The dark depths of Bloodborne’s Yarnham fills my heart with fear in each step and with every passing turn. Even if not exactly terrifying and making me drop my controller, the sheer balance of content mixed with a masochistic sense of punishment create for one very gothic-styled masterpiece. This is the exhilarating and punishing game people wanted developer From Software’s Dark Souls 2 to be and more. With beautifully stunning graphics that were missing from the Dark Souls 2 E3 build, Bloodborne is rightfully a graphically glorious game with a level of gameplay variety to satiate our very minds in the presence of despair.
The storyline starts off waking up in a clinic after a blood transfusion of chaotic proportions mixed with madness, chaos, and eerie visions. From here you awaken in The Hunter’s Dream – similar to Dark Souls and arriving at the Firelink Shrine. Soon as you venture off into Yarnham, you will come across some very hideous creatures. The monsters are scary in terms of the bosses and the filler monsters, and the difficulty is always rampant with the various monsters and the unique ways they attack now. As a Van Helsing inspired title, Bloodborne truly creates a vision of stunning despair throughout the story scenes (what few there are) and the continual stretch of gothic-style vistas of dark abyss.
The weapon loadout of Bloodborne initially comes with the creepy display of skull-like messengers from the ground where you can pick up weapons that also can specialize on certain initial play styles. You can go with the Threaded Cane which is faster but less powerful or you can try for the Hunter Axe – more power but slower. You will find many weapons throughout the game and can equip two melee and two firearms at once. Each weapon itself can be strengthened further. As weapons get stronger and your created character gets stronger, you gain experience points in a trial by fire basis that From Software has been known to develop in its past titles. You can strengthen Endurance, Bloodtinge, Arcane, and Vitality as part of your character’s build. The progression system in terms of combat difficulty is not more forgiving compared to the Souls series that players have come to know – it is still as tough as ever if not more so than anything before it.
Bloodborne retains that core action RPG and builds upon it in interesting ways that truly make it a refined title. Bloodborne simply manages to capture a balance every time I play it, and it strikes that balance between being borderline hack-and-slash and a game all about wait-and-slash strategy with several newly introduced elements. Having more enemies be smarter in attacking you is one of these major elements, and this time it is not about just looking for an opening like in past titles. You have to go on the offensive, and perhaps that is the greatest thing about Bloodborne. The new ‘Regain System’ is brilliant and encourages players to keep trying to inflict damage upon enemies to gain further health. Shields are virtually missing from Bloodborne, and essentially making the vulnerability feel like a constant looming and abysmal threat.
Bloodborne provides the asynchronous multiplayer through the Notebook and messenger graves people came to love and adore in Dark Souls. It takes things a step further by introducing actual co-op play which is very “in” right now in terms of video game design. You can host a cooperative game using the Beckoning Bell finished with the Small Resonant Bell in finding players who are trying to join the fight against these nightmarish creatures popping up all over central Yarnham. NPC cooperative play was quite a surprise for me and something I certainly did not expect, and while players think this makes the game easy I can assure them that it certainly does not. If cooperative play is not your fancy, then ring the Sinister Resonant Bell and you can set your soul to ruining their gameplay experience. Multiplayer has a newer variety through Chalice Dungeons or procedurally generated dungeons under Yarnham which provides a constant influx of downloadable dungeons of many types. Friends can play this with you or can fight you in them in a versus style match. The online multiplayer truly found an identity of greatness for itself.
Bloodborne has you dying a lot and the freakishly long load-times definitely need to be addressed to make the game more fun to play. A 50 second load time is never a fun thing, and hopefully From Software fixes this rather silly bug. Despite this being the only problem, players can look forward to nothing but a good time. A good time filled with punishment, gore, frustration, and ample reward in one of the most brilliant titles to do justice do the gothic landscape. Bloodborne truly is a terror-inducing masterpiece of its craft and horrific creations.