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Blade of Darkness
A little-known adventure game, this 1996-2001 creation of Rebel Act Studios had the beginnings of realtime shadows and pre-Havok physics. Written in a combination of Python, Spanish, and English, it is a third-person adventure game with heavy emphasis on combat and weapons, and strangely has no difficulty setting. It unfortunately failed as a result of terrible marketing and a very narrow multiplayer. Due to many of its files and scripts being easily accessible to the (multilingual) user, modding this game for singleplayer adventures has become somewhat of a cult favorite.

 

Knight, Good Ending run: 0:44:59 by Miles 'Tesseract' Lajoie, done in 77 segments

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I present to you, a speedrun of Severance: Blade of Darkness! What, you've never heard of this game? Yeah, not exactly well-known outside of Spain, I guess. Fun, though!

Anyways, for the speedrun I heavily abused physics glitches, all of them explained below, so character choice wasn't all that obvious. I'm fairly certain Sargon (Now officially Lolgon) the Knight ends up being the fastest as he has the fewest detours with the fastest route, even if his running speed is average. The unreliability of the physics glitches along with their difficulty to pull off warrants the large ratio of segments to time.

This run was done with the following settings:

Video: rOpenGL (1024x768x32)
Audio: DirectSound3D Software Emulation

This run was done with the following modifications:

0). Base game (US version).
1). Official US patch.
2). Unofficial fogfix patch so the OpenGL raster doesn't think fog is pudding.
3). Removal of the Sword of Ianna's looping sound effect (Thank me later).

I tried to do a normalized brightness level for the speedrun, but this game really hates minimizing and restoring brightness levels. Some segments will be brighter than others. I apologize for the dark Dal Gurak and Abyss levels (Although Abyss is supposed to be really dark).

Anyone who has played this game knows how buggy it can be (In non-crash ways), particularly with physics and collision detection. Pretty much every segment involving "breakdancing" or moving upside down took hundreds of restarts.

The physics glitches are actually very difficult to pull off, due to requiring very fast inputs. Segments with "breakdancing" in particular had keys rebound just for those segments in order to pull off the keypresses in rapid succession. Fortunately, the game allows you to bind multiple keys and mouse buttons to the same function, so both hands can be used to rapidly do the input required to bug out the game. The mouse wheel is extremely helpful in this regard, as each tick counts as a button press -- when not abusing glitches the wheel is very useful to have as a "use" button to ensure the autoselect feature does not target the wrong item.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm taking a break from speedrunning this game because my fingers hurt.

Let's do some explaining of what Lolgon the Knight had to do to save the world.

---Glitches (ab)used---

Airclimbing: I found this glitch where if you stutter your block key while the game cannot find a valid ground surface, you'll hover. Running forward at the same time you do this will cause you to climb the air slowly, moving forward a little bit as you do so. This glitch does not apply to the Barbarian for some reason. OpenGL will have slightly faster timing for its block interval due to very high framerates. Fraps can also cause this glitch to fail due to input timing differences.

Recreating this glitch: Run forward off a ledge, hold forward, and tap block about four times per second. Too fast and you won't go anywhere, too slow and you'll fall.

Airsinking: Rarely used, it is the opposite of airclimbing. It requires a sideways/backwards dodge to be performed on each block interval while hovering (i.e. you're not running forward). This can allow you to survive some falls you just weren't meant to. It is not 100% reliable -- you may fall out of the sky at any given moment.

Recreating this glitch: Stop movement, then sideways/backwards direction, jump -> block. Repeat as fast as you can manage. Too slow and you'll fall. Easy to alternate keys while holding a direction, but you can also use the mouse wheel to basically autofire it. You need to be on open air but not in your falling animation when you begin airsinking.

Attack cancelling: When I actually have to fight, I use the block key to cancel special attacks mid-animation when I no longer need to continue swinging. Cancelling attacks in any manner will still use up the full stamina cost. Because I don't have a shield for the majority of the game it is not readily apparent that blocking is what I'm doing to cancel the attacks, so here it is.

