Spiritual successor to Soul Series does not disappoint
From Software is known for its vast open world RPG games and being able to keep the genre fresh, despite how frequently they return to it.
Around the world these games have gained infamy for their difficulty but despite how challenging the games are, they are also fair with a learning curve that helps players to ease into the games early on and begin to fear bosses less and less as the game continues. Bloodborne is not too dissimilar from this model, however it does not start out as easy, with your character being put up against an unavoidable enemy with no weapon to start the game.
In terms of the setting there is no question that Yarnham looks fantastic and creates an atmosphere that is dark and brooding. Although it is creepy enough, sometimes the city can be difficult to navigate with no map to guide you, which for players used to the Souls games with their lack of directions is okay, but for a new player could be very difficult for them to find their way around.
The lighting within the outside areas of the city is perfect, but this not a surprise considering the amazing design work that has been put into the game. But again, there are areas that without certain items found within the game, can simply not be navigated due to a lack of light. I’m fine with this having experienced the catacombs in Dark Souls, but to a new player it may just seem like the game is trying to make it too difficult.
If you have ever played a From Software game before, you will know the movement feels natural and this is something that sticks in Bloodborne, the flow of the characters when running and jumping around Yarnham feels superb and makes it easy to run from enemies you aren’t ready to fight just yet.
Speaking of fighting, the battle mechanics of the game are very hard to master with the usual ‘hack n slash’ style of RPGs being thrown out and replaced with well-timed strikes and rolls to avoid attacks, along with parries that require perfect timing to stop enemies in their tracks. These mechanics can take time to learn although once explored enough, it is easier to master them.
There are two sides to the enemies in Bloodborne, there is the fierce but fair enemies, who provide a difficult but exciting challenge such as the Witch of Hemwick, then there is the excruciatingly hard bosses such as the First Hunter, where it is recommended you call for help from online players in order to defeat him.
Unlike in the other From Software games the jump in difficulty between bosses is much bigger with the first few being manageable although they may take a few attempts to beat. From there, every level up you progress counts. Bosses just seem to hurt you more and more whilst you do the same damage back to them. It is fair to say farming blood echoes to level up is not an awful idea.
The standard enemies in the game are not too unmanageable and progress in difficulty more easily than the bosses in the game. Although if there is a number of them together, they can overpower you and lock you down almost completely till death.
The variety of options to customize your character with is exceptional, with a choice for everyone and anyone. If you want to use an axe you can use an axe, a halberd, you can use a halberd.
A new addition to the From Software games are guns such as the pistol and Blunderbuss which have different effects on enemies. Where the Blunderbuss is short range and packs a punch that can stun opponents, the pistol is more lightweight, has longer range, but is not as powerful.
Something I like about the guns is that you aren’t by any means forced to use them, as the player will always have the choice of two handing their main weapon, or carrying a different item in their offhand such as a shield.
The clothing is full of variety and the player can change the clothes they wear to match enemies, so if a particular boss deals lots of fast damage, the player may choose to wear heavy armour. But beware, heavier armour will make you move slower and roll away to a lesser distance.
Bloodborne is a fun, if not frustrating challenge for any player and although the game is considered by some to be difficult for the sake of being difficult, I would disagree. If the player is up for the challenge and is committed to beating the game, then the game will reward them for their effort with a fantastic story and exciting battles. For me, this game more than lives up to previous outings from From Software.
By Adam Hitchcock
The world is open enough to be able to explore, although small enough to keep the player on track.
Boss battles are exciting and challenging without being needlessly difficult.
Lots of customization options to help create a unique experience.
Final Score: 9/10
Reviewed on PS4
Available from multiple outