The Hollow

Alone. That’s how it’s always been, alone in the dark. I feel isolated, sick, and I can’t think straight. My mind keeps coming back to that day. The worst day of my life. The most painful moment I’ve ever experienced. I relieve each second; the scream that awoke me, the sight that greeted me. That scream, one I’ll never forget, one I hope never escapes me. A scream of your entire universe being ripped away from you. I wanted to be like him but how could I when I couldn’t even accept the person I was. What kind of coward can’t face himself? Ever since things feel muted, cold, numb. The only time I feel anything is when I hold her in my arms. The warmth feels so alien but I can’t help but hold tighter. I’m so scared though. The mark on my chest, the one meant to carry the soul of another now feels like swirling void, pulling in everything and everyone, swallowing it all whole. I am scared that it’ll take her from me. I’m scared it’ll take everything. I’ll be left alone again, in the pitch black of the void, with its cold emptiness the only friend I have left. The fear makes me so tired. So numb. So hollow.

Moving Forward: A New Fuse

Hey Everyone, long time no see. It should be no surprise when I say that the site has been a little empty as of late. And let me start off by saying that’s no one’s fault. We are all people with our own lives and responsibilities, this is a hobby for us. But I’ve been kicking around a few ideas for the future of Fuse. I want to discuss them with you all and maybe enact some of them in the near future.

First I want to explore the possibility of making this a hybrid site. We definitely keep the blog elements going, it’s what makes this community so unique, but I also think we could incorporate traditional games journalist pieces as well. Reviews, news, and interviews would fit in well with the blogs, rounding out the site. So I think it would be worth exploring.

Secondly, while I want to continue this as a hobby I think having a form of monetization would help us attract new voices and put a little extra in our pockets. When I managed Cynosure I was looking into the possibility of monetization and found that Patreon is the best bet to have consistent growth and income. Again, this is only a suggestion but if other editors are on board we can openly discuss raising funds and how we can grow to get paid for our work.

Lastly, if we do adopt the traditional journalist elements I would love for us to set up schedules for those pieces. That way blogs can be posted whenever and we can give ourselves realistic timetables for journalist pieces.

These are all suggestions and I definitely don’t want to impose anything. But I do want this to be a conversation starter, we all care about Fuse and I think we can all agree that we want to see it be around for years to come. Any questions, comments, or suggestions are entirely welcome! Just comment below and we can hash out details.

This week on Gamespot- 10 years ago

So stig says to me “why dontca write something on Fuse?” I said “what the fuck for. You know I have a love/hate relationship with the site”.

Yeah he knows.

There are close 7 weeks until Christmas. In the Holiday season there are 7 different celebrations so I rather detest talking only of Christmas while ignoring the others. That is what seems to get all the focus.

Since we are now a greed driven society I got used to hearing what other want FOR Christmas long ago. Never what they want to give others or of how they do not want gifts but rather a donation, in their names, to a charity.

Did The Little Drummer Boy ask for anything?

As I recall it was this week, 10 years ago on GS that someone asked the very popular question “What games do you want for Christmas?” That was 2011- close the fall of GS,

Now that question is fine. There is nothing wrong with “wanting” in this respect but that also has to imply equal giving. To take but not to give is a trait, learned or not, that is rather negative. And wow! Did the site ever reply to this. (I was one of them!)

The question can be rather daunting for many. It assumes that the gamer, be they pre teen, teen or older HAS a Mother or Father to get them gifts. Or a “rich old Uncle or Aunt”. It may imply that there is a sibling involved. There may be title one would not be comfortable asking a parent for but would have no issue asking a sibling for.

It was a question of greed. It never took into consideration those that had no one. They may be an only child. They may have no Mother or Father. Then again they could have lost their last parent this year and this holiday will be hard on them. That was something GS never thought of.

The replies mainly involved the PS3, the DS, the PSP and the GC. There were a few of requests for PS2 and Microcrap games.The PC community was all but ignored.

We now face the holiday season of 2021. Seven weeks until the flight of Santa and there is not a game I can’t think of a game I WOULD want. Maybe the Nier remake. I don’t want no COD crap, no Assassin’s Creed crap. no Battlefield crap and no Souls crap. Really? Is there ever any innovation on those titles? No. Even Co-op COD is dead.

