Back in good old days there were quite a few titles that offered up a massive challenge. Looking back at some of the most difficult retro games out there… Abe’s Oddysee, Ghouls and Ghosts, Contra, and Green Beret were by far some of the most challenging titles. However, fast forward to 2015, and quite a few new titles tend to hold your hand as well as offer up various tutorials to get you started. Thankfully, Bloodborne is not one of these titles. Granted there is an initial tutorial; however, this is just to get the basics of the controls, and the rest is up to you.
While most Souls titles don’t essentially feature an in-depth storyline, Bloodborne tests the waters by adding in story elements that become more and more twisted the further you progress. The fictional city of Yharnam has been cursed with a strange endemic like illness, which has essentially spread through the city and turned its inhabitants into horrific beast-like creatures. While many travellers have attempted to find the cure for their inflictions, many have either succumb to the epidemic or have been wiped out by the town’s crazed inhabitants. This is essentially where the player takes the lead as a one of these travellers and is tasked with ridding the town of the epidemic.
Much of Bloodborne’s storyline can be unraveled by interacting with NPCs, or by finding lore hidden throughout the city; however, how much of the story you uncover is up to you. Think of it as a relationship with a gaming title. You have to get to know it before it can reveal its deepest, darkest secrets. Additionally, you have to put in a lot of hard work and effort in order for it to completely open up to you. Once that is done, you are invited into a dark and sinister world that is absolutely terrifying, but at the same time mesmerising.
As Bloodborne is essentially a Souls game, it is excruciatingly difficult; however, it is not impossible to beat. Like most Souls titles, you will essentially have to learn the inner workings of Bloodborne first before you can progress. As stated above, the difficulty level of Bloodborne borderlines insane. Your character will die multiple times… this is inevitable; however, patience, dedication, and practice will pay off. Combat is where Bloodborne exceeds expectations.
Combat essentially feels like a symphony of dodges, dashes, and melee slashes. While previous Souls titles wanted you to approach each game with caution, Bloodborne wants you to experience its unique and devastating combat mechanics. The shield from past Souls titles has been replaced with either a pistol or blunderbuss, dependent on your play style. To add to this, you can parry, counter-attack, and pull off some devastating finishing moves with your melee weapon by timing your actions perfectly. While Bloodborne awards aggressive combat, the game also makes you realise that some situations need to be approached with caution.
Taking on three or four enemies may prove fruitful; however, going up against a mob will often result in death. One of Bloodborne’s best features lies in its combat, which comes in the form of regenerating lost health while successfully countering enemy attacks. When struck by an enemy your health will deplete, logically, but if you strike back quickly and effectively you stand a chance to regain some of your lost health.
Planning also plays essentially part when trying to lay waste to a mob of enemies. At first you may try your luck go in hacking, slashing and shooting only to face a gruesome death; however, you may then decide to cut down a few stragglers in order to thin out the mob. Additionally, you could throw pebbles to try get one or two enemies to leave the mob. You could even go as far as throwing a Molotov Cocktail into a group of enemies and see how you fair with those odds… at the end of the day it is essentially up to you and how you approach the situation, but having these options is what makes Bloodborne one of the best titles to hit the PlayStation 4 in 2015.
While a mob of crazed residents may seem overwhelming at first… Bloodborne is also home to a variety of vicious monsters. Not only will you face off against some truly frightening enemies, but you will also have to go up against a handful of bosses. Each boss has been beautifully crafted by the development team at From Software, and they present a much larger challenge than some of the already excruciatingly difficult enemies flooding the streets of Yharnam.
While Bloodborne comes across as unforgiving it does however allow players from around the world to leave in-game messages for those who choose to play the game online. These notes can either help or hinder your progression. At one point I came across a note stating that an item was just around the corner; however, once I turned the corner, I was faced with 10 crazed villagers waiting to ambush me. Much like previous souls titles, whether or not you choose to follow the notes left by other players is completely up to you, but it is a nice touch none the less. Another nice addition to Bloodborne is the option to summon a player in order to help you out with a tough battle. While it is not guaranteed that both of you will take down an enormous boss it is still a great feature to have.
Visually, Bloodborne is spectacular title to gaze upon. The set-pieces have been crafted brilliantly, and often come across as dark and sinister. Whether you are sprinting across the streets of Yharnam or traversing the dark and dreary sewer system there is always something to look at. To add to this the creative team at From Software have designed a great set of beautifully charted character models as well as some truly terrifying enemy models.
What makes Bloodborne a true master-piece is how the musical score slots in so perfectly with the dread, beauty and despair of the game’s campaign. The score was recorded in London at Abbey Road and Air Studios. It was performed by a 65 piece orchestra, a 32 piece choir, and included multiple vocal and instrumental soloists. Combine this with intense combat and a setting that literally brings chills down your spine… and you almost have a perfect game on your hands.
While Bloodborne is near perfect, it does have its faults. During my experience I witnessed enemies disappear through bookshelves never to return. Additionally, some enemies walked through walls while others glitched out when they got stuck between two objects. While this did not occur frequently, it is not something that I can let slide… no matter how brilliant Bloodborne actually is.
While Bloodborne is near perfect in every way, it does suffer from a few technical issues here and there. Additionally, the game is slightly hindered by its long loading times and minor frame-rate issues.
While Bloodborne may not be for everyone it does offer up an exciting pilgrimage through a dark and unforgiving world. Not only is the game a monumental challenge to beat, but it is also visually breathtaking. To add to this Bloodborne features a beautiful musical score, which ultimately brings the whole package together quite nicely
Bloodborne was reviewed by Darryl Linington on the PlayStation 4.