Making the intro level optimal is fairly easy. Just kill the enemies on the first possible frame. I had an idea for a glitched soul/level-up screen on the Golem with the help of the Armor Knight soul, but it seems avoiding the soul travel for that long might be impossible.
I use a curious glitch on the Golem, I cancel a normal attack into a special attack on the first possible frame it spawns, which allows me to connect two special attacks in one swing. This seems to only be possible on enemies that are spawning, so fairly useless for the rest of the run.
The Lost Village
The game starts with the Peeping Eye soul, the rarest soul in the game. How very nice. Right off the bat I start manipulating by adding hits to my movement pattern. I noticed that adding hits sometimes puts your momentum at 0, and sometimes bumps it up to 14336 (normally it just oscillates between 13784 and 11384). Turns out this is bug of some sorts, you don't actually gain any speed, nor lose any. Bizarre.
In my ignorance I diligently avoided adding hits when it would bump to 0, it was not until later in the run in which I actually checked if this was any more than just a visual error.
Another interesting thing about the movement pattern is that if you start any sort of animation after the duck, it gets cancelled after 1 frame. This is really good when using bullet souls or Knives, since it takes Knives only 1 frame to connect. Sadly Knives kind of suck when compared to other weapons, so we won't be seeing it for that terribly long.
Flying Armor (250 hit points)
He has several offensive attacks and a dodge maneuver of some sorts, where he swoops diagonally up and delays his first attack by some seconds. Generally when he does an attack he moves slightly in a direction, this being decided by the RNG upon entering the room. I wanted him to swoop either left or down. I went with down since it was much much easier to connect the very last Axe Armor hit than it was when he was going left, and well, it turned out to be faster since I could be closer to the ground. I showcase a curious trick on the last hit; on the last frame of a backdash it is possible to do something akin to the movement pattern trick I mentioned earlier - any and all animation is cancelled after the first frame. This allows me to throw an Axe and hit him while in the air, on 2 consecutive frames. This took quite some time to achieve, cause I needed to be in the right position on the right frame.
Since the last hit delivered on him is still in the air, it gives me quite some time to move towards the door. The seal is drawn on the center of the screen, and Soma will automatically move and stand to the left of the seal during the cutscene. The soul is collected while still in the cutscene, but you are allowed 1 frame of movement after confirming a soul screen so I use this one frame to slide towards the door. This caused less lag than a backdash and gave a very very slight edge in distance.
I was extremely worried about the Oujia Table, it was the soul I had to spend the most time on unassisted and this was with a level 60 toon with maxed out luck. I got it after like 3 minutes of work.
Fairly early on I pick up the Blunt Sword from one the first rooms (with it apparently also follows a instruction booklet of Iaido). Anyone who has played Dawn of Sorrow knows that the Katanas are among the best weapons in the game, with a 2 frame connection time and a 9 frame cooldown (the Axe has 40 frame cooldown, to compare), and will be used pretty much for the rest of the game. Blunt Swords do drop from the Barbariccias, but this is ages away and the Blunt Sword is too good to pass up. Keep note of the way I pick up the Bomber Armor soul, I will refer to it later just before Gergoth.
I kill a Golem to upgrade the soul, it's a level 9 soul which adds 2 strength for each soul acquired. While Golem will not be used for that terribly long, it's still the best soul early on and I will tackling a lot of bosses in succession, so higher damage is always nice.
Tompa pointed out that it is possible to upgrade the Axe Armor soul, which takes 5 souls for level 2. This would add 3 damage to the Axe which theoretically should save some time.
Balore (900 hit points)
Balore has 3 different attacks, one where he punches twice, once high, once low, another where he places his fist on the ground and smashes the ceiling, and a third where fires his lazor. Balore was the last boss in Aria of Sorrow to reward experience so he was clearly downsized a lot. The general idea is the same however; standing on his fists is a good way to land many blows in rapid succession.
I started with the double hit attack. While the 2nd attack probably allows me to land more hits, dodging it is actually very tricky. The low hit causes his head to be very low to the ground, allowing me to hit him a lot. I finish the fight with him attempting his second attack, to add a lot more hits.