10 years ago we knew the impending doom of GS. We were awaiting the inevitable. The good days were almost over. Features were being cut. Editors and writers were leaving and the “fun” of the site was slowly dying -much like Woody Guthrie”s “The Dying Miner”.

I did not see this question in 2012 and I was still there. The Games of the 2012 Christmas season were excellent though- perhaps far better than those of 2010 and 2011. There was anticipation but no asking for a list.

Skyrim came out on 11/11/11. It’s soon 11/11/21. Does anyone really care about a new Elder Scrolls release or when it may be? No. It’s been 10 years and, like the lists that were submitted long ago , we aren’t getting what we asked for.

I’ve attached “The Dying Miner” as I doubt any ever heard of it. And no it’s not a Christmas song so screw that.

Psychonauts 2: Beyond Expectations

Officially 2 weeks into a new job. It’s really strange starting a new job after so many years. Really the only drawback so far has been getting up at 5:30. I realize this isn’t that early for a lot of people, but I am a night person and I have been getting up around 9 for such a long time that the adjustment is going to take some time. The really cool thing that I am enjoying, however, is weekends! I have not had 2 weekends off in a row probably since going to a wedding overseas back in 2018.

Enough of the life update, today I finished Psychonauts 2, and I wanna talk about it a bit. Spoiler alert, it’s amazing! I did not play the original, and in all honesty I knew next to nothing about the game before seeing a few trailers this year. It looked like the kind of game I could just enjoy playing. The kind of game you play to take a break from other games, if you know what I mean. It turned out to be a lot more than that though.

If I had to describe the game to someone, I would probably compare the level design to Ratchet and Clank. Psychonauts 2 may only take place on one planet, but many of the locations are similar in size and scope to R&C. They are also extremely diverse. There is the Psychonauts headquarters which acts as an initial hub location, the campgrounds, and even a casino, but the real locations is not what makes the game special. You enter peoples minds in the game to unlock secrets, reveal hidden plots, and progress the story the way Raz (main character by the way) wants. While entering a mind is usually some kind of version of a place you have been to already, there is always a huge twist on the environment. One in particular that I enjoyed took the campgrounds that you had already been to in the real world and turned it into a trippy 70’s setting with lots of vibrant colors. It was one of the more unique places in comparison to the others, because a lot of the time you are working against the inner demons of the mind you are in, so there are plenty of darker settings.

The gameplay also surprised me a lot. You get plenty of abilities throughout the course of the game. The primary ones that you use in battle (for me at least) are Telekinesis, PSI Blast, Pyrokinesis, and of course the ole melee. The abilities themselves weren’t much of a surprise, but the challenge presented by some of the enemy encounters was more than I was anticipating. As I said, I viewed this game as something to play when I needed a break from other games, but Psychonauts 2 can actually be stressful in some places. Not like I didn’t enjoy the challenge, I just expected something a bit more simplistic going into this one.

One of my gripes about the game would have to be that a few of the bosses felt a bit too similar in design. Not their aesthetic, because the game simply oozes style and I love that about it, but the mechanics used to defeat most bosses felt a bit repetitive. There is a bit of a gimmick boss towards the end game. I typically don’t enjoy those types of fights as much, but it was kind of refreshing when compared to the rest of the game. This is a very minor gripe and it does little to take away from my overall experience with the game. My other gripe would be the controls. You can only have 4 abilities equipped at any given moment, but you have eventually learn 8 total. It can be a bit frustrating to change which ability you have equipped because most of them can be used frequently. You are also able to equip an ability to any of the 4 shoulder buttons, so occasionally I would be using one of them for the same ability for most of a level, but then combat would occur and I would have to change it up and I would get confused as to what ability was equipped where. I’m sure that’s more of a personal problem, but it did frustrate me on occasion.

The story definitely keeps things moving, but it takes some time before you get into the thick of things. Everything that happens from the very beginning of the game is important to the story, but for me it didn’t really take off until you are able to exit the Psychonauts headquarters. You begin to track down much more important pieces to the story from there and I was excited to keep learning more about the characters and the world.

