Very minor spoilers for the very first area of Bloodborne ahead:
I realized something last night, as I stood over the crumpled corpse of Father Cascoigne. After my fifteenth, or maybe even twentieth dance in that Graveyard with him, I had finally landed the killing blow and those now iconic words "Prey Slaughtered" faded onto the screen. I realized that Hidetaka Miyazaki was trying to teach me something.
But how did the second boss take me so long to defeat? I dropped the Capra Demon faster than this guy. How did this boss cause me so much trouble? Me, a Souls veteran of six years! Hell a Soul's veteran whose primary combat style has always been light and nimble. Bloodborne seems like it was custom made just for me. So how did it take me an entire evening to fell this boss? I know what FromSoftware does in their games. I know all of their tricks, all of their tells, their McGuffin's. I can smell a mimic a mile away. There was nothing I wasn't prepared for with this developer.
Or so I thought.
Apparently From Software has changed up their game. Before I move on, let me jump back an hour or two to my first boss encounter. Like most people I beat the Cleric Beast on my second (or third) try. And that's because I think that boss is set up in such a way to teach you about dodge rolling effectively. If you try to lock-on and dash around, you get caught up in the environment and pinned down (which is how I took him on, in my first two tries... and died). Once I went into that fight though, and got up in his grill after he finished a combo, then rolled away, and repeated the same tactic, he went down with no issues. That was a pretty typical Souls like boss fight to be honest.
But then about twenty minutes later, I stumbled upon a foggy Graveyard (obviously a boss arena), I didn't have too many Echoes on my person at the time, so I felt no need to grind up and use the ones I had to level a stat. I just said, "screw it. Let's see how this second boss is".
My living room lighting for Bloodborne gaming. ;)
And so I triggered Father Cascoigne's introductory cutscene. I tried the same tactic I did with the Cleric Beast, rolling around and picking away at him. It worked ok, but he was obviously much faster, and constantly closing that gap I just made. So I dug into my old bag of tricks and thought about the environment. "Awwww hey check that out! He gets stuck up in the gravestones, and I can safely unleash a power attack on him while taking minimal counter attack damage". So I'm sitting there thinking... "Miyazaki, this is a pretty cool game so far, but I'm slightly disappointed at how easy these bosses have been". As I finished that thought, Cascoigne stopped attacking, and exploded, knocking me back.
Suddenly and without warning my clever exploit became completely useless, as the mass of this Beast Man threw his body into the tombstones I was cheesing him with, and demolished them, landing claws first in my face. "OH SHIT!!! Damn you Miyazaki, just as I was lamenting your lack of challenge, you do this! Damn you, I love you."
In one fell swoop From Software went from stringing me along in my old ways, even trolling me with a cheap exploit, only to tear it all away and decimate my smug face. That was it for me that night. I did try to face him a few more times, but no dice.
So the next day at work, I'm trying my best not to spoil the boss, or anything about the game, but I stumbled across a comment someone made about "Parrying with the off hand firearm" as a viable and fairly easy tactic for a lot of encounters. To be fair, the game had already provided me with this information, I just failed to retain it. You see, I have always been extremely bad at parrying in Souls games, so it's a tactic I rarely ever employ. But I do recall one of the Hunter's Dream notes referring to the move.
I get home last night, and when I finally fire Blooborne back up, I go back and try using this parry move. It doesn't work at all, I have no idea what I am doing wrong. I decide to try it on smaller enemies first to see how it works. It doesn't work. Then I realized that I was simply firing too early, your enemy literally has to be in your face with a telegraphed attack for the parry to connect. OMG it worked, that Frankendude is stumbling before me, and OH YES... I just shoved that saw blade through his face and killed him in one hit.
Long story short (well it's actually not short at all, at this point), I attempted the Father Cascoigne battle several more times. Each time, I noticed that health bar getting further and further down. But his fast, closing moves and combos always kill me too fast. I am determined at this point. It's almost time for me to sleep, but I refuse to drift off until I defeat this scourge on my game. I ended up grinding for about 20 minutes just to get some more vitality, and strength. I return to that now all too familiar fog gate, walk in. Take off my headphones, zone everything else out, and prepare for my final battle of the night.
And I walked away victorious. The parries both connected, Cascoigne took two huge hits in Beast form, and he is now a ghost of Yharnam's past.
And that is where I realized that the Father Cascoigne boss encounter was trying to teach me one thing. It was teaching me the importance of the parry tactic in Bloodborne, how to properly time it (because if I screwed it up, it would backfire), and it was also teaching me to utilize my inventory. As I stumbled across a little girl looking for her mother, who's Father was a hunter and had gone off to look for her as well. I realized who I was fighting, and equipped the item the little girl gave me. Used it, and it stunned my foe. Ultimately the parry is what ended that battle, but it was pretty awesome to see how they snuck in yet another way to face off against him.
I can't say for sure, but I have a good feeling that the following bosses are going to force me to learn even more new tricks in order to survive and thrive in this nightmare world.
I closed out my session last night, tearing the ever loving hell out of the Chapel Ward's main floor, everything was easy after Father Cascoigne. On to further (eventual) victories tonight!
I just realized... night hasn't even fallen yet in my game!