From Software’s Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls series offered extremely similar experiences. Both games had a medieval feel to them and were very difficult. Bloodborne offers a slight departure from the medieval setting, and instead, takes place in the Victorian gothic-styled ruined city of Yharnam where a medical remedy said to be able to cure any disease has been rumored to be housed within its walls. Even though the setting and style may not resemble previous games in From Software’s catalog, make no mistake: Bloodborne is as difficult and as rewarding an experience as their previous games were.
Fortunately for both fans of From Software's previous work and newcomers alike, the developer has made some changes to the Demon's Souls and Dark Souls formulas in the form of weapons that can transform, a more aggressive combat system, and new multiplayer options, among others. Grab your Saw Cleaver and Pistol as we take you through our impressions of Bloodborne. Oh, and make sure to keep the lights on.
The Hunt Begins
Prior to jumping into Bloodborne, I was tasked with creating my character. The game offers quite a variety of customization options that include changing my hunter’s sex, hair style, and other aesthetics as well as their body shape. The most important portion of the character creation screen is choosing my hunter’s Origin, which determines what my starting stats would be. There are a total of nine different Origin to choose from, that range from a Lone Survivor, to having a Violent Past, and to the extremely challenging, Waste of Skin, which has you playing as a Level 1 hunter with starting stats that are equally low. Each Origin offered a boost in certain stats, although I went for the Milquetoast Origin, which dictates my hunter had an ordinary upbringing, making my attributes average.
Each hunter has a total of six different stats that will dictate what kind of character they’ll be: Vitality, Endurance, Strength, Skill, Bloodtinge (which focuses on your ammo-based weapons), and Arcane. As Hunters gain Blood Echoes from defeated enemies or items, they’ll be given the chance to improve their stats by handing in a certain amount of Echoes, which will, in turn, raise their current level. Blood Echoes also serves as the game’s currency, allowing players to purchase items, weapons, gear, and improve their weapons, among other things. Players definitely need to be wary of their Blood Echoes amount considering how integral they are to the entire experience.
Death and Destruction
Once the character creation process is complete, your hunter will wake up restrained to a table where a mysterious character has started a blood transfusion. The hunter passes out and wakes up to find a large beast to be crawling out of a pool of blood. The beast creeps up on your hunter, but then suddenly catches fire and dies. Your hunter then becomes freed from their restraints, and attempts to learn what exactly is going on. Unfortunately, though, your hunter soon dies from an attack from another one of those beasts that was seen during the infusion process, but they awaken in the Hunter’s Dream.
The Hunter’s Dream serves as the main hub in Bloodborne, and it’s where you’ll find Messengers that will help guide you throughout the game. The Messengers will offer a number of helpful tips that will get players better acquainted with the Bloodborne’s mechanics. Three Messengers will bestow your hunter with your melee weapon, firearms, and a notebook. You can choose from a Saw Cleaver, Hunter Axe, or Threaded Cane as your melee weapons and a Pistol or Shotgun as your firearm, although you’ll be given a chance to purchase any of these and a number of new weapons the further into the game you get.
Each melee weapon is able to transform by pressing the L1 button, which alters the weapon in a number of ways depending on what you’re carrying. For instance, the Saw Cleaver can be extended to offer more powerful long-range attacks, while sword portion of the Kirkhammer can be sheathed into a large, stone weapon, making it a devastatingly powerful hammer.
Once you pick up your new gear, you’re then able to return to the location of your death, and take down the beast. As a result, you’re finally able enter Yharnam, but all isn’t as it seems as it appears nearly everything in the town wants to kill you.
Death is Only Temporary
Bloodborne is yet another From Software game that absolutely punishes players for nearly every moment they play. There will be a number of adversaries to fight through your adventure, each of which will have their own fighting style that players need to learn in order to succeed. The game relies heavily on trial and error, and within the first few hours, there’s going to be a lot of that during most players’ first couple of hours with many of their interactions ending in their death.
Just like Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls, all of your collected currency, which in Bloodborne’s case is Blood Echoes, will be temporarily lost. If you can get your hunter to reach the spot they were killed in or kill the enemy who collected them, then they’ll be retrieved. If your hunter dies at any time prior to collecting their lost Blood Echoes, then they’ll be gone forever and your most recent amount of Echoes will be retrievable.
Even though it seems to be an extreme form of punishment at first, it’s something From Software introduced a long time ago to make players be more cautious with their engagements. Bloodborne should absolutely not be considered to be a hack & slash, but more of a boxing match as you try to bob and weave out of the way of attacks to hopefully land a blow against your opponent. In fact, the introduction of the Regain system makes the combat feel a little more active as hunters are able to regain portions of their health shortly after its lost. Be careful, though, as being too aggressive could lead to your premature death.
The Long and Winding Road
Bloodborne looks to be an awfully meaty experience, and can’t be completed in just a few days. As a result, Shacknews is publishing impressions of our experience so far, with a review forthcoming. We are currently working our way through the entirety of Bloodborne, which is estimated to take anywhere between 40 to 80 hours, in order to give you our most accurate review possible. For the time being, From's latest is another cruelly satisfying experience, and we wouldn't have expected any different.