A brief history of Dark Souls no-hit runs
The Dark Souls community is one that, while active, is still small and yet in an even smaller subset of the community lies a group of ‘no-hit’ runners who have beaten the games time and time again without suffering a single blow.
FromSoftware has received critical acclaim for its titles, such as Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne. When discussing these five games, people often refer to them as ‘Soulsborne games’.
Demon’s Souls predates them all and is a standalone experience whereas Bloodborne was released between Dark Souls 2 and Dark Souls 3 but is also a standalone game.
More recently, it released a game called Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, though it is very different from the previous titles released by FromSoftware.
While these games are often highly regarded for their difficulty and brutality, there is a small subset in the community that can triumph without taking a hit.
Perhaps most impressively is The Happy Hob who has successfully beaten the five Soulsborne games back-to-back completely unharmed.
Despite this being one of gaming’s most finest achievements to date, these runners are scarcely spoken about. Here is a brief history of Dark Souls no-hit runners.
— Dark Souls (@DarkSoulsGame) February 19, 2018
There are no absolute rules for a no-hit run, other than you cannot take a single hit. A no-hit run is a challenge run and as such it is largely down to the individual to decide their own rules.
However, there are some generic rules which are rigorously followed by the no-hit runners on Twitch.
The most important one is that blocking an enemy attack using a shield counts as a hit because the damage has been absorbed rather than dodged.
Glitches and skips are also typically avoided because it provides an unfair advantage and does not reflect the skill associated with no-hitting a game. This does not mean glitches and skips are easy to use, but it is counter-intuitive to the point of a run.
Fall damage is, typically, allowed providing the drop does not kill the player. This is a separate category called ‘no-damage’ in which fall damage would negate the run.
There are also several categories within a no-hit run:
First there is the “any%” run which involves beating the game without taking a hit.
Second there is the “all bosses” run which entails beating all mandatory and optional bosses without taking a hit.
Finally there is the “all content” run which requires the player to beat all bosses as well any DLC bosses (downloadable content).
There have since been runners who have devised runs that are even more challenging, such as GinoMachino who is often dubbed to be the best Dark Souls 3 no hit runner.
GinoMachino has completed Dark Souls 3 all bosses plus DLC at level one without upgrading or infusing his weapons without taking a hit.
Often runners use melee weapons, though CouchJockey is one runner who has a preference for using sorcerery.
— Dark Souls (@DarkSoulsGame) February 12, 2018
The Happy Hob is widely regarded as the grandfather of no-hit runners and he was the first person to no-hit the original Dark Souls.
Remarkably, it took almost five years to achieve. This no-hit run wasn’t completed until February 2016 – Dark Souls was first released in 2011!
Despite there being numerous titles out by February 2016, this was the very first no-hit to have been completed. Even though Demon’s Souls predates the first Dark Souls, it had not been completed hitless until more than a year later.
— Dark Souls (@DarkSoulsGame) January 21, 2019
Dark Souls 3
The second game to have been completed without taking a hit was Dark Souls 3 and the runner to have claimed this world record was one of the original group – FaraazKhan.
FaraazKhan is one of the biggest names in Dark Souls no-hit runners because he was among the first. He is also part of the small but elite group to have completed the no-hit any% run for all five Soulsborne games.
Faraaz bagged the Dark Souls 3 no-hit run in July 2016, several months after Hob netted it for Dark Souls.
Beneath the moon, he rules. Profanity in one hand, Judgement in the other.
— Dark Souls (@DarkSoulsGame) March 2, 2018
Despite being the first Soulsborne title released, the Demon’s Souls no-hit run was not achieved until May 2017 by MiltyMilt.
Interestingly, Demon’s Souls is often the last game runners attempt to no-hit.
Hob and Faraaz – two of the original runners – only attempted to conquer it last year. In doing so, they quickly found themselves in the elite group to have beaten all the Soulsborne games without a hit.
Happy 10th Anniversary to Demon's Souls!
I hope it will be possible to play a remastered Demon's Souls on the PS4 or PS5 in the near future.