Overall, Psychonauts 2 is a game that really makes me feel nostalgic for classic platformers. It has so many of the elements from games I grew up with like Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, and Crash Bandicoot, but it completely stands on its own with how unique the world and characters are. I was worried going into this game that it may feel dated, but it plays very smooth for the most part. I don’t know that I will go back in and get all the achievements that I missed. I’ve long since given up on that sort of thing, but if that is your style that game puts you right back into the world so you can keep exploring after you take down the final big bad.

I may have played this game on Game Pass, but I would have gladly paid 60 for it. In all the ways Psychonauts 2 surprised me, the length of the game was by far the biggest surprise of all. There was a moment where I felt like I would be near the end, but there was still plenty more story left. Whether you played the original and want more of it or you are playing Psychonauts for the first time I can’t recommend this game enough. If you have played the first or the second, let me know what you thought!

The Bells

The bells toll behind your mind, filling your head with fear and worry. The bells ringing constantly, invading your ears and mind. The bells toll as this disaster you approach beckons your attention, the mist around you fading as the air gets colder. The bells toll faintly as the beast stares, watching you. She watches you. She fears you. She hates you. 

GameStop: A Tale of 15 Years

(This turned out to be much longer than anticipated. I ramble quite a bit here so bare with me.)

This is a tale 15 years in the making. An epic tale with highs, lows, love, danger, friendship, and a few jokes sprinkled throughout. This is the tale of my 15 years with GameStop and all the memories along the way. Grab a chair and join me if you will.

Continue reading

Saturday Night Oldies with Big Cid–Remembering Charlie Watts

Good Day,

I’m quite aware that it is Tuesday and not Saturday. The tragic event of today would not let me wait until Saturday. i’m seldom this moved to do a midweek presentation no matter the event in the musical world however there are times when the shock is just too much for me. This is one of those times.

As I read this morning of the passing of Charlie Watts, the drummer for The Rolling Stones I’m left with a sense of loss. Not only do the Stones now have no bassist but they have no drummer.

I’m old enough to remember music before any “British Invasion”. I have the first 45 The Rolling Stones issued in the states. “Tell Me (You’re Coming Back to Me) I’ve seen them live over 40 years ago!

I know that The Rolling Stones were not ONLY “The Worlds’s greatest Rock and Roll Band” but they were also the best of all of the British Invasion Bands.

Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Who, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five…..none were as good as The Rolling Stones!! What made them great was the rhythm section of Watts and Wyman. No other band could boast that and no other could compare.

And they are touring THIS YEAR!! 60 years after being formed as a band by Brian Jones.

Now half of that duo has passed on. Charlie has been silenced. Bill has quit the band for reasons I never did understand. ( I never wished to read his book “A Stone Alone” explaining why!)

As for their first US Single it is also one of their best songs ever. (and prob. one many never heard!)

Notice how the singers are singing in different keys? Or how the harmonic dissonance makes this work?Also notice what Charlie and Bill brought to this to drive this hit home.

But no more.

(As an aside in this post, done alone without Robert of Kimberly, I’m not focusing so much on the popularity of a song but rather Charlie’s drumming and the rhythm section altogether. There will be a better time to celebrate the hits of the band. This is also presented with no interruptions–Cid)

We come to an end of this tribute to Charlie Watts and really the rhythm section that was Charlie and Bill Wyman for so long. It may be fitting to includes “Start me Up”, one of the best drumming efforts of Charlie, And yet it seems to be in bad taste to do so. And while “The Last Time” would seem to be a good outro I have chosen something else as that too hit a bit close being disrespectful.

Many of you may not be Stone’s fans. I understand that. And yet I can’t let this moment go without this oldie post.

RIP Charlie

—Cid out

Outro—-

Quantified Dreams: A Tell Tale Curiosity

So recently I had a discussion with a coworker about games like Heavy Rain, Life is Strange, Until Dawn, and Walking Dead. We are of two very different preferences on these style of games and I was wondering what camp everyone else belonged in. He plays these games and goes all in on getting every last possible scenario. I, on the other hand, play the story completely blind and accept my ending for what it is.