Another Golem soul is acquired and The Creature is skipped. I failed to even find the soul, something that has otherwise yet to happen to me in this run. Luckily there is another encounter on the way to Subterranean Hell.
Garden of Madness
I consumed a potion earlier for all the damage boosts required here and up to Dmitrii, leaving me with 10 hp after the Great Armors. I also get the Doppelganger soul here, which will be extremely useful later on.
As pointed out in the thread, it might be possible to create a glitched magic seal/soul screen with the Treant soul. However the resulting darkness would last all the way to Dmitrii.
Ghoul and Valkyrie are two very rare souls, however both have a lot of room for manipulation. There are a lot of places to acquire the Ghoul soul, but I always try to get rare souls on the first possible encounter, so that I don't run the risk of brickwalling completely if something akin the The Creature scenario happened again.
Dmitrii (1000 hit points)
Dmitrii has the same issue as Julius has in Aria of Sorrow, after X amounts of hits he gets stunned. Dmitrii however can still be damaged during this phase, unlike Julius. Yorick soul is perfect for this fellow since it deals a lot of damage and hits very low, unlike Slaughterer which hits high. When he is hit by an ability, he is first stunned, then he stands up and channels for a while and then he copies that ability for the rest of the fight or until another ability is used on him. He cannot be stunned for the duration of this channeling event.
I change my offgear to Axe Armor, Armor Knight and Treant, so that I can have a switch set for versatility - Axe Armor to snipe flying enemies, Armor Knight so I can cancel recovery from kicks and Treant for mana regeneration.
Malphas (1200 hit points)
Who knew that a straight punch would deal more damage than being cut by a sword?
Garden of Madness
I had plans to collect the Ninja Suit just before the Mollusca, but it takes too long to justify picking it up (777 is not that terribly far away).
Dario (1500 hit points)
Dario has an array of attacks, one where he sends a wave of fire across the ground, another where she shoots a fireball, a teleport, and finally the pillar attack which Dracula had in the original Castlevania (I think?). I want him to spam fireballs since that's the only attacks which doesn't kill me and allows me to hit him all the time, so I had to switch up my attack pattern a little. Finish him off with a fist in the face to send him flying.
Demon Guest House
I love this place. Even if the Lilith souls are rare, it was a ton of fun to play through. Unfortunately I had to skip the Bone Pillar soul, it was possible to get but I had to skip 3 Lilith souls to get it. I took an extreme risk and delayed the soul until the Dark Chapel trip to Subterranean Hell. This would mean having two of rarest souls in the game within a matter of seconds within each other, in exchange for higher spelldamage.
I manipulate a 777 from a the first Killer Clown I encounter, it's extremely useful for both the int and luck it gives.
In the Demon Guest House you encounter the first Devil, probably the best soul in the game, since it scales so insanely well with Katanas. Devil really helps since there's an ridiculous shortage of strong weapons in this game, surely because they added the synthesis gimmick (upgrade weapons with souls).
Pupper Master (1800 hit points)
Showcasing Devil, combined with Axe Armor and Lilith. Nothing terribly interesting here, I fear.
Inititally I thought you had to be as close as possible to the Puppet doll when the animation starts but it seems that the animation is 30ish frames long regardless of where you are on the screen. I use Puppet Master to get the Kotetsu instead of kicking on Imps, since that is probably what was intended in the first place. Genius.
The switch on the bottom of the room was used to cancel my kick since Armor Knight was unavailable to me. Althought surely it has to be possible to clip through this one to save time, something I should keep in mind for the future.
Draghignazzo is a fairly uncommon soul. The first one was killed just before the room transition so that the death animation would not push the RNG too far. The second Draghignazzo dropped his soul very early and after that not for another 250 random numbers or so (rough estimate, I tested for a few hours before I gave up, never actually found the soul), so I definitely didn't want to go too far on this one.
