Released in March 2002, Dungeon Siege is a hack-and-slash RPG produced by Chris Taylor and Gas Powered Games. Featuring an innovative 3D engine and an intuitive party system, the game portrays an immersive world enduring an epic struggle. The Kingdom of Ehb is facing a rising tide of evil, and its fate rests in the hands of a humble farmer.
Best time, easy difficulty: 2:38 by Robbie 'lightningx' Shintaku on 2009-04-15, done in 37 segments appended to one file.
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I decided to run this game out of the blue. As far as I can tell, a run of this game has never been attempted, so I had to do a lot of planning to get this one right. There are no real tricks or shortcuts to take advantage of, and the speed at which your characters move cannot be changed at all during the game. Therefore, this run is mostly dependant on deciding where to level, and where to skip enemies. I did my best to keep shopping and inventory management to a minimum. The game allows you to fight while using the inventory, so I took advantage of that as much as I could. Other times I arranged items while waiting on a lift.
The most frustrating thing about running this game was the camera and character movement system. While it looks very cinematic, the camera tends to shift during long runs, lagging behind your party until you have no room to click ahead on the path. A great number of things cause your characters to stop moving completely, such as equipping items or switching their automated combat behavior. The worst offense is clicking an area you want to go to and selecting a wall or enemy instead. Your party will either stop altogether or they will double back completely.
This run was mostly an experiment to see if the game could be completed in 7 hours or less. The prototype run was a hair under 5 hours, and with subsequent planning and practicing, I believe I have optimized this run about as much as I can. Throughout the entire run I am on the verge of death for being close to the minimum level needed to survive any given area. Levelling sections were planned by necessity and by experience awarded. I used a party consisting entirely of melee fighters along with one mage for healing. Melee characters in this game are the toughest and dish out great damage without needing expensive equipment. Since I have barely any gold to use throughout the game, I only recruited party members that were free of charge.
The game has a pause feature which allows you to stop everything to give orders or adjust inventories or even shop. It is very useful in some parts where the party must get on a lift or re-arrange equipment in the middle of a fight. For this run, I have decided not to use it, as it really contradicts the purpose of completing the game as fast as possible, and in many ways could even be considered a cheat.
The run was broken down into 37 segments. You can tell when segments chanage- either the camera will shift position suddenly, a black saving box will appear for a split second, or there was a cutscene. When saving or loading in this game the camera continues to slowly drift, rendering smooth segment transitions unachievable. I edited out the saving and loading screens for pacing.
The one regret I have with the video is that I could not figure out a way to disable the autosave system. Any time you see the autosave progress bar, it ocurred in the middle of the segment and I continued running after it went away. The worst instance of this is in the middle of a boss fight that I run past. The game autosaves assuming the boss is dead, and I am disrupted in my frantic attempt to get away without dying.
One other technical blunder of the run was that a segment got unintentionally deleted. When I was compiling the video I noticed I had one section missing. Luckily, this was a short segment that was all running. No items were collected or enemies killed, so I was able to re-record the segment from the same save. You will notice when the segment ends the characters are in the same location, but have changed positions. The time is essentially identical, so despite being out of sequence it has no real consequence on the integrity of the run.
There are two main goals here- to reach level 1, and obtain a decent weapon to kill the first boss with. I kill several enemies along the way to get most of the necessary experience, and also pickup a cudgel. I use the cudgel to kill a skeleton outside of the crypt, which gives the rest of the experience needed to level up, and also drops a mace. This happens to be the best weapon I can use for quite some time. At low levels, melee characters tend to miss quite a bit, despite that, this was a fairly quick section. Near the beginning I am setting up hotkeys, which cause the character to momentarily pause a few times.
The Crypt of Sacred Blood:
Nothing special here, just a straight forward run. I pick up a couple health potions along the way, which are needed for the next dungeons. At the boss room, I kill a couple of minions first as to not get swarmed while fighting the boss. I use a trick here: If you order the character to pickup items on the ground while drinking a potion, it cancels the animation and they will immediately go back to fighting. I kill the boss without missing much, and it was so quick that I accidentally dropped my cudgel in anticipation of needing to heal again. Ulora is recruited- she costs nothing and will be used as a melee fighter.
A straight run from the crypt to town, and then Gyorn is recruited as yet another free melee fighter. I stop at the blacksmith to grab a mace for Ulora and armor for the main character. Everything is equipped and I dish out potions. After this it's out of Stonebridge to the next dungeon.
This is where low levels start to become a problem. I have to gain some experience, and collect a few items. I kill some archers to get bows, and skeleton guards to get hacks (STR 12 melee weapon). I also try to grab all the health potions I can, since during the next dungeon they are in short supply. The final room before the boss has a ton of baddies, and if you don't clear out the area in front of the door, they will attack you during the boss fight. Throughout this dungeon there are longer segments used, a couple of times I get slowed up but I really need to get each character close to level 3 before leaving. The next dungeon has a few punishing areas that the characters need higher HP for.
