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Blindfolded Sekiro speedrunner has Elden Ring in his sights

If you caught Awesome Games Done Quick 2022, you probably heard about one particular event –or at least saw people tweet about it afterward. AGDQ 2022, the first major speedrunning event of the year, was hosted by Games Done Quick. Each year, it organizes multiple events like AGDQ, entertaining viewers with a weeklong “speedrun-athon” while raising millions for charity in the process. But this year’s show had something that took many by surprise: A run of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice … performed by a blindfolded player.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Blindfolded by Mitchriz in 2:00:35 - AGDQ 2022 Online

The run was performed by Mitchriz (he goes by his Twitch name), who completed the game without using his eyes in just over two hours. But for Mitchriz, a two-hour-long run isn’t fast enough. The runner spoke with me after his AGDQ 2022 run about his love of Sekiro, how he prepared for the run, and the Elden Ring world record he’s already setting his sights on.

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How did you first get into speedrunning?

I played through Sekiro, I loved the game. I said, “I want to play this some more,” so I did the other endings. Then I said, “OK, I want to play this some more, there’s not a whole lot else to do, so I’ll have to come up with something new to do, because I just want to keep playing this game.”

So that brought me to speedruns and challenge runs. But in the end, speedrunning was the one I went with mostly because of GDQ. I had watched it for several years at that point and said, “That looks so cool, why don’t I try it with this game?” And so I started to learn the tricks and learn the skips and put it all together, and it basically became a way to keep playing my favorite game for longer with new things to do.

So was Sekiro the first game you’ve ever speedrun?

Yes, the first game I’ve ever speedrun.

That’s impressive, considering how infamously difficult Sekiro is. Did that difficulty translate over to speedrunning the game?

Surprisingly, not really. I mean, yes, it’s still very difficult. There are a lot of things that can go wrong. But I’d almost say that speedrunning the game felt easier to me than playing it casually because you have a plan for everything. The hard part casually is, “I don’t know what I should do next,” and then in speedrunning, it’s all just, “Oh yeah, do it 1,000 times until you know exactly what to do.” You just engrain it into your memory so much that it becomes routine, rather than a challenge.Mitchriz streaming a blindfolded Sekiro stream on Twitch.

Was speedrunning Sekiro blindfolded just you trying to get more playtime out of it?

Partially. I mean, you could keep going on speedruns, there’s always more time to save, but I wanted a new challenge that nobody had ever done before. Maybe in some vain popularity way or something, but I just wanted to do something new. That’s what brought me to the blindfolded run. That’s the one thing that has just never been done.

How did people react when you told them you were going to do a blindfolded run of Sekiro?

Honestly, I got some “are you sure, is that possible?” but not a lot of people saying “you can’t do that.” By the time I started it, it had been an idea that was floating around. It was almost inevitable that someone was going to do it. People were saying, “Well, we can do this boss blindfolded, and this boss blindfolded,” you know, and it kept getting closer and closer to the point where I just said I was going to put it all together.

“Speedrunning the game felt easier to me than playing it casually …”

What was your method for actually figuring out how to do this run blindfolded?

Three words: Trial and error. Maybe a few more words: Trial and lots of error.

It was several hours of trying different types of movements for a minute’s worth of actual in-game movement. Basically, I’d want to get to a specific spot at a specific angle, and I’d have these tools at my disposal for getting there. How do I just take these tools, put them together, and get where I need to go? I’d just keep trying things until something works.

So how was your first blindfolded run?

It was basically at the point where I had strategies that would work eventually. But I just kind of dove into it. That ended up being about four-and-a-half hours, which is a long time to be blindfolded, but was better than I was expecting. I thought everything would take six hours.

It ended up going relatively smoothly aside from the bosses, but the movement went surprisingly well. It’s surprising just how clean the movement can be using the game’s tools. They’re very consistent, very normalized, so once I had a setup, as long as I could remember everything, I could win the run.

Mitchriz playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice blindfolded at AGDQ 2022.

How did you prepare for your GDQ run?

I prepped for that by just doing it over and over again. By making sure I don’t reset, coming up with all those ways that things can go wrong, so I can fix them. That was the main thing, running it over and over and over again and fixing everything.

Were your nerves any different during GDQ than they would be during a good run?

The nerves were a lot higher .but the good thing was that I didn’t feel like I had to immediately keep going after a mistake. I felt like I had time to stop, catch my breath, think about it, realize what I need to do, and then get back in there. It was a lot more nerves, but I also had the time to dispel those nerves.

Is there any part of the GDQ run you’re extremely proud of?

The ending, getting the Guardian Ape and Emma Isshin first try. Those were the two at the end where I thought, “Everything can fall apart right here.” Luckily they both went very, very well. I don’t even think I deserved to kill Isshin on the first try. I made a mistake in there, nobody caught it, so it looked like I was perfect, but there was a little mistake in there that could have cost me a death. I’m happy it all worked out — first try on two of the hardest bosses is really good.

Mitchriz fighting the guardian ape in Sekiro during AGDQ 2022.

How do you put together your setups? It seems like everything is dictated by sound cues.

Yeah, for movement, it’s almost entirely counting. I try not to use sound cues for much. For example, at the Blazing Bull, there’s a brazier that will get in the way of me getting into the arena, so I have to break it, and that’s a sound cue. But for the most part, it is just me counting out a number of dashes. For example, after I kill Gyoubu, I count out dashing 22 times, and that’s how I get to the idol.

I want to be the number one Elden Ring any percent runner, that’s my goal.

How far do you want to push speedrunning in Sekiro? Past just getting the world record back, I mean.

Realistically, I think I can get this game under an hour and a half. I think, I don’t know, maybe it can go as low as [80 minutes] with most of the current strats, maybe a slight optimization here or there. But honestly, if I get under an hour and a half, I’ll be super happy with that and I think even if the world record gets taken back after I get that time, I’d still be happy with that and OK with leaving my legacy of under an hour and a half as I move on to Elden Ring and new things.

Well, I was going to ask what you’re planning on speedrunning after Sekiro, but it sounds like you already know.

Oh yeah, that’s already planned. Definitely going into Elden Ring. I want to be the number one Elden Ring any percent runner, that’s my goal.

Elden Ring's hero rides a horse and attacks a huge enemy.

It might be too early to think about this, but are you going to try that run blindfolded?

Well, you never know. Could happen. We’ll see with that large, open world. I don’t think counting dashes will get me to that next boss, but we’ll see.

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