If you’re even passingly familiar with modern video gaming, you’ve probably heard of From Software‘s Soulsborne games — and how they’re considered to be some of the most brutally difficult games out there. “Soulsborne games are synonymous with difficulty,” asserts Aaron Greenbaum of the website Den of Geek.
“Soulsborne” games, as they’re often called because Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne, and the Dark Souls series were the initial games in the micro-genre, are third-person action/adventure games that refuse to hold players’ hands. Dying dozens, if not hundreds, of times as you fight through demons, monsters, and beasts is normal. The only way through is a mixture of persistence and attention to enemies’ attack patterns. Some other games made by the developer — Sekiro, for example — are similar in execution, and like all of FromSoft’s games, range from difficult to virtually impossible.
It’s difficult to beat these games in normal circumstances, which makes it all the more impressive that Twitch streamer Luality, no stranger to challenging runs, has taken it upon herself to beat the newest Soulsborne, Elden Ring, using a Wacom Cintiq pen display instead of a standard controller!
We spoke to Luality about her challenge — why and how she did it, as well as what she’s got planned for the future. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Luality is a Brazilian Twitch streamer known for her impressive challenge runs, especially on the difficult “Soulsborne” games like Dark Souls and Elden Ring — which she has played and/or beaten traditionally, using a dance pad controller, using motion controls, and using a Wacom Cintiq as a controller, among other challenges.
Luality killing a particularly difficult boss. Note: language warning!
Were you always a gamer? How did you get started with streaming?
I never actually wanted to stream! The thing I was mostly inclined to do was animation. I just loved creating 3D models and animating and stuff. But I’m from Brazil, and back when I was going into college, that was not really an option to major in. The plan was was for me to go into IT, engineering, or science. I got a biology degree, and I was studying for a forensics job.
And I was studying at home most of the time, and at night after studying I would play Guild Wars 2.
I’ve actually been playing video games since I was four years old, thanks to my dad! I remember growing up my dad would play Diablo, and and we tried to play together. I got into gaming because of him.
So eventually, I was playing a lot of Guild Wars 2. One of my friends in my Guild was like, you’re pretty fun to play video games with, why don’t you try streaming? I decided to give it a go.
And I did, and my very first stream, I didn’t even have like, a proper webcam. And there were five people that came to troll my channel. But they later told me that I was so nice to them that they decided to just hang out! And they they helped me set up alerts and donations, and and one of them even gave my very first donation. It was $5.00. And I put it toward buying a new webcam. That’s how it started!
I didn’t really understand what Twitch was because I never really watched it, so I kind of like made it what I imagined it should be. I see my community as like we’re a big Guild, except we’re not bound to any one game. I love to see them hanging out together, and we are always talking on Discord. It’s all about gathering people that are fun to hang out with and play games with no matter what game it is. And that’s how I have been doing things, and that was six years ago!
I just have been doing that since then. I started out sticking to one game, but I like trying out different things and new things like, for example, the Dance Pad challenges. I do like to do that every now and then, but I can’t just do that. A lot of people know me as the “dance pad lady;” I have a four million view video on YouTube of me killing the Nameless King on the dance pad. But I always want to do different things.
That’s how I came up with The Wacom tablet run and all the others, because I I like challenge, and the fun for me comes from the journey and the adventure. So playing a new game, going on a new adventure, trying a new run, or just making something new, it’s so exciting.
Luality demonstrating how she has mapped some drawing gestures to different actions in the game.
How did you get into doing challenge runs like the dance pad or the Cintiq challenges?
But by the time I started streaming, I had 15,000 hours in Guild Wars 2. So, not to disrespect the game, but I just had enough of it. One of my viewers gifted me Dark Souls, and I was like, OK, I’ll give it to go.
With an MMO, there is always new content because other players are there to interact with. But with a single player game, once it’s done you kind of have to create your own content to keep it interesting. I started taking a look at what other people that were playing Dark Souls were doing, and at that time people were trying to complete it without getting hit, for example. I did some runs, like completing the game without leveling up, or without dying. And I realized I had my PlayStation dance pad. I thought, could it be beaten with that?
And since then, I have been trying to do challenges that are exactly like that.
