It’s been, as some would say, a minute since I’ve written here. Not for a lack of gaming, but probably for a lack of time and trying. But Bloodborne has affected me in such a way that I wanted to, nay, NEEDED to talk about how fantastic this game is. Warning that there may be some spoilers ahead!
I just wrapped up my first full game run through a couple of days ago. I scored the second of three endings, being that I was missing certain items to obtain the “final” and some would say “true” ending. With that even in mind, my whole experience was terrifying, frustrating, creepy, and overall, just wonderful. I’m not a newcomer to From games; I’ve played all of the original Dark Souls, reached a halfway point with Dark Souls 2 (sorry Xbox 360, but you got shafted once my PS4 came out) and I was ready to take on Bloodborne, to see if it would match all the hype.
Bloodborne is the same and yet different. Yes, you still fight through onslaughts of difficult enemies, to then face off monstrously large and difficult bosses, some that will have you dying again and again and again. But while the overall structure of the game is the same, there’s much that isn’t. You’ve probably already heard all about the faster pace of combat; you are rewarded for going back in for more punches after being hit with actually filling back up your health bar. Attacks can be parried with your firearm and a visceral follow up attack does enough damage to encourage you to get close enough to perform it. Blood vials are also more plentiful than Estus Flasks ever were, but don’t let that fool you. It does not make the game easier, if only more accessible to those who might quit out early. And you’ll still find yourself in predicaments where you’ll have to farm for Blood Echoes (the game’s version of souls) to buy more Blood Vials, or farm for the item itself just to get wrecked by a boss all over again.
I do enjoy the new style of gameplay; it forces you to engage, not hide behind a shield and wait. It’s weird at first for a Dark Souls player to get into, but once you get the hang of it, it’s rather exhilarating. It’s more about quick thinking, not plotting, and not being afraid to lose some Blood Echoes in the process.
Beyond this though, is the story and design behind Bloodborne. Yeah, I said it. Story.
But From always has really confused, barely there stories, you say! Trust me, the “confusing” part hasn’t left the building here and often I visit the Bloodborne subreddit to read up on theories of lore, or what clues other players have cracked. But, there’s still many more of those breadcrumbs to follow and they are a bit easier to piece together than the old Dark Souls games. You’ll actually feel like you have some understanding of what is going on, in chunks. Pieces of a puzzle that you’ll have to go back to, to figure out how they fit together. And man, is it Lovecraftian and creepy and everything a dark fantasy world should be. You’ve got men turning into beasts, people being dragged away to be experimented on, a church that might not be full of the best intentions, beings called Great Ones who are equally worshipped, feared, and hunted, and oh just some really creepy stuff about babies and fetuses. Lots of babies and fetuses.
The enemy design is tops, with things getting progressively weirder and weirder as you go further into the game (I’m looking at you, singing Brain Trust dudes). Things feel actually original; I think particularly to one optional side boss I won’t give away, in the Upper Cathedral Ward, that was equal parts beautiful and grotesque. The art style is on point and honestly, I’ll say it, better than Dark Souls. Maybe it’s because it feels more rich and unique than the medieval setting Dark Souls is in. Maybe it’s because I’m bias towards enjoying horror. But I’d own that art book in a second, if they made it (and a lore book! Give me an official one, From!).
And here’s the thing about Bloodborne for me. I don’t normally NG+ most things. I beat a game and I feel pretty satisfied with it. But I can’t stop playing. I want to see the other endings (despite already knowing what they are), I want to finish the optional chalice dungeons, I want to interact with NPCs I missed the first time and I just want to experience the world all over again.
No game is perfect. My biggest gripe with Bloodborne is network issues and how long it can take to connect with friends for co-op. And the PvP process could be better. But man, if I didn’t put that controller down when the credits rolled and really soak in the experience I had just had.
So that’s it. Just a sum of my thoughts. Maybe not the most cohesive of “reviews” but it’s hard to talk too much about the game without giving things away (and I’ve already given away some already). There’s games I like, and there are games I love. And I would settle down and have babies with Bloodborne. That’s the kind of love I have for it.