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Bloodborne Review – A Bloody Game With More Blood In It
Release Date: March 24, 2015
ESRB: M for Mature
Recommended Price: $59.99
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Hm, I really want to be frustrated beyond belief today?” Well if so, then I would suggest you go and pick up a copy of Bloodborne. From Software and Sony Japan Studio did an excellent job at creating a video game that makes you want to bang your head on the wall for hours at a time while also instilling a need to continue playing. This is a feat that I had previously thought was unachievable. Alas, not anymore.
This was the first From Software game that I have ever played, so I was not aware of the insane difficulty that comes with one of their titles. Apparently, every game from the “Souls” series falls in the same difficulty category as Bloodborne, which leads me to believe the game should be issued with a public service announcement along the lines of “If you don’t want to die over one thousand times, do not buy this game!” In my case, this is not a hyperbolic statement.
Literally, the game forces you to die within the first minute of playing. You stumble upon a giant wolf-like creature without any weapons and he immediately destroys your health bar. This is a theme the developer wanted to portray early because they must have known how often death was going to occur. During the first ten hours of my time with the game, death was something that I was terrified of, and furious about when it happened.
After being killed by regular enemies over and over again for about four hours, I started to physically lash out on my couch in frustration. I am not someone who has anger problems. In fact I would even classify myself as a relatively laid back person. I thought to myself, “what the heck is going on, why are you doing this?” I calmed myself down, got a cup of tea, and decided to stop playing Bloodborne all together. That didn’t last long however, as I was determined not to lose to a video game. I read up on some tips to improve my gameplay (you can read a few of our tips for new players here) and realised how completely wrong my approach to the game was. Not only was I using the wrong weapon for my style of combat, but I was going about the combat wrong all together. Once I decided to treat this game like I treat Capcom’s Monster Hunter, everything started meshing together for me and I begun having an absolutely wonderful time (you might see that a lot of people start off with the wrong weapons or play-style).
Once you get past the initial confusion of Bloodborne, you find yourself in an atmosphere I have never been in. Even though I just played The Order: 1886, this take on Victorian England is so vastly different. It’s almost like they mixed Victorian England with the Silent Hill universe: amazing architecture is surrounded by death, decay, and uneasy feeling landscapes. The first section of the game has you in a city area, where you battle enemies through the town square and the sewer system. In between your first one hundred or so deaths you really get a feel for art design that will remain a constant throughout this game. Not many games can have me marvelling at it’s beauty while scaring me to the point where I have goosebumps.
While getting a feel for the combat, you quickly realize how aggressive you have to be. Starting off, you don’t have a shield. You begin with a gun in one hand and a melee weapon in the other. Your melee weapon that you choose has two separate modes: faster mode and slower mode essentially. The main principle of the weapon is that the slower you attack, the more damage you do and vice versa. For those new to this series, there is a gigantic learning curve to the combat. At first it is frustratingly difficult, but after a couple hours of practice the combat really opens up and starts to feel like you are playing an instrument.
The enemies in this game are remarkable. Bloodborne has some of the greatest looking foes to face. Much like the atmospheric design, the enemies have me gawking at their individuality while being terrified of them at the same time. Due to my fear of dying, I was on edge for the whole game. When a gigantic ogre/troll looking creature would pop out of nowhere while smashing a huge brick down on me, I caught myself literally yelping. It also has the best boss design to grace this generation of consoles, in my opinion. From the first boss on, they are all unique and terrifying. The difficulty of the bosses skill remains constant with your progression, which felt really nice, but the mechanical progression gets more difficult as you go from boss to boss. Sometimes you have to strictly hit the creature from behind or use a special type of element to dominate their weakness. When I would die in a boss fight, it did not feel as frustrating as when I would die in regular combat because it felt like a nice learning experience.
Bloodborne also has an online mode. If you are dying too much and need some help you can call on the support of your friends to jump in and help. This feature comes in handy a lot if you are the kind of person who has a lot of friends playing this game, but if you don’t have any then you’re doomed to the solo mode. I played the majority of my time solo because it is so satisfying to give myself all of the credit for progressing through a difficult part of the game.
A feature that is new to this series is the Chalice Mode Dungeons. This mode unlocks after you defeat the games third boss. Here you can battle through generated dungeons that have monsters and enemies galore. I would relate these dungeons to Zelda dungeons, where you just have to battle through to the end or restart and get out. This is a fun mode that I think will add a lot of replayability and longevity to the game.
Despite the frustrating difficulty and the innumerable amounts of deaths I experienced, Bloodborne seems to have one major issue: the amount of times you visit the load screen is ridiculous. You have to stare at an ugly load screen for a minute or so every time you die or go back to your “Hunter’s Dream” (which is a sort of home base feature in the game) and it is just a pain to do so. If the amount of time you had to do this was reduced, if would benefit the player’s experience a lot.
This game will probably not appeal to the masses. If you have played the “Souls” series before, and enjoyed them, then you will absolutely love this game. It is enough of a revamp to make it feel like a fresh take, but it is essentially the same game that they have been putting out for years. The insane difficulty is rewarding for new players, yes, but is it enough to justify odd gameplay design? For me, yes it is, but for most players I do not think it will be enough.
At the end of the day though, this game is fantastic. Sony needed an exclusive of this caliber under their wings, and now they have it. I have very few bad things to say about this game because I enjoyed the incredible challenge that it comes with, as well as the crazy amount of longevity that seems to be within it. I plan on continuing to play this game for dozens of hours, and I think it is in the same vein as games like Skyrim or Borderlands in terms of replayability. Just don’t expect to play Bloodborne and not die. This was reviewed on the Playstation 4.