Throughout the playthroughs of Nier, I've been trying to solve my personal problem of hitting the healing/difficulty sweetspot for the game. I've tried them all: items, no items, auto-heal, deadly-heal, offensive-heal, reset, normal, hard. They all combat the problem differently but they all have some flaw that don't gel well: no animation, no opportunity cost, too powerful, too situational, encouraged long periods of passivity, etc.
I had long given up on this endeavor until one explosive-loving android gave me a pod program that changed everything. It's possibly the least effective means of healing in the entire game but that made it perfect: it restored over time even then at only about 30% hp a pod charge, it used pod charges and thus created opportunity cost, and it worked only in a tiny area of effect preventing you from constantly dodging and still reaping the benefits of health. This encouraged the counter chip as a means of defense while standing your ground. It even has a small animation that immobilizes you for a moment! It's a really well balanced and well-designed pod program; I had finally found my estus flask. The sweetspot exists! But…then I realized the horrible truth, the earliest that it could be found was the middle of route c… thanks jackass.