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Review by Dustin Murphy
Editor’s Note: Please note that this is a review in progress. Any changes to the game via updates or server changes could possibly affect the way the game performs or even provide higher challenge curving. At this time, due to the length of the game with New Game+ and Chalice Dungeons, we have decided to return to this portion of the review at a later date. We will notify you once these changes have been made.
+Extremely difficult for some new players
+Boss Fights are craftily created and require player awareness
+Traps are well placed in order to provide players with a test of situational awareness
+In-depth character creation
+Beautifully crafted world
+World hub returns (Demon’s Souls anyone?)
+Equipment weight has been removed from the series
+Minor tutorials have been added to help new players learn the series.
–Insanely long load screens
–Multiplayer is restricted based on player progression (10 level difference)
–Armor and weapon variants are seemingly not-present
When Demon’s Souls first appeared on the PlayStation 3, there was something magical happening, and the reason behind it all the more magical. We were presented with a game that had not been anything but a whisper for gamers, which left quite a few people dumbfounded as to what this title released by developer From Software was. All we knew was the case looked interesting, the text on the back explained some of what was going on, and players were soon cascading onto the battlefields and relentlessly dying all in the name of progression. This was because of difficult enemies, no tutorials, limited knowledge of what was going on, and no hand-holding to guide players through the game. Instead players were given no training at all, except for finding their own way with an instruction manual that gave little to no idea what to do. Lets fast forward to today. Today we’ve been given a carefully crafted series known as “Souls”. This series of games tests players skill, awareness, patience, and even ability to adjust equipment to match the enemies around them. Not much has changed in this way when it comes to SCE Studio Japan and From Software. Once more players have been thrusted into a battlefield that will seek out any way possible to hunt them down, slaughter them, and leave players demoralized at any twist or turn possible.
With these new twists and turns we are introduced to the newest of the “Souls” style games: Bloodborne. This is a game that is quite literally the epitome of dark, gruesome, and made of things that only nightmares can create. This has been the adventure that Bloodborne has had to offer in all its dark, grisly, and blood-soaked brutality while traversing through Yharnam. Unlike previous titles, Bloodborne has turned away the old medieval appeal and gone for a more Victorian look to it, which pits players into enjoying the 1800’s appearances. Much like this theme for your hunter, even enemies have been designed to match this setting as has much of the village, towns, and even ruins around the character. Ranging from inner city, to cathedrals, to even villages that are outside of the main city, the game itself has been craftily made so that players can see a story in the scenery, the enemies, and even the overall atmosphere that has been created for players to enjoy. So what exactly is the allure to this game?
Much to their creative nature for creating nightmares and dreamscapes that would make H.P Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, and even Stephen King happy; Bloodborne’s developer (From Software) has created a world that has been hit with a plague. This very plague has begun to change the inhabitants of Yharnam into beastly creatures and even have brought some more-so disturbing creatures to join up with them. Your curse? You are a hunter who is made to die, die, and die some more while battling on throngs of these infected. While doing so, players will be challenged and punished based upon their passiveness in combat, but also their sheer brutality on offense. This is something that reflects heavily upon the world around them; brutality is highly rewarded and even shined upon. This is because death is rewarded, by rewarded it means that players have gained knowledge about enemy capabilities, placement, and even weaknesses. This means that every bit of knowledge about enemies is just as important as the enemy before and will leave players hungering for more.
This can be also be said about the games dangerous and sometimes grueling boss fights that will leave players who are new to the series a bit under the weather. If players are online, injury can be added to insult as players (once progress has been made to this point) can go online and search for help or even invade each other in order to slow ones progress and this is not something new to the series, which is nice to have seen returned. Unlike the past titles in the franchise, Bloodborne does not hamper a character based on death, but instead almost seemingly celebrates it as “Humanity” has been removed and been exchanged with “Insight”, which can be replenished by killing bosses or simply found by exploring in order to obtain “Madman’s Knowledge”. These items can be used as currency or simply used to help summon friendlies, enemies, or even look to do either of the mentioned before – something that has returned from previous titles.
Much like before, leveling up, buying items, and even moving through the game is granted as a possibility by obtaining souls, but now referred to as Blood Essence. This essence is acts as the games experience and currency for those looking to have an edge against their enemies and hopefully not die so that they don’t suffer brutal loading screens that can seem almost debilitating to some. In previous titles, players were accustomed to death, and by that being said – death is everywhere and players will die a lot, which leads to the load screens and retrieving their blood essence to being a bit of a problem as they move through the games campaign. This can somewhat be lightened down to their favor with exploring, equipment, essence farming, and even spending time to upgrade their weapons as well as learning their weapons weakness as well as its strengths. This means that players may have to take the time, find new weapons, and even look at their armor in order to weigh what stats may benefit them a bit more than the time before. This can help on some of the most difficult boss battles you will encounter such as the Blood-Starved Beast or even Father Gascione.
Unlike the “Souls” franchise, Bloodborne does find itself a much different beast when it comes down to it. This time around, players are not focusing on finding rings, amulets, and building just straight up for defense and or offense based upon the shield they’ve managed to find or the weapons they have decided to wield in order to storm into combat like a well greased warmachine. Instead this time around the game has been stripped down to its core mechanics allowing players to optimize stats based upon their own personal style, but also the modes that their weapons are capable of turning into. Best example of this would be the games Saw Cleaver, which can be changed from short range to long range simply by pushing L1 and going to town against enemies once they are stunned with the firing of your firearm of choice (there are plenty to choose from). This also opens up the capability of charming up a heavy attack with R2 and allow for players to devastate oncoming enemies with a single swing and even take on a bit of damage in a broad area. Even though this is only one of the games combat capabilities, Bloodborne offers a unique twist on a genre that has become fan favored and has even differentiated itself from the rest of a series.
With all the subtle changes and even graphical upgrades to their own engine, From Software teamed with publisher SCEA has managed to pull off a game that could easily set the par for future titles that could seek a launch on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but this exclusive defines what difficulty is while offering new twists in areas players may have visited once a boss is downed, and this is what gives the game such a rich replay value, but also issues a challenge for players to come back or take on the Chalice Dungeon’s in order to truly test their skill. Even though it may seem short to some, Bloodborne is all, but short, and its shortcomings are only because of those insanely long loading screens that have been created in order for creatures to be re-spawned after a player dies. With a patch being in the works? Bloodborne could easily be one of the best games to have landed on the PlayStation 4 to date.
Final Score: 10 out of 10
Editor’s Note: This review is based upon the final release product and was not provided to us by the publisher. Our review is also a review in progress as mentioned before and will be updated if we see a significant reason to update the review in the future. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, MMO’s, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable and can’t be softened by even the biggest names in the gaming industry. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. To follow Dustin, hit him up on Twitter over at @GamingAnomaly, find him on his Google+. Wanna game with him? You can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.