Bloodborne Review — No, I Will NOT Make Any Blood Puns

Not like I need to considering how many times the word “blood” shows up in this game.

Needing some justification for my purchase of a PS4, I picked up Bloodborne a while back but never really got into it until much later because it’s a From Software game and I can’t exactly just “jump” into one of their ball-breakers without going through a succession of physical trainers to warm me up for the pain. More importantly, at the time I acquired the thing, I hadn’t even played more than an hour of Dark Souls yet and I figured that I should probably acquaint myself with that incredibly popular pain train before trying out its lesser successors. And whilst I managed to finish Dark Souls within the span of a week thanks to a hidden grinding system I exploited the shit out of along with extensive usage of the Wiki page, it exhausted me to the point I needed a long break before going through that experience again. Maybe burn through some lesser games now that Hidetaka Miyazaki has ruined me for the standard game difficulty.

But with 2015 ending soon and all the open-world games from the year I had yet to play staring at me with eyes so razor-sharp you could drop a leaf on ’em and they’d split in two, I finally got to giving Bloodborne an extended amount of my time and upon completion, I felt like I had just ended the Vietnam War single-handedly. Of course, the game starting over immediately after the ending made me realize that the communists had played me for a fool, so I bailed from the scene before things got worse. Sorry guys, but I’ve got better battles to participate in than a losing one.

Terrible Vietnam War comparison aside, Bloodborne continues Miyazaki’s tradition of making his games both easier and harder on the player so that the ultimate experience will break even, even though Dark Souls will never be dethroned from its position as the true king of the “Nintendo Hard” video games. The most obvious change is in the combat, because shields have been replaced for guns and the only thing you’ll be using said gun for is to leave enemies open for a critical attack because bullets do as much damage as a finger flick to the head in this universe. Also, whilst there’s no equipment load to prevent you from using whatever combination of armor or weapons you want, there’s a giant lack of variety in the equipment you can actually receive. You’ll have to rely on leveling up and upgrading your weapons to tackle the tougher monsters, as well as learning how to be an expert dodger/counter-man because the best armor in the game is a trench coat that’s about as bulletproof as a piece of paper. I ended up dying to the second boss for two hours straight because I had difficulty adjusting to this change, and this was with aid from Youtube videos showing me how to beat the dude.

Also similar to Dark SoulsBloodborne’s world is goddamn huge with a great deal of interconnected areas and shortcuts you’ll discover in order to navigate through it seamlessly. This game gives you the ability to warp between bonfires lampposts right away, but you have to warp to the hub world where you do all your leveling up and upgrading first before you can warp to a different location. And just to rub salt into the wound, you can’t even level up until you gain a new unit of currency called Insight, which you can only get by using a specific item or meeting a boss – with the chances that you’ll do the latter first being incredibly high. So I hope you’re good at holding onto your souls blood echoes until then, especially since enemies can absorb them upon you losing them and you have to defeat them in order to get those fragile things back.

I would advise you to get really got at riposting attacks though (that is, shooting enemies with the gun in the middle of their attack so that they keel over, allowing you to perform a counter attack). Whilst you can get through a lot of the game without it, the human-shaped boss characters will turn you into mince-meat if you don’t master the thing. Also, keep in mind that whilst there is magic in the game, you won’t be using until it’s nearly over, so you’re going to have to pick whether you want to master strength-based weapons or skill-based ones early on. The former deals a lot of damage but it’s slow to wield, and the latter is pretty much the opposite of that. I went for skill-based weapons because I prefer to actually hit with my attacks, and once those things were fully upgraded, the damage reduction was nearly nonexistent anyways.

Also, there is no shame in using the Bloodborne wiki in order to figure out what you’re doing, because the game doesn’t even tell you that riposting attacks even exists let alone tell you where you’re supposed to go or how to get there. Only the completely mad or the mentally obsessed would have been able to figure out that you were supposed to go to that specific gravestone after defeating a specific boss to go to the Forsaken Cainhurst Castle, and don’t even get me started on the ones where you have to be defeated by a specific enemy to arrive at. I got one by accident, but the other (whilst not as obscure) involves avoiding a piss-easy to dodge enemy, and why would I want to get caught on purpose? Remember, these Souls games are based entirely around community knowledge not unlike MMOs, and just because you know what to expect doesn’t mean you’ll get through it.

Story-wise, I don’t have a fucking clue what the ultimate point is and I’m not really interested in reading all the essays in order to find out. Hell, I didn’t even bother to read the item descriptions that spell out Yharnam’s lore. All I know is that you play as an individual seeking a cure for some unspecified disease, only to wake up in a mysterious town that’s been infected with some sort of plague that turned its inhabitants into murderous zombies and thus must become a hunter in order to survive whilst finding out how you came to be there. But at the end of it all, I was left with more questions than answers, and I got the best ending the game had to offer. It wasn’t as anticlimactic as Dark Souls’ ending, I’ll give it that. But whilst I’m familiar with the saying that less is more, there’s a difference between “less” and “nothing”.

At the end of the day though, whilst the rich lore that makes up one of these Souls-like games is a large reason for why we enjoy them, the main reason we play stuff like Bloodborne is for the gameplay. The constant deaths. The giant Metroidvania worlds. The sheer amount of adrenaline we experience upon completing a challenge. The community discussions. And most of all, bragging rights that we beat one of these games. Bloodborne may be a step back from Dark Souls in terms of scale, but given how much it’ll make you its bitch before you beat the thing, that’s no problem at all.

Minor Quips

  • Because of circumstances pertaining to my real life along with the fact that you can’t really control the pacing of these things, video game reviews will no longer be a weekly (or exclusively Tuesday) thing and will be put on the blog whenever I feel like it.
  • The Monday stuff will still persist though.
  • Make sure you download the patch before playing this game so you don’t have to sit through its unreasonable loading times.

3 responses to “Bloodborne Review — No, I Will NOT Make Any Blood Puns

  1. I just picked up Bloodborne, and I think the combat is really fun so far (I’ve beaten Dark 1 and 2 multiple times, so I had an idea of what to do). I’ve found that so far the areas are harder than the bosses, at least earlier on (the next boss I have to fight is the three dudes in the forest). (This is probably also having an idea of how to beat them from watching youtube videos while I didn’t have the game). And npc hunters are still overpowered; I knew they were strong, but not THAT strong.

    • I find getting too used to Dark 1 and 2’s combat makes getting the hang of Bloodborne’s all the harder since you got to rely even more on targetting and dodging, and shielding is out. Not to mention, you don’t refuel your health potions at checkpoints anymore.

      And npc hunters are still overpowered; I knew they were strong, but not THAT strong.

      Those guys turned me into mincemeat more than the giant oversized bosses ever could.

      • I haven’t played Dark 1 and 2 in a while, but when I did, I played without a shield for at least one run of each (after the first playthrough of course), and dodging is much more effective than blocking. But yeah, Bloodborne is definitely not the same game, although some mechanics carry over

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