Another day, another Elden Ring challenge run. Since FromSoftware’s massively popular Soulslike dropped on February 25, Tarnished the world over have tackled the game in some absolutely nutty ways. But while beating it with a single hand and playing it with a harp are impressive, Twitch streamer Luality has been taking it to a whole new level lately by attempting to finish Elden Ring with a freakin’ drawing tablet.
You may have heard of Luality before. A Brazilian content creator who primarily plays Soulslikes on Twitch and YouTube, Luality has been challenging herself to beat these difficult games in some truly insane ways for a minute now. Back in 2018, for example, she ran through Dark Souls 3 with a Dance Dance Revolution dance pad, killing tough bosses like the Dancer of the Boreal Valley and the Nameless King while sweating up a storm. She later murked all of Elden Ring’s baddies with the dance pad, a feat that brought her so much attention she ended up making an appearance at PAX West’s Intel booth. You can imagine how shook I was watching Luality do this. As FromSoft’s game continues kicking my arse, here she is, bodying boss after boss with a dance pad like it’s nothing.
So, when I stumbled on Luality stomping Godrick the Grafted with a drawing tablet while scrolling the Elden Ring subreddit, I was floored and needed to know more. Why? How did the setup work? Was playing with a drawing tablet hard and, more specifically, was it harder than with a dance pad? I had the chance to chat with Luality over Twitter DMs, who gave me all the tea.
Maybe the most confusing part of the run is how it all works. Luality broke it down, explaining that she’s using both a PC and PS5 (via PlayStation Remote Play) to stream Elden Ring to her Wacom Cintiq Pro 13 tablet. Things aren’t perfect, she said, but with the help of her community, she cobbled something together that worked well enough for her to beat the stupid Tree Sentinel waiting for all Tarnished at the beginning of Limgrave.
“I had this idea two weeks ago, I asked a few friends for help, and in three days we could have some prototype that hardly worked,” Luality said. “Then I went to PAX West. I was invited to play dance pad Elden Ring live at the Intel Booth! It was amazing! As soon as I arrived back home, I kept working on the tablet run and right now we are close to perfect and by perfect I mean barely possible! This run is held together by my hopes and dreams more than anything! I am using five different programs that aren’t meant to work together to make this possible. But slowly adjusting things and making things more stable has been great fun, especially as the run started to take shape and I started killing bosses. it just makes me happy how far we came in such a short time!”
If you’ve seen some of Luality’s clips, you’ll notice she draws strokes across the tablet’s screen to perform in-game actions like attacking (a straight line) and jumping (a triangle). Some commands were too cumbersome to work with. Camera control, for example, was impossible with this setup, so she gave up on that entirely, relying only on the “reset camera” command. Accuracy is impossible here, which Luality said made the run “incredibly hard and frustrating” but totally doable.
I have been working on the dumbest way to play Elden Ring, with a pen. I present to you: The Pen Is Mightier Run! pic.twitter.com/iXPsVoMCa8
— Luality (@luality) August 30, 2022
“Both the dance pad and drawing tablet aren’t very reliable controllers and have their challenges, but the tablet beats the dance pad on this one,” Luality said. “In a lot of places they come together as equally bad. I have no camera control on either. But at least on the dance pad, I can hold keys down so things like sprinting and walking in a diagonal is more reliable. With the tablet, I can’t hold keys. I have to keep drawing and drawing. Sometimes the tablet allows me to walk in a diagonal line, but if I am using my pen, I have to pick a direction or it’s overwhelmed by inputs! Talking about this makes me laugh. I just love how all this barely works. It makes it more fun and special to me.”
Something she’s a bit more cognisant during this challenge run is how her body feels as she plays.
“My wrists are good,” Luality said. “Sometimes, the position I need to have the tablet makes my hands hurt a bit, but I am working on solving that problem so it’s not a long-term issue! I did damage a tendon in my feet while doing dance pad runs a while back, but I am mostly ok now!”
Of course, this isn’t Luality’s first jaunt through Elden Ring. Though she couldn’t recount how many times she’s beaten the game, she’s intent on finishing it with the drawing tablet because she’s “too stubborn” to give up now. She did, however, speak about the run’s hardest part so far, which, maybe surprisingly, has been just walking around the Lands Between with her Tarnished. It first consisted of drawing lines to initiate movement, but much like camera control, that became too cumbersome. Instead, Luality overlaid a virtual keyboard only for character movement, which streamlined things a bit.
The software setup is a work in progress, so Luality didn’t share the programs she’s using to make this all possible. However, she shouted out to her community several times for helping her see it through.
“I am also not doing this alone,” Luality said. “People in my community have been helping me and they have always helped me a lot. The reason I always say ‘we did it!’ when we make something cool is because it has always been a group effort. They help me troubleshoot things. They help me figure details out. They help me try different things. They support me financially so I can afford to take the time and buy the materials needed for those runs, and most importantly, they are always there for me and they believe in me even when I don’t believe in myself and they keep me going.”
I love how about her community Luality is, and you really get that sense of camaraderie watching her streams. Not only does she dish out sound relationship advice — sample: respect yourself, do not put up with bullshit — but she also gives out digital high-fives whenever she accomplishes something, whether that’s beating a hard enemy or surviving a massive drop off a cliff. It’s hella wholesome, not least because she streams with her bunnies. That doesn’t make it any less stressful, though, and I’ve been sweating watching her get repeatedly pummelled by bosses.
So, what’s next for Luality? Aside from finishing Elden Ring with her drawing tablet — she’s about mid-way through the game as of her latest Twitch stream, currently fighting Rennala Queen of the Full Moon and Starscourge Radahn — she’s also conjuring up some other seriously bonkers challenge runs for FromSoftware’s latest Soulslike.
“I have been playing FromSoftware games in weird ways for many years,” Luality said. “I’m often thinking and having weird ideas for runs. I have a piano run planned for sometime soon. Most things are ready [on that front]!”