After the credits of the latest Square Enix effort, it is very likely that the first thing you will do is go to Cindy to unlock the quest that turns the Regalia into an airplane. If you don’t know how to do it, I invite you to take a look at our Final Fantasy XV guide, because being able to fly freely on the map crossed far and wide by car, is certainly a nice attraction.

After a while, however, the doubt arises that this is a characteristic end in itself, since in the end the locations are reached first with the instant journey, and that the landing phase with the Regalia is anything but. that optimized. Were it not, however, for that small yellow segment that appears on the map near the volcano, reachable only by flying.

That seemingly insignificant dash is in fact a landing strip lost in thin air, as well as the only way to access the secret dungeon of Pitioss, which unexpectedly turned out to be one of the most difficult experiences ever faced in a video game. On the other hand, who could have imagined that Final Fantasy XV could offer a challenge to make Dark Souls pale?

A suspicion, however, I should have had already in the landing phase, since the runway, very short, has rock walls at the beginning and at the end. Making an approach that is not perfect is equivalent to crashing and therefore to game over. Once I set foot on the ground I ran into medium / high level mobs (keep in mind that at the moment they are at 74th), which however had more life points than their counterparts in the other parts of the map. Anyway, slowly, I made my way up to a camp where I immediately rested.

The yellow segment you see on the map is the airstrip to go to Pitioss.

This was the first mistake, because Pitioss is a dungeon that can only be accessed at night, and therefore I found myself having to spend the next day fighting and collecting what I found around, just to pass the time (put a function to speed up the passage of time, evidently, must have been too bold a feature for Tabata).

And so, once I waited for 20.00, I finally entered Pitioss. And here I was greeted by the first surprise, since I discovered that it is a dungeon that can only be tackled alone, and structured on the resolution of environmental puzzles. Of course, initially you also need to make some leaps here and there, but nothing transcendental. So, it was about one in the morning, I ventured to the bizarre rooms of Pitioss, convinced that at worst it would be three in the morning.

Instead, one of the most absurd nights of my life as a gamer was waiting for me, which I managed to come to terms with as a matter of pride, obstinacy and a sense of challenge (with myself), gifts to which I have often clung in life. in difficult times.

Initially, I said, Pitioss fascinated me because of its new approach, for being a dungeon different from all the others seen so far (in the game, and not only). Suffice it to say that there is no mob from start to finish, and the only thing you are dealing with are switches to flip, statues to break to create shortcuts, and many, many jumps.

Landing between one stone and another will be anything but easy. Lose altitude gradually and have no qualms and take an extra lap on the track if the descent doesn’t seem right.

But then, as I entered the depths of the dungeon, the puzzles began to get more difficult and the platforming phases more complex. Around 2.30 am I got stuck in solving a puzzle and, not being able to save in the dungeons of Final Fantasy XV (another feature probably too complex to implement in just 10 years of development), and having no intention of making a second one time all the way back to where I had come, I looked for something on YouTube that could help me.

To which, the first emotional shock: according to the video I had only scratched the surface of Pitioss! I take courage and decide to accelerate the pace, leaving out the objects to be collected in the most difficult points. Because, this must be said, the dungeon is incredibly profitable, to the point that I discovered there is an upper limit for the inventory!

At about 3.00 in the morning, after a series of jumps and platforms that seemed to me the maximum conceivable for a game like Final Fantasy XV, I arrive in a bottomless room where I am greeted by a huge machine consisting of a colossal metal skull to which they are attached dozens of hot spikes, capable of killing instantly. I understand that I have to get to the top but I assure you that finding the right path has been really complex, especially since at the slightest mistake you return to the checkpoint.

At 3.30 I pass this section to get to another even more difficult one. In fact, I find myself running and jumping on stone walls that descend into total darkness. The flashlight is the only thing that allows me to see where I’m jumping but in the meantime Pitioss begins to introduce a new mechanic: as in an Escher painting, you can run on multiple walls, opening up completely different paths.

Pitioss presents surreal scenarios. And remember, in this case the right path is upwards.

At around 3.50 I move on to the next section, which surprises me by turning the camera away and turning the game into a platform a la Prince of Persia! I realize that I am leaving behind a lot of objects, that I am not exploring a series of alternative routes, but by then I should have already been in bed, so I drive straight towards the end of the section and by 4:10 am I am at the next checkpoint.

The camera goes back to being the traditional one but the game becomes even more difficult, because the above-mentioned Escher-style mechanics are accompanied by the rotation of the platforms on which you move. The result is completely disorienting: in some places I struggle to understand which way I am moving on, and finding the right path requires me to fully explore the area.

So I arrive near a gigantic statue of a woman, on whose breasts I jump, making her collapse. I see an object on her navel, I go down her legs to her feet, and I fall. I redo the whole section and find that the right path is in the opposite direction, along the armpits, the arms and finally jumping on the huge torch in his hand.

In the meantime, it’s about 4.45 am, I begin to be destroyed by sleep and I make more and more jumps wrong. But the worst still awaits me because immediately afterwards a section begins in which, immersed in total darkness, I have to make millimeter jumps on very narrow metal beams, on folded cages from which it is very easy to slide down, going up along surreal bottlenecks that seem to never end never.

One of the many relaxing and comfortable situations that Pitioss offers: even just touching one of those poles means returning to the checkpoint.

It is the most difficult moment, the one in which I look at the clock and discover that it is after 5 in the morning; in which I would like to save but I cannot; where I think about pausing the game and going to sleep, but then I think about a blackout, the game crashing, anything else that can make me get up the next morning and find that all efforts have been thwarted .

Above all, I think I don’t want to go to sleep with such a burden on my conscience, that I don’t intend to wake up knowing I have to finish the Pitioss. And then, I said, the pride, the competitive spirit: “Stefano, if you have the balls now finish it and show me what you’re worth”. “But I’m tired, I’ve already died a hundred times, I’m in the dark, in desolation, in solitude”. In the end, my toughest, most strong-willed half wins, but it’s half past five, now I’m talking to myself and schizophrenia is just around the corner.

I finally manage to overcome this section and reappear, as if by magic, in a part of the map explored at the beginning. Except that the headphones leave me first, then the pad starts to warn me that it is empty: panic! And then there is a whole series of jumps that I had not imagined, of platforms that I had not noticed, and of which I will finally manage at around 6 in the morning.

Having reached the end of Pitioss, I expect a trophy not of platinum, which I know is not possible, but at least of gold. And instead nothing, there is no reward if not a Black Hood, one of the best objects of Final Fantasy XV.

Looking back on my run in Pitioss, I realize some things. Which is among the most difficult, challenging and frustrating experiences I’ve ever tried as a gamer. That in the next patch Square Enix should (indeed MUST) insert the save also in the dungeons. That the level designer who conceived Pitioss, I would shake hands for having conceived such a brilliant dungeon, and I would give a couple of slaps for the sadism shown. That in Tabata, when I interview him again, I will ask what went through his mind in proposing one of the most ‘platforming’ experiences in my memory, in a game clearly meant to be anything but.

Clearly there remains the satisfaction and pride of having come to terms with it, but these days I was wondering whether or not to face the NG + and now I have an answer: I can try to spend 18 minutes to pull up the biggest fish in the game, I can kill the Griffin 10 more times to let me drop its feathers … but Pitioss will never have me a second time!

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