Bloodborne is an action-based RPG and a new IP (Intellectual Property) exclusively for the PS4 system. It closely mirrors its cousin the Dark Souls series, developed by FromSoftware, and is not a game for the faint of heart or for players that do not appreciate a challenge but more on that later. If you enjoyed the Dark Souls games, don’t mind dying a lot to learn boss mechanics, and love damp, dark games with great lore then this is one you don’t want to miss.
Your character is first introduced in the game by receiving a blood transfusion and is immediately acclimated into the hunter world when place into an empty room with one beast in it. Immediately you feel the learning curve required as I died to that beast a dozen times before figuring out how to defeat it. From there you go onto the starting zone called Central Yharnam. One of the biggest challenges at that point is understanding that there are limited checkpoints and learning how to navigate effectively by unlocking shortcuts. Another big frustration for newbies is how experience points are acquired. Blood Echoes are the leveling points and currency used throughout the game. You collect them as you kill mobs and then turn them in at a hub called the Hunter’s Dream. Here’s the catch: If you die before returning to the Dream you lose all the echoes you acquired thus losing all the progress you may have made. You get one shot to go back to where you died to reclaim them but if you die when trying to do so they are lost forever. That means it’s possible to rack up several hours and get absolutely nowhere in the game. If you are just starting to play this game, there is a good chance you will die multiple times and have to start from the beginning many times before finally starting to catch on so be prepared for it so you’re not frustrated early on. Thankfully the game does offer online play in which you can summon fellow hunters to help you by using insight you gain by playing the game which can come in handy if you just can’t seem to get past a pesky boss and want help. Be aware, however, that there are some zones that allow other players to join your world simply to kill you! It’s an interesting take on PvP and I actually really enjoyed it which says something because I typically shy away from PvP in these types of games. Another feature for online play is player notes in which players from other worlds or yourself can leaves notes lying on the ground so that as other players comes across them then can read it. The notes can be helpful to warn you of an upcoming ambush or if a hunter decides to be sinister he/she could leave a note that may lead you to your demise.
The game can be quite the grind at times whether it be being stuck on a boss or farming for more consumables to restock your depleted inventory. If you do not have several hours to throw at this game then it is not worth your investment, but for me personally I find that the harder challenges give me more gratification upon completion. The combat mechanics are fast and the game is fairly responsive but takes some time getting used to especially if you have never played any of the Souls games.
Graphically the game is amazing. I cannot tell you how many times I have stopped to gaze at a blood soaked moon or my heart raced after the entrance of an unsightly boss. Some of the bosses cover most of your viewing screen when up close, just massive, and the detail they have is both intimidating yet incredible. Your gear gets more and more covered with blood the longer you stay in the zone which make it feel more real and some of the weapons have excellent animations.
The game does offer some replayabilty in the form of Chalice Dungeons. These are dungeons that allow you to gain access to items that are not in the main story as well as getting access to new dungeons. You can access them through the Hunter’s Dream after obtaining certain items. There are different levels, with each level getting harder and offering more loot. PvP is also part of the game where one-on-one bouts can be fought. Also, for me, playing the story itself again is worthwhile because characters can be built in different ways. Maybe one you build for strength and the other has more endurance. You can also change the way you interact with NPCs by replaying the campaign. For example, I accidently hit Eileen the Crow who is an NPC hunter in the game. She would have been an ally but since I hit her she attacks me every time we meet.
If you’re into the Dark Souls series then this game is a must play. If you’re on the fence about this game and maybe a little intimidated remember you can always call on help in-game via the online mode so you’ll never truly be alone. The gameplay is stellar, the graphics great, but I would have liked to see more gear variations as it is quite limited and more cosmetic than statistical which was a little disappointing but not a deal breaker.