I use a trick at the boss- if you rush up to him, and then back off and stand just out of his range he will continue to use his melee attack and miss repeatedly. Bows are used to shoot him with impunity. Since melee is faster, I wait for his HP to lower and then attack. This compromise is necessary to conserve some health potions. I also use the potion animation cancel trick here by dropping items all over the place.
Gloern is recruited because he is the best free fighter available until the end of the game and he is right on the path. There are red explosive barrels throughout the dungeon- whoever detonates them receives experience for all the enemies killed. I use this opportunity to gain some quick levels, as it is by far the fastest way to gain needed experience this early in the game. I lure a massive group of enemies close together and bring them to the blasting area. I zig-zag the party because if you run too quickly, they will lose interest and give up pursuit. The time spent utilizing this tactic is a trade off, but it is much faster than gaining the levels with normal fighting.
The moving platforms in this area are completely timed, so I stop to fight some enemies while I wait for them. The levelling done in Wesrin Cross pays off here by allowing the party to survive the scorpion and darkling swarms.
After leaving the mines I make a nonstop run for the town. At this point I don't need any new equipment and still have ample potions so I keep running straight through town.
This segment was a beast- I run nonstop from the start of Glacern all the way to Merik at the end of the Ice Caverns. This was very frustrating to record, as often times right before reaching Merik, the party would stop to fight the blue drake, or just get killed outright. Every time I had to pop a couple of potions to stay alive. The other mishap was the door entering the Ice Caverns. It is difficult to run straight through uninterrupted because the area is nearly invisible due to white out, and then the door blocks the view of the interior.
After grabbing Merik, I stop at the trading post. I kind of fumbled the shopping speed, but I kept this because he had a good spawn of items. I am about to spend some time levelling, so I grab several weapons with a higher STR requirement.
This next cave location is another area in the game where being a low level becomes a serious problem. I spend quite a bit of time killing things in here, as good EXP available and I need it. After this area I run straight to the swamp, and I need be able to survive the levelling that will be done there. The Trogs in this area frequently drop Steel swords. They have a STR requirement of 20 and I collect them to use when I enter the Goblin Factory later.
This is actually the longest segment of the game, and the party doesn't always cooperate with me. Sometimes characters seem to stand around idling, especially at the end of the segment. The second segment is a daunting run to the exit. This part is extremely difficult, and I somehow manage to make it through. Surviving this sprint required a lot of luck, as well as the levelling done in the first segment.
Dark Forest and Traveller Camp:
I stop in the camp to take care of several trolls- they will follow you to the end of the Earth in this game. While the fighting is going on Merik does some shopping, as there is a dire need for mana potions at this point. It was great that he actually healed the party while in the shopping window. The run from the camp to the swamp was the segment that was lost and the one used is recorded out of sequence. Pay close attention when I reach the swamp and you will see the shift. Since nothing was killed or picked up during this segment, the run is still intact, and the time nearly identical. Minor HP or mana differences are negligible as both regenerate pretty quickly.
This is a meat grinder. Right after this area is the Goblin Factory, and there is no way to survive it unless the party is up to snuff. The swamp is great for power levelling, though the enemies are very tough due to the low level of the party. The first place I head for is the graveyard. There is an enemy here that crawls on the ground, and for whatever reason, he gives about 10x the amount of experience you would expect. I combed through the enemy experience tables and I believe an extra zero was accidentally added to his value. During this fight, if you pay close attention, somehow an urn gets clicked and the main character runs off like a bonehead to go break it- returning with a horde of zombies in tow. This made the fight quite difficult, and the party very nearly died but somehow survived. I changed segments right after because the next fight is just as tough- I take out the gargoyles and more zombies, and the party nearly dies again.
The final swamp segment starts after the epic battle right outside of the graveyard. This long segment was one of the most frustrating of the entire run, because the annoying potion dealer in the swamp seemingly never had the equipment I needed: 3 sets of low level armor and several decent weapons. The shopping done during this segment is time consuming, but again I kept it because the gear she had was perfect. Most of this stuff I will still be using at the final boss of the game. The level goal I decided on before entering the next location was ~STR 20 for melee fighters.
If the swamp was a grinder, this is decidedly the gauntlet of the entire game. Even if you play normally and level up sufficiently, you can still get torn apart here in a split second. I fight my way through a bit of the beginning to get a couple of levels and equip some better weapons, and then its a mad dash for the revolving bridge. I tried many times to run past here without having to fight the veritable goblin army that is in pursuit, but the clunky mechanics of the bridge and controlling the party made it impossible without dying.
