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Bloodborne Review

| March 23, 2015
Bloodborne Review Reviews  Bloodborne

From Software and Sony’s Japan Studio teamed up to release Demon’s Souls as a PlayStation 3 exclusive back in 2009.  They might not have guessed it at the time, but Demon’s Souls went on to become one of the most beloved PS3 exclusives for Action-RPG players. Incredibly difficult, but rewarding for those that stuck to it — Demon’s Souls introduced PlayStation 3 owners to a different type of action role playing experience.  While From Software went on to release Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 on multiple platforms to critical acclaim, the developer is back on Sony’s team for the PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne.  Despite the name shift, Bloodborne feels like a Souls game.  There’s a distinct familiarity to the art design, challenge, and gameplay.  Souls have been traded for Blood Echoes.  Bonfire safe zones have been traded in for lamps.  There are actually a lot of call backs to the Souls games that make Bloodborne feel like it might have been misnamed, but it’s also full of refinements that make it feel like the culmination of these recent efforts by From Software.

Bloodborne Review Reviews  Bloodborne

Like those other games, From Software’s delivery for Bloodborne’s story isn’t exactly clear cut.  It’s told sparsely, allowing the world to tell the tale. Though ever so often you’ll get something that unfolds and unravels it during a single 50-60 hour playthrough, even if it’s many times vague and cryptic. You just have to buy in to the fact that you’ve chosen to voluntarily undergo a blood transfusion that’s seemingly gone horribly wrong.  Leaving you as a Hunter purging the gothic streets of Yharnam of all sorts of beastly creatures, and also unknowing of whether you’re dreaming or if this is reality.  It’s a weird premise, and a single playthrough of the game will certainly have you asking a lot of questions.  That should be par for the course for fans of the Souls series.  Bloodborne isn’t much better than those games in wrapping things up in a neat little bow.  What it is better at, is just about everything else.

Souls players will feel right at home in Bloodborne. It’s still a game about learning from your mistakes, facing new adversaries, learning their patterns and exploring each area for helpful items, secret passages, and boss battles — Bloodborne’s structure is an evolution of these previous games.  Those who haven’t played them, it can be a little daunting.  From Software doesn’t give you much to go on. You’ll kill enemies and earn “Blood Echoes,” these can then be turned in to level your character… assuming you make it back to the game’s hub world with them. As you become stronger and more skilled in combat, you’ll naturally open new areas to explore, find checkpoints, and continue the betterment of your character.

Bloodborne is a game about learning from your mistakes

Making your way through the Souls games was a sluggish grind. Combat was slow paced, and rewarded players to hide behind their shields and counter enemy attacks.  It’s part of the magic of those games though.  Since there were so many powerful foes looking to take you out at first sight, it paid to be very careful. That careful traversal translated into a great sense of accomplishment. Bloodborne remembers this, but it also tries to be a much faster game when it comes to combat.  While players will still have the opportunity to procure a shield at some point relatively early on in the game, Bloodborne would much rather you use something else.  That something else is a Quick Step mechanic, coupled with a dual-function primary weapon and a secondary gun. It changes combat significantly and for the better. Combat is pro-active now.  The player feels more agile, and capable of making their own openings to strike first by using Quick Step to get into position or sidestep a possible attack. With all that movement, it’s also easier to take damage as well.  This is counter-balanced by being able to recoup some lost HP during a fight, so long as you strike back and aren’t hit again within a specific time window.  You can also use your primary weapon in short and long range varieties, giving you room to hit an enemy that might be out of reach otherwise.  Furthermore, the secondary firearm weapon can be used to stun enemies, thwarting would be attacks. When you put it all together, From Software gives you all the tools that you need to take a more aggressive approach to combat. Though you never feel forced to play a specific way. There are times when it’s glaringly obvious that a stun move is the solution to your problems. Working wonders to interrupt powerful attacks, where shield baring would have you hoping to block or strafe an enemy.

