceAttack to map spoken commands to keyboard prompts for the PC version of the game. The results seem laborious, requiring every minor movement to be called out — “camera down; small left; parry; block” – but impressive all the same. Speaking each command does produce some unexpectedly cool side effects too, such as calling out “suit up!” to get the character into armour — close to summoning battle gear, Super Sentai style.
In the final part of his runthrough, against Dark Souls’ final boss Gwyn, Lord of Cinder, Gwin (presumably no relation) said “running to the boss proved more deadly than the boss itself, but it still took a few attempts. I attempted to parry him for a few tries but with the amount of delay it wasn’t a winning strategy.
“Can’t feel too good about that, because I really scrubbed that up for a long time but there we have it — Dark Souls voice control only, complete,” Gwin says in the video. “I honestly can’t believe I did this whole run, it was actually sort of fun but also extremely painful in a lot of ways.”
In total, the speech controlled run-through of the game took just over 30 hours. For comparison, the veteran Souls’ player’s next hardest run took a comparatively zippy 13 hours. Still, considering some people struggle to beat these games at all even with an actual controller, that’s nothing to sniff at.