Bloodborne Review

The newest title in the Souls series but with guns and set in a new, dark world

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4

Bloodborne

Bloodborne

Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

What We Like
  • Detailed graphics

  • Fun meele combat

  • Solid worldbuilding

  • Difficult

What We Don't Like
  • Creepy and depressing story

  • Difficult

Bloodborne comes from the same developers as the Demon Souls and Dark Souls, providing very similar gameplay but in a new world, and with changes to the combat system. It offers the same difficult gameplay and harsh enemies that have brought the Souls games so much love―but with a slightly different flair. 

4

Bloodborne

Bloodborne

Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

Bloodborne is a third-person role-playing game set in a dark world where beasts roam the streets. You’ll play as a hunter and set out to slaughter these beasts while unraveling the mysteries of Yharnam. The game is focused on offering players a difficult combat experience, with tough enemies and an advanced fighting system. I played Bloodborne on the PlayStation 4 for roughly ten hours and enjoyed hacking through enemies while we explored its open world and detailed graphics.

Story: A Hunt Full of Darkness

The introduction into Bloodborne is very minimal. You’ll see a man hovering over you, he says a few words about getting a contract for the outsider and then you’ll be thrown into a character creation screen. While there are a lot of options within the character creation menu, the characters tend to have this weird gaunt look to them no matter what you do. Really, you just need to pay attention to the class choices, as this will impact your character's stats such as vitality and endurance. After this, you’ll find yourself on a table beside a pool of blood. The blood will lurch and a beast will be birthed from it―but before it can hurt you, small skeleton-like creatures will reach forth and destroy it.

The beginning sequence is short, and it’s refreshing to not have an hour-long tutorial with cut scene after cutscene. You’ll stand from the medical table and jump right in. Bloodborne does the tutorial introduction right. Instead of putting large prompts over the screen, it leaves little messenger creatures on the ground around the walkway and if you choose to pause and read their messages, they’ll inform you of the game’s basic controls. I quite liked this process, as for most players familiar with Souls games, they won’t need someone to tell them the basics. Also like classic Souls games, the first enemy you meet you can try to beat with your bare hands, but there’s no advantage to beating the enemy without a weapon like in the other games. So roll past, fight it or die, either way it doesn’t really matter.

The beginning sequence is short, and it’s refreshing to not have an hour-long tutorial with cut scene after cutscene.

From here on out, what you’ll learn about Bloodborne and its world is through encounters you’ll make in the game. Non-player characters can be found by following the pinkish colored lanterns hanging near doorways. If you step close to the doors, the citizens of Yharnam will tell you their stories―and begin to fill in the holes about what exactly being a hunter means. The story of Bloodborne is subtle in this way―and super creepy. You’ll get hints that humans are turning into these beasts that you slay, that healing blood is connected to a church, and that you are seeking Paleblood. 

While the world building is rich in its own dark and twisted way, I would hardly say that one needs to pay attention to the story to enjoy the game. You don’t need to hunt out the NPCs but the game is a bit more interesting if you do.

Bloodborne
Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

Gameplay: Difficult enemies and exploration

Bloodborne will be similar to the other Souls games when it comes to gameplay. It is a third-person role-playing game focused on melee combat and open world exploration. After your initial venture out into Yharnam, you’ll find unlit lanterns scattered across the map―these act as the bonfires in the Souls games. The lanterns will allow you to save your location and transition to the Hunter’s Dream. This small safe zone is where you will use your blood echoes―the souls you gather from your slayed enemies―to increase your defense and stats and purchase items. It’s also the area where you go when you die, and where you can find the living doll who levels you up.

The game’s combat is a mix of melee and ranged―although you’re likely to use melee weapons the most. The blades come worn and gritty and can change modes from closer range to longer range. For those unfamiliar with Souls games, at first, the melee combat can initially feel like you can just hack and slash―but if you try to fight this way, you’ll quickly find yourself struggling to survive. Part of being successful at Bloodborne is learning to time-critical strikes, perries and counter attacks, which will deal increased damage. It will also be important to utilize the game’s special items at the right moments and versus the right enemies, like using a torch against the basic enemy in the game’s second area.

