Developer: From Software
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Bloodborne is relentlessly bleak, dark, depressing, dirty, and cold. Death is around every corner and it can be frustratingly difficult so why do I love it so much?
Bloodborne is the brainchild of Hidetaka Miyazaki. In most cases I am unaware of who is involved with making games, but whenever his name is attached to a project I take notice. I first became aware of him when I played Demon’s Souls. This game was released in 2009 and soon grew a fan base due to its challenging (but fair) gameplay and bleak setting. It almost took mythical status and at the time it reminded me of a lot of Japanese horror movies that reach the west through word of mouth. I remember people actually importing the game just for a chance to get their hands on it.
When Demon’s Souls had a western release I had to try the game that everyone was talking about. I distinctly remember detesting the game upon my first few hours with it due to the exceptionally hard difficulty. I took it back to the shop and thought no more of it except the strangest thing happened to me. I was lying in bed that night and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. As much as I hated the game there was something about it that kept me awake thinking “why don’t you try this strategy instead?” So I bought the game again and ended up being utterly obsessed by it. Then came the magnificent Dark Souls and Dark Souls II which would make me fall in love with these worlds and its inhabitants all over again.
When Bloodborne was announced I was tremendously excited. This was the first next generation console game involving Miyazaki and it looked incredible. The thing with these games is that they are difficult, but the game also plays fair and whenever you die it is often down to you rather than the game cheating. You are forced to learn strategies about how to deal with the different enemies, studying their attacks and waiting for the right moment to strike.
The other main feature of these games is that you gain blood/souls from killing enemies and if you die before banking your winnings, you have one chance to get them back. If you die on the way to collecting them then say goodbye to your blood/souls. Oh and did I mention that if you do bank your winnings or die that the enemies return. Sounds fun right! I guess this is why people get fed up and don’t carry on because these games are very tough indeed.
I realise that I haven’t spoken much about Bloodborne in this review but these games are so closely related that it’s hard not to mention them as a series rather than individually. The one main difference between Bloodborne and the Souls games, (as they are known), is that you don’t have a shield. In the Souls games raising your shield is almost a fundamental part of the game. Speed is the emphasis in Bloodborne and a shield seems so clumsy and unwieldy that you almost scoff at the thought of using one.
The other thing that Miyazaki games are famed for are their monster design and Bloodborne is no exception to the rule. Grotesque and disgusting are two words that spring to mind but also some of the most imaginatively designed enemies you will ever face.
Bloodborne continues with the traditions of the previous Souls games and if you choose to accept the challenge it will be one of the most rewarding and enthralling games you will ever play. The only advice I will give if you decide to pick up Bloodborne is prepare to die and don’t stress about losing your experience. There is always more blood and learn to do it better next time.
I genuinely love these games and in my opinion they rank in the following order: Demon’s Souls will always be my first love as it was my introduction to these wonderful worlds. Bloodborne would be next because the setting and changes to gameplay make things interesting and fresh again. Dark Souls after this because the first half of that game is utterly amazing as you explore and discover the links back to your original starting point. Finally Dark Souls 2 as it was more of the same but slightly missing something due to Miyazaki not being in charge.
I personally cannot wait to see what they do with Dark Souls III next year especially now that Miyazaki is back in charge. However, my expectations have been raised extremely high after Bloodborne so my fingers are crossed that they deliver.
Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With and The Same Coin)