Bloodborne to me was somewhat of a surprise. I was a fan of Dark Souls 1 and 2, but not a ferocious one like most of the fan base. I figure, what else can be done with this type of game? At a certain point, fighting enemies with swords and whatnot to fight the boss would just get old right? For that reason, I picked up Bloodborne in late 2016 instead of its release date. I got it on a discount and I was blown away. It is From Software’s masterpiece and one of the most unique and chilling games I’ve ever played.
The system seller is an overused term that is always stamped on the hot game that everyone and their mother plays. In the past, this title has gone to games like Halo, God of War, Zelda, and Gears of War. The criteria for the system-seller has always been mass appeal, loud, bloody and grunting action heroes.
But what if I told you there was a different kind of game that could be a system seller? What if I told you that game was dark, gloomy, quiet, disturbing, and also ultra-violent? the PS4 exclusive Bloodborne is that very game.
If you know of the Dark Souls series, you will be instantly familiar with what Bloodborne has to offer. It’s a game that, at its core, is about exploring a massive, interconnected world and taking down enemies and bosses on your path to completing the story. In that way, Bloodborne is very clearly more than the sum of its parts. It’s an RPG, it’s an action game, it’s a horror game, it’s a puzzle game and it’s also a story-driven game.
It’s one of the most unique experiences you can have while playing a video game and it’s maybe the best system seller in Playstation’s history. Let’s explore what makes Bloodborne such a memorable and chilling experience.
The World of Yarnham
Some videogames need great characters to carry their stories and like most good TV shows and movies, that is often the smartest route to take when telling a story. On rare occasions though, the world becomes a great enough character that it doesn’t matter who is inhabiting it.
Bloodborne is that form of an incredible story that has its world as the main character. Graphically, it’s not going to blow you away, but it’s the personality of the world that comes alive. Right at the start, you’re in a decrepit library being experimented on and all of a sudden, you’re fighting a vicious Werewolf with not a weapon in sight. After you inevitably die, you wake up in the Hunter’s Dream.
A mysterious place seemingly beyond time itself where the portals back to the terrifying world of Yarnham reside. It’s there you meet the doll, an absolutely chilling character who acts as a guide for your quest, and depending on when you approach her, she may either be completely lifeless or animated and helpful. It’s a terrifying touch that fits in perfectly with the theme being built here.
Once you’re thrust back into the world though, it’s time to march forward. The deranged citizens of Yarnham are on a hunt and when you enter their sights, you become the hunted. As you fight and run through the streets of Yarnham, you’ll hear groans and sounds of agony coming from houses.
Most are unable to be interacted with, but every so often you’ll see a house with a lantern-lit up out front. Are they helpful? That’s up to you to find out. Traverse through the game some more and you’ll be introduced to a huge variety of landscapes such as creepy bogs, huge gothic churches, insane, demonic worlds, and even a massive haunted castle.
Where Bloodborne’s world stands alone is how its story unfolds. See, in Bloodborne, the story progressing actually changes the world around you. This means enemies change, locations open up, the sky becomes different, and some more interesting things that I won’t spoil here.
At the center of all this stands you, the hunter, a created character of your choosing who doesn’t have a voice. You’re given a vague task and sent out into this cruel and terrifying world on your own. Let’s figure out how you’re going to survive.
Bloodborne is all about exploration and combat. There are no choices to make with your dialogue, no character relationships to build, no chosen one to become. You’re going to be fighting and fighting a lot and luckily, Bloodborne gives you a ton of options to do so. At the start, you can choose from several switchblade weapons.
These are an awesome creation that lets you switch from a longer-range weapon to a shorter one at the press of the button and sets the stage for some of the most unique weapons you’ll ever see in a game.
Most of the weapons in Bloodborne follow your standard sword and spear varieties, but then things can get really weird with giant wheel weapons, a hammer that lets you rip the handle out to become a sword, and much more to discover along the way.
While all this sounds pretty complex, controlling combat is actually quite simple. R1 is your basic attack and each weapon you have comes with a unique attack combo. R2 is your standard heavy attack which you can use to finish off your basic combos with. With each weapon, you’ve got a special attack that can be activated as well by pressing and holding the R1 button.
After a second, you will see your weapon light up and that means you’re about to unleash a devastating strike. This attack is slower, but can really damage some of the tougher enemies and bosses in the game. L2 fires your gun, which has several uses.
On its own, your gun won’t do much damage, but the magic of your gun weapons is that when it’s shot at the precise time your enemy attacks, you will open them up for a counter-attack where you can approach them and straight up rip them apart with your hands for an instant kill.
