On Black Friday 2019 I purchased a PS4 and a stack of games. I had been playing almost entirely indie games for the past ten years with several exceptions: Blizzard games, a few Nintendo games, Tomb Raider, Mass Effect 3, and Fallout 4. Many modern AAA franchises never interested me, or lost my interest when I heard about how long, repetitive, and/or homogeneous they often were. Still, I knew I had missed some great games over the years, so my goal now is to play through some recent big AAA games that interest me and to write about each of them. Assume there are spoilers and enjoy!
It is entirely possible by the end of this AAA journey that Bloodborne will be my favorite game of the lot, so it’s either great or terrible that I played it first. The fans were not lying. It didn’t change my life or anything, but it is an exceptionally well designed game that is already making other big action/adventure games I’m playing after it feel dull. It’s definitely made me want to try the Dark Souls games and Sekiro and whatever FromSoftware makes next.
One of the best ideas FromSoftware had when making this game was to minimize the dialogue and writing as much as possible. This is, from what I hear, one of their trademarks in game design but what I’ve noticed that’s so great about it is not only do they do it in such a way that creates a great air of mystery thematically, it also makes it impossible to include the absolutely HORRENDOUS writing that AAA games are drowning in. I do genuinely wonder if the writers of the game came together and agreed to NOT write because they recognize their own shortcomings as game writers. There’s a mirror universe out there where the protagonist of Bloodborne has a ten minute cut scene with every character that starts “hey...rough world out there, but don’t worry, I’m the man for the job” and then does an over the shoulder smirk or some bullshit. Can you imagine? Well, actually, yea you can cuz that’s like every other game.
I was surprised to find that once I got accustomed to the combat after the starting area (it tortured me for a WHILE) the game was not that hard. I’ve read it’s probably the easiest of all their games - most of the bosses (except a few of those goddamn chalice bosses which were TRASH and haunt my dreams) were easy after I died a ton on the first three (Cleric Beast, Father G, and Blood-starved Beast). The regular enemies (and a few of those god damn hunters) were the only things that were challenging after a while. Still, the boss fights (and fighting in general) is INCREDIBLY FUN and smooth and I could tell every time I died that it was my own fault and virtually never some dumb video game crap. Additionally, the world design itself and its circuitous nature is so well done and fits so well with the themes of the game it was truly beautiful and engrossing.
Thankfully there wasn’t TOO much of this in Bloodborne. I played the entire game without ever using a single item besides my healing potions and poison knives (cuz of a hint I read from another player at one point). I dunno what the hell the other items do because there’s no descriptions, and there were too many of them to care about. Also those chalice dungeons are horrible. They are the exact generic, poorly designed, annoying repetitive AAA video game crap that Bloodborne should not have. They’re a good idea for sure but the execution just feels like blubber on an otherwise perfectly lean Olympian. Thankfully they’re unnecessary to do...but I loved the game so much I wanted to platinum it (a phrase I can use now that I have a Playstation with internet!) so I followed a chalice speedrun guide to get everything I needed. It was horrible, even speedrunning.
Bloodborne fuckin’ rules. I already want to replay it - I did a skill build which is apparently weird because I started with the cane so I missed using a majority of the weapons. I only used the cane and then switched to Ludwig’s Holy Blade and never used anything else. I love cosmic horror stuff so the world was right up my alley - it continued to surprise throughout with amazing new areas, mysterious world development, AWESOME enemies, incredible fun and smooth combat, and just felt like a truly living breathing world unto itself due to all those factors combined. What a game.