- + Stunning graphics contribute to the intense atmosphere
- + More accessible compared to From Software's other titles
- + Seamless integration of online features
- Nothing to report
Want to look beyond the score? Read the full written review below…
From Software’s penchant for devilishly difficult RPGs is certainly intimidating. As a gamer without any Dark Souls or Demon Souls experience, jumping into Bloodborne has been both daunting and exhilarating. Fortunately, after a little bravery and perseverance on my part, I think we have an early contender for game of the year.
There’s no denying that Bloodborne will test even the most seasoned gamer, however, it certainly seems a little more forgiving opposite From Software’s other titles. Accessibility was always a concern for me before entering the game, and given the steep learning curve of Dark Souls, wherein entering combat was genuinely terrifying, Bloodborne actively pushes you to engage the enemy and reap the rewards. Should you strike an opponent directly after getting hit, there’s the chance to regain lost health. It’s still tough as nails, but this simple feature allows players more room to breathe.
I feel lucky I’ve never played any of From Software’s previous titles, as absolutely everything I encountered here was new to me. The anger, rage and complete despair I felt was sometimes so overwhelming, I seriously questioned my ability to play this game. With all that in mind, when I stumbled across the Cleric Beast (your first boss encounter), I immediately wanted to give up. It only took a couple of swipes from him to take me down, and before I knew it I was dead.
I must’ve had someone looking after me from the boarders, however, as on my second turn I defeated him. Believe me when I say there’s nothing quite as rewarding as your first boss kill, and when the caption “Prey Slaughtered” graces your screen, feel free to jump with joy and shout to the rafters about your success. But it wasn’t as easy as jumping into the game, strolling the environment, and killing things willy nilly. In fact, it took me a fair amount of time to adjust to the gameplay, and figure out the game’s overall structure.
You’ll hardly ever get any guidance in Bloodborne, and it’s only through exploration that you’ll roughly figure out where to go next. There may be a loose campaign to play through, but it’s the lore and importance of your surroundings that tell a much more detailed story. From the offset you’re not given any objectives; simply explore and see where you get to. In the beginning you’re intentionally given no weapons, and it’s only until you die that you realise why. Even for a newcomer such as myself, I was taken through the rules of the game in an organic way, and dying was my first important lesson.
Unlike in other games where death isn’t as regular an occurrence, in Bloodborne it’s going to happen more than you care to count. The fact that it’s easy to face death in the beginning, only made me want to progress further and upgrade to stand a better chance of survival. When you do want to increase your stats, you’re going to need Blood Echoes. These act as the game’s currency and are obtained once you kill an enemy. The bigger your foe, generally, the bigger your reward.
There’s only one caveat, if you die you’ll lose all your Blood Echoes. A simple yet effective way to ensure you’re always on your toes, using your head more than brute force. Learning an enemies’ attacks is essential to besting them, particularly once you know the best way to defend. Each monster will face you in a different way, but rolling around and dodging whilst you attack, will often work wonders. Once you do snuff it – and there’s no doubt about it – you have the chance to regain your dropped Echoes by getting back to them without dying. It’s easier said than done, but offers a little hope for those who haven’t been looking after their precious currency.
Bloodborne is full to the brim with threats, and whether you’re exploring the back streets or sewers, you can bet there’ll always be something to fear. Luckily, if you play online, you’ll gain the advantage of having warnings left by other players. More often than not these will serve useful, but don’t always trust that there’s something at the bottom of a dark drop, someone may be messing with you. Next to aiding your journey, friends can also be invited to help you fight evil, or a stranger could randomly spawn into your game and try to take you out. It’s a dark and dangerous world from beginning to end, so never let your guard down.
In the first hour it’s important to note, for newcomers at least, it isn’t going to be easy. You’re going to come across ambushes and enemies in large groups; all looking for blood on their night of the hunt. Not only that, but you’re going to get thrown in the deep end once you enter combat. Slowly but surely after an endless wave of deaths, your skills will strengthen and your patience will toughen. My biggest enjoyment came not only from exploring, but more so after defeating one of the many sub-bosses scattered across the world.
I have to admit, I’ve yet to experience everything on offer. However, for a game consisting of thirty-plus hours of content (if not hundreds of hours), I’ve managed to attain a solid feeling for the game and its intricacies. I haven’t even mentioned the dungeons you can explore, as well as the weapon upgrade system and detailed character-creator you begin with. Everyone will have a different experience in Bloodborne, and it’s the ability to go your own way that makes this title such a gem.
Steeped in history and interesting characters, it’s the subtle aspects that’ll stick in your mind the most. Perhaps it’ll be the wheelchair-ridden enemies, or maybe your curiosity as to what’s grunting ahead in a dark sewer tunnel. None of the above would stand out if From Software didn’t have the PS4’s graphical fidelity. The lighting in particular is some of the best I’ve seen on a console, and the warm glow of a torch can light up an area rather elegantly. The extra oomph has clearly given the art team the ability to realise each area to its full extent. With a grimy, yet beautiful gothic setting, I constantly admired any area I came across, leaving me slack-jawed at its many vistas.
Bloodborne is From Software’s most accessible game yet. With addictive and multilayered gameplay, wrapped in an intricate world that’s filled with mystery, absolutely anyone interested in an engrossing experience, owes it to themselves to play this game. Make no mistake, there will be challenges to overcome, and times you want to break your controller, but stick with it and you’ll reap glorious rewards. If you don’t already own a PlayStation 4, there’s no better time to pick up the pad.