Praise the Blood Moon and submerge yourself into the dark and gritty remains of a decadent town where most of those who remain have either been driven to insanity or have lost themselves to the scourge. You are a hunter; your responsibility is to soak your weapons in the blood of those with the scourge while looking for some sort of “cure”. You will often question what the hell is going on as some utterings from the creatures you hunt will make you question if it is perhaps you who is insane and living within one of your own nightmares. While the few and far between friendly NPC’s that you will find will help you piece together a dark and disturbing nightmare of a story that is so twisted that it belongs among the ranks of the darkest of Poe’s poems.
The majority of enemies encountered are humans going through a horrifying transformation, whether it be to a werewolf or a ghoul, while others appear as wild animals that look like they have gone crazy due to rabies. Some enemies will even throw your body into a sack and force you to respawn in a dungeon filled with such horror that it rivals any dungeon you may have seen prior in your lifetime.
Welcome to the world of Bloodborne, where like in life, and most of the other From Software & Japan Studio games, there are no tutorials only trial and error. Hordes of enemies will be your demise, you must constantly look for a way to single out enemies or take them in small groups. If an enemy kills you, try again, learn their every move in order to defeat them the next time you encounter them. In reality, Bloodborne is the ultimate memorization simulator, if only memorizing everything in life were so compelling. In order to defeat an enemy you will need to either know when to use a visceral attack or have the stamina remaining to dodge an incoming attack, both of which require you to know your surroundings and how the enemy attacks.
For those of you who played Souls series, the weapons are going to feel similar yet very unique. For starters, most shields in this game are useless unlike in Souls. On top of that every right handed weapon holds the ability to morph into an extended weapon to use for a different play feel/combo speed; this is essential for some boss fights where a little bit of range can be the difference between life and death! On top of awesome morphing weapons, you also have the ability to hold a gun in your left hand. This gun, while armed with a limited 20 quick silver bullets, is not extremely powerful as a stand alone weapon, however, it allows you to stun the enemy which allows you to launch the visceral attack which is often a one hit kill.
As in most RPG games, you gain experience. In Bloodborne this experience comes to you in the form of Blood Echoes, the blood reminisce of the past creatures you have killed. You can use these Blood Echoes to level up your hunter, to purchase basic items like molotovs or quicksilver bullets, or to even level up your hunter’s weapons by simply traveling to the Hunter’s Dream, the home camp for hunters where you can buy gear, modify your weapons, and level up. This unusual consolidation of money and experience points can lead to a grindy feel for those not used to the Souls games as you will likely go back to the same areas over and over to gain Blood Echoes to level up and move on to the tougher areas in the game.
The Health Bar is easier explained as a Morale Bar and allows you to gain back morale if you quickly land attacks on your enemy after they had struck you. If you die you drop all of your Blood Echoes, which when you get to the higher levels can amount to several hours worth of gameplay wasted, but luckily there is a chance to get back to where you died and pick them up (sometimes this requires killing a beast that spawns in the area of which you dropped them who has collected them. Don’t die on your way to recover the dropped blood echoes or they will be gone forever!
Stuck at an incredibly difficult part or tough boss? Call in the cavalry using the multiplayer feature. The multiplayer in this game, while a godsend when help is needed against tough areas or hard to beat bosses, is much more complicated to initiate than it needs to be. In order to summon another hunter to your realm you must ring the Beckoning bell. In order to join another player’s game you can either ring the Small Resonant bell or the Sinister Resonant bell, both of which can be purchased once you gain over 10 insight. Insight is almost an alternate leveling system, that determines many aspects in game from enemies encountered to items available for purchase, but can also be used to purchase rare items like the bells mentioned above. The Small Resonant bell will allow you to join as a friendly while the Sinister Resonant bell will throw you into their game as a hostile trying to mess up the other player’s day. There is, however, a way to completely avoid the chance of a hostile joining your game; that is, to play with only people you know. You can put a password on your session and if your friends also use the same password they would be able to join your game and exclusively your game with no chance of strangers (unless the stranger-danger used the same password as you). However, if your friend is more than 10 levels above or below you then you are out of luck. This is to prevent you from farming boss Insight from lower level bosses and in order to stop you from rushing lower level players through areas.
Bloodborne, while a game of memorization and skill, can sometimes be beyond frustrating, rage quit inducing even, especially since it still seems to have quite a few bugs. More often than not, it is an extremely unwise idea to wait around the corner for an enemy that is chasing you as they tend to be able to see and hit you through the wall! Another major bug seems to be that the before mentioned multiplayer aspect sometimes does not work and you will be standing there with a ringing bell for several minutes with absolutely no response and have wasted an Insight. One consistent annoyance, not necessarily a bug, is the extremely long and quite boring load screen that occurs whenever you use a lantern (used to teleport back to the Hunter’s Dream where you can level up and buy gear). The black screen with white letters that spell out Bloodborne shoved in your face for 30+ seconds each time you “fast travel” almost puts you to sleep.
Overall, this game is fantastic. The visuals and sound effects supply a nice and consistent vibe while you find yourself panicking and screaming in fear of dying, this is one of the few video games in this day and age where dying actually feels like a huge setback. The ability to climb a high tower and see where you are going and where you have been fills you satisfaction as you can see how far you have come to get where you are. Bloodborne has a huge replay value and even introduces the ability to enter random dungeons with friends or alone by using blood chalices to create a dungeon. While this game is fantastic I would only recommend it to those who can exude some patience as it is likely you will die over and over again until you memorize the moves of every enemy in your path. While this review is quite long, there is much for you to discover in Bloodborne. Praise the Blood Moon and Happy Hunting My Friends.