This month’s spotlight is Arcalena, a Hades speedrunner with runs in dozens of categories who recently performed a run for Frost Fatales.
Since 2014, Arcalena has watched speedruns of Pokemon and Zelda titles. Although it would be a few years before she submitted her first run to a leaderboard, she was already in the habit of challenging her own time trial records in various games.
“In a game with a timer built into it, I’ve always tried to beat my time and things like that,” she said. “Hades was definitely the first one where I really tried to push my times lower and really got into learning strategies.”
When she picked up Hades in 2020, she clicked with the game right away, clearing her first full escape from the underworld in about 20 runs and continuing to challenge her own PBs off the leaderboard.
“I speedran casually then, just trying to beat my times but not really learning builds or strategies,” she said.
Things changed during AGDQ 2021 when Arcalena watched Vorime’s Hades run and thought, “Oh, I can do that.” It was still the start of January when she joined the Hades Speedrunning Discord server and just a few weeks later she started streaming and submitted her first run.
But for several months, she stayed quiet on the Discord, only posting a link to her charity stream for Trans Lifeline in March. After that, she went back to lurking until May when she shared a link for another of her fundraising streams, this time for Medical Aid for Palestinians.
Trash_Lapris, a fellow Hades runner, caught the stream and started encouraging Arcalena to share her streams with the Discord server more often.
Despite her nerves, Arcalena received positive feedback and support from the rest of the community. By June she became a Twitch Affiliate.
“I started chatting more in the Discord, started joining in for weekly races every now and then.” she said. “It’s been great. Lots of community. Lots of friends made.”
Back when she first picked up Hades she had no idea how many hours she would eventually dedicate to it.
“The main roguelike I played before Hades was Slay the Spire which I've put about 200 hours into,” she said. “I played Hades on Switch for about 200 hours before switching to PC. I'm at 1100 now.”
She credits the community with much of her ongoing interest in the game. “Hades is easy to stick with since there aren't many patches or changes or things like skips to learn. It's more just refining my play. But the community and streaming are definitely the main reasons I keep playing,” she said.
With so many categories to choose from, Arcalena often begins a stream running a category with a PB or record she feels is beatable. Just as often, she follows her whims, bouncing between several categories in one day.
Lately, she’s been running a lot of SWOWO (Sword - One Weapon Only) where she holds first place at the time of publication.
The category involves escaping the underworld once with each of the 4 Aspects for a single weapon. Each Weapon Aspect provides different abilities and upgrades with some radically altering the gameplay.
She prefers runs that use RTA (Real-Time Attack) over those that use IGT (In-Game Time). “The idea of real-time made sense to me so I often play any of multi-weapons,” she said. She also enjoys the variety of gameplay that multi-weapon runs provide.
She’s also drawn to longer categories for the social element they can provide. “I'm partial to the longer ones. Not so much by myself but being on a discord call for an entire day chilling with people and doing a long run like all aspects” she said.
When submissions opened for AGDQ 2022, Arcalena was too nervous to submit a run. But when Frost Fatales submissions opened not long after, she went for it. Her 3 Weapons (Unmodded) run was accepted.
Despite her initial apprehension, she enjoyed the experience. She said, “Honestly, it wasn't that nerve-wracking. It was pretty chill. It was like playing the game.”
Outside of speedrunning, Arcalena is finishing a Master’s degree in social work. During streams, her cat, Fan Dee (the face of Arcalena’s profile image), often makes appearances and only sometimes tries to sit on the keyboard.
You can find Arcalena on Twitch here.