Bloodborne Impressions: Born in Blood

From Software's Bloodborne is yet another punishing action RPG, although the developer has made a few tweaks to make each fight a little more fair this time around.

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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.

Senior Editor

From The Chatty

  • reply
    March 23, 2015 7:00 PM

    Daniel Perez posted a new article, Bloodborne Impressions: Born in Blood

    • reply
      March 23, 2015 7:07 PM

      9 frome gamespot, http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/bloodborne-review/1900-6416078/ , Euro gamer says it's either the best game ever or second best http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/bloodborne-review/1900-6416078/ The hour draws near.

      • reply
        March 23, 2015 7:35 PM

        94 on metacritic so far, finally a next gen game worth its salt?

    • reply
      March 23, 2015 7:25 PM

      You guys are going to make me go buy this just to get in on the hype train aren't you???

    • reply
      March 23, 2015 7:25 PM

      biggest thing I was impressed with so far?

      popped the disk in and was ready to play in less than a minute. No install wait.

      The load times are a bit long though, not sure if its because the game is installing in the bg though.

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        March 23, 2015 10:12 PM

        Until the ps4 is done copying io is slower, usually takes around 45 or so minutes

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      March 23, 2015 7:33 PM

      Gamespot - 9/10
      Jim Sterling - 10/10
      Destructoid - 9/10
      GameInformer - 9.75/10
      The Escapist - 4.5/5
      Hardcore Gamer - 4.5/5
      EGM - 9.5/10
      CGMagazine - 9.5/10
      Attack of the Fanboy - 4.5/5
      Playstation Lifestyle - 9/10
      MMORPG - 9/10
      Digital Spy - 5/5
      The Telegraph - 5/5
      RPG Site - 9/10
      Games Radar - 4.5/5
      Neoseeker - 9/10
      Playstation Universe - 9.5/10
      Tom's Guide - 4/5
      NZ Gamer - 8.9/10

      • reply
        March 23, 2015 10:21 PM

        That is amazing.

      • reply
        March 23, 2015 10:30 PM

        Shacknews gives that list a 7/10.

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          March 23, 2015 11:20 PM

          I give Shacknews a 1,000,000/10

          Oh snap.

      • reply
        March 24, 2015 6:17 AM

        I'm curious if any of these reviewers actually beat the game. I've been trying my damnedest for the past week, and I'm stuck on one of the bosses. I even attempted to defeat it with a co-op partner, and we both died

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          March 24, 2015 6:25 AM

          The only review I read so far was Kevin's at Gamespot and he said he finished it.

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            March 24, 2015 6:30 AM

            That's nuts considering Sony sent out review code on the 18th. He must either be a Dark Souls master, or he didn't eat / sleep / shower for five days straight.

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      March 23, 2015 10:09 PM

      My God this is amazing. Loving the hell of having the shit scared out of me.

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        March 23, 2015 10:22 PM

        I jumped so hard at one point that I accidentally hit the PS button on my controller, sending me to the system menu screen. I had to scramble to get back in it before I was killed.

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          March 23, 2015 11:21 PM

          Wait, it's a scary game??? FUCK. >:(

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            March 24, 2015 12:20 AM

            awww diddums

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            March 24, 2015 5:40 AM

            It has strong horror themes, as Demon's Souls did.

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              March 24, 2015 6:08 AM

              dunno i wouldnt qualify any of the souls games as scary. maybe its dependent in he environment/ on how you play the games.

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                March 24, 2015 6:31 AM

                I meant that Demon's Souls was a gothic horror/dark fantasy game as evidenced by its themes. Whether or not they scared you is irrelevant.

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                  March 24, 2015 6:45 AM

                  virus asked if it was a scary game, thats the relevance, having gothic or dark fantasy themes is in this day and age not something that most people would take as the qualifier for being scary. i would have said amesia is a scary game. i havent played bloodborne yet but if someone asked me if the souls games are scary (because they cant stomach it) i would probably say no.

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                    March 24, 2015 7:17 AM

                    In impressions pieces, several critics have said the game has made them jump and cry out several times.

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                      March 24, 2015 7:31 AM

                      Oh, yes. I actually jumped a couple of times from enemies completely catching me off guard. One got me so bad that the controller flew out of my hands.

                      And I cried out a few times when I was just one or two attacks from killing a boss, only to die.

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            March 24, 2015 6:15 AM

            It's scary in the sense that you never really know what's going to happen when you explore an area for the first time. After dying over and over again, you'll learn the locations of the majority of what will be coming at you.

            ..that is, until you enter a new area. Then you need to be hella cautious.

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            March 24, 2015 6:34 AM

            Probably scary in the sense that stuff tends to wait around corners and jump out at you as soon as you turn them.

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          March 24, 2015 6:36 AM

          I guess the game doesn't pause if you do this? lol ..

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            March 24, 2015 6:42 AM

            Pause...?

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              March 24, 2015 6:53 AM

              Shhh... let him find out the hard way what pausing does.

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            March 24, 2015 6:49 AM

            Online games generally don't pause/suspend when you go into the PS4 menu.

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              March 24, 2015 6:58 AM

              souls series doenst have a pause function even in single player, which i think is unnecessary. if people play offline there should be a pause option (the game saves with every death/progress).

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                March 24, 2015 8:18 AM

                just go rest at the nearest bonfire

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                  March 24, 2015 8:20 AM

                  You can be invaded in Dark Souls at a bonfire.

                  Try hanging around Solaire's bonfire in Anor Londo in human form for a while.

                  • reply
                    March 24, 2015 8:28 AM

                    True, but I believe they changed that in DS2.

                    I used to get invaded frequently while resting at the bonfire outside the crest of artorias / darkroot garden door

    • reply
      March 23, 2015 10:44 PM

      Man tomorrow can not come soon enough I am READY, awesome.

      • reply
        March 24, 2015 11:50 AM

        #HypeTrainHasLeftTheStation

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      March 24, 2015 1:57 AM

      I can't wait to play this for a couple of hours and then having to accept the fact that I don't have the patience for it. It's going to be awesome.

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        March 24, 2015 6:19 AM

        Haha. I learned from my mistakes though and will not buy, well maybe at 20$

      • reply
        March 24, 2015 7:14 AM

        Same, but for me more like 20-30 minutes

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      March 24, 2015 6:26 AM

      Caved in and got it... Souls games give me anxiety but... reviews are just too good to pass on it.

      • reply
        March 24, 2015 11:47 AM

        Let us know what you think. I'm like you and on the fence.

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      March 24, 2015 6:41 AM

      Am I the only one who really hates how the main character looks? Everything else looks pretty fantastic as far as I can tell, but the MC looks like a gangly teenager.

      Are there any options to customize height or anything like that?

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        March 24, 2015 6:59 AM

        He does have a Jack Skellington long legs look to him. I remember there being some scale sliders, but I don't know if height was one of them. You can definitely change muscularity.

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      March 24, 2015 8:39 AM

      Any PC port news?

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        March 24, 2015 8:57 AM

        Seems extremely unlikely if not impossible since Sony is publishing it.

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        March 24, 2015 9:09 AM

        We posted a possible reveal on the front page this morning :/

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      March 24, 2015 11:48 AM

      QUESTIONs: I'm ready to give my PS4 a workout, but I love open world exploring games - will this scratch that itch?

      Also it seems like it is hard and everyone dies all the time. Is this game RAGE QUIT INDUCING?

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        March 24, 2015 12:22 PM

        RE: Exploration - It's not open world in a sense like GTA or something, but more in the vein of Metroid or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Even then, you're not unlocking parts of the world by gaining new abilities, you are unlocking shortcuts due to careful exploration or beating a boss, etc. Etc.

        With regards to the difficulty, you know yourself. Souls games (and this, I imagine) SEVERELY punish unobservant players. People who don't pay attention often times say that they're "cheap" when the games are almost always anything but. Now, Bloodborne seems to be a little more aggressive and frantic than Demon's Souls or Dark Souls, but I imagine it follows the same internal logic. Be patient, don't panic, learn from your mistakes and you'll be fine.

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      March 24, 2015 12:39 PM

      Welp, I've died about 35 times in the intro/prologue.

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      March 24, 2015 1:02 PM

      I'm struggling with this one lol.

      Didn't have anywhere near as many problems in dark souls 1/2 and to be fair while I struggled with demon souls a bit - I never struggled with the beginning lol.

      Still haven't made it to the first boss. I think getting the hang of the combat differences is gonna take awhile. I don't have magic to pew pew or a shield to protect me so.

    • reply
      March 25, 2015 11:54 AM

      Loving the game!

      Gonna be a looong 1st day back to work..