Feel the Pain
At first glance Bloodborne is a brutal, punishing and gore-filled escapade, it’s what lies underneath the surface that makes Bloodborne truly excellent. The fantastic weaving of strikes and dodges create a combat system that will put your reflexes to the test like never before, the unsettling world of Yharnam and all the wonderfully horrifying creatures inhabiting it never cease to amaze and the tight combat coupled with the eerie enemies is only made better by From Software infamous desire to challenge their audience with seemingly unbeatable odds. Make no mistake, Bloodborne will take a lot out of you, but it will you give you so much more.
How are your Reflexes ?
Anyone familiar with From Software’s formula will feel right at home in Bloodborne, the controls are as tight as ever, allowing players the freedom to dodge or attack with ease, the challenge is coordinating between the two maneuvers. Each action consumes a chunk of the energy meter, larger attacks will use more of the meter while weaker assaults will use less. Keeping track of the meter is critical, once the meter is depleted your character cannot perform an action. In that brief window you are completely defenseless to enemy attacks and forced to wait for the energy meter to replenish.
To fight off said enemies hunters will collect an arsenal of unique weapons, each with their own varying stats and attack combinations. Your right hand is reserved for your primary weapon; axes, spears and swords of the such. The left hand is for your secondary weapon; guns and torches. Weapon choice is critical, as some weapons are more effective against certain enemies.
Face the Dark
As a hunter, it’s your job to slay the dark, twisted creatures of Yharnam. You’ll face off against monsters of nightmares as you move from one creepy location to the next, slaying bosses along the way. Boss encounters will be the pinnacle of your frustration, you will die, most likely multiple times. Despite being put in my place by a particular boss too many times than I’d like to admit, I never once felt cheated. There’s always something you can do differently, it’s encouraged to experiment with different styles of play to deal with each varying foe. Each creature has their own unique pattern of attack and set of skills. Learning the tendencies of creatures is crucial if you hope to survive. Mastering an enemies template is incredibly satisfying, you feel genuinely rewarded for all your patience.
To say the design is imaginative would be criminal. When I wasn’t facing a snarling beast down I was in awe at the sheer scope of the landscape. Churches and buildings alike tower over the foggy streets, cracked cobblestone litter the ancient ruins of Old Yharnam and the massive vines of The Forbidden Forest snake around the trees and old cottages alike. It’s a shame we get teased by what’s off in the distant, knowing we won’t get to visit what could be an equally incredible set.
As gorgeous as Bloodborne is it’s not without it’s faults. Throughout my 60 hour playthrough I found myself stuck between objects a handful of times, forcing a soft reset of the game. It would also appear the game has issues in the more foggy locations, as the backdrops take a noticeable quality dip, particularly during the night. There is also an annoying, very brief buzzing sound whenever the player enters specific areas of the map. Despite being open world, it become very clear when Bloodborne is having issues loading new maps. A brief yet noticeable drop of framerate plagues most sections dividing the different settings. It’s really puzzling considering the horrendous load times players must constantly wait through, yet another reason to avoid death.
Friend or Foe
Bloodborne sports the tried and true online multiplayer from it’s predecessors. Players can use the Beckoning Bell to call upon the aid of a friendly hunter. Players can summon friends from their Playstation Network friends list or a random online user if need be. Summoned hunters will have reduced health and will only gain half the normal amount of Blood Echoes, once the level boss is defeated the ally will be returned to their respective game. If you prefer to go at it solo fret not, players can still leave messages on the ground to provide hints of gruesome fights to come.
Using the Beckoning Bell is extremely useful, but can also be a major hindrance. Despite bringing an ally to your world, the Beckoning Bell will also leave you open to be invaded. Invading hunters are players looking to find you and slay you, gaining and handful of goodies (insight, blood echoes etc.). Players will be matched with those of the approximate level to keep things fair.
Taking a break from the grind is necessary in keeping your sanity in Yharnam. Bloodborne introduces the new dungeon system. Players can create their own dungeons for hunters to try their hand in. Chalice Dungeons will reward Blood Echoes and other goodies to encourage challenging these side missions.
More than an Scary Face
Bloodborne is an grueling, punishing, and oh-so rewarding crusade through a beautifully imaginative world. Players are treated to a world with no limits of horror and creativity, all the while battling horrifying creatures with an addictive combat system. Undeterred by it’s comically long load times and trifling glitches, Bloodborne shines amidst the fog of Yharnam to be the first truly great game of 2015.