Returnal speedrunner MentalToast set a new world record yesterday, becoming the first person to beat the game in under five minutes.
I’m at a bit of a roadblock in my own Returnal adventure, so it’s incredible to watch MentalToast jump and dash through the more difficult Act 2 levels with such grace and ease. Starting from the fourth biome, they engage in as little combat as possible en route to the final boss, and then manage to take that sucker down with just a basic pistol.
You may have noticed that MentalToast’s movement is a little different than normal. That’s because they’re using what’s known as the “DMJ,” or Dash Melee Jump. By cancelling a dash into a melee attack and then cancelling that into a jump, Returnal speedrunners imbue their jumps with the speed and momentum of a dash. It’s a huge part of what makes these runs so darn fast, not to mention cool to watch.
While MentalToast’s run is currently the fastest way to beat Returnal thanks to the truncated route they take through the second act, other speedrunners have focused their efforts on more complete playthroughs. German player Uprisen, for instance, holds the world records for the categories All Biomes (a little over 13 minutes) and All Bosses (just under 25 minutes), both of which see more of the game’s beautiful environments and antagonists.
Returnal is a brutal game that asks a lot of players, especially when casual runs can take hours to complete. The development team at Housemarque may still be figuring out how to get mid-game saves working, but until then, I guess we can all just learn how to speedrun instead.