Breakdancing: I found this weird glitch a while back and I still don't understand why it happens. When you perform the game's built-in 180 degree turns, and perform airsinking on the ground just after or during performing the 180 turn, your character goes haywire in every direction possible. If you also spam a cheap attack during it, such as the Low Punch, the game will sometimes decide your current rotation is your normal rotation. Although this glitch is extremely hard to control it can allow you to sequence break levels by moving through floors and ceilings or getting horizontally zipped. The only ways to regain a normal rotation as your default rotation are by performing the glitch again and hoping you get lucky, or finding your way to a trigger/cutscene that animates your character. Note that it is very easy to get zipped out of the level which forces you to reload. You also cannot go through sector walls no matter your rotation, and can't go through most walls anyways. Breakdancing is at the same time the most useful and the least reliable physics glitch used.

Recreating this glitch: Do built-in 180 turn, then sideways direction, jump -> block -> attack, repeat combo as fast as possible (sans 180 turn). Stop after a few seconds.

Dropping aggro: Reloading a game will drop aggro from enemies that have no current line of sight with you. I used this a few times to avoid being attacked while breakdancing. This is pretty common in games that allow you to save anywhere.

Preservation of momentum: For some reason, running jumps will normally halt forward movement once they complete. Walking jumps will not do this. Airclimbing seems to remove this limiting effect from the running jumps, however, leading me to believe it is a bug related to how running jumps try to find a starting surface somewhere.

Stealing Dal Gurak's Blade: Dal Gurak's Blade is an object when he throws it, and is supposed to be flagged to be unusable. For some reason, however, this flag does not always apply. It is sometimes possible to pick up his blade when he throws it, and then sheathe it to force its position to be changed. This causes him to be unable to deal any damage at close range, and consequently makes it very easy to acquire his shield. Note that if you save/load your game while his blade is in this state, it will be back in his hand.

Stealing Dal Gurak's Shield: Dal Gurak's Shield is flagged as indestructible and you are definately not supposed to get something like that. If you defeat Dal Gurak with a punch (Preferably under a power potion), it is possible to grab his shield before the cutscene starts. Dal Gurak's Shield will even block attacks from enemies that normally oneshot shields such as the Chaos Knight and the Vampire. It is used to defeat the final boss as quickly as possible in the alternate ending. Note that you CAN sometimes pick up his shield with a weapon out, but this runs a chance of permanently deleting the weapon, which is why I did this with the Heavy Mace equipped in the run.

Zipping: The game by default will eject you upwards from your current rotation, should you ever clip into a surface. Breakdancing can allow for horizontal zipping, but most zipping is hard to control. You are never considered "falling" when zipping. Sometimes you can also be partially in a surface without zipping, and sometimes you can be zipped out of a level which forces a restart. It really seems quite arbitrary.

Zipping, part 2: For some reason, clipping into a sloped surface can zip you downwards. I have no idea why it does this, but I used it to skip a cutscene on the final level. The chance of it happening seems to be greater as your horizontal velocity is closer to zero.

---Stage-by-stage comments---

Prison of Tabriz (Knight only): "Lolgon the Knight wonders why they put him in a prison cell with no roof. So, he decides to just run up the wall and leave. He also steals some parchment for show and tell, and read it aloud with a creepy voice."

I immediately breakdance my way to the roof above the burnable boxes. Another breakdance and I go downwards through the roof -- a third breakdance and I'm at a usable rotation. It is a rather rough introduction to someone who is not expecting what the speedrun will be like. I airclimb sideways past the chasm and then go through the floor prior to the Chaos Knight battle, dropping me into the secret area with the Power Potion. After getting the Power Potion, I simply run through the ceilings into Ragnar's library and pick up the Parchment to end the level.

Fortress of Tell Halaf: "Lolgon goes to his commander to tell him how dumb roofless prisons are, but he sees some Orks in the courtyard and decides to show off his dancing skills. He accidentally steals a rune in the process and runs away to not get caught."

Since I never picked up a weapon, the parchment I grabbed is taking up my weapon slot on restart. I just drop it immediately. I airclimb to get to the ground above the escape tunnel. The rune is acquired shortly after with the skipped cutscene resetting rotations. The level is then exitted normally.

Mines of Kelbegen: "Lolgon heard there was a free iPad in the mines, so he went there. He also wanted to practice handstands. Dwarves make the perfect tunnel to practice handstands in!"