When it comes to most games, I find that I am able to play the game once and then I’m done. In particular games that are story driven. The games I mention above, however, have the unique characteristic of giving every player a storyline based one their unique choices. My first foray into this genre was Heavy Rain. The game was a slow….SLOW…start, but once the story picks up with a kidnapping I became enthralled to the point where I basically finished the game in two sittings. It was like binging something on Netflix, only I was in control of the narrative. Heavy Rain was an amazing game and at the time of its release I knew quite a few people who also played. We all talked about our experience with it and how cool it was, but the thing that surprised me the most was how different everything played out for each of us.

In my story, and much to my dismay, the villain lived at the end and two of the three protagonists died. I basically got the worst ending I could imagine. Especially when I heard how things went down for some of my buddies. The thing is, I was fine with how my game played out because it felt like it was MINE. I didn’t need to replay every chapter and see how every character’s choice mattered or changed the outcome. I was given my own experience and I felt like replaying the game over and over would cheapen that experience.

My current coworker just finished up Until Dawn, and by “finished up” I mean he got the Platinum Trophy. He has literally played and has seen everything that the game has to offer. When he plays these games he goes for every scenario possible. He wants to see it all. He wants to get the same sense of completion that you would get from any other game, but rather than collecting something like all of Peter Parker’s backpacks scattered around New York (currently playing Spiderman and those things are everywhere), he is collecting scenes from a story.

It’s not that I can’t appreciate wanting to get everything a game has to offer, but typically a game gives you the chance to complete everything on one play through. Of course there are games that have new game plus or multiple endings, but they don’t really change the overarching storyline, just how it ends.

There was one big twist on this in Life is Strange where you can redo a scenario over and over to get the outcome you really want, but in some ways I felt like I was cheating when I played that game. The game was phenomenal though. I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea about it. It was a cool way to allow the player to see some of those alternative scenarios without having to accept their impact on the narrative they wanted to unfold. That’s why I liked Heavy Rain better. It is still my favorite game in this genre.

Given the incredible rise in popularity (and fall with Telltale?) these games have had over the last 10 years or so I would imagine most people have played at least one of these. I have played the three Quantic Dreams games as well as Life is Strange, but I’d really like to try out the Dark Pictures games. I am still curious though. So that brings me to my question (and explains my ridiculous title). Do you play these games to see it all? Or do you prefer to play once and have a single unique experience? Let me know!

Developer Interview: Pet Project Games and Ripout

Hello everyone and welcome to the developer interview of Pet Project Games, developers of Ripout, the upcoming Horror FPS title. Ripout takes place in 2084 after humanity has fled Earth, trying to outrun horrible mutants. But they didn’t run fast enough. As one of the last soldiers of the human race, it’s up to you to end the menace on your star ship. Ripout looks to implement several unique systems including enemy evolution and ways to make enemies your weapons via the Pet Gun. The current release window is 2022 on Steam with consoles currently under consideration. But without further ado, here’s my interview with Pet Project Games!

Mason Ramirez-Caughron: Firstly, the visual design is great at setting the tone. What drew you guys to the more industrial look for the ship?

Pet Project Games: We are all fans of Sci-Fi and horror so the design kind of came itself.
Also, the plot of the game sets the tone as well as we are in the future
where humanity is running away from the enemy to
another galaxy.

MRC: Were there any concerns that the co-op would subtract from the horror elements? If so, what steps did you take to put more emphasis on the horror?

PPG: The game can be played both in single-player and cooperative mode. So of course while playing alone the game is putting more focus on horror,
coop is, of course, a bit more action type of game but don’t be
surprised if you get a scare here and there even in coop mode! But the
point is to be a fun and interesting title for players to enjoy and play
with friends
.

MRC: The pet gun is a great concept, the idea of it leeching enemy abilities sounds awesome. Where did the idea for that come from?

PPG: The pet gun idea came from the head of our lead game designer Goran.
He’s a huge horror, Sci-Fi, and video games fan with more than 20 years of
experience in the industry. He’s also very fond of the 80s and 90s
popular culture where he found his inspiration for Ripout (and pet gun).

Image courtesy of Pet Project Games.

MRC: While I’m certain it will be explained in-game, is there any hint you could give me about the nature of the monsters? Are they alien in nature or possibly a mutagenic virus?

