There is a special place in my heart for the ‘Souls’ games, my first experience was with Demon’s Souls on PS3 – and it was horrifying… but I loved it. When Dark Souls came out I eagerly dove into the rich world of Lordran and never looked back. I am yet to play Dark Souls II but with the recent next-gen make-over, I may be tempted back.
And then there was Bloodborne…
As a PS4 exclusive, developed by From Software with assistance from Sony Studio Japan, I get the impression that Sony is trying to recapture some of the magic that the original Demon’s Souls began all those years ago. The formula of Bloodborne is very familiar, players are cast in the role of a silent hero who has come to the strange land of Yharnam seeking it’s mystical healing powers only to find the land has been ravaged by a blood plague of unknown origin. As the only apparently sane person left, you must make your way through a truly twisted world, defeating enemies and bosses of increasing power and insanity to acquire
Souls Blood Echoes which can be exchanged for better equipment or for upgrades to your character. Yes you still die… a lot, and yes you only get better by learning from your many, many… many mistakes – but just like the Souls games there is a huge sense of reward that comes after beating a boss on the twentieth attempt.
As always the world building is fantastic, From Software have chosen to go with a more Gothic, Victorian style for the game which really suits the enemies and aesthetic of the game as a whole. Rather than running around as an armoured knight, your character is garbed in leathers and cloth apparel which really makes you look and feel like a bad-ass on the hunt. The environments aren’t as varied as the Souls games but I really liked the character of the world and for me it didn’t outstay it’s welcome (I love the Lovecraft vibe the game gives off in places too)
While From Software has clearly learned a lot from their previous games and developed the various mechanics, refining and polishing them to perfection, there are some backward steps which I feel came about by From trying to make the game feel closer to Demon’s Souls than Dark Souls. Don’t get me wrong, I love Demon’s Souls – I have the Platinum trophy! but there are elements which were streamlined in Dark Souls which have been removed in Bloodborne and their absence is very apparent. The first major omission is the role that the lantern way points play in the game. Much like Dark Souls there are checkpoints scattered throughout the world which you must activate, once this has been done – if and when you die, you will respawn at that waypoint – so far, so good. The problem is, unlike Dark Souls, resting at a lantern does not respawn enemies and rather than let you upgrade your character and weapons here – you must warp back to a separate hub world in order to do so. I may just be nit picking but adding in this extra step makes me sorely miss the system Dark Souls introduced. The next thing which I feel the game is lacking is in the weapons department, and others may disagree with me on this point. The main mechanic with the weapons in Bloodborne is that they all have more than one ‘form’ the saw cleaver for example goes from being a short agile blade to a long heavy hitting sword – other weapons include a long sword that when connected to a stone slab turns it into a giant great hammer. These transformations are excellent and it is a lot of fun finding the weapon which suits your playstyle – however there just aren’t that many weapons in the game, there is essentially one type of each weapon which is a little sad considering the amount of weapons available in Dark Souls.
The combat in Bloodborne is as exciting as ever, however there is a twist. For many, in Dark Souls the main strategy was to use a sword and shield, well in Bloodborne the shield mechanic has largely been abandoned. In it’s place however is the gun… Players can use firearms of varying styles and power to stun enemies or pick them off from afar. Gone is the strategy of waiting behind your shield for an opening before unleashing a flurry of attacks – now the combat feels a lot more frantic and exciting.
Overall Bloodborne lives up to the expectations that have been placed upon it, in many ways it will feel like home for fans of the Souls series, in other ways however it mixes up the formula enough to feel fresh. There are a lot of great ideas in Bloodborne and for the most part they pay off, I just wish that some of the better aspects of Dark Souls had been retained.
Bloodborne lives up to the expectations that have been placed upon it, in many ways it will feel like home for fans of the Souls series, in other ways however it mixes up the formula enough to feel fresh. There are a lot of great ideas in Bloodborne and for the most part they pay off, I just wish that some of the better aspects of Dark Souls had been retained.