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Bloodborne (PlayStation 4) artwork

Bloodborne (PlayStation 4) review


"What a horrible night for a curse."


Bloodborne (PlayStation 4) image


At the time of this review, Bloodborne is already a two-year old game, but I went into it blind, not having experienced more than a few minutes of Demon Souls, a game I found to be all but impenetrable. Having now made my way through Bloodborne Ė which is no simple task Ė and read numerous write-ups on its eldritch atmosphere, I feel that itís safe for me to say that I am as addicted to blood vials as the Yharnamites of yesteryear. I just canít say no, bro! I dig the ruthless combat and yearn to investigate every scrap of lore I encounter. I want to line my brain with eyes and take my thinking to a higher plane. I find myself whispering the vacuous spiderís name while yearning to eat an umbilical cord. There are so many feels that I just need to explore. Hope I donít go mad by attaining the highest levels of insight.

What a horrible night for a curse.

Youíre a hunter who finds his way to Yharnam, a city whose residents bear the brunt of a terrible disease. This is evident on the surface as you battle men turned mad, but it doesnít really explain all the werewolves running around. In fact, one will likely dispatch you shortly after you start your journey in the innocuous sounding Iosefkaís Clinic, transporting you to a mysterious place dubbed the Hunterís Dream.

Itís not so dissimilar to other opening sequences in previous Souls titles. Find yourself in a mysterious world, immediately die after you encounter an enemy too capable for your incapable abilities (didnít even have a weapon to defend myself with yet, bruh), reawaken in an even more mysterious yet not quite as threatening place. This Hunterís Dream serves as a hub and place of refuge. It offers all the amenities any blood-soaked hunter could ask for, such as a weapons workshop, item store, and attribute upgrader. Boy, that wooden doll over there sure looks weird. And whatís with all the headstones?

Back in Yharnam, itís up to you to cleanse the streets of beasts and determine what sorts of secrets lay waiting in its darkest corners. The hunter can don trick weapons that can shift on the fly from a light version to a heavy one. I particularly enjoy the battle axe, but there are swords, hammers, canes, and more. In your left hand is a secondary item, typically a firearm that serves more as a stunner than actual offensive firepower. But hey, it has its purpose, too! Itís this flexibility that youíre encouraged to engage Yharnamís denizens, as a fleet-footed fighter will have a likelier chance of survival than a tanking brute lacking a shield.

I found myself enjoying the combat almost from the get go. Swipes from hunter and foe alike feel powerful and can be impressive to behold, especially when you stun a foe with your blunderbuss and land a visceral parrying attack to deal huge wads of blood-squirting damage. Even seemingly trivial items like throwing pebbles can play a strategic role in setting the combat odds in your favor as youíre going to need all the help you can get. Bloodborneís enemies are hard-hitting and numerous. They patrol their areas and are often positioned in groups. And yet theyíre oh so satisfying to take down. Dispatching a foe leads to the hunter obtaining their blood echoes, which serve as experience points for permanent stat boosting back at the Hunterís Dream. Blood vials can restore your hunterís health, but itís that same blood, after all, that wound up turning Yharnamís citizenry into the raving wolfmen that they are now. You may be better off mastering the dodge and roll, as landing a quick swipe against your opponent can lead to a small bit of health restoration, encouraging your hunter to partake in a high risk / high reward set up where precision and timing mean everything.

Bloodborne (PlayStation 4) image


Yes, Bloodborne is a simple game to learn but a difficult one to master. But when the environs and set pieces are as impressive to behold as they are, and the lore is as cryptic yet beckoning to be unraveled as it is, you find yourself coming back to its gory luster even after moments of intense frustration. Such as when I kept falling to the Blood Starved Beast. Itís one thing to fall numerous times to an epic boss, especially one as hideously juicy as the Blood Starved Beast (think flailing flaps of flesh here). But then there was a jaunt through the streets of Old Yharnam that had to be made and remade and remade and remade because I either didnít have enough healing blood vials or because my antidote supply ran out or because, welp, the Blood Starved Beast feasted to its heart content on my fresh, frothy blood. It seemed insurmountable. But then I realized I could summon help, and then it was only a matter of time before the Blood Starved Beast was sliced into some of the most succulent roast beast Old Yharnam has ever seen.

Thatís not to imply that you can cash in a get out of jail free card at any time. In Bloodborne, you have to worry about not just the dangers that are apparent, but also the risk of what is unseen. Thereís risk that your world could get invaded, and then thereís this permeating feeling of paranoia that something isnít quite right in Yharnamís natural order, aside from the obvious teams of monsters plying around the place. Indeed, something else is there, hidden in the space between. Bloodborneís infatuation with blood is apparent, but its lore also commands deep respect for eyes and umbilical cords, babies and brains.

The game goes from creepy to downright unsettling after one particular boss enemy is slain. The blood moon is unveiled and Yharnamís dark sky crumbles to a sea of sanguine. New enemies appear, and previous pushovers add some extra pep to their fighting prowess. As your hunter becomes more aware of his surrounding, the chances of his sanity buckling under the weight of sheer madness become ever more likely. There are so many things to see in the world of Bloodborne, and theyíre all freaking crazy.

Theyíre also set up in such a way that they are intertwined and yet also relatively straight forward, so the risk of venturing into an area youíre not supposed to yet be in is relatively minor. With the Hunterís Dream as a hub, itís never too difficult to get back in the heart of the action, teleporting from one central location to another. After all this time spent engaged on the hunt, there are a few extra things like the randomly generated Chalice Dungeons to help squeeze out some additional replay value after youíve vanquished all of the beasts within the gameís regular adventure. Yet thereís also enough content, collecting, and upgrading that Bloodborne should keep you busy for quite some time. Even the notorious load times that were a point of issue at release have been patched. Yharnam is calling. You really should try out its blood tourism.

I particularly enjoyed my time with soaking in the sights and sounds that Bloodborne has to offer. I would even say that I want to now go back and experience the Demon / Dark Souls series. As it has been stated here and by others before me, this is a hard game. But it is so satisfying, so utterly absorbing and compelling, that even after all this time on the market itís still finding new converts like me to champion its cause. May you find your worth in the waking world.

5/5

Fiddlesticks's avatar
Community review by Fiddlesticks (June 24, 2017)

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