PPG: We do have a pretty developed backstory, some of it already published
on our website (www.ripoutgame.com). To answer your question, maybe one of the first sentences explains it – “After genetically engineering a
powerful but dangerous bioweapon to fend off alien invaders, humanity
falls victim to its own creation.”.

MRC: In terms of gameplay, where did your inspirations come from?

PPG: We all love quality shooters, not just from the 90s but also from the
newer period so the gameplay itself was a no-brainer for us. It was
interesting to read all the comments after we released our first trailer
because people compared Ripout to DOOM3, GTFO, Killing Floor, Dead
Space, Left4Dead…and at some point, they are right, as they are
comparing us to some great video games. But we didn’t use those titles
as inspiration. We are happy to be compared to them though, which means
we did something good 🙂

Image courtesy of Pet Project Games.

MRC: I saw you mention on YouTube that one of your designers grew up with 80’s action and horror films, what movie specifically did you draw from? Watching the trailer it does seem like John Carpenter’s The Thing has some influence on the project.

PPG: The Thing is an obvious choice, but really all of the popular culture
from that period is a huge inspiration for us.

MRC: In terms of designing the monsters how difficult was it to start getting the enemies to interact and evolve with each other?

PPG: Every start is difficult, but we had the idea in our head so it just
started to work itself out.

MRC: Lastly is there anything you guys want our readers to know or something to look forward to soon?

PPG: Well, after we released the trailer, we came to a conclusion that we
didn’t quite communicate some things, so maybe this is a nice
opportunity to clarify them. First, while RIPOUT is a coop game it’s not
just a coop game – we do have a single-player campaign as well. And you
can play on your own, enjoy the game with all the horror elements. The
important thing to note is that it’s a single-player, not coop that you
play with bots. The other thing is that too many people compare the game
with Dead Space. While Dead Space is an iconic title it has little
similarity to RIPOUT. Yes, you are in a space ship and yes there are
monsters but that’s pretty much it.

I hope you enjoyed this interview. Below is the gameplay trailer for Ripout. It is currently available to wishlist on Steam.

Big Announcement and Update

Hello everyone! It has been some time since I’ve been active, but I finally feel back in my rhythm and wanted to return with something big! And it is something very big to look forward to.

Recently I got in contact with a developer asking about the possibility for an interview. Well, they agreed and will be getting back to me soon. So look forward to this big scoop soon! With this first interview published I’m hoping to be able to reach out to other projects and get you all the latest information on titles that may not be on your radar yet. This first interview will be for a co-op horror title but that’s all I’m giving away for now! Stay tuned for the full interview and reveal!

Why do YOU Write?

Good Day,

I’m asking YOU this. Note I did not say “we write”. I know why we, as a society hundreds of thousands years old writes.

We started with no language and used drawing-. hieroglyphs. Some took up entire walls. Some were short. They convey the same thought. message or warning as well as the far longer hieroglyphs do. Thoughts, messages to others and warnings were why language evolved form hieroglyphics into Sanskrit and other long forgotten arcane, obscure and archaic languages never heard by anyone living today unless they are specialists in those linguistics.

Arabic may be the oldest language we use today but there are hundreds far older than that!

This posts deals with the overall why language at all. It asks “why do you write”? Each answer should be personal to YOU! I cannot answer for you.

Let’s leave social media out of this. Social media is not why anyone writes. It just gives each a forum to write on! Trolling a political, religious, gaming site is not writing. It may be expression but it’s not WHY. And yet some ONLY write to social media. I find that rather sad.

They never wrote a letter to their younger- or older self. Never wrote a poem just for themselves with no intent to share. Never wrote a song no one would hear. Some never practiced the art and craft OF writing.-crumbling up balls of paper as mistakes were made. Others have and it’s those I admire. They have taken the time to look within and relate to their feelings, emotions and thoughts to come up with something real and cohesive.

Some may say “What about bloggers? Many make money from their blogs”? My reply to that would be “What did those “bloggers” do before social media? How did they get the same message out so that they could have income”? If they did not blog what was their escape for writing and better yet WHY DID THEY WRITE?

WHY DO YOU?

