Thursday, 9 April 2015

Bloodborne

Long before Dark Souls swept the gaming world I, unbeknownst to myself at the time, enjoyed two other games by the same developers of the famed series The games were both on the original Playstation and were King's Field 2 and Echo Night. I played King's Field 2 on release and loved its take on first-person gameplay that didn't include a shotgun or any other firearm. I emulated Echo Night on the PSP back in around 2005-ish as it was never released in Europe, and found it to be an incredibly overlooked first-person mystery, which at times felt like the point-and-click games of yesteryear. However, I never really focused on much else that From Software was churning out, that is until I, like everyone else on the planet, played Dark Souls. Just like both King's Field 2 and Echo Night, Dark Souls created an incredible atmosphere, spun a wonderful story and offered great gameplay. The question is- does Bloodborne, From Softwares latest title, fall in line with previous efforts?


Developed by From Software and out now exclusively for the Playstation 4 comes Bloodborne, yet another showcase of perfection by From Software. Bloodborne takes place in the dark and Gothic city of Yharnam. Visually coming across like 19th century London, the world in which Bloodborne takes place is grim, bleak, demented and very much Lovecraftian in design and approach. The city isn't a peaceful place, as a great sickness has enveloped it and its inhabitants. The sickness is turning the people of Yharnam into grisly creatures, and as the main character it's up to you to venture through the city, survive the onslaught of the sick and diseased, and ultimately find a cure for the sickness. It's a simple but effective story, though as with the Dark Souls series, the game doesn't exactly tell you what's going on, where you're going and what you should be doing. That may be frustrating to some, but at the end of the day Bloodborne does a great job at setting up a believable and atmospheric world.


The first thing to accept when playing Bloodborne is death. Yes, they say death comes to us all, but during your first few hours playing Bloodborne you'll have experienced it more times than you'd like to admit. But just like in the Dark Souls series, death and defeat should be looked at as a learning experience, a way of not so much knowing about what's around the next corner, but rather a way of knowing how to defeat what's around the next corner. Keeping a lookout for attack patterns and enemy movements is the key here, alongside attacking and always having your finger on the evade button. This all comes into play as combat in Bloodborne isn't easy to master, a joy to engage in if you do put the effort in and, unsurprisingly, a kick is the balls if you go down the button bashing route. On its surface combat looks very, well, very Dark Souls-like. However, beneath the surface of Bloodborne reveals itself to be a game that is far more devilishly brutal than Dark Souls could ever dream to be.

Whereas Dark Souls based itself upon slow calculated attacking and excessive defence, Bloodborne instead is a far more vicious animal, and bases itself on attacking fast and lighting speed evasion skills, all the while doing this through an endless barrage of enemies. The game demands that you be as twisted and as ferocious as the enemies you'll find yourself up against, and this attitude doesn't wane throughout the games entirety. Unlike the Dark Souls' titles, you won't just be using melee weapons here, as Bloodborne enters the realm of using guns. Though you can use a shield instead, I found having a firearm at my side to be incredibly vital, as I often used it to disrupt enemy attacks in mid-swing, sometimes opening me up for a nicely timed counter-attack. The array of weapons on offer throughout Bloodborne aren't exactly massive, but each one is designed well enough to stand apart from eachother, be they pistols, swords, axes, spears or rifles. Slaying foes releases Echoes, which effectively acts like the Souls in Dark Souls, as with these Echoes you can upgrade your stats as well as buy new weapons. However, once again, like with Souls, Echoes are lost upon death.


Visually Bloodborne is perfection too. Granted, we kind of expect these visuals from the current generations of consoles, but with the city of Yharnam From Software have created one of the best, creepiest, beautiful and most unsettling game locations I have ever explored. It's more f*cked up than Silent Hill and more beautiful than Bioshock Infinite's Columbia, and the vast array of creatures that await your arrival are just as breathtakingly disturbing. Though it's a must faster and brutal take on the Dark Souls series, Bloodborne offers an experience that is everything from smart, fun, demented, nerve racking and, after those long intense boss battles end in success, utterly elating. Buy it.

Bloodborne is as good as it should be and gets a 5/5.

★★★★★

Denis Murphy


Bloodborne at CeX


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