Now we have to wait and see if @ShawnLayden @yosp @RohdeScott @aqizil are listening.#DemonsSoulsRemastered @JapanStudio_JP #DemonsSouls pic.twitter.com/2LAKCX3QLE
— Demon's Souls Remastered (@SaveDemonsSouls) February 5, 2019
In June 2017 HeyZeusHeresToast became the first runner in the world to complete Bloodborne without receiving a single hit.
— Bloodborne (@BloodborneGame) April 9, 2015
Dark Souls 2
McDrunkard was thought to be the first player to have no hit Dark Souls 2, though the video later revealed that he took one hit and he hadn’t realised it.
It was a deeply soul-crushing moment for McDrunkard who could have been the first player in the world to have taken the zero-hit crown for Dark Souls 2.
Instead, that throne was reserved for The Happy Hob.
One noteworthy aspect about Dark Souls 2 is that its full content run features a staggering 41 bosses and takes an immense amount of time to complete.
The fabled all content run was achieved by Otzdarva who impressively cut it down from a 12-hour stint to roughly eight hours.
In what was an historic day for no-hit runners, Otzdarva actually nabbed the Dark Souls 2 all content run on the same day that Hob completed the unfathomable ‘God Run.’
The fate of Undead in the age of Drangleic is a grim thing. Lashed, chained, pursued, tortured… which end would you fear the most, were you made Hollow? #DarkSouls #DarkSouls2 pic.twitter.com/e4u91wBr19
— Dark Souls (@DarkSoulsGame) March 18, 2019
The God Run
The Happy Hob is the grandfather of a no-hit runs and he once completed the trilogy run, which is beating Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2 and Dark Souls 3 back-to-back without taking a hit.
While this run is incredibly hard to complete, it isn’t quite as difficult as the mammoth God Run. As you would expect, this run was also completed by Hob.
The God Run involves beating all five Soulsborne games back-to-back without taking a hit.
The order in which the games are finished can be random. This makes the most sense since it keeps each new attempt fresh without forcing the player to replay game one over and over again.
Hob completed the run dangerously close to the release of Sekiro earlier this year, which was his personal deadline to avoid losing a wager.
Sekiro is a game worth mentioning despite it being considered a Soulsborne game. To no-hit Sekiro requires the player to perfect deflect or dodge every attack, however, a non-perfect deflect will count as a block which is not allowed in the traditional rules.
Despite this frustrating nuance, Hob has also managed to beat Sekiro without taking a hit – a run which the majority of Soulsborne runners have not attempted, nor have they expressed any desire to do so.
The most notable exception to this is GinoMachino who is currently routing an all bosses no-hit run.
— The Happy Hob (@The_Happy_Hob) March 21, 2019
Tournaments and new runners
There are still many old-school runners who have not been mentioned, such as SquillaKilla who is currently attempting to beat the Dark Souls trilogy hitless at level one and Decc who is well known for no-hitting the games using a mouse and keyboard as opposed to a controller.
Donnyrekt is another and he is another noteworthy runner because he is on the elite list of people to have beaten all Soulsborne games without taking a hit.
While speedruns are popular for all games and no-hit runs are common for other games, no-hit runs shine brightest in Dark Souls and as such it was only a matter of time before there were tournaments for them.
The latter half of 2018 produced a slight craze of Dark Souls no-hit tournaments, led by McRaptor.
The tournaments meant that runners would actively compete against one another, as opposed to no-hitting the game for either fun, challenge or to please their viewers.
There was a significant amount of interest in the tournaments. Although it eventually became unsustainable on several different fronts, especially without the backing of investors and companies etc.
This wasn’t the end of tournaments however. At this stage in time there is now an abundance of no-hit runners. This is predominantly because the forefathers of no-hit runs laid out their strategies for others to emulate, amend or create new ones based on the old ones.
Recently, NoHitJerome hosted a Dark Souls no-hit tournament showing how there is still interest in the concept and it featured a lot of newer runners.
It remains to be seen whether Dark Souls no-hit tournaments can live on, but with more and more people starting to no-hit the games it could well be possible.
Alas, many of the well-known runners are starting to move away from Dark Souls, if only because there isn’t a lot left for them to achieve.
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