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The Dark Souls series is famous for... well, for a lot of things by now, but in my mind, most of them boil down to three areas. The games are difficult, they are inaccessible, but they are well-regarded by those who manage to access them. Bloodborne, a game made by the same creators and which clearly shares a great deal of DNA with that series, represents one of the more accessible entry points... sort of.
To begin with, Bloodborne shares a lot of atmosphere with the Souls games. A bleak, gloomy setting where everything's gone to hell, and the streets are full of those poor saps who failed at doing what you're trying to do and lost their humanity in the process. From there, with an ever-growing array of equipment and feeling of mastery, you set out to figure out what's going on by reading item descriptions and engaging in cryptic conversations, save those who're still able to be saved in a series of frankly obtuse side quests, and kill all the uncontrolled monsters rampaging around the city. Not necessarily in that order.
It's a fun game, with many elements intended to emphasize speed compared to the more plodding and methodical pace Dark Souls is famous for, like being able to recover the last hit's worth of damage if you beat it out of an enemy quickly enough. And while I am bad at parrying all but the most easily-parried enemies, the game swaps out the traditional Dark Souls 100% damage reduction shield for a firearm or torch.
Admittedly, I disliked this change when I began playing, and I still wish they hadn't put a worthless shield as an equipment option as a joke, complete with an item description literally mocking players like me. I do think having that static defensive option beyond dodge, parry, or eat the hit would've been what put this game over the edge into being outright welcoming to new players instead of just the most welcoming.
But, as far as the genre goes, this game is definitely the most welcoming of its kind. It has far, far fewer stats compared to any of the Souls games, so deciding what to improve isn't such a huge obstacle if you aren't checking the Internet for tips, even if it can still feel intimidating and confusing. Upgrades can be easily swapped out at the workbench, so you aren't potentially permanently damaging an item's effectiveness if you experiment with different configurations. While the game's as bad at teaching you how to play it as ever, it's easier to fake it, and the blood vial/bullet system makes it easier to fill up mid-adventure without being quite as tethered to the lantern.
And while stripping down the equipment system means that the player doesn't find cool weapons and armor lying around to play with as often, it also means that they could put a lot of polish into the weapons they did include. The "trick weapons" are all stylish and cool, and offer a variety of playstyles.
There're a few other quibbles. Frenzy is a poor mechanic, and everything about it needed a nerf weeks before launch. Many of the later-game areas are noticeably rushed, and less interesting than what came before. The side quests are as obtuse as ever, and flubbing even a few of them can lock out some of the endings. And I tend to fall on the end of the spectrum that finds the Chalice Dungeons boring and repetitive, which especially sucks because there're important story clues squirreled away in the bottom of many of them.
Bloodborne is a good title, and the most accessible game of its kind... but I wish they'd gone the whole nine yards and just made it outright accessible.
This is the Must Have Title for the Playstation 4. It's hard, but never have I experienced a game with so much reward to the player for putting the time and effort into a game. Yes, this game is hard! Yes, you will die, a lot. But, when you do make it and kill the boss it gives you such satisfaction that no other game can give you. Do yourself a favor. Buy this game! It's that addicting.
Bloodborne is as glorious as it is grotesque, a harsh and unyielding exercise in getting battered mercilessly while feeling encouraged the whole painful way. While very much a Souls game through and through, the switch from methodical and slow progression to a faster, ultimately more savage environment provides just enough of a twist to give it a wholly unique feel, a more empowering journey, for both the player and the opposition. Bloodborne is something truly special – a barbaric horror RPG that will giveth and taketh away in perfect measure, wrapped up in a perverse world that will refuse to let you go.
If you love victorian era Gothic Horror settings and if you love cool and interesting weapons and a really good challenge for your gaming skills you should definitely pick this one up, it's great to see Miyazaki back in the helm of the series, and the game is actually fun! I mean yes you'll have your frustrating parts of difficulty but you'll have definite fun! Doing it, enjoy the hunt!
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