Bloodborne: A Virgin “Souls” Journey

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So the big game people I know are looking forward to this March, <em>Battlefield: Hardline</em> has launched to resounding success.</p>

Ahahaha. Could you imagine?

Seriously though, I know more than one person who bought a PS4 specifically for BloodBorne, a spiritual successor to the fan favourite Souls games, such as Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls.

Created by From Software, these games are famous for their notorious difficulty and brooding gothic scenery as inspired by the similarly dark, yet tragically beautiful manga Berserk. 

While I had viewed this cult hit from afar, I hadn’t dipped my feet into these dark waters until now. And man, I completely get the hype.

That characteristic broodiness and difficulty are in stark contrast with the blockbuster games of the triple-A. With your Assassin’s Creeds and Call of Duty campaigns, gameplay is thrown at you. Gameplay is often easy and linear, trying to get as much content to the player as possible.

In BloodBorne, the world is a closed brooding place that will only reveal it secrets to those who are observant, lucky or just happen to hear something from a friend. Enemies are not easily defeated with an easy combo, maybe the odd parry and quicktime event though. You have to level your weapons, and grin and bear the difficulty of the foes you are presented with. Even a relatively easy enemy in Bloodborne can kill you if you’re careless, especially in a group.

There are a few games that have me just stand still and take in the scenery for a second. Sometimes I have to stop and watch a fantasy-European city filled with gothic statues of angels, covered in bonfires, populated by madmen and bloody werewolves, all accented by the fire orange twilight behind the clouds. Bloodborne is darkly beautiful.

Having such an open game could serve as a detriment if the levels were not so well designed. Every area is sure to have secret locations and items around, even branching into entire secret areas with new weapons and bosses to defeat.

And the story. Some of my favourite gaming stories are not ones that are shoved in my face with cinematics and linear gameplay sections. It is the discovery of optional, often secret information that colours my perception of the gaming world. The ravaged town of Yharnam is filled with a sense of lingering mystery that does not reveal its secrets to anyone but those who scour the land for the descriptions of items or the discovery of a lore-significant area that provides a new revelation. In my current playthrough, the understanding of the world of Bloodborne bloomed from simply wading through yet another infection infestation that gaming is fond of, to a world filled with not only newer and more macabre monsters, but a place with political, even metaphysical conflicts between groups. The world simply exists for you to discover what it contains — not to throw that content at you with disregard to our sense of discovery and mystery, not to mention integrity of the lore of their game.

Having only played it for a few days, it feels like a few weeks. This game gets its hooks into you quickly, and soon you’re discussing what you think of the secretive story and swapping notes on secret weapons and areas. These Souls games are fan favourites for a reason. If you don’t mind bearing the difficulty and allowing yourself to explore rather than be lead along by a magic compass, give Bloodborne and the other Souls games a try.  

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