Bloodborne, just like the other Souls games, is focused on this difficult combat experience. The enemies will range from more basic and simple to kill, to those that are like mini bosses and will take actual thought to slaughter. The bosses will be even harder and will take some trial and error to beat. Part of learning how to play the game is dying and venturing back to where you died to collect the blood echoes you lost. Thankfully, Bloodborne felt a bit easier than the other Souls games. The combat feels a bit more forgiving, but still smooth and responsive. It’s fun to use your blunderbuss to stun an enemy before you slash it to death, and doing a quick roll to dodge an attack is always satisfying.

The other huge part of playing Souls games is the open world exploration, the shortcuts and secrets areas, and the blind venturing into new zones. Often, you’re rewarded for exploring and will find items you wouldn’t otherwise. Bloodborne is true to form in this way―and this was also my least favorite part of the game. 

The beginning sequence is short, and it’s refreshing to not have an hour-long tutorial with cut scene after cutscene. 

At times it can get old going through the same corridors, thinking you’ve finally found the way forward only to realize you’ve looped back into an area you’ve already cleared. It’s a bit aggravating and can make the game drag on when all you want to do is find the fastest way to the boss, or the closest lantern, so you don’t have to keep repeating the long walk over and over. But at least the developers were consistent in sticking to this gameplay tactic as with their previous games.

The last thing worth mentioning about Bloodborne is the multiplayer experience. A bit into the game, the messengers will give you an item called the Beckoning Bell. If you’re about to enter a hard fight and want help, you can use this item to let other players know you’re looking for help―but it’s going to cost you a point of Insight (which you’ll gain from various items you find throughout the game). It’s possible to even set up a password system so that you can play with a friend. While most players will be nice and help you defeat whatever enemy you’re fighting, be aware that there is also a Sinister Resonant Bell that will allow players to slip into another player’s game to hunt and kill them.

Bloodborne
Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

Graphics: Dark and detailed

Bloodborne is a game full of dark blood magic transforming humans into beasts that then wander the streets of Yharnam and slaughter whoever remains. The basic idea of the game is a very dark and twisted one, and the visuals of the game reflect this perfectly. Everything is coated in grime and shadows. Enemies are covered in gross slime or patches of fur. The streets are filled with gilded carriages and chained coffins, all beautiful details that add to the vibe of the game.

While at times the game can feel dark and heavy, it can also be beautiful if you capture the sun behind you and the details of the cathedral spires in the distance. Even now, five years after the game was originally released, the graphics are solid and hold up well enough.

Bloodborne
Lifewire / Kelsey Simon

Price: Affordable and well worth it

Bloodborne has been out now for quite a few years, and thankfully, isn’t too expensive because of that. You can catch the game new for $20, and if you really wanted, it wouldn’t be hard to find the game used elsewhere for less. Really, the only thing you need to consider about the price of Bloodborne is whether or not a difficult, melee combat oriented game is for you. If you like a more relaxing and light-hearted gameplay experience, I wouldn’t recommend Bloodborne. But if you like to be challenged, and won’t rage if you die again and again, Bloodborne is a very well made game with a lot to offer. 

Competition: Other difficult RPGs

As mentioned earlier in the review, Bloodborne is very, very similar to the Souls games, so if you’ve enjoyed playing Bloodborne and haven’t already tried Dark Souls or Demon Souls, both would be worth looking into. They’ll have the same adventurous exploration and similar combat, but will be a different world and setting. 

Another game worth looking into is Remnant: From the Ashes (view on Steam). Remnant isn’t by the same developers, but they took a lot of inspiration from the Souls games. Remnant focuses on dungeon exploration versus difficult enemies and even more difficult bosses―but it will be more shooting than melee combat. It will also allow you to play co-op and to do so without some of the wishy-washy and at times confusing multiplayer experience Bloodborne offers.

Final Verdict

A dark game focused on difficult enemies and exploration. 

Bloodborne is a third-person role-playing game focused on offering players tactical combat against difficult enemies. It offers a dark, rich world to explore and hunt bosses within. While fun, its gameplay is sometimes frustrating simply because of its difficulty, but overall, Bloodborne is another great game that fits alongside the Souls series. 

Specs

  • Product Name Bloodborne
  • Product Brand Sony
  • Price $19.99
  • ESRB Rating M (Mature 17+)
  • ESRB Descriptors Blood and gore, Violence
  • Multiplayer Yes
  • Genre Role Playing