The Game Over series will chronicle games we here at GameGrin complete this year, each article giving a retrospective on the game and our opinions on it. My name is Reece Armstrong and here is my retrospective on Bloodborne.
I finally completed Bloodborne in the early hours of a Monday morning, raising my fists in the air and letting my heartbeat return back to a steady and normal pace. No game has had such a physical effect on me to actually cause me to sweat whilst playing and audibly cheer when beating bosses. I wouldn’t be surprised if I have physically aged due to playing it.
As my first foray into the ‘Souls’ series I didn’t know what to expect from Bloodborne, the gothic cousin to Dark Souls. At first I thought that maybe it wouldn’t be that hard, that somehow the game’s notorious difficulty had been overblown. How wrong I was.
Bloodborne’s combat can be brutal, quick and often insurmountable. You can’t play the game like you would Dark Souls ; a cautious approach usually gets you killed. Instead a mixture of ferocity and an understanding of enemy attacks is needed if you are to best your foes. Even then the wrong method of attack can make a boss fight harder than it needs to be. I remember fighting the Blood Starved Beast and trying to put distance between myself and it, getting the occasional shot in and hoping for a chance at a visceral attack. The approach wasn’t working and I found myself dying multiple times. Before I tried again I read a note left by another player saying close range is effective. I tried staying next to the boss and I found it easy, quickly killing it and moving on.
Those notes that were left by other players quickly became one of my most favourite parts of the game. Knowing you’re in the same position as many other players is encouraging and trying out new tactics lets you learn and progress as a player. That type of explorative playing is transferable to the game’s lore as well, which is scattered about through item descriptions and brief notes left in certain buildings. I’ve no doubt that I don’t fully understand the complex story of Bloodborne, but discovering things for myself and attempting to piece together the puzzle was enjoyable enough.
The staggering range of environments and interconnected areas were joyous to travel through and I often wondered how the game was so easy to navigate, despite looking like a gothic maze. Enemies too are things of nightmares, being frightfully woven out of H.P Lovecraft’s nightmares to make for some of gaming’s most sinister enemies.
My main complaint about Bloodborne is that the game never approaches the crescendo I thought it was going to. The pacing is fairly similar throughout the entire game and by the final boss – who despite being the best boss in the game – I never felt conclusively satisfied. I think this is because the storyline and lore are so dependant on players’ exploration and interpretation, that when you near the end of the game it’s easy to expect to be given answers. It’s not how Bloodborne works though and if anything it encourages more playthroughs so you can better understand the game. Despite the feeling of dissatisfaction I think Bloodborne can easily take its place amongst the PS4’s greatest exclusives and that its inconclusiveness isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I’m currently playing Dark Souls and I’m enjoying it, but the ferocity of Bloodborne’s combat mechanics is something I do miss. I’m still going to attempt to finish Dark Souls and maybe I’ll appreciate it more when Bloodborne is further away in my past. Or maybe I’ll just start a New game + on Bloodborne and go through the nightmare all over again.