Ever since the “Demon’s Souls” and “Dark Souls” games were created by Hidetaka Miyazaki, Souls gamers have been eagerly awaiting for Miyazaki’s comeback. The Souls series and Miyazaki had made such a brilliant impression on the gaming industry that much anticipation was growing for Miyazaki’s latest release, Bloodborne.
Some gamers been let down by the most recent game in the Souls series, “Dark Souls II”, which came out in 2014 but Miyazaki was not as heavily involved in that release compared to the first two Souls games, as he was busy working on Bloodborne. Although Bloodborne is not directly part of the Souls series, Hidetaka Miyazaki takes charge of the directing of it, and Bloodborne still features action role playing elements that characterize the other games, “Demon’s Souls” and “Dark Souls”. In particular, Bloodborne is just as diabolically difficult as the Souls games, if not more, but the difficulty level adds to the addictive challenge of the game.
Bloodborne is quick paced, and much faster than the previous Souls games. Combat with your enemies is very fluid and mobile, and that’s necessary because the enemies are very aggressive and will suddenly come up to you with incessant fighting combos when you least expect it. For newbies, this fast and brutal combat system can seem overwhelming, but the makers of Bloodborne deliberately impose a “Learn by dying” game play method, so it will be natural for you to fail and die often so that you can gradually learn how to master the game.
Unlike in the other Souls games, you won’t have any shields in Bloodborne, and so you’ll need to master dodging your enemies’ blows. Instead of a shield, you’ll have in your hand either a gun or a torch, which you can use for lighting or as a weapon in your left hand. There are a wide range of available guns that you’ll use in the game, but for the most part, guns are used defensively. When combating your enemies, the timing and proximity of your hits matters. For example, you can stun your enemies if you shoot them during their attack. Also, if you get close enough to an enemy and you make a light attack, then you can land a riposte to inflict extreme damage but this won’t work if you’re too far away.
The title of Bloodborne itself bears some significance. The game clearly moves away from the importance of souls as in the case of the Souls series, and now the focus is put on “blood”. In Bloodborne, blood acts as both the game’s currency and the life force. Using blood, you can buy items, upgrade your weapons and level yourself up. There’s also the Regain system, in which you can get back some of your HP if you’re hurt and you strike back fast enough. The overall currency of blood works well with the game’s focus on risk and reward. You’re often balancing the need to be fierce with the need to play cautiously, especially as there’s always the fear that you could lose your bounty since you lose it all each time you die.
The graphics and design of the Bloodborne universe also deserve some special mention. The game takes place in the bleak, ruined city of Yharnam where there is supposedly a special, hidden medical cure, but now the city is cursed with an endemic illness that has morphed its residents into monstrous beasts. Yharnam conveys much of the disturbing sentiments of the Souls games, and the gothic setting is reportedly inspired by the classic novel, Dracula. From the cobblestone alleys, to the tangled forests in Yharnam, gamers are thrust into a world that feels like a real life nightmare. As the player in Bloodborne, your task is to weave through the eerie streets of the city and fight your way past the lurking violent creatures so that you can survive.
Miyazaki had commented that he wanted Bloodborne’s atmosphere to be as detailed as possible, and he certainly has delivered. The game takes advantage of the eighth generation hardware that is available on the Playstation 4, and a core reason why the game is exclusive to the PS4 platform is due to this need for high end hardware.
Sony Computer Entertainment, along with the developers From Software, released Bloodborne for the Playstation 4 across the globe in March 2015. So far, the game has been met with a surge of positive reviews and critical acclaim from professional game critics, Souls veterans and newbie players alike. The gaming community has highly praised several aspects of Bloodborne, from its game mechanics, storyline, setting, graphics and its musical score.
The only major problem that has come up regarding Bloodborne is the long load times, during which players are left sitting idly, and which contrast the fast paced action during gameplay. This lag problem seems to be a bug in the early releases of the game, but From Software has promised to fix the issue. The team announced that they’re developing a patch to speed up the loading, but it’s still unclear when the patch will be ready for release.
If you can forgive the annoying loading screens, then you'll have hours of action packed enjoyment. Bloodborne is a game that delivers on every front. If you love RPGs along with a horror theme, then you're sure to absolutely love this one!