Bloodborne Review Reviews  Bloodborne

You’re gonna need to harness all of your available combat options, because Bloodborne is a challenging game that takes away a lot of the hand holding that Dark Souls 2 had. Enemies will always respawn, regardless of how many times you’ve beaten them.  Add in the fact that there are less lamps to light, which checkpoint your progress, and some areas can be downright frustrating to beat.  There’s more of a reliance on finding shortcuts, opening gates, and activating elevators, then there is on giving you a point to save. Exploration and unlocking shortcuts is only part of the equation, you need to be both proficient enough in combat to earn Blood Echoes, and then, disciplined enough to actually know when its time to spend them on upgrades to level your character, as that will make progression easier as well. Knowing when to bank your echoes is a tricky question.  It comes down to whether or not your confident in your ability to pick up this currency once you drop it when you’re killed. And a new twist for Bloodborne is that sometimes enemies will pick up this currency, so you’ll not only need to get back to the area where you died, but defeat the enemy that killed you.

Bloodborne Review Reviews  Bloodborne

Assuming you do make it back to the game’s hub world called “The Hunter’s Dream,” you can level your character in a number of ways, purchase items, upgrade weapons, manage runes, and store your surplus.  Bloodborne differs from the Souls games in that there are fewer weapons in the game, but more ways to customize them, your outfits, and your character’s abilities.  Weapons can be fortified with Blood Gems that are earned throughout the game, these have different effects on the stats for the weapon, and can add things like fire or bolt attack to the item.  Abilities can be modified through Runes as well.  These give overall buffs to the character, like finding more echoes, or having a higher HP or stamina.  Outfits also add modifiers to your core stats, giving you better chances against enemies who use specific types of attacks. The Hunter’s Dream hub world also has items for sale. Some cost Echoes, while others use another type of currency called Insight.  Insight is another common items found in Bloodborne and must be spent to play in competitive or cooperative modes. Progression, unlocks, and customization are different than what we’ve seen before, perhaps more streamlined than we’ve seen in the past.

Bloodborne feels insurmountable at times, and success is rewarding

Bloodborne has a nice natural progression for the single player campaign.  There’s not so much guessing about where to go next.  You usually have a pretty good idea of what you’re capable of tackling.  Enemies and bosses will both let you know real quick if you’re powerful enough to deal with them, or if you need to tackle something else, level up a bit, or change your loadout.  Bloodborne is far from linear, you can tackle areas as you see fit.  Bosses signal the end of most areas, and there are quite of few of them in Bloodborne.  Every bit as challenging and creative as we’ve seen From Software make in previous games, bosses in Bloodborne continue to feel insurmountable at times, until you get a glimpse at a weakness or pattern to exploit.  Fodder enemies are no less difficult or creative. They all have unique attacking patterns that give even short trips the opportunity to turn deadly. Bloodborne’s enemies are the things of nightmares.  They might not be “scary,” but they are creatively horrific.

Bloodborne Review Reviews  Bloodborne

The Souls series has generally fell flat on building a believable world.  Bloodborne takes it a step further in creating something that feels not only connected, but cohesive.  Not just by joining the areas by secret and unlockable paths, but in the general gothic, plague-ridden theme of the game that persists throughout.  Yarnham and its surrounding areas all feel well thought out and in their place, while offering a good deal of variety.  Helping to build this cohesive world is the upgrade in visual fidelity that Bloodborne sees over the previous Souls games on consoles. The world is richer, it has more detail than we’ve seen before. Bloodborne puts the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of those previous games to shame, and is a significant upgrade. It’s also prettier than the PC version of Dark Souls 2, though it doesn’t run anywhere near as smoothly.  Frame rate issue do pop up from time to time, and panning the camera can be dizzying. Bloodborne is clearly taking advantage of the powerful PlayStation 4 hardware. It can be a beautiful, beautiful game at times. At others it can seem limited, choking on its own beauty. It’s also got some serious load times. In case you haven’t noticed, these new consoles aren’t the best for loading times, and the many deaths you’ll experience playing Bloodborne are accentuated by 30-40 second loads in some cases.  Looking at a screen with only the Bloodborne logo no less.

You’ll die a lot.  There’s no avoiding it.  But, you can dodge it once in awhile.  Summoning AI Hunters, or online companions with the Beckoning Bell can ease some of the pain.  Using the bell will search for players in your vicinity that are trying to join a cooperative game, and you’ll be able to tackle bosses or difficult areas as a team.  Three players can play cooperatively with one another, and From Software has added the ability to play with friends, circumventing matchmaking by using a password matching system for co-op.  NPC characters can also be called in for help, but not in all circumstances.  Signs will show the player where they can use the Beckoning Bell to call in AI help.  Playing online you’ll also find notes scrawled in key locations by other Bloodborne players that can give you a heads up on a trap or ambush, or just flat-out troll you.  Speaking of trolling, you can also jump into other player’s games and fight against them, like the Souls series.  At any time you can use the Silencing Blank item to end your competitive or cooperative session and go back to hunting on your own.  The idea is to either call for help to beat a boss, enter to help beat a boss, or stop a hunter from reaching a boss.

