Firstly I’d like to declare, officially, to myself and whoever is reading this that people were not lying about Souls games and Pokémon. I am LOVING Bloodborne and Pokémon Shield. They are my first games in both widely loved series (if one can call Souls/Soulsborne games a series) and are quickly becoming two of my favorite recently played games. They are wildly different in just about every way and exemplify why variety in games is so fantastic and important. They do have one thing in common though: they are confusing as all goddamn hell. From insight and EVs/IVs to secluded NPCs that have crucial information it’s clear both developers went out of their way to obfuscate the games’ inner workings in often misguided attempts at creating a sense of mystery and complexity.
Now that might seem like I’m being negative but it isn’t all bad. In Bloodborne mystery is one of the main vibes of the game, and it’s done incredibly well throughout. Some things are best left unsaid, or simply alluded to, to make our imaginations run wild. In the game there are brilliant clues hidden in item descriptions and notes that create an atmosphere of cosmic unknown horror that gives the game its famous aura. In Pokémon there is a deep intricacy to capturing, leveling, evolving, etc. to entice the hardcore devotees into spending hundreds of hours on an otherwise short and easy game. While I don’t have a problem with any of this in theory, I’ve found consistently in both games that this core idea bleeds out into too many places.
I’ll give a simple example for both games: in Bloodborne there is no controller layout. I played the first three hours of the game confused because my starting weapon - the threaded cane - was no longer becoming a whip. I could not figure out what I’d done and thought I’d either broken the weapon or there was some quest line to make it a whip again. I’d like you to keep in mind that randomly pressing buttons to check them in Bloodborne is begging for a horrible accident and had already almost resulted in my death when I lowered my health to get more silver bullets. I finally figured out after some googling - and three hours of confused play - that I just had to hit L1. Whoops. In Pokémon there is no in game explanation (I’m 30 hours in and still haven’t found it) of what types are strong/weak against others. Full stop. How is that even possible? There are SO MANY POSSIBLE COMBINATIONS and besides the obvious stuff - water is good against fire - how the hell am I supposed to remember this stuff? Instead, once again, I constantly turn to google and have to scroll through dozens of articles and youtube videos of whiny fanboys to find basic game information.
That shit is not fun y’all. It just isn’t. I could go on listing confusing elements of each game but I won’t - like why is breeding even a thing in Pokémon it’s literally just a random Pokémon generator or the fact that I’m terrified to use literally any of the non-basic items in Bloodborne out of fear that I might miss out on an entire section of the game. Or how is there no actual way to just....sort your hundreds of Pokémon, like there’s literally no way to just SORT them! WHAT? The search function works well but come the hell on. Or that in Bloodborne there is virtually no information of how and when new areas open up and I spent 30 minutes walking around a corpse strewn Hemwick Charnel Lane along the border looking for hidden paths and doorways before I just accidentally went to the center of the field by a random statue and started a cut scene opening up a new area. Sorry, sorry....let me stop there.
I love both games to death. I definitely would like to replay Bloodborne at some point (I just platinumed it, and yes I did the trick to upload my save to the cloud so I could unlock all three endings cuz god forbid they just design the game so that you can replay the boss instead of playing a 40 hour game over three times as if I don’t have an actual life) and I am taking my sweet time with Pokemon trying to collect them all. So many of the choices in story, themes, design, etc. are so utterly fantastic in both games. I highly recommend both games but if you’re new to the series like I was, just know going in...using the internet is almost as important as playing the game itself.
And to give this a tldr: both companies need to hire a team of UX designers. Seriously.