–Cid out

Games and I are Almost Over

Good Day,

I find it very hard to care about games anymore. That is I do not look forward to many new releases on systems I have. I also have no desire to purchase any “new gen” system. Nothing of either “New Gen” impresses me to make me want to spend $500+. Games should excite, thrill, offer challenge and be interesting.

Games just aren’t interesting anymore and I never thought I’d say that!

But I’m 64. Maybe it’s time to put my past in check and dedicate the time I have left to other issues, causes and reads? Maybe games are just uninspiring? Perhaps I’ve aged too much and became jaded? Maybe the industry has passed me by with little to no care?

I suspect it’s a bit of each! Konami and Capcom are boring. Activision and Blizzard are so mired in mixed signals they cannot find their souls anymore. So lost in brand recognition are they few truly care about another Diablo or even when it comes out. I know I don’t.

There are others. I don’t need another ‘”souls” clone. I want-no demand- originality that speaks to me and causes me to become lost in it. I want to give myself to a game but I find them blaze.

For instance, I bought Shim Megami Tensei III: Nocturne when it came out. I had it date of release and began it immediately. Shortly after I crossed the bridge to a new area I lost interest as I was getting a battle event 4 steps. It was like playing Final Fantasy 1 or Dragon Quest on the NES-but far worse. That did not bother me when I played it for PS2. Now the games sits gathering dust.

I received Neo: The World Ends With You on day of release, Oh how I was looking forward to this. Did it have Neku and Shiki? Was the Coffee Shop in it? Were there pins like before? Would we be dead and would we have to make a “pact”? Most importantly was the music cutting edge. Was it the classic mixture of Goth, Punk, Pock, KPop, JPop, Techno and Trance that kept me playing in 2009? Was this to be a new “cult hit” as the old one USED to be?

Well—….I’m on Day 4 and I’m TRYING to like it. I really am but I just can’t get into this. It’s not the same. The music is terrible. Oh they tried- here and there-and there are times we can convince ourselves it is as good as before–but that is an illusion. Yes there are pins but given the lack of tapping a screen with a stylus it does not feel the same. Square –and Nintendo have popularized the old game so much this can never be a “cult classic”. I love the characters but they are not Shiki and Neku. The game also offers some improvements over the old. I leave them for you to find out.

I do not know what comes out this year. Or what it comes out on, when it releases, or who of renown made it. I just do not care.

The answer is not to “go back and play some old games”. I’m past that as well. It’s like going back and rereading a book we loved over and over again until one day it just loses it’s meaning altogether. Repetition does that. Look at a sunrise day after day and it just becomes 6 AM. PSPlus gave me the FFVII remake and I have no desire to install it much less play it.

I think the industry I loved no longer exists. I am but a behemoth in a world of jackals and leopards. I have been left behind and yet–did I let myself get to be that way? Maybe I did and if so, then why? It’s quite possible the seclusion of COVID had a hand in that as well.

So I digress. Something I loved no longer holds interest for me. In fact this new World Ends With You feels like a cell phone game and they are not games to me no matter how successful they are. Why are birds flying around so angry? Are there also pissed off birds? Or melancholy birds.? I’ve no idea as I’ve never played that rubbish. I’d rather play “Lemmings” .

I do not mean to spoil your fun and how you see games but I fear we no longer share the same enthusiasm.

–Cid Out

Sekiro: Let’s try this again Pt. 2! Hesitation Defeated!

Two years ago, the most recent game from my favorite developer came out and I was ecstatic to play it. Sekiro was a very different style game for someone who had been on the Souls hype train since Demon’s Souls came out, but my readiness to play was not diminished by that fact. The prospect of playing something different was exciting, but given how From is known for their difficulty it was also a bit daunting. Nevertheless I began this journey in 2019 with great anticipation..

My first attempt at Sekiro was plagued by two factors. The first was that I was playing the game at the same time as most of my buddies and while I had a good jump start to the game, I quickly fell behind and became discouraged because of that. The second, and this could be said about other From games as well, was the fact that I struggled finding a good path to follow. Because I began to lag behind my friends I began trying to sprint through the game without truly learning the mechanics. This did not become apparent to me until late game, but I really did not kill enemies in an efficient manner at all as I was either not aggressive enough or I simply refused to learn to parry and counter. I relied HEAVILY on my prosthetic, and not as a way to counter an enemy, but rather to damage them from afar bit by bit. Fights that should take seconds would take me minutes because I would run around and chip away rather than getting in there and learning to fight like a shinobi.