I airclimb to the bridge that leads to the rune, manipulating the archers to not shoot me, and kill one of them for a Light Bow that I will need to get runes later. I pick up a quiver, which will last me the entire run, and use a walking jump to survive a fall to get the Heavy Mace early. After the rune ordeal, I breakdance into the escape tunnel and end up upside down at a strange angle for this part. Although it seems inefficient to escape this part upside down because of all the landing animations, I redid this segment well over a hundred times and this is the best route for it I could come up with. In my previous run of this game, I did a second breakdance to partially re-align myself for the escape tunnel. Both ways turned out to be equal to each other (time-wise), but it was clear that escaping upside down was more entertaining to the viewer. So, I kept the new method.

Tombs of Ephyra: "Lolgon heard there was a guy on fire in the tombs, so he went there to put it out with his metal fire extinguisher. It worked. Kind of. Not satisfied with stealing a rune, he also wanted to know what laying in a tomb was like; so he stole the queen's sword."

No detour on this map was necessary since the Knight gets a Power Potion in his starting level's route as well as the Heavy Mace in the previous level. I breakdance into the king's tomb, where I use the Power Potion (Unlimited stamina) to be able to wield the Heavy Mace prior to experience level 4. I did hefty amounts of restarts, numbering in the hundreds, to get a fight sequence where I attack nonstop and not get blocked at all -- the chance of this happening is extremely low. After getting the rune, I breakdance into the queen's tomb to end the level. Great care was taken here to avoid triggering the Golem intro cutscene, and prior to the cutscenes the Queen's Sword is placed much lower than it appears to be which makes picking it up tricky, so I used an extra segment for the exact angle I needed.

Island of Karum: "A radioactive spider has bitten Lolgon, and he feels the urge to show off his breakdancing skills to some nearby zombies. Well, he would have done that anyway, but after that he climbs a tower and beats up the actual Spiderman."

Now that I'm experience level 11, I pick up an Elf Sword at the start to do more damage to fleshy targets (dark knights, vampires). I breakdance in front of a zombie who rudely does not applaud, then Spiderpig it to the top of the tower and use the cutscene there to normalize my rotation. The fight with the Vampire is pretty straightforward. It could be possible to manipulate a segment where he does not block anything, but this would take well over a thousand retries as his block chance is absurd.

Fortress of Shalatuwar: "Lolgon heard his commander was being kept prisoner here, but he got bored and left. Its probably a roofless prison anyways. Lolgon thinks Kerman can just escape on his own."

There's about a second of delay before the intro cutscene happens that you can input and have no effect on your starting position. After skipping the intro, I breakdance into the elevator and hit the lever to end the level immediately. Strangely, I somehow managed an airsink once I had breakdanced through the platform. Accidental zipping to the rescue! Considering breakdancing is basically airsinking on ground anyways (After a 180 turn), I guess it shouldn't be unexpected. I also tried to get myself crushed on the ceiling during the fadeout, but the map designer thought of that and made sure it couldn't happen.

Gorge of Orlok: "Lolgon wanted to make some snowballs, but he saw a wall. You know what Lolgon does when he sees a wall! Public service announcement: keep walls out of reach from Lolgon."

Same route as my last run with exactly the same time. This route is optimal, although a breakdance might save a few seconds. I run to the fort, airclimb to its roof, and make an airclimb jump past the exit barrier. I also tried an alternate route for this map that ended up being 9 seconds slower (Video at bottom). I like how the narrator says I liberated some important gem thingy when I totally left that behind. Lolgon does not care for such trinkets, mostly because Lolgon is not aware of them.

Fortress of Nemrut: "Lolgon tries to make some snowballs to throw at a dark knight, but accidentally chops his arm off. Oopsie. He makes amends by stealing a rune and picking up a giant white square, property of the OpenGL raster."