Right after this furious battle, the run gets even dicier. I fight my way through the goblin armored division, and run where I can. The platform battle is one of the reasons levelling for this section is so necessary. The area with the lifts is very tough as well. Compared to all of this, the goblin boss is just a laugh. I make sure to be at a certain level before leaving this area because from here on out for the rest of the game, it is basically a nonstop sprint and I really do not stop to kill anything unless I am forced to.
Black Forest and Temple Ruins:
I run out of the Goblin Factory to the autosave point just after the first house, and then it is one segment all the way to the fight with Gresh. The forest is nothing special, just a run through, but the Temple Ruins are trickier. There is no real danger to the party compared to what was just endured, but it is tough to get the party to run the path. Several times I stop briefly to allow Merik to catch up. The Fury boss is skipped, and the most annoying autosave of the entire game occurs right in the middle of it. It's a continuous segment, and somehow I run through alive. Merik cheats death here.
Commander Gresh and Fortress Kroth:
All that levelling in the swamp and factory pays off for this battle. You can run backwards out of the fight once it has started, but you must kill Gresh to proceed. The archers are taken out to protect Merik, and then Gresh is focus fired upon. In almost every attempt the party got utterly decimated in this fight, so I believe this is close to the minimum level and equipment setup to make it through here. A non-segmented run would need a much higher party level to reliably survive here.
At Fortress Kroth I made a segment solely for shopping. I memorized the locations of exactly what I was going to buy before recording. The purpose here is just to get some potions and beef up the armor of the main character and Gyorn. I also grab a couple of weapons that will save time in the final boss fight.
Hall of Skulls:
In order to run nonstop through the rest of the game, Merik has to be replaced by Sikra. She is free, is a much higher level, and can actually use Merik's staff (he lacks the required intelligence). It took many attempts, but finally Merik got killed by the punisher skulls. This is the fastest way to perform this switch, because Merik will drop his entire inventory and then Sikra can use autopickup to quickly equip herself. Right when I recruit her there is a brief pause while I redo the party hotkeys. RIP Merik.
Cliffs of Fire:
Finally back to a straight forward running segment. There is only one difficult part of this area, and that is the lift in the middle to scale the cliff. It is insanely difficult to get the party onto the lift all at the same time in a quick manner. The lift usually gets swarmed with enemies and you cannot order the party onto it because you will end up clicking on an enemy instead. Very frustrating, but the segment used makes it look easy enough.
Droog Village and Lord Bolingar:
I run straight through this area and recruit Bolingar. He is the last character available in the game and he is a perfect addition to the party. With his high level and equipment, he practically does as much damage to the final boss as the rest of the party.
Castle Ehb and the Chamber of Stars:
No frills sprinting action. I use the minimap near the beginning because it proved very tough to click destination spots during this section. I get all the way up to the roof and head down into the castle depths, equipping Sikra's boots at last. I would have done it sooner but this was really the only convenient opportunity.
Once I visit the king and grab the key, I complete one of the toughest segments of the entire run. Even with Sikra, the party gets shot up between here and the chamber. The solution is to slow down and fight your way through, but instead I finally grinded out a run where I survived. I use two members to activate the chamber. This could have been a little quicker but the camera inside the area makes it exceedingly frustrating to move characters around, and most of the time Sikra got popped.
Dungeon Siege and the Final Battle:
At this point nothing poses a significant threat to the party. There is an autosave point past the chamber inside the jail cells where I changed segments. From there its one segment all the way through the lava caverns to the last area. With Sikra in tow, casting heal when necessary, I stroll all the way to Gom and take him out. He has a lot of HP, and this fight takes a while, but he is still a major pushover.
-I have optimized the strategy I used for this run several times, but there may be another way to complete the game faster that I haven't considered. It may involve using a different party configuration, such as combat mages instead of melee or something similar. I never really use magic in this game so I don't know the feasibility or effectiveness of such a strategy.
-There are minor movement mistakes here and there that could be improved, moving through doorways and elevators.
-Sometimes the party seemingly doesn't register orders, or a character ends up standing still for a few seconds. These tend to be random, as clicking to attack can result in 3 of the 4 fighters obeying.
-It might be faster to run the entire game while looking at the mini-map, but this would make it much too boring to watch or run.
-Shopping trips could be faster.
-The final boss might have been killed quicker. Sikra could equip some sort of combat magic spell to help cause damage, but I didn't think of this until I had already reached that point in the run. All she had was ice shard, which does negligible damage.
-It would be a bit faster to somehow level even less and keep Merik instead of Sikra, but this would demand near impossible runs, dependant on luck.
So for better or worse, this is the run, and I wish the best to anyone if they attempt it in the future.
Thanks for watching!
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