L1 let’s you change your weapon form if it has an alternate form and this can be crucial as quicker attacks are better for one on one encounters while the larger weapon forms are great for crowd control. If you hold up while attacking with R2, you’ll do a devastating jump attack and this can be used to attack unsuspecting enemies below you to deal a ton of damage.
Healing works in Bloodborne by using Blood Vials that you will find around the world and collect from enemies. These are limited in their use and will not recharge, but they can be purchased from the Hunter’s Dream and are generally easy to find. While you can freely attack in any direction you’d like, pressing R3 locks you on to nearby enemies and gives you a way better dodging position.
Speaking of which, dodging is absolutely crucial in Bloodborne. At the start of the game, you’re given a shield and it becomes quickly apparent that it’s completely useless, and once you realize that, that’s when the Bloodborne experience really starts.
There is no blocking in this game. That’s right, swords and spears and all manner of horror coming your way, but you’ll have no way to block it. Instead, you’ll be relying on dodging and rolling. Dodging is the most important part of Bloodborne as it will be your main way of evading damage.
In order to dodge, you hit O and when you dodge, your next attack will be a quicker version of your normal attack. Most attacks can be dodged with the quickstep, but if not, you will have to roll. In order to roll, you cannot be locked on to an enemy. This may seem strange, but for some of the bosses, they will be so massive that they won’t be needed to lock on as they are impossible to lose sight of.
In addition to all of this, we’ve got the Regain system. The Regain system works by letting you regain your own health if you attack an enemy immediately after you’ve been damaged. There is a set amount of time you have to retaliate after taking damage, but once you attack, you get the health back that you lost.
If this sounds like an awesome system, you’re right. The Regain system makes it so that you need to be up close and personal with your enemies at all times. This doesn’t just go for normal enemies either as boss enemies play by the same rules. This inspires an aggressive and violent play style from the player and really helps get you into the groove that Bloodborne is aiming to achieve.
Weapons and Armor
With all the horrors you’ll be dealing with throughout your time with Bloodborne, you’ll need some great equipment to do battle with and while there is definitely less weapons and armor available than its spiritual predecessor Dark Souls had, there is plenty to keep you busy.
Weapons come in various forms in Bloodborne and you acquire them in a variety of ways. To start, you’ll be given a Hunter’s License and this is the way you acquire the base four weapons. As you progress throughout the story, you’ll find weapons after you defeat special enemies in the world as well and you’ll also be able to purchase them from various covenenant stores as well.
The weapons list isn’t large, but it is impressive since most of the weapons have a unique secondary form. For me, the Kirkhammer was my weapon of choice. It has a unique mix of light and strong attacks that makes it ideal for taking on normal enemies with and also proves to be devastating against a lot of bosses in the game.
If you fall for a particular weapon like me, you won’t be stuck when more weapons become available because all weapons are able to be upgraded. How much damage you end up doing has to do with various stats that you can level up and you can see which weapon favors which stat in the equipment menu.
For armor, you won’t be finding anything resembling traditional armor in Bloodborne. Instead of giant suits of armor, you’ll be adorned with various coats, cloaks and hats. I’m not going to lie to you here, some of the outfits in Bloodborne are pretty ridiculous looking, but there are a few that have a great look to them that fits in perfectly with the world.
The outfits you’ll be acquiring have a gothic/pirate/cowboy vibe to that seems bizarre at first, but when you start meeting some of Yarnham’s residents, you’ll understand why everything is so weird. Each of the armor pieces have their own stats and bonuses and depending on the area you’re exploring, you might want to switch your armor up to be better prepared for it. Some outfits offer poison resistance, more defense against ranged attacks, and a ton of other abilities as well.
Items are incredibly important in Bloodborne and their usage is incredibly varied, with each item serving a specific purpose. You might often find yourself picking up items randomly that seemingly have no use. The rule in Bloodborne is the more useless something seems, the more important it will turn out to be.
For example, you will come across an item called an Umbilical Cord while playing, this is one of the most important items in the game yet it seems to have no use. DO NOT THROW THIS AWAY. This item helps unlock the true ending of the game, and yet so many players treat it as if it’s nothing. In Bloodborne, nothing is nothing. Everything has a purpose. While there are obscure items, there are plenty of obvious ones too.
Among the most useful items, you’ll find while playing is items that alter how your weapons work. This includes items that light your weapon on fire or charge it up with electricity. Each boss you face will have a weakness for you to figure out and depending on the type of item you have, you may be able to exploit that weakness in a big way.