This is one of the hardest levels in the game to optimize with physics glitches due to a number of (innocent) map design choices. I breakdance to the Dark Knight as killing him for the Palace Key is the fastest way into the chapel that I need to be in. Breakdancing in the middle of the chapel leads directly to the rune, however I managed to clip far enough through the ground at my current rotation to not need an extra breakdance. After the cutscene, there are no elevations to airclimb from so I breakdanced a second time to get out. This time, I also need to collect the 2 amulets while sideways to open the boss room, as the boss room is its own sector with no passages above or below it. The boss was manipulated to miss a long range attack in a corner where it couldn't back up, and was consequently such a fast kill the battle music started after it died. The ending cutscene of this level cannot be skipped.

Oasis of Nejeb: "Lolgon got thirsty after the last fight, so he ignored all the snow and came to the oasis. In the process he completely forgot about water, stole a rune, and made Newton spin in his grave some more."

Not much to say about the first part, falling through the skylight was the fastest way around one of the gates. I airclimbed in an area that a jump allowed me to skip a second gate, then I airclimbed to a doorway so big that if I was just a few units higher I would have gotten a falling death. I didn't bother manipulating the skeleton archers to miss, since it didn't matter if they hit me here. In the big pedestal room, it is the triggering of the four arrow plates that get you the rune, not actually picking it up. After skipping the rune-get cutscene, I rebinded controls on a new segment to airsink off the platform and then I skipped the golem fight plus a cutscene by airclimbing through a window. The four skeletons in the temple must be defeated before the dummy Gravestone object will spawn.

Forge of Xshathra: "Lolgon likes audiences, so he made sure some mindless zombies were watching as he spammed up some dark knights. It clearly didn't make the demons happy so he chopped off their arms. Then the Kool-Aid guy appeared! Lolgon remembers he's thirsty, and pulls out a big heavy metal straw."

Airclimbed to some mandatory battles. The Dark Knight segments were redone after the level was completed, so you'll notice I'm suddenly poisoned and slightly wounded when I reach the demons. Made no difference. I also redid that lava golem segment about a hundred times thanks to Lord Kerman's Smash being a very buggy attack. Also one time I burned to death during the cutscene skip because I was in the lava when the golem died. That was fun.

Temple of Al-Farum: "Lolgon confused desert with dessert, and came here looking for cake. He ended up accidentally stealing the last rune and breaking some statues. Par for the course for the mighty Lolgon."

I get the rune normally, then breakdance into the escape tunnel which skips the gemstone key at no time lost. I was forced to use breakdancing to align myself to somewhat-normal rotations prior to continuing. The level ends after both stone golems are killed (Regardless of where you are when kill them). Here we see Lord Kerman's Smash being a buggy attack again, but, we must use it.

Temple of Ianna: "Lolgon has a date with a girl named Anna, but he's a terrible speller and went to the wrong club, and beats up what he thinks is the bouncer to get in. The gods confuse Lolgon with his heroic brother Sargon and give him some huge honkin' sword. Lolgon does not complain."

This level automatically gives you all four gemstone keys since they had no error case where you managed to skip any. It doesn't matter, however, because placing all of them can be skipped by surgical breakdancing. I use airclimbing to reach that spot, breakdance through it, then continue on with a sideways rotation. Although you can reach the sword by going over some walls, the Chaos Knight must be defeated or the cutscene cannot begin.

Tower of Dal Gurak: "They said Dal Gurak is drawing up all these battle plans, so Lolgon wants to ask Dal Gurak to be the quarterback. Lolgon gets confused after the skeletons appear, and thinks it might be tennis instead, so he throws his sword a bunch. Apparently that still wasn't it, so Lolgon decides it must be baseball and whacks Dal Gurak with a bat."

Man, did it ever take enough retries to get a breakdance that resulted in that particular angle and then to figure out the only nonstop route to the roof. At any rate, I get very lucky on the first phase of the Dal Gurak fight, and once the second phase of the Dal Gurak fight begins I steal his blade to stop him from being able to interrupt my attacks. When he gets low, I switch to the Heavy Mace and defeat him with it (So that I don't permanently lose the Sword of Ianna), then pick up his indestructible shield during the cutscene. Strangely, when Dal Gurak died his blade dropped, but I still have it in my inventory the next level.

I went for the shield because it helped greatly in the alternate end battle (at bottom) and planning for it took no more than 10 seconds max. Perceptive viewers might also notice me briefly entering my falling death animation as I ran into the elevator's exit to trigger the cutscene. Lolgon was just playing a prank.

