Speedrunners use a variety of tricks to reduce Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice from a difficult combat gauntlet to a breeze. The fastest Any% runs now take less than 30 minutes, with the current world record at 24:37 at time of publication, held by Distortion2. Some tricks involve dying in the right place to avoid a giant snake or using items to break boss AI. One of the most recent glitches allows speedrunners to literally swim through large stretches of the game world into otherwise inaccessible areas.
The out of bounds “flying” glitch has become an essential part of Sekiro speedrunning, particularly in the Any% run, in which players seek to complete the game as fast as possible by whatever means available. That means achieving Sekiro’s “bad” ending, and it involves various skips to avoid bosses and move fast. Flying occurs when a player manages to break out of bounds while underwater, either through finding areas where it is possible to slip through the cracks of the world or saving and reloading to slide through geometry as it is loaded in. Players can then slide out of bounds and retain all the speed and mobility of swimming.
This trick has tons of applications. Sekiro’s game world exists on an interconnected map. If you’re out of bounds and fall in the right direction, you can land in areas you usually have to take long treks to reach. This was how speedrunners previously skipped certain parts of the game. Now, with flying, they can swim around obstacles and enter distant areas with ease. In Any% runs, speedrunners use this flying to completely avoid bosses like the Guardian Ape. It’s also used to glide into the Folding Screen Monkeys’ arena and fly around to kill them swiftly.
There are smaller uses of this trick as well. Near the end of the game, runners leap out of bounds in Ashina Castle, land in a pool of water, and then use their swimming powers to avoid climbing the castle to the final boss arena. There are longer speedruns, like the All Memories and Beads category, which includes all bosses and mini-bosses, but the trick is still used for navigation there. Regardless of category, the end results are speedruns starring a magical flying ninja-dude gliding through the unknowable void.