Only two days after its release, “Bloodborne,” the new action RPG from From Software, is already being hailed as one of the finest games of the current generation.
Cruel, challenging and completely unforgiving, “Bloodborne” is cut from the same cloth as its predecessors: the cult classic, “Dark Souls” and the even more obscure, “Demon’s Souls.” While previous installments of the “Souls” series have been relatively conservative in matters of blood and gore, “Bloodborne” is anything but. In the gothic city of Yharnam, you walk the streets drenched in the blood of your enemies. The choice is clear: to hunt or be hunted. Whichever you choose, prepare to die … a lot. As the hunter, you’ll make your way through a city that’s been designed to kill you at every corner.
Yharnam, the game’s main setting, is a city met with a terrible fate. When you come to this city, you’re met by a populace that has fallen victim to a vicious bloodborne disease that has essentially robbed them of their humanity. Somewhere deep within the city is the cure. Crazed and dangerous, the people of this fallen city are hopelessly transforming into beasts that look a bit like werewolves. It is up to you to find the cure, before you too fall in with the rest at a loss of your own humanity.
When you start the game, you’re thrust into a cutscene in which you’re undergoing a blood transfusion, therefore infecting you with the disease. This is the blood that instills you as a hunter. This is the blood that defines you. Within minutes you are killed by the first enemy. You can’t play “Bloodborne” like you do any other game. You can’t even play it like any other “Souls” game. At no point will you be saved in virtue of your level or weapon, and you’ll never be powerful enough to survive without skill. If you want to progress in “Bloodborne,” you’re going to have to “git gud.” The combat — fast paced and meticulous — is such that you have to keep fighting to stay alive. With the new health reclaim feature, in the three seconds after you take damage you have the opportunity to recover some health back by inflicting damage on your opponents. Even with this, you’ll still find that you never have enough healing items or enough stamina. The goal of “Bloodborne” is to constantly keep you overextended and vulnerable.
You might (most likely) pick up “Bloodborne” and find that, even after three hours of play, you’re only able to defeat the first boss. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. You’re just not good at the game yet. The beauty of “Bloodborne” is in its unique gameplay and level of difficulty. Veterans of the “Souls” franchise may be good at “Souls” games, but “Bloodborne” is a whole new beast. This game is not for the weak of heart nor the impatient. “Bloodborne” takes time, a lot of time, but that’s a vital part of the allure. Its refreshing level of difficulty is something that is rare among games today. When you beat a boss in “Bloodborne,” there’s no greater feeling.
With “Bloodborne,” From Software tightened up the control of the combat by limiting not only the number of weapons and apparel but also how you wield them. They also removed magic from the game, speculated as a result of the events in “Demon’s Souls,” the game’s true predecessor. In “Dark Souls,” anything your enemies wore or wield could ultimately be obtained for personal use. A popular mode of play, #FashionSouls, players would complete runs of the game with the build of their favorite characters. “Bloodborne,” on the other hand, has been stripped clean of all frivolity. With only 20 weapons, and a smaller array of apparel, the game is less about carefully collecting weapons and pieces of armor, and more about speedily making your way through a city that continues to get stronger.
If you’re anything like me, “Bloodborne” is the type of game you’ve been waiting for since you bought your PlayStation 4. Putting you in a world where you are starkly unprepared for the challenges ahead, “Bloodborne,” exclusive on the PlayStation 4, offers a unique experience unparalleled in the current gaming generation.