Bloodborne Review

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From Software has kept up their trend for making difficult and in-depth games and Bloodborne is on par with the rest of the souls games. Your journey through the city of Yharnam is dark, terrifying, bleak and full of danger. And not everything is as it seems on the surface. What starts with some Victorian horror beast hunting, becomes a battle through a sinister nightmare.

Bloodborne

Platforms: PlayStation 4

Developer: From Software

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment, SCE Japan Studio

Release Date: March 24, 2015

Price: $59.99 US (Amazon) – $60.71 AUD (Play-Asia)

Bloodborne takes place in the beast ravaged city of Yharnam. The city is crawling with bloodthirsty werewolves and psychotic citizens hunting you as well as the beasts. The games crisp visuals create a setting full of darkness, danger and dread.

The city is full of beasts being burned, blood on the streets and wide array of frightening enemies. The detail From Software has put into this game is impressive and complements every other part of the game.

Darkly Familiar

Now for anyone who has played any of From Software’s other games (the Souls series) you know the game revolves around immense difficulty. Not necessarily impossible difficulty, but challenging enough to make the player put more thought into overcoming enemies and obstacles.

Bloodborne maintains the same difficulty as the Souls games, but with its own signature. The combat in the Souls games were much more passive. Take your time, find weak points and exploit them to take out your enemies. Be on the defensive.  Not so with Bloodborne.

bloodborne combat

[kotaku.com]

You still want to be tactical when attacking your enemies, but being aggressive is essential to surviving Bloodborne’s battles. When you take damage you’ll have a small window of opportunity to gain back your HP. So instead of backing out after taking a few hits, jumping right back into the fight is effective for saving your life.

Not only is the more aggressive gameplay essential for survival, it’s flat out fun. You’ll come up against other hunters as you fight through Yharnam and these battles are extremely fast paced where constant backing off and caution will get you killed. It also makes these sequences extraordinarily fun to play through.

There is still a central hub in the game called the Hunter’s Dream. Unlike previous Souls games though, it exists on a separate plane of existence instead of within the main world. The area will serve many of your needs allowing you to buy new armor and weapons, level up and improve your weapons.

Yharnam, itself is a beautiful in grim, dark and dreadful sort of way. The streets are riddled with caskets and coffins. Beasts of all sizes are strung up on crosses, burning. Tall Victorian-style towers cover the horizon and reflect the setting sun. Don’t start thinking this Victorian environment will be the only areas you’ll be exploring. You’ll find your way to some dark creepy woods, a medieval castle filled with ghosts and places I can’t begin to describe without spoiling the story.

hemwick charnel lane

[forbes.com]

Not only are the environments diverse they are also incredibly interconnected. Paths will lead to new places seamlessly and if you’re ever standing in the right place in some areas of the game you can see other places you’ve been to off in the distance.

Exploring these environments is incredibly satisfying as well. With no radar available you’ll need to find your own way through the environment. This will lead to some alternate paths and dead ends, but they’re never pointless. You can find important upgrade items, new weapons and more consumables should you need them.

Bloodborne Bad Guys

Enemies and bosses also present an immense amount of variety. Indeed you’ll come up against some beasts and crazed townspeople, but you’ll be presented with some very creative monsters. Villagers with snakes for heads, deadly giant spiders, creatures straight out of an H.P. Lovecraft story, and ones straight from your own nightmares will make sure they will try to end you.

Bosses still feature your usual line of gigantic From Software monsters, but there are some variances in the mix. You’ll face a pair of witches who remain invisible and send their henchmen at you while you try to hunt them down. There is also a fast-moving man with a scythe who will crush you in no time with said scythe or his ridiculous magic attack. Even the massive bosses will find creative ways to stop you with their abilities.

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Inside a chalice dungeon

[gameidealist.com]

There is one special feature that separates Bloodborne from the other Souls games: the chalice dungeons. These dungeons are created by chalices you find throughout the game. You set these chalices on the grave stones in the Hunter’s Dream to create the dungeon. The chalice dungeons offer some fun dungeon crawling, especially the root versions of each chalices.

Root chalices are randomly generated and offer the only way to pick up different gemstone sets for the games weapons. Also, there will be certain bosses, armour and weapons which only appear in the dungeon.

The only problems I came across in the game were few frame rate issues which could cause the frames to become a tad bit choppy. There was an issue with long loading screens, but a patch has made them much shorter and bearable. And while the chalice dungeons can offer a challenge and specific items only to them, they’re set up is kind of repetitive in look and don’t start to become challenging until you reach depth 3 level dungeons. All in all these severely minor compared to what the game does well.

Overall

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Bloodborne has revived an enjoyment in games I haven’t felt since I was a kid. Between the punishing gameplay, the rewarding exploration, excellent level design and just all around wealth of content, it’s made it difficult to go back to games that hold your hand.

The Souls games have been seen as games not every gamer can get into, but I think Bloodborne with its fastpaced combat and slightly more streamlined playstyle may bring more non-Souls players to the game.

All I’m saying here is, Souls veteran or not, everyone should play this game.

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