As for the second factor, I realize a lot of the fun of these kinds of games is exploration, but when you find yourself stuck on a particularly tough boss (or mini-boss as was the case for me) without making any headway it can be a real mood killer. I fought the big red eyed ogre so many stupid times before I found the Hirata Estate dream sequence and the Flame Vent that I could scream. Do you need that item to take out the ogre? Absolutely not. Did I at the time though? YES. For my recent playthrough, having the beginning of the game mapped out the way I did not only saved me a huge chunk of time, it kept me engaged in a way that made the game more enjoyable. I know gamers who can explore one small area of a game for hours even without discovering anything particularly useful or valuable. That gamer I am not. I’m not saying I like having a guide either, because for the most part I hate using them, but sometimes I need a bit more of a push than eavesdropping the right enemy or finding the right note lying around to get me where I need to go.

Now here we are in 2021 and I decided to start fresh. I installed the game to my PS5 and began again, and as of my last post I had made it through the Corrupted Monk’s Illusion. I took down another Headless as well as a second Shichimen Warrior. I breezed through most of the areas and made it to the Fountainhead Palace. I remember how much I despised this place from my first run, but I had put in a lot more effort to understanding the game’s mechanics this time and while I still hit a snag here and there I made it through rather handily. I was finally back at the end game, but I had some unfinished business before attempting to fight the final baddy again.

The Demon of Hatred was built up by my friends over the years as the actual most difficult boss in the game. I had no idea what to expect, but I was genuinely surprised when I saw it for the first time because I had never even found the fight on my first play through. When I was transported to his shrine I was shocked to see an enemy that was not of human form. The Great Ape and the bulls are the only bosses in the game that were not really humanoid. The Demon of Hatred, however, looked like if Manus from Dark Souls had a brother who learned pyromancy. This was an enormous and intimidating boss and after three attempts getting hardly any damage in I knew I would need some guidance. I looked up a video for the fight and it helped immensely. As I had said in my last post, I had not upgraded a single prosthetic tool thus far, but if there is any fight in this entire game that required them, the Demon of Hatred is that fight. I began to farm some late game enemies for currency to get my gear up to snuff and I began my battle again with upgrades and strategy. Less than ten tries later the Demon was no more and I could head to the final battle knowing I had accomplished nearly every fight in the game. (There is a boss you can unlock should you trigger the right events, but I screwed up the timing of something and missed it. That’s what new game plus is for though, right?)

Now of course I forgot about the mini-boss on my way to the final boss. It is another one of the Seven Spears. The absolute bane of my existence for the beginning of the game. To make matters worse he is accompanied by sword user who is also quite unpleasant. I ended up finding a good strategy for this fight though and dispatched them fairly easily, though I died more than I would have liked which dropped my confidence for the final boss a bit.

The final battle finally began and I was shocked to see how much smoother things were going. While I had made it to this fight originally, my struggles with it were all too real. There are essentially 4 phases to this fight. Phase 1, not so bad honestly. Phase 2? I never made it past phase 2 the first time. I was pleasantly surprised that I made it to phase 2 on just my third try, but even more surprised that I got past phase 2 my first time seeing it on this play through! That was a huge moment for me! I knew I was going to finish the game this time, especially after taking down the Demon of Hatred, but I was doing so well on the final fight that I was getting a little over anxious for the finish. After calming myself down a bit and pacing myself a bit better, phase 3 and 4 came and went after about an hour of trying.

FINALLY! It feels so good! I can’t tell you how many times over the past 2 years I have had friends tell me “Hesitation is defeat.” Well tonight you can consider hesitation defeated! I conquered this game and on top of that I actually developed a huge appreciation for it. It’s the only From game I have ever played that required me to do it all alone and I have to wonder if I took that same mentality to the Soulsborne games would I find myself appreciating them more as well? That may be the topic of another post, but for now I’m going to enjoy this and look forward to whatever experience Elden Ring has to throw at me.