Anyone Else Playing "Lightning Returns: FFXIII"?

(NO STORYLINE SPOILERS) The day after this game came out, I bought it. I posted about possibly being absent from GT for a while because I'd be playing the shit out of it. Well it's been a couple weeks now, and....I don't know how I feel about it.

As much as I love the FFXIII series (storyline? saga?), I'm really feeling torn about this game. I'm excited for more play as Lightning, and to see other characters again, and to finish the story. And the artwork is beautiful.

However.

This whole "time limit" system makes it VERY hard for me to enjoy it. I feel like I got thrown into this huge, new, exciting world in the game, with so many things to look at and do, and yet you have a freaking countdown clock hovering over you. Certain things have to be done before the clock runs out the ENTIRE TIME you're playing, which means there is zero time for looking around, for exploring things, to maybe get that treasure sphere over there, to go back and talk to an NCP 2 areas over that you missed and now realize you need to go back to talk to in order to move forward, etc. There is no time for that. You have to make Lightning RUN everywhere (but only sprint, once the "run" gauge wears out, it can hurt you in battle!) You basically need to run everywhere, and get everything done as quickly as possible, and hope you didn't just fuck yourself by having to smash open that suitcase with one extra swing because you weren't positioned right.

And if you don't get everything done in time, you could end up losing the entire game and having to start over. Oh, you got to the final level and just beat the big boss? Well, you didn't complete that one sidequest back in the beginning of the game before that clock ran out, so you failed the entire game. Guess you'll just have to start over from the very beginning! (at least, that's what the game guide says will happen - fail to finish all of the quests, under a time limit, and you'll have to start the game over in order to actually complete it.)

Fuck.

I bought the game guide to try to make things a little easier. And it's NOT helping. There's one section that breaks the game down into certain things you need to have accomplished before certain hours in the game (and time moves QUICKLY in that countdown clock). Well, I tried following that section. And I can't keep up with the pace, no matter how hard I try. And it doesn't even account for the actual storyline. So...go ahead and follow that timeline, but it won't match up with the storyline, so good luck making any sense out of it.

Another section in the guide is the walkthrough. Which doesn't explain things as well as the section I mentioned in my previous paragraph, nor does it have you doing things at the same time as that previous section. Both of them tell me to do different things, so I'm pretty much wandering around the game, fingers crossed that I'm doing the right thing. And I'm stressing the fuck out the entire time. There is NO room for error in this game. The guide says "don't worry, you'll have plenty of time leftover in the countdown clock to mess about after you get the important sidequests done." BULLSHIT. NO YOU DON'T. Those quests took up the ENTIRE clock, and I still didn't get all of them done before the time ran out. I thought the point of having a walkthrough was so it could WALK YOU THROUGH the game so you don't fuck up? If anything, this game guide just makes it seem even more daunting.

I haven't played the game in over a week, because even thinking about willingly putting myself into such a stressful situation by playing it makes my anxiety levels rise. I go to insert the disc, and this feeling of stress and dread comes over me: playing this game makes me feel rushed and like I have a million things to do in a short period of time, and if I can't accomplish it, then I fail the game and have to start the ENTIRE thing over. That's a LOT to have on your shoulders, especially when you already have anxiety. Too many tasks in a short amount of time in real life gives me anxiety attacks, and this game is just that - too many things to do before the short countdown clock runs out. I'm already so intimidated that I don't even want to play it. I still WANT to play it, because I love the series. But I cant bring myself to turn it on. I'm stressed even thinking about it.

I miss the older Final Fantasy games, without a countdown clock. Those were relaxing to me, because I could run around and explore, and do things at my own pace. They were fun.

But this one is too stressful. It feels like, by playing it, that I'm purposely putting myself into a stressful situation and hoping I don't need a drink and a cigarette afterwards.

Why, oh why, did they have to fuck with a good thing and decide "oh hey, for this next installment of the series, let's make it a clusterfuck of sidequests and throw a countdown clock in there to stress people out!" HMM??? Why, SquareEnix??? You had a good thing going with the original FFXIII and FFXIII-2 battle systems and paradigm shifts, and you just had to "change it up" and make this entire game a pain in the ass??UGH.

I wish they had done this game differently. I really, really do.

Anyone else out there playing this game? Does it stress you out and confuse you as much as it does me? Do you feel like you're in over your head with this one?