Bloodborne Review Reviews  Bloodborne

There’s considerable replay value there in the competitive and cooperative aspects of Bloodborne, and there’s more than enough reason to jump into new game plus after you’ve finished it.  Souls games have all warranted a second playthrough for both challenge and discovery, but Bloodborne offers something new in its procedurally generated Chalice Dungeons.  The dungeons are full of items, enemies, traps, and of course, bosses. These are also accessed from the Hunter’s Dream hub world, and you’ll need both a Chalice and Ritual Blood to start one.  Each Chalice has different tiers and depths of dungeons.  The bigger the depth, the more challenging the dungeon.  Venturing into these worlds you’ll not only want to beat the bosses to head lower into the dungeon, but inspect the nooks and crannies of each to uncover items that will allow you to perform other Chalice rituals.  These dungeons can be played in three player cooperative or competitive play, as well as opened to the public, and customized with rites. More dungeons to conquer is always a good thing if you fall in love with the combat for Bloodborne.  You’ll encounter different types of enemies and bosses than you do in the campaign, and my character who was working on new game plus was having a hard time with the depth 3 Chalice Dungeons.  The only complaint that I can levy against Chalice Dungeons is that the procedural generation seems thin, and many areas feel like they have identical, slightly tweaked layouts, eventhough enemies will vary.  All in all though, this additional content could be something that keeps Hunters in the game long after the story mode has been completed.

The Verdict

It’s safe to assume that not everybody is going to enjoy Bloodborne. It’s such a harsh and unforgiving game that newcomers might be turned off by some of the vagueness in the story and the soul crushing losses that will inevitably occur over its course. Those that are up for the challenge of Bloodborne are going to find a game that plays better, looks better, and has more to keep you occupied than any of the Souls games had. From Software has refined that formula in many spots, and completely overhauled it in others. Leaving us with what is probably the best exclusive to hit the PlayStation 4 since launch, and the best action-RPG to arrive since, well, Dark Souls 2.

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  • TheManWithABigToe

    Not to shabby

  • Sunny0

    Great review.
    Can’t wait for my copy :D

  • Guester

    Facts first aka herald of gaben just killed themselves

    • bardock5151

      Why? Because a souls game did well?

      • Guester

        Do you see their posts? lol.

    • The PC Master Race

      20FPS
      4 0 S E C O N D S

      Keep thinking I’m Facts Last, Molester :^)

      • theshavenwookie

        Where’s my chippy? Chip chip chip chip. There she is, theres my chippy.

      • HAHAHAHAHAHA

        40 seconds more then you will see.
        They are already working on a patch for both of the problems. Keep failing.

  • The Watcher
  • The Watcher
    • The PC Master Race

      20 FPS :^)

      • theshavenwookie

        Here she comes.

  • dave mcnair

    Proper exclusive for a proper games console. Can’t wait to play this game. It looks brutal

    • The PC Master Race

      Shame the POS4 is a glorified cable box and not a proper games console, loser :^)

      • dave mcnair

        You’re the loser ya wee toss bag. Stuck in your moms basement sucking on her knickers. Trolling yet another ps4 article ? Jealousy will get you nowhere :)

        Best selling console ever for a reason. Think its the xbox one you mean anyway if you’re comparing it with a cable box. Id even prefer one of those than a pc again to be fair. You t**t

        • Country Boy Lucifer

          ha ha ha ha ha outstanding

        • N-Shifter

          A fellow Scotsman if ever I heard one :)

      • theshavenwookie

        Here chip, chip chip chip. Here chippy. There’s my chippy.

  • Frankenstein

    Ah, great :)

  • Country Boy Lucifer

    Xbot ghost town lol

    • The PC Master Race

      Silky Smooth 20FPS

      • Country Boy Lucifer

        Silky smooth 94 metacritic ;)

        • The PC Master Race

          4 0 S E C O N D S
          0

          S
          E
          C
          O
          N
          D
          S

          • Country Boy Lucifer

            ohhh the saltiness LOL

          • theshavenwookie

            There’s my chippy.