Without spoiling anything, any enemy with fur is generally susceptible to fire. Apart from your basic weapon boosting items, there are far more intriguing uses for a large amount of them.
For example, the Beast Blood Pellet might seem innocuous at first, but if you use enough of these, you build up your Beast meter and this greatly increases the damage you both take and receive. Other items might grant you more Insight which we’ll go over below and some can even make you invisible.
Your items are not relegated to support items in Bloodborne. Several items can cause some serious damage to enemies and it’s always important to have a few on tap for a big battle. Molotov Cocktails are very good for keeping enemies and bosses at bay, and they’re relatively easy to come by as well. There are a ton of items to discover and part of the fun is figuring out what each one actually does.
Dark Souls seemed to have restarted an age-old tradition of boss battles and although it gets credit for it in the modern age, the boss battle has been consistent throughout gaming history. Bloodborne, however, takes boss battles to a new height. In case you weren’t clear on how your time was going to be spent in Bloodborne, your first boss fight is against the Cleric Beast.
This is a horrifying creature that comes at you hard and fast and if you’re not ready and well-schooled in evasion techniques and the Regain system, you’re going to meet a quick end. The key to fighting bosses in the game is simple. Do not be afraid. As crazy as it sounds, you need to approach these beasts as if you were a beast yourself.
That’s because you are. You have more at your disposal to win than any enemy in the game. You can heal, you can buff your weapons, you can become a monster yourself, so never sell yourself short here.
When it comes to facing the Cleric Beast, you have to fight to win, not to survive. That means that hanging back and throwing Molotov Cocktails aren’t going to get it done here, you need to get under this boss and get there fast because that’s where he’s most vulnerable and that’s how you’re going to win fast.
While the Cleric Beast doles out tons of damage, you’re already well versed in the Regain system, so whatever he deals out you can recover in the blink of an eye if you stay close to him. stick with this strategy and he will fall in no time. Now, that’s only the Cleric Beast. I walked you through the first boss of the game, but you need to know that it gets far tougher from there.
Each boss you take on requires its own strategy that you will have to learn and visual and audio cues for you to hone in on and you’ll have to discover for yourself how to take each one on.
As is par for the course with a From Software game, multiplayer is both available and vague as can be when it comes to figuring out how to access it. In order to get multiplayer working in Bloodborne, you have to first acquire the Beckoning Bell.
You’ll get this item fairly early on in Hunter’s Dream and once you have it, you’ll be able to use it to send out a signal that you want other players to join your game. If other players are available and have made themselves recruitable into your game, you might find yourself with a coop partner.
In order to ring the bell though, you need to have Insight. Insight is a stat that you can gain through various ways while playing Bloodborne. Talking to certain characters gains Insight, encountering bosses, and using certain items can gain Insight as well.
Insight can also affect whether or not you can see certain things in the game and just having enough of it on hand will make certain shops and enemies seeable to you. One item you’re likely to come across is called the Madman’s Knowledge and you can use this to gain a great deal of Insight to make sure you always have enough on hand to get a multiplayer game going.
Insight can also be used to purchase certain items from the Bath Messengers in the Hunter’s Dream, so make sure that you check there when you have a lot on hand.
The multiplayer might seem random, but it’s not just random strangers you’re going to play with. If you want to play with a friend, you can set that up fairly easily as well. In order to do this, you have to go into your game’s settings and choose Network and from there, set a password.
Share this password with your friend and then both of you should input that password before you ring the Beckoning Bell and they ring their Small Resonant Bell, which is used to signal availability to join games in Bloodborne. Once the two of you have rung your respective bells, you will end up joining your friend’s game.
Bloodborne does not support voice chat, so from here, you can either use emotes in game to communicate with your friend, or you can use the PS4 party chat.
Once you join the game, you might notice some things are a bit different. For once, enemies are going to be stronger and potentially more aggressive. Bosses will have more HP than normal as well, but they can generally only target one of you at a time, so this balances out.
One thing to be aware of is that you and your friend need to be within 10 levels of each other in order to play together. That means that you can’t just start the game and have your friend at level 40 come stomping in to just demolish anything in front of you.
As is in tone with the world of Bloodborne, not everything in multiplayer is about cooperating. In fact, some of the most fun you can have in the game is by using the Sinister Resonant Bell. This item lets you invade another player’s world and hunt them down. While this seems cruel and pointless, it is cruel but it’s far from pointless. Some of the covenants you can join in the game reward you for hunting down other players.
