Bloodborne consumes you. It draws you in and then beats you over the head. It’s a world you want to keep seeing but are apprehensive about every corner you take. It’s combat is fast, fair, but deadly, and you can’t help but keep pressing, to uncover its secrets and say that you are one of those that’s seen it.
That’s one of the game’s strongest points. Along with the Souls series, Bloodborne is so much about the conversation when not playing the game. Every time you start up the game, it begins another water-cooler moment to share with friends and fellow players. The game creates such rich environments, surprises and excellent gameplay and enemy design that you want to know everything, you want to accomplish everything and that says a lot for a game as punishing as Bloodborne is.
Fans of the Souls series will feel right at home when you start. All the processes are there: Wake up, be killed, progress story, venture into the world that culminates in a gorgeous vista and then make your way through it. It’s a formula that doesn’t tire because each time From Software do it, they raise the bar, keeping you impressed each time.
Bloodborne is difficult, but it’s also incredibly responsive and smooth. It’s difficult in the sense that concentration is required at all times but everything is achievable, and you can feel that every time the “You Died” message displays. You may become outnumbered, or come up against a force that’s just too strong. But you also know that you can go away, improve yourself, get an even better feel for your character, learn the enemy’s attack and overcome it.
Every big character, boss or not, feels like a process and it feels great. Every loss is more experience to getting better. The rules set up in Bloodborne feel fair. Enemies can move just as fast as you and can be just as strong or stronger but you can always find a way.
It doesn’t take long from beginning the game to notice that things are much faster in Bloodborne. Shield and sword is no longer an option, you must dodge and manoeuvre your way through enemies; It’s fluid, and once you start to recognise enemy attack patterns, you realise its true depth.
Finding new weapons in the world are not as important as in previous Souls games. Each weapon has two modes and utilising them at the right time and even together adds a surprising amount of depth to how to approach encounters. Knowing the enemy, how they move and attack will always allow you to make a decision as to how to approach it. It’s all about learning which is what can be mistaken for difficult.
Despite the excellent, fluid gameplay, and the fun boss encounters, it’s the world of Yharnem itself that captivate you. From the moment you open that massive game, it’s simultaneously welcoming and utterly terrifying. You want to explore the gothic, Victorian architecture, but you also know what could lurk ahead, get carried away in wandering around and you’ll quickly come up against something you shouldn’t yet and, well, I’m sure you know what happens next.
It’s still in that uncovering that keeps you going, through the seemingly impossible fights, just to see what’s up ahead or learn more about the inhabitants. Despite a world filled with death, Bloodborne’s Yharnam feels alive. There are people in buildings and even some of the enemies you face will be people who once resided there. Dark Souls felt empty, taken over by the demons while Bloodborne feels like you’re in the middle of something massive that’s changing, and the world does change as you progress.
There are a couple of things however that hold the game back. The most notable one being the loading. It can take anywhere between 30-45 seconds to get back into the game which can be detrimental to the flow. This is a technical problem that is currently being worked on as writing of this review but it hindered my enjoyment enough to mention it.
Another thing that may detract for some players is the sense that there are less builds possible. Bloodborne features less emphasis on weapons meaning there are less avenues to go down to create certain types of characters. Things feel a little more single-laned than previous games from the developers. This may result in less possible playthroughs for those that want to create their own builds and do playthroughs.
Playing with a friend is easier than it ever has been for these types of games but it still isn’t as streamlined as it could be. You can created a key phrase or word, then when you go online, you’ll be paired with people with the same phrase meaning you can create a unique phrase and share it with those you want to play with only.
Bloodborne isn’t a game just for a single playthrough. There is so much to be discovered about the intricate world that multiple playthroughs, going through optional content, and just becoming even better at the game that keeps you coming back. There’s even a procedurally generated dungeon that can extend the playtime by more hours.
As I’ve already mentioned: Bloodborne consumes you. From the moment you start playing, you can’t help but feel like you give your all to the game. So many other games have you mostly paying attention, listening to music or a podcast in one ear but Bloodborne requires everything. Whether it’s the story, the gameplay, the visuals, or all the mysteries therein, Bloodborne is something that doesn’t let go, even when you put the controller down.