Veterans of the Dark Souls series will revel in Bloodborne’s dark, twisted action. After all, this is a game that’s a spiritual and stylistic sequel to the million-selling Dark Souls II, but it isn’t a hugely accessible title if you’re thinking any old soul can come in and immediately enjoy its unusual gameplay style and oft-frustrating missions. Bloodborne is definitely a grower however: its action will confuse some and disturb others, but is extremely rewarding if you stick with it. Forget dramatic, melodic soundtracks, since this is title of horror more than it is of fantastical adventure, but playing as a lone warrior seeking to find the cause of a terrible blood-borne virus afflicting a Gothic city is as compelling as it is terrifying.
Don’t for one second expect a Skyrim-style adventure of fantastical wonder in Bloodborne’s action. The gameplay here is Dark Souls III-esque, only with improvements and refinements that makes Bloodborne somewhat of a different beast. You roam in the third-person perspective, playing as a male or female hunter whose sole purpose it is to roam around and fight all manner of terrifying creature in the gothic city of Yharnam.
The dark twist of the game is that the entire city is infected with a plague. Even worse, your character is also sick and requires medicinal relief. Twisting the game even further into darkness is the fact you decide to join the blood hunt, which is an annual event where the toughest citizens have decided to set aside one day for slaying their infected friends and family.
One thing to note for newcomers to Dark Souls or Bloodborne: this game is difficult. It can be frustrating for newbies since it doesn’t gift you an easy-going tutorial in which you slowly get accustomed to the action. Its action isn’t as inaccessible as some reviews would have you believe, though. It’s a game that needs a bit of persistence – a chance for you to become accustomed, after which it is as enjoyable and addictive as any other third-person adventure out there.
The most notable aspect of the gameplay that will enthral all standard guy-gamers out there is the focus on the weapons of the game. You are able to utilise a lot of weapons in the game, each of which can be transformed or utilised in a different way entirely. In a weapons selection reminiscent of Rockstar Games’ controversial Manhunt, you’ve got lots objects to utilise as crude and gruesome weapons of the hunt, including swords, sledgehammers, saws, spears, and blades. Once you transform each of the weapons available, they can be utilised to your advantage. Take the rifle spear, for instance, which can be used as a pointed weapon or transformed into a projectile-shooting gun – this just so happens to be one of the best weapons in the game, as well.
Perhaps the second most enjoyable part of the gameplay after the selection of weapons is the dynamic nature of the combat. You can swipe at your enemies with combination attacks, but furthermore, you are able to change your weapon mid-combination, which results in a potentially limitless array of unique attacks available. The game’s combat system is essentially geared towards forcing you to engage in swift attack strategies; it essentially punishes you for retreating and attempting to play the defensive game. Once hit, you can replenish your energy by coming in with a counter-attack. So striking and running away isn’t the way this game works. Instead, you need to be fearless and proactive in your hunt of the enemy.
A Tremendous Open-World Experience
Bloodborne’s mysterious presentation and the complexity of its plot can be overwhelming at first. However, the open-world nature of the gameplay is made less overwhelming by the ability to see hints and tips left by other players, provided you’re online of course.
The enemies of the fictional world aren’t just designed randomly either. Most opponents in the game look and act a certain way for a reason, which is usually to get you to adopt your strategy and tailor it to each encounter. The best example is the Cleric Beast, which is intimidatingly large and scary. However, if you watch it for long enough, you’ll notice that one half of its body is weaker than the other, so you must then adopt your dodging tactics to avoid when he’s attacking with his strong side and attack when he’s using his weaker side. Nuances of design such as this typify the Bloodborne experience, making it an utterly thrilling game to play.
As for the graphics, well, what can one possibly say? FromSoftware designed the game for the PS4’s superior hardware, and it looks incredible. Its environments are simultaneously breath-taking and intimidating. Its design and presentation play a big part in the game’s atmosphere, though make no mistake: the combat mechanics make the game all the more addictive an experience. Combine that with a potential 200+ hours of gameplay, and this is a guy game to end all guy games.