The process of invading another player’s world is a bit difficult to be sure. First, you need to acquire the Sinister Resonant Bell and ring it and at the same time, you need a player in another game somewhere to have the Sinister Bell-Ringing Woman enemy be ringing her bell in their world.
This might seem impossible, but once a player uses a Beckoning Bell in their game once, the Sinister Bell-Ringing Woman will being to spawn. That means even though you’re looking to play with a friend, you’re also opening up yourself for invasion yourself.
Throughout the game, you might get the Sinister Bell-Ringing Woman appearing anyway and each time she spawns, you will see a message display alerting you that she’s nearby. If you want no part of being invaded or having another player join you at this point, you can fire the item called Silencing Blank to get rid of both effects.
You might wonder when you would need help in Bloodborne since it was designed as a mainly single player game but sometimes you will come across an area or boss so tough that you just need some extra help. Because of this, you want to keep some Beckoning Bells and Resonant Bells on hand as often as you can so you aren’t left out to dry when you need an assist.
Apart from playing with friends, there are other integrated world activities as well. One of these is having messages appear for other players through messengers in the world. Sometimes these will consist of helpful tips, warnings or other times they might lead you to an uncertain doom.
You can rate these messages too to let the player’s know what you thought of their hint. Even cooler is the ability to see the Specters or ghosts of other players. This lets you see the silhouette of a player who just experienced their last remaining moments. This can be a huge help and can clue you into the dangers that are lurking around the corner. There are several parts of the game where you will be ambushed or just tricked into falling to your doom and these messages and Specters are a great way to save you from these cheap deaths.
While From Software is known for its boss encounters, there is nothing to scoff at when it comes to the enemies you’ll encounter in Bloodborne. While bosses are cool and all, they aren’t the thing you’ll be spending your time with the most while playing Bloodborne. No matter what the area is, you’ll be finding enemies to face and the variety is wild.
At the start of the game, you’ll be facing your basic villager enemies and while they’re nothing to scoff at, you are probably expecting something weirder based on everything else going on around you. Well, don’t worry about that because as you progress, enemies get weirder and creepier and when the game reaches it’s pinnacle points, every enemy goes completely insane and the world becomes a very dangerous place.
You’ll be facing down witches, giants, undead knights, monstrous boars, and even monstrosities that take you to whole other area if you fall to them. While each enemy requires a specific strategy, one thing remains certain. You need to stagger as much as possible and that means you need to be smart with where you use your gun as your timing can mean everything. If you can’t manage to get good enough at staggering, consider stealth as an option too as this is an instant kill as well if you can sneak up from behind them.
As you grow in power, so will your enemies, so just because you got that fancy new armor and weapon does not mean you are going to steamroll everything in front of you. Generally when you get new toys to play with, so do your enemies and that’s something to keep in mind as long as you’re playing Bloodborne.
Bosses can certainly be classified as special enemies here, but that’s not the kind I’m talking about. As you proceed in the game, you might come across some very human-seeming enemies. These are generally hunters just like yourself who have gone mad and if you can defeat them, you generally get a great prize for doing so.
Some will give you new armor and weapons and others hold important items. There are not a ton of these enemies in the game, but they will require the highest amount of skill to defeat and some are even tougher than most bosses. What makes these enemies so tough to defeat is without a doubt their speed.
Because of that, you want to make sure you have weapons that not only deal good damage initially, but ones also ones that can deal continuous damage after your first strike. That means you need to use the paper items to give your weapon a flame or lightning boost here if possible. Don’t be afraid to waste items on these enemies as they are not to be trifled with in the least. If you defeat these enemies, they never spawn again, so once you’re strong enough to take them on, I say go for it.
If you can’t beat them on your own, you can also invite a friend to take them on together and although they will be more damaging, anything that happens in your game will be saved to your game progress and vice versa and there’s no shame in abusing this system a bit if you need to. Some special enemies are tied to quests as well, which brings to…
You wouldn’t expect it, but Bloodborne has a good amount of story going for it even though it’s not the most obvious. As is tradition with From Software games, a lot of the story is hidden in item description, but here, it’s also being told in the environment. Listening to character dialogue is so important here because you basically need to take note of everything characters are talking about to understand the significance of the places you’re going.
Throughout your journey, you might end up rescuing several people and telling them to go to one of the various safe havens you discover. Once you’re there, you can talk to them as much as you’d like and it’s always a good idea to check in on them after a particularly big story event to see what new information they might be willing to dole out to you.
Some of the side quests are obvious to take part in, but others are far from it. Here’s a quick hint for an early one that can have a major impact on a boss battle. After the first boss, you’ll enter into another part of Yarnham and there you might find a lantern lit up and if you interact with it, you can talk to a little girl inside.
