So much death.
It's not graphic. There's no blood or gore. But it gets to you. You play for awhile and a dread starts to build.
When will the axe fall? The path branches. Will one way be a dead end? Will the monsters gang up on you, trap you in a corner, and kill you? Every run must end eventually, but is now the time?
The horizon is being pushed back. My lives are getting longer. But it's still the same thing, over and over again. I can delay the inevitable, but I can't put it off forever.
I find myself cultivating a sort of grim determination. Just a cold, implacable fury, not exactly at the game itself, but towards its world. I stab my finger into the reload button and vow to myself that this time I will triumph and collect hundreds of treasure and show all these yetis and water elementals and weird lumberjack things who's boss.
It's almost entirely a performance. I've found the best way to manage these games is to carefully manage your hope. Too little and it becomes a slough of despair, where you resignedly march into death time and time again, becoming a mechanical button-clicker who doesn't care what happens on screen. Too much hope, and your play anger becomes real, as you come to think that success was snatched away from you by an unfair and uncaring world.
I've reached a workable equilibrium for the most part. I care enough about discovering and "solving" new areas that I'm motivated to keep exploring, but I'm numb enough emotionally that my inevitable deaths leave me with only a brief moment of bitterness.
Only five hours to go. I'm confident now that I'll make it, but I can't guarantee that I'll be in any kind of coherent mental state when I do.