A Britney Spears rhythm game from 2002 made me better at playing Lies of P – and now I'm finally ready to tackle Elden Ring

Lies of P Gamescom
(Image credit: Neowiz)

Going up against the toughest bosses yet in Lies of P was always going to be difficult for an Elden Ring flunkie like myself, but right now, I'm on fire. Headphones around my neck with the volume turned right down, all I can hear is the sharp hiss of my own voice as I count my way through Fallen Archbishop Andreus' attack pattern. "One and two, three and hit, four, five…six-seven-hit." My hands are still trembling with the telltale sign of an adrenaline rush – I'm so close to finishing this fiend off for good, and usually, this is where I would falter.

I've long been drawn to some of the best FromSoftware games for their stunning design concepts, but I'm also afflicted with a terrible curse: I'm just not very good at playing them. Don't get me wrong, I've chipped away at a fair bit of Elden Ring, Lords of the Fallen, and Bloodborne in the past, only to abandon each one after hitting a brick wall. While sitting down to play Lies of P, though, I've finally cracked it. By treating this punishing action-RPG like the rhythm game I loved when I was 7, I've conquered my own rattled nerves – and actually got better at playing it.

Stronger than yesterday

Britney's Dance Beat for PS2

(Image credit: THQ)
Truly Tarnished

Elden Ring

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

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It all started with Britney. Plenty of millennials might say the same thing, but in this case, I'm talking specifically about Britney's Dance Beat. It was one of the first PS2 games I remember being bought for me instead of my brother – not that he didn't let me attempt 50 Cent Bulletproof or Fahrenheit as well – and I recall making it my mission to be absolutely brilliant at it. Getting a perfect score on Slave 4 U was hard going back in 2002, but little did I know, my militant method of muting the TV and simply yelling the beat counts out loud would come back to serve me well some 22 years later.

Perhaps this was an early indication of the ADHD I was later diagnosed with, but now, I'm aware that I get really overwhelmed by loud music when I am trying to focus on a complex task. Not distracted: overwhelmed, because a part of my brain is desperate to listen to it. This made sitting down to play and write my Lies of P review some truly heart-pounding stuff, not because I have a fear of puppets or anything, but because I was genuinely distressed by how hard it was for me to stay focussed during big, all-important battles. My hummingbird heart has always been quick to rise to the occasion whenever that dramatic boss fight music kicks in. You know the kind: haunting choral voices warbling in urgent unison, sounding like something akin to an opera in Hell as dark strings and brass instruments swell in the background, reminding you that this guy you're fighting, most likely sporting a name like "Deathbringer, Eater of Suns", is a very big deal. The palpable drama of it makes my palms sweat and my muscles seize up while I play Lies of P, almost like a fight or flight response. Four attempts against the Scrapped Watchman are made before I instinctively rip my headset off and decide to just count.

Lies of P

(Image credit: Neowiz)

My militant method of muting the TV and simply yelling the beat counts out loud would come back to serve me well.

"One and two, three, four." Just like how I would yell out the PS2 button names as I pressed them during Britney's Dance Beat, each verbal count tells me when to dodge or parry. I don't even think about it when I factor in attack counts, a result of having actual coherent thoughts running through my mind thanks to the silence – "five, six, seven, STAB, one, STAB, two…" you get the idea. 

The difference in my stress levels and precision is immediate and extreme. Memorizing a giant enemy's attack pattern is hardly a novel concept in games like Elden Ring where timing is essential, but for someone like me, it was always impossible to keep my focus steady. How am I meant to dodge, memorize, heal, and appreciate the cool musical score in the background all at the same time? Well, it turns out that all I have to do is eliminate that last element, because it's the only way I can hear myself think, apparently. Without the chaos of boss battle music to throw me off, I manage to bring down the Scrapped Watchman with relative – dare I say it – ease. I almost cry out of two reasons: relief, and the disbelief that I hadn't tried this sooner when it had worked so well for me back when I was 7.

Has this trick made me into the global Soulsborne champion? No, but I reckon it has made my neighbors convinced that I have a particularly unfortunate case of tourettes. It's bizarre but it works, and after so many years of beating myself up for not being able to control my physiological responses, I don't even feel bad about my weird boss battle strategy. Elden Ring, it's time for a rematch.

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Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.