  • The PC Master Race

    Maybe it would have got 5/5 if it ran at 30FPS instead of 20FPS

    • theshavenwookie

      Here she comes, I brought here here just for you.

    • tasslehoff

      Don’t worry all those people not playing steam again like you i see again and again.

  • NathGamer

    The review scores are looking great for this title. It’s not really my type of game though so I won’t be picking it up.

  • This is the first title that I want for PS4. Next to TLOU.

  • TheManWithABigToe

    All I will say is if you are not into hard games don’t buy this.

    • Country Boy Lucifer

      And your opinion is based on what?

      You don’t even own a ps4

      • TheManWithABigToe

        Based on reviews and that is correct I don’t own a PS4, why does that matter?

        • Country Boy Lucifer

          Because you’re telling people not to buy a game based on a second hand opinion.

          I’d say having 100% positive reviews is a reason to buy the game…..

          • TheManWithABigToe

            All those reviews said that the game is extremely hard so if you don’t like hard games why spend $60 plus on it. That’s all I’m saying.

          • Country Boy Lucifer

            Just seems a little bitter that a person who doesn’t own a ps4 should be telling people not to buy a game based on him reading a few reviews that said the game is hard….

            Those reviews that also said the game is amazing..

            If you’re going to have such a strong opinion I just think you should of at least played the game enough to actually form an educated opinion

          • TheManWithABigToe

            I have played the Souls games so I do have an educated opinion being that the same guys made this one. Plus you read other comment sections and they all say that it is not drastically different. If you liked the Souls games, buy it, if not I’d recommend not.

          • Country Boy Lucifer

            Yeah everything you just said simply proves you’re not qualified to tell anyone to or not to buy the game

          • TheManWithABigToe

            Haha it’s a souls game with a different name.

          • Country Boy Lucifer

            You’ve once again proven you know nothing about the game.

            Trust me I’ve been a souls fanboy since demon souls and its drastically different in virtually all game mechanics.

          • TheManWithABigToe

            I forgot to say it’s a crappier souls game too.

          • Country Boy Lucifer

            It would appear that the gaming community disagrees with you judging by the review scores ;)

            Maybe you should try being less bitter

          • TheManWithABigToe

            It’s a niche title that Sony wants to be some big deal. The way it’s pushed on every gaming site proves that. It will sell pretty good but make no mistake about it there will be people that buy it and hate it. I’m just hoping that after doing that they don’t believe the hype again.

          • Country Boy Lucifer

            I wouldn’t really call it niche, it’s an RPG there’s nothing niche about it. The witchers difficulty is on par with dark souls.

            And to say Sony are pushing it and hyping it is a bit silly, it’s the best scoring triple A exclusive this gen, of course they’re gonna push it! they’d be idiots not to!

            It’s funny how you say you don’t want people to believe the hype…..reeks of bitterness ;)

          • TheManWithABigToe

            Saying it’s the highest rated game so that means it’s the best is like saying Mario blah blah is the highest rated game so that means it’s the best. You know how many people bought Bloodborne because of the hype and ended up not liking it, I bet a decent amount. I like to read comment sections and every 1 out of 5 say “I’m returning this game”…It’s out there.

          • Country Boy Lucifer

            ha ha ha when did i ever say it was the best? I said it was the highest rated!

            I’m not sure you know what hype is, hype is the build up before a game has been thoroughly tested and a true opinion is formed.

            Bloodborne has lived up to the hype and is both critically and commercially a success! that’s a 100% fact!

            I don’t really care what comment sections say because you can’t weed out the real negative comments from the fanboys like you most the time, need proof just go look at the user reviews on metacritic.

          • TheManWithABigToe

            Again with the Metacritic crap. You are just as bad of a fanboy that’s fact.

          • Country Boy Lucifer

            Excellent return argument lol

            You’ve been schooled, go away now yeah ;)

          • TheManWithABigToe

            You think you are so great huh? Oh man you schooled me and all I was trying to say is that Bloodborne is a hard game that if you don’t look into it more than just reading the reviews and trusting the number you might get screwed. To anybody that reads this do your research before buying this game, watch videos, listen to people play it that are not super fanboys and other stuff like that.

          • Country Boy Lucifer

            Ha ha yeah like anybody reading your comment is even going to contemplate listening to you after your clearly biased fanboy bullshit.

            Be gone Xbox troll, back to your bridge