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Letters from the Front

bloodborne-the-world-central-yharnam-screen-01-ps4-us-25feb15

( This was played on PS4 Pro.)

The most surprising thing about Bloodborne is how much it asked me to forget everything that I learned from the Dark Souls saga.

Bloodborne is challenging. To the point where you just want to throw your console out the window, I expected it to be challenging because of Dark Souls but I thought it would just be another Dark Souls. I was wrong. Very wrong.

In Bloodborne, you’re dropped into a gorgeous world but it’s a harsh and cold world and much like Dark Souls, it expects you to discover it’s mysteries as you go along. Bloodborne isn’t Dark Souls, so you have to unlearn everything from those games and in order to be successful you have to untrain your mind that you’re not playing those games.

Bloodborne is set in a gorgeous Victorian city called Yharnham, a town overcome with a disease that happens to make it’s citizens murderous and I assume mutates them. The story of the game isn’t quite clear but it slowly drops through different conversations and the incredibly rare cutscene. However, the lore can be dug up with different items to piece it all together which is very similar to Dark Souls. I still have a very vague understanding of what’s going on but I assume I will understand more as I put more hours and progress through the story, somehow I feel intrigued and I want to push on further to understand what’s going on and that’s a very different feeling to when I played all 3 Dark Souls. Much like the Dark Souls trio of games, Bloodborne has some otherworldly elements but you’re not in the fantastical medieval setting here, you’re fighting the town’s creatures with muskets and bashing bosses with a saw blade. There are man-eating boars, nightmares that seem to come to life out of a Lovecraft book, things that are only seen in horror.

The combat in Bloodborne is very different to Dark Souls, when you’re killing these otherworldly creatures is two-handed. In your left hand, there will typically be a firearm of some kind: it can be a pistol, a shottie, and I assume more firearms can be found as the game progresses. In your right hand, there will typically be some kind of melee weapon which they call a trick weapon. These melee weapons can transform from a cane to a bladed whip or an axe to a halberd. Much like in another RPGs, there are strengths and weaknesses and the best part is that they’re all fun to experiment with, learning how to use it is somewhat satisfying and when you kill an enemy, it’s satisfying.

There is no shields which I actually like, I found that the shields were basically crutches in the Dark Souls saga but as a result of no shields, the firearms takes it’s place and it’s incredibly helpful. The guns are unlike any other game’s weapons, they don’t deal alot of damage on their own and they can be ineffective from long range. The guns are used as a crutch of sorts, they enable you to set up counter moves called visceral attacks that deal a huge amount of damage if you can time it correctly. When the counters connect, it feels gratifying and it’s a feel-good moment in a time of despair. The counters saved my life many a times so far. Bloodborne is a primarily melee-based game and not a shooter.

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As you go through Yharnam and it’s outskirts, there are creatures that seem to be born in the pages of Lovecraft. Some bosses have that same theme seen in Dark Souls, men and women of religion being turned into something horrific like Father Gascoigne. Bloodborne reinvents how a tense battle from Dark Souls can play out, some battles unfold like a set piece while others force you to reexamine their perception and just change with the flow of combat much like a dance almost.

Combat is straight forward and streamlined, there are other mechanics that more simple and more streamlined. As opposed to Dark Souls, there are fewer stats to manage and fewer items to consume and equipment weight is gone. The character is always fast and unprotected with heavy armor. The best part of the combat is that much like Dark Souls, you’re vulnerable and you have to rely on speed and skill in battle to survive. Taking risks is also rewarded much like Dark Souls did.

Bloodborne is a unique game that forces you to unlearn everything that Dark Souls managed to teach you. I found it hard unlearning my playstyle from the Dark Souls games and when I tried to apply it here, I failed and failed miserably.

The best part of Bloodborne is that it’s incredibly good and isn’t boring unlike Dark Souls, it’s interesting. The world is gorgeous and draws you in, inviting you to play some more. It’s a great spiritual successor to the saga and Demon’s Souls, it’s also a left turn from the Dark Souls games. Stay tuned for my review.

 

 

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