She will tell you how terrified she is and how her father is missing and she will give you a Music Box to show to him whenever you happen to run into him. Unfortunately, her father is a hunter just like you and he is succumbing to the madness infecting everyone in the town. Because of this, you’re going to have to fight him.
When you encounter him, he warns you that a similar fate is coming for all hunters, even you and before you know it, it’s go time. Father Gascione has two forms and with the Music Box in hand, you will have his Kryptonite. Using the music box immediately will trigger his beast form to start off the fight and it will stagger him each time you use it. Take this break in the action to pepper him with Molotov Cocktails repeatedly and you’ll make one of the tougher fights in the game a relative cakewalk.
There is much more to discover on the sidequest front and there are even multiple optional areas that have their own storylines and bosses as well.
On its own, Bloodborne will last you about 60 hours and if you conquer that and decide you need more, the Chalice Dungeons are available to take on. These portals are accessible from the Hunter’s Dream and offer you tons and tons of hours of dungeon crawling and boss fighting.
Enemies are different in the Chalice Dungeon and the bosses are some of the most difficult you’ll ever face in a game. While some of the bosses are slight retreads, others are completely new enemies or characters you’ve heard about in the game’s cutscenes and wondered where they were. The Chalice Dungeons aren’t exactly connected to the main story, but there is plenty to gain down there both in experience points as well as new equipment.
In order to access the Chalice Dungeons, you first have to perform something called a Chalice Ritual. In order to do this, you combine Ritual Materials with Chalices at the Ritual Altars in the Hunter’s Dream. When you do this, you can create a ton of different Chalice Dungeons.
Each one is procedurally generated and they are rated from 1-5 in terms of how difficult they are. Although they are randomly generated, the bosses will generally remain the same on each tier, so you won’t be running into bosses from the level 5 dungeons in level one runs.
With all this horror awaiting you, you must be wondering how do I save my progress. Wherein Dark Souls there were Bonfires to show us the path to safety, Bloodborne has purple lanterns instead, and by interacting with one of these, you can save your game. The other benefit lanterns have is the ability to go back to the Hunter’s Dream.
This can be incredibly useful because you generally see a purple lantern after you fight a boss and that means you’ve likely accumulated a ton of Blood Echoes and want to spend them on leveling up your character.
In case you weren’t already played out by the end of Bloodborne, you’ll be glad to know that there is DLC content to be had that is nothing short of magnificent. The Old Hunters DLC is so fantastic that it feels like it was there all along. In both lore and challenge, the Old Hunters is a great trip that unlocks new equipment, introduces new characters, and has you fighting some of the toughest enemies Bloodborne has to offer.
The new area, appropriately called the Hunter’s Nightmare is a chilling journey into a land where hunters scorned reside and some of the toughest bosses in the game reside. In particular, Orphan of Kos is an insane challenge that will require you to use everything you’ve learned during your playthrough put into action in a flawless manner.
Question: How long is Bloodborne?
Answer: The base game of Bloodborne will take you anywhere from 50-70 hours to complete and that’s if you don’t complete any of the side content or optional areas. Adding those in, you can end up spending 80 hours here in order to explore everything there is to offer. The DLC adds about 10-15 more hours on top of all this, so it’s an incredible amount of content for one game.
Question: How do I get the best ending?
Answer: Stop reading right now if you don’t want spoilers. In order to get the best ending, you need to consume 3 parts of the umbilical cords that you will find throughout your journey. Some will be given to you after boss fights and others you will have to find in Ioseftka’s laboratory. Once you consume these three items, fight the final boss and after you defeat them, another boss called the Moon Presence will appear and once you defeat it, you will get the true ending and one of the weirdest sequences in gaming.
Question: Is Bloodborne harder than Dark Souls?
Answer: Yes and no. It’s a more fast-paced and less methodical style of gameplay, but it’s also more forgiving with its regain system and ability to heal as much as you want as long as you have the blood vials on hand. I found it equally as difficult, but others claim it to be far harder or easier than Dark Souls, so it depends on who you ask.
There is so much to take in while playing Bloodborne that it can get very overwhelming at times and although I’ve played through it several times now, I’m still discovering new paths to take, new strategies to employ, and new items to take advantage of. There are also several optional areas I skipped the first time around, so it’s like playing an extended game the second time through if you happened to miss them. The story is forever one of the weirdest and most endearing ones I’ve seen in any form of fiction and it genuinely tells a story like no other medium can.
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