People say the Souls games are so hard, but they are actually very simple. The only difference is that in a lot of games, the protagonist is in the center of the world, and the world kind of bends to the player. But in Soulsborne games, you are part of a world that exists. You have to learn the ways of that world, and you’re going to make mistakes, and when you make mistakes you die, and then you go back and you try again, and hopefully you try something different and eventually as you try things out differently, you will succeed. That sounds a lot like real life!
And that’s that’s basically what it is. The game, the combat and everything is very simple except it expects you to observe around you, and then you react to what you’re observing and that’s what makes it difficult. But as people become more observant, the games become more simple.
I believe that anyone can do it. They just need to be willing to go in there, make some mistakes, and once they recover from them, they will overcome those difficulties. And at the end they’ll be pretty proud of themselves!
These games actually do a very good job in building up your self-confidence, because you face a boss that seems like it’s going to be impossible, but as you stick to it — even if you don’t change anything about your character, meaning you don’t need to become stronger; there are no difficulty levels and there will never be, because it would defeat the purpose; the purpose is to guide you to observe and try different things — as you do that, you’re going to succeed.
When I started doing the dance pad challenge, it was really about showing to people that if I could do this in the dance pad, they can’t tell me they cannot do it with their hands if they’re willing to put in the time.
People would come by my channel and say, “I could never do this.” And I would tell them no, you could! I mean, if you put in the enough time like I’m doing, you could possibly be even better than I am. You just gotta believe in you, and that’s all it’s about.
A compilation of some of Luality’s best boss kills using the Wacom Cintiq as a controller. Note: language warning!
So how did the Wacom challenge run come about?
I remember when I first realized that drawing tablets existed! At the time, Wacom was the only company, really. I was just fascinated by the entire concept that I could draw and it would be on the computer. As a teenager, I started telling my dad I needed one, and I eventually convinced him and he got me a Wacom Bamboo pen tablet. Later, I really wanted to get a Wacom Cintiq, but it was too expensive.
Many years later, I ended up getting myself a Cintiq for my birthday. At this time I was drawing all of my Bunny emotes for my Twitch channel. The Cintiq arrived, and I was going to use it to draw more emotes, but about a month after that, my bunny died. And then I couldn’t use it for a while, because I wasn’t feeling the inspiration to draw after that.
But I have this thing, that I kind of feel like, some objects that I have, they feel useless if they’re not being used. I felt that way about the dance pad, too, by the way.
I didn’t want to draw, but I wondered, what if I used the Cintiq to play Elden Ring? That game had just been released. I have a few friends that are software designers and I thought maybe we could make something work. And we did!
Luality’s very first kill in Elden Ring using the Wacom Cintiq instead of a controller.
How has the challege progressed? And what are your goals for the future?
When I first started the Wacom challenge, I was surprised when I first killed a random monster! Because it was — right now it’s barely functional, but back then it was even worse.
For example, at first I had set up so that in order to walk, I had to draw a straight line forward. But I realized that I needed to change things. Like, for example, movement could not be done by drawing, because then I couldn’t do anything else at the same time. So I wondered if it could work with a virtual keyboard, and it turned out that Wacom’s own virtual keyboard was actually the best one! So I put a virtual direction keypad on-screen, just to walk, and every action of my character, like attacking, dodging and whatever, were done with drawing.
Honestly, to make that work it was like five different programs that are not meant to work together, and it was difficult to make it work. It’s a little bit clunky. I do want to eventually finish the entire game with the Wacom Cintiq, but I just have to refine the setup a little more. I’m traveling in Canada right now for a few months, and that’s also why I paused the Wacom challenge. But I want to come back to it.
I do see that now there’s more brands doing what Wacom always has done, but I don’t think there’s a single brand that does what Wacom does, with the quality that Wacom does. And that’s why I still stick with Wacom, since my Bamboo tablet. I want something that’s durable and that’s going to be with me for a while.
Now that I have a Wacom Intuos Pro, I really want to use that tablet and try things and see if I can make it work with a game, too!
Wacom for gaming
While Wacom pen displays and pen tablets are known in the game design industry, but did you know they can also be used to play games?
For example, one of the most popular games played with a Wacom tablet is osu!, a rhythm game. The best players in the world play with Wacom tablets! But as Luality has shown, other games can be played wth Wacom pen tablets and displays, too.