Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
placeholder article
placeholder article

The Hardest Part Is Letting Go

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kutztown chapter.


You’ve heard of the Sierra Madre Casino. We all have, the legend, the curses. Some foolishness about it lying in the middle of a City of Dead. A city of ghosts. Buried beneath a blood-red cloud… a bright, shining monument luring treasure hunters to their doom. An illusion that you can begin again, change your fortunes. Finding it, though, that’s not the hard part. It’s letting go.– Fallout: New Vegas, Dead Money DLC

Let me preface this article by stating that this will not be an analysis of Fallout: New Vegas on its own – rather, it pertains to my personal feeling in relation to themes that reoccur throughout the game, themes that strike a strong emotional cord in me. As such it will be spoiler free, and I highly recommend you either play the game yourself or at least watch it on YouTube, and for the latter I recommend watching Gopher’s play through.

For those of you who know nothing of the game or its universe, I’ll give a brief overview. Fallout: New Vegas is one of several installments in the Fallout video game franchise. After the worldwide detonation of nuclear weapons in the year 2077, the world was reduced to a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the survivors are either the descendants of those who were far enough away from the bomb drops to survive, or those who escaped the nuclear holocaust by moving into the safety of underground vaults. New Vegas is set in what was once the state of Nevada in the year 2281, 204 years after the bombs fell. In, what you might’ve guessed, what once was Las Vegas- hence the name “New Vegas.”

Now that I’ve explained the universe a bit, to go back to the main point of this article- as stated previously, there are reoccurring themes in this game that strike a strong cord with me, aspects that tug at just the right heartstrings that has made this game into my favorite game of all time. The story tied to these themes make me genuinely care and feel strongly about the world and the characters that inhabit it.

The themes in question are those of holding on to the past, in this case of the old world, with both the positives and negatives that go along with it: Themes of history, and also that of letting go. Over and over in the game we see that the main factions use the “old world” to model themselves after, for both better and for worse. Certain main characters also obsess over the history of the old world, to the point of arguable delusion and madness.

But there is also another way the theme of history presents itself- instead of history in the way you might immediately think of, for some characters it’s about personal history, and the dangers and unhappiness that come with that obsession- that the way to free yourself, the way to make it end- is letting go. “To begin again.”

This theme of letting go of an unpleasant past, of hurt, of obsession with history, my history– I relate to deeply. In my history I’ve been hurt, horribly, and I obsess and obsess and obsess over a past long dead. I am not the person of times long gone anymore- those versions of me are the ashes of yesteryear, yet I cannot let go.

I think that’s why I relate so much to this game: I want to let go, but I do not know how to learn to let go. How to both remember my history, and let go of my obsession. How do I let go of the hurt? How do I, as a repeated line in the game says, begin again?

I think this is partly why I love this game- it gives me catharsis. It gives me a way to simulate that feeling of moving on by immersing myself in a world that is so vivid it feels real, and this sense realness is what makes this sense of release possible. A sense of release I have yet to find in real life.

However despite New Vegas being my catharsis, despite me completing most of the game repeatedly, including all the DLC’s- I’ve never actually finished the game to completion. I get to a point in the main quest line, stop playing the game for months- then I start a new game, then rinse and repeat. The reason for this? Certain main characters I’ve grown extremely attached to. They feel so real, and ending the game, finishing it, would essentially be saying good-bye to characters I’ve grown so fond of.

It’s ironic, isn’t it? That the very thing that makes me feel like I’m letting go, I can’t let go of.

Maybe, someday, I’ll learn how to let go. But not today, not now, not yet. After all, the hardest part is letting go.