The Abyss: "Lolgon assumes he is on the field for football now, so he steals some keys and runs away. When the great demon appears, Lolgon realizes he took the elevator to the wrestling room, so he airclimbs to the pillars to make a jump on the demon, only to see the demon fall into a pit. Lolgon thinks Darkness's coaches really suck, so he goes to Darkness to complain. Darkness decides to fall into a pit instead of listen to him. Lolgon runs up to Darkness to ask him where the exit is, but the gods blow up Darkness before he can. Lolgon thinks these gods really suck, so he puts the huge honkin' sword away for Sargon to find and decides to go back to roofless prisons."

Not really sure why this particular downward zip works, but it does sometimes. I use the zip to avoid a short but unskippable cutscene with the Dark Knights, then use airsinking to avoid fighting the golems. Since I airsank into a secret area, I pick up the Power Potion that is there (for the alternate ending, it only costed 3 seconds). I have found no way of breakdancing past the doors in this level, so I pick up the Vampire Key and get forced into an unskippable cutscene with the Lava Golem. I airclimb to avoid the fight, then breakdance past the Vampire's room. It took yet more tons of retries to realign myself normally (Something to do with hitting ceilings during breakdancing, I think), then in the big canyon I airclimb at odd spots to avoid nasty cutscenes. I also drop the Heavy Mace at the first wait opportunity.

The great elevator is a bit hardcoded -- the game will always try to keep you level with it no matter where you are once you have stepped on it. I abuse this to do downward airclimbing and to get a headstart on an airclimb jump to the next area. I could potentially jump to reach the Great Demon fight, but the game will lockup if you enter it from the wrong direction. As for the Great Demon fight itself, I fooled him into falling into a pit by using airclimbing to make him walk tangental to a cliff. Lolgon the Knight has no honor. After almost killing myself on the bridge just for the hell of it, I bound airsinking to a mouse wheel to survive a fall out of a window which only saved about 10 seconds. After a long stretch of jumping, I finally reach unskippable cutscene for the end boss intro.

Since this is a speedrun, I opted for the fastest way of killing An-Ahkard -- by forcing him to back up into a pit. This is not exactly a climactic way to kill the boss, so I seperately encoded a "normal" speedrun way of killing him. This can be found at the bottom of the comments. For drawing An-Ahkard out to the pit, luck manipulation must be done to make him not teleport or use magic. He is not very well programmed when it comes to ledges, so he dies immediately upon falling (And levels up too!). I pulled out the bow before I lost control to add some lulz to the ending cutscene.

One of the cutscenes skipped earlier in the level caused particle effects, among other things, to not properly load for the ending. Additionally, killing An-Ahkard by making him fall to death also causes him to freeze up in the cutscene. These things together made the ending cutscene look absolutely retarded, so I spliced in a functioning ending cutscene for your enjoyment.

And that's that! A true Lolgon solution to the forces of darkness. Drop them in pits.

---Additional BoD speedrun stuff---

Bloopers_HQ -- Blooper Reel (AKA "Shiiiiiit: Bloops of Derpness")

Comments for the Blooper Reel:

I had well over a thousand restarts on this run, many of them just dumb things like breakdances that didn't work fast enough or skeletons that blocked an attack. I only included the errors that made a frustrated me chuckle as they happened.

To conclude these comments, I'd like to restate that none of the physics glitches are easy to pull off and they require tons of key/mouse remappings to the same functions and tons of reloads to pull off correctly. Even with an input macro, which is what I used to discover the glitches in the first place, they are very hard to control. I really took the maps apart for the most optimal route considering all the physics glitches I knew of. Basically, I'm saying I put a lot of effort into optimizing this speedrun and its going to be pretty hard to further improve upon it unless a rune-related sequence break is discovered (And this run is already an improvement to my last).

You could always do a glitchless run instead, where you would need to actually fight enemies and open doors. You should choose Sargon instead of Lolgon if you decide to do that. Lolgon says fighting enemies while sideways is quite difficult to do.

Anyways with that said, thank you for watching my speedrun. Hopefully I destroyed some part of your childhood. That's what speedrunners are supposed to do!

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