The Great Axe Armor was curious. I managed to pick up the Bomber Armor soul while avoiding soul travel, but why not the Great Axe Armor? I'm not sure, it kept going too low for me to catch it. Maybe there is a workaround for this which I'm not aware of.
Gergoth (3800 hit points)
Suddenly 3800 hit points? That's more than double Puppet Masters. I believe the game intended for the player to go to Rahab first, brickwall on the Chronomage and then go to Gergoth and Zephyr. To me Gergoth has always been the hardest boss in the game. Extremely big hitbox in a very small room with tons of life. Fair.
Anyways, Gergoth can be taken down to a certain hit point threshhold, after which he sort of becomes immortal for a while. Lucky for him, since he's about to nosedive through 14 wooden floors. At this point he has roughly 900 hp, I added a kick from max altitude which does 495 damage with Devil. So the rest of the fight is very very short. Unfortunately, you have to climb the entire tower again
to get the key and the warp point to get to Zephyr.
If it somehow is possible to get him to die on the top floor, a lot
of time would be saved. This might be worth looking into, since I recall Cpadolf mentioning in his Julius run that he got Gergoth down to 1800, while I got him to 900. I suppose some extensive research would be in order for the future.
Cursed Clock Tower
This place is relatively boring. There's a lot of avoiding cute traps and gimmicky level designs, while getting pretty much no souls at all. The Magic Seal was synced up with the Bugbear soul, which took quite some time. Not only is Bugbear rare, but avoiding the soul travel proved very challenging. The result saved a lot of time, since it takes forever for the game to draw the 4th seal.
I synced up the Flying Humanoid soul with the bossdoor to get the door to open much earlier.
Zephyr (1234 hit points)
After he unfreezes the room you are given 1 frame of free movement. I use this time to throw a Mandragora at him while activating Devil soul, which takes about 60 frames to power up. The rest of the fight is tragically short, so not much to say here.
It was pivotal to collect the Imp soul before my revisit here, since it saves a lot of time on the Alura Une and Bone Ark.
I was somewhat worried about The Creature and Bone Pillar. I noticed during this time that pushing RNG in warp rooms does not work for some reason. On The Creature there is some weird manipulation going on, I keep stuttering. This pushes the RNG much faster than any other method known to me.
Bone Pillar required me to reduce as many random numbers as possible while still getting the Hell Boar soul. This required me to manipulate away all the Ghouls, which was quite annoying.
Getting a Paella from the Cave Troll was extremely timely, I needed some life to pass through the Fish Heads later on. I synced up the Cave Troll soul with the bossdoor to save myself some time.
Rahab (1200 hit points)
Even with his low hp, Rahab is not only annoying to play, but also boring to watch. He always starts with his Icicle attack, but the rest is fairly easy to manipulate. I wanted him to attack as fast as possible while doing the platform attack so that I could use it to kick him.
I was slightly worried about Mimic since there is so very little room to manipulate here, but it seems I was lucky for once. The Fish Head room is ridiculous, every single Fish Head changes RNG once per frame, good luck finding and working towards a soul here. Most souls were gotten with random input, but no frames were squandered in the process.
The Procel soul claims to increase movement in water, but I have never noticed any difference. The Frozen Shade could be delayed until The Abyss, it completely slipped my mind that they were even there. This should save 10-15 frames of soul travel.
Imp is used on a few occasions on this runs. It switches an enemies mana pool and life pool:
- Alura Une - 600 life, 1 mana
- Bone Ark - 160 life, 1 mana
- Iron Golem - 50 life, 1 mana
- Giant Slug - 300 life, 60 mana
- WakWak Tree - 600 life, 1 mana (still need to destroy all 3 twigs for it to drop its soul)
Imp costs 50 mana, but it's clearly worth it.
There is some bizarre edge clipping going on, making me go trough nearly 3 tiles of solid rock. I have no idea how this works, I've tried it on other similar places with no results, so maybe this is unique to this very spot.
Quick detour to get the Homunculus soul.
I managed manipulate the Medusa soul here by making the Dead Pirate drop its soul. This was very nice, since Medusa Head shares the same drop rate as Peeping Eye.
Zephyr is needed to enter this area. Notice the Chronomage engraved on the pillar which gets blown out of the way.
It is possible to get a soul from the last Skeleton in the first room but this causes 4 frames of lag.
Dead Warriors cannot be killed with Devil active. They constantly have their guard up as long as the soul is active.
Bat Company (1500 hit points)
Bat Company has a lot of cool abili... oh wait he's dead already.
I manipulated the Blocking Mail during the death animation
While working on my Aria of Sorrow v3 I really learned firsthand how useful Blocking Mail really is. It allows me to skip a lot of enemies, which is especially useful lategame when enemies can take quite some time to finish off. Blocking Mail has a 25% chance (maybe 20% even? I'm not sure about this) to block any incoming damage, except from spikes. I equip it in my offgear so as to not miss out on the int/luck bonus of 777.
The Bat Company soul now allows me access to The Pinnacle. It will also be used to leave bossrooms, since it is the fastest method of doing so.
Quick peak just before moving on to Paranoia. It should be possible to get a High Mind Up and a Malachi soul from the Malachi's, with some extreme luck maybe even two High Mind Up's and one soul. Hopefully this is something that I can succeed in doing in a future iteration of this run.
Demon Guest House
I have one of the Succubi drop me a Flame Necklace, which gives me +5 int.
To gain access to Paranoia you need to use the Axe Armor, Killer Clown and Ukoback souls to open a few gates. During the pause at Bat Company I switch to Killer Clown in main gear and Axe Armor in off gear. During the pause after the Killer Clown gate I change to Disc Armor in main and Ukoback in offgear.
Paranoia (1700 hit points)
You have to fight a fake Paranoia before you can fight the real one. The fake one is considerably smaller and has way less life. The real Paranoia flys in a figure 8 through the room and gets pushed around a lot when hit. Hitting him with Disc Armor during this time makes him bounce upwards, so that's obviously not the best of ideas.
Demon Guest House
Paranoia soul gives you the ability to enter mirrors. While mirrors house some of the best items in the game, they are all terribly out of the way. Paranoia also allows me to enter the mirror during the Dario fight in The Pinnacle, another step in getting the best ending.
Showcasing Blocking Mail a lot here. Killing another Final Guard for example would take forever. It is possible to skip both and then kill the Final Guard in The Abyss, but this proved to be slower for one reason: the Rycuda soul homes in on the first Final Guard. The Mothman was killed somewhat curiously to avoid soul travel, same with the Flame Demon.
I contemplated getting the Satan Ring, but it's not really worth it.
Agony (4000 hit points)
Yeah yeah, he's called Aguni, but I like this better. Deal with it.
Agony always starts out with his meteor attack, and he cannot take damage for the duration. The flames that follow have an extremely weird hitbox, you'd think that if I moved further to the right I could land sooner, but apparently logic does not apply here.
I wanted him to do his triple hit attack several times in a row and it was surprisingly easy to manipulate. I also wanted to move him to the middle so I could collect the soul and activate Paranoia as soon as possible to get back to the real world (the mirror returns to normal the same frame you collect the soul). Initially I killed him as far as possible to the left, which obviously was a mistake for two reasons:
- I couldn't re-enter the mirror on the first possible frame
- The Boss Orb was in the way for me to go and get the 5th seal
So I killed him in the middle of the room instead. But then I noticed that the soul orb got collected during the cutscene and still lost me 60 frames. I feared that I had to redo the fight again, but I noticed that if you collect the orb during the Paranoia animation there is no delay at all. This still required me to delay the Paranoia soul a few frames which seemed like an unnecessary waste of time considering that I really didn't quite need the mana nor the life at the moment. But after quickly checking the cutscene and the chatboxes I noticed that having the orb floating around in the room actually caused nearly 30 frames of lag. So collecting it was a win-win situation.
Runny runny. Probably the least excitable part of the run. Except maybe the good ending cutscene.
Garden of Madness
Oh look it's the good ending cutscene. I canceled the bossdoor with the Mollusca soul, saving a lot of time since it's a level 5 seal door. The cutscene and everything through the Mine of Judgement is spent in darkness.
Mine of Judgement
The Tanjellys illuminate the darkness, which is pretty cool I suppose. The darkness makes it extremely hard to see if a soul drops, so that was fun. The Gaibon and Slogra all have extremely bad positions and really bad soul travels. Nothing much do to about that I fear.
Death (4444 hit points, 2222 per form)
Death required some really good manipulation. I wanted him to start out with a normal attack first, and then swoop up into the middle of the room. I used a lot of mana on the first form to kill him in the right position before he flew too high up. In the second phase I want him to do his scythe throw attack. While it is nigh impossible to dodge, I can just take damage from one of the small scythes and the big one will not be a problem, while still allowing me to continue hitting him. The mana is extremely tight here, my mana runs out on the same frame the last hit connects, I don't even have time to turn off Devil.
Starting out with the only Arc Demon in the game, which a very rare soul with extremely little space for manipulation. How nice. Luckily I get the soul on the first try. I had to consume a Mind Up here, so I could use Devil to kill him. While at it I changed my offgear bullet soul to Imp. I thought this was a good move until I remembered that all souls effects and missile disappear upon changing gear, so I was forced to change my offweapon to Kotetsu aswell.
It is a shame that Hippogryph soul is so late into the game. It is my favorite movement soul in the game. It gives you endless amounts of jumps if you use Hippogryph on the same frame as a jump. The Hippogryph movement pattern is about 0.5% faster than the normal movement pattern but at times it causes a little more lag, so you can see me switching a little bit now and then.
Abaddon (4000 hit points)
This boss is super easy. One of the few bosses in the game where Dead Pirate is useful. I had to manipulate him to jump high the first thing he did and then immediately start an attack without turning around. This allows me to make full effect of the Dead Pirate.
Black Panther, yay. I used Imp on the Iron Golem which reduced the hits he had to take from 50 to 15. The Imp lasted long enough for me to kill the Giant Slug aswell.
Quick revisit for the Yeti soul. While you could theoretically do this revisit anytime after the Waiter Skeleton, it is undoubtedly faster to do this now when I have the Black Panther. You are given a few frames to manipulate his position after entering the room.
Condemned Tower, Cursed Clock Tower and Garden of Madness
The last soul in the game is the WakWak tree. It is horribly out of the way and takes quite some time to get. Again I opted to collect it when I had the Black Panther for obvious reasons. The Imp reduces the life of each branch to 1. The soulpickup allows me to backdash during the gate opening cutscene. While a slide would get me further it is so much slower that by the time it's over I have already regained control for 10 frames.
Menace (9000 hit points, 3000 per head)
Menace is really annoying, since his heads are in such awkward positions. I used Guillotiner a lot since it does a lot of damage with a high cooldown and relatively low mana cost. The vertical hitbox is huge aswell, making it possible for me to stand on the ground and cast it to damage his first phase.
In his second phase he is a little simpler. The head on his legs is really easy due to the platform next to it. You only have to manipulate him to move back and forth to land maximum amount of hits. While waiting for him to move back I cast 2 Guillotiner on the upper head, which saves me some time later. After the lower head is destroyed I change to Malacoda. The upper head can only be damaged for 1 frame before it is invulnerable until the next time he opens his mouth. Malacoda hits extremely hard for only 15 mana per hit. The Malacoda soul however locks you in an animation and canceling that animation by landing or backdashing causes the tail to disappear. I had to use the backdash trick to cancel the Malacoda animation while in the air which allowed me to land single hits. This saved a lot of time since it reduced the amount of Malacoda hits by one and the head has a massive cooldown between hits.
I noticed during the confirmation of the textboxes after the fadeout just before the ending credits that you are given 1 frame of free movement. I activate Devil on the first, backdash on the second and slide on the third. Cute.
: A very good example of a TAS with complete technical mastery over the game, and it clearly shows. Very entertaining to watch, with an impressive display of luck manipulation. Accepting for publication.