Bloodborne (PS4) Review

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From Software and Hidetaka Miyazaki – if you see these names associated with a game, you know what you’re in for:  a willful obtuseness, satisfying mechanics, brilliant level design, and of course, sanity-shattering difficulty.  Bloodborne brings the Souls games (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2) onto the PlayStation 4 in a considerably stream-lined fashion.  Unlike those previous games, there’s a relative dearth of weapons and armor, and, barring a single instance, an absence of shields.  Instead, Bloodborne speeds up the gameplay, becoming a bit of a direct descendant of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s Castlevania.

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My hunter, Severian.  An attempt at modelling Peter Cushing

Enemies have distinct patterns, and you’d be well to learn them, just like the Souls games; if you die, you drop your experience and money (referred to as blood echoes), and all traps and enemies respawn; you can journey back and try to regain them (sometimes, they’re picked up by an enemy, and you have to kill that particular monster in order to reacquire them), but if you die again before you do, they’re gone for good.  Yes, proper punishing, that.  What Bloodborne isn’t, however, is unfair.  If you take the time to learn and upgrade as you go, you’ll find yourself inching forward, despite swearing (if you don’t swear while playing this game, well, you’re considerably stronger than I am ) that the game is impossible with each and every death.  And oh, will there be deaths.  Make peace with dying, because you’ll do it over, and over, and over again.  Of course, this only makes the victories all the sweeter.

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Huge, beautiful, challenging, filled with grotesque monsters and haunting environments, Bloodborne is a horror-action masterpiece.  While there will certainly be those who purchase it and abandon it early on do to the dedication required to progress, those that give it a chance will find Bloodborne all consuming, and one of the most satisfying and stunningly designed games in years.  Brilliant and bloody, if you’ve got the mettle, don’t hesitate to pick this one up now and let From and Miyazaki’s latest masterpiece take you on a rollercoaster of fear, anger, doubt, despair, and triumph.

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Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

4 thoughts on “Bloodborne (PS4) Review

  1. I’ve read that Miyazaki’s was influenced by Western Horror films starting with Demon Souls. Bloodbourne seems to wear some of its influences more on its sleave. A lot of German Expressionist stuff like Cabinet of Doctor Caligari seems to influence the environment. Were there any other obvious or specialized horror references you could make out?

    1. Cabinet of Doctor Caligari seems like a likely influence. I’d add to that a large Hammer Horror influence in the Gothic trappings. Miyazaki games always remind me of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, or at least how those novels feel, but I’m not sure if Miyazaki is influenced by them. The levels in the Souls games and in Bloodborne have an apocalyptic, lonely feel, as those the world has moved on, and no matter what you do, there’s no going back. The monsters and world remind me of quotes from Cormack McCarthy’s The Road : “Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave, ” and, “…a thing that could not be put back. Not be made right again.”

    1. Thanks! I really, really liked Evil Within. It’s a bit rough around the edges, and I think it would have been better off as a PC/PS4/XBOX One release rather than cross-gen, but I loved it. Finished one playthrough on Survival, and I’ve been thinking about a return visit.
      I planned on writing a review of it, and I still might. In some ways, it reminds me of the Souls/Bloodborne games – the level design is really excellent, and it uses enemy placements and traps in creative ways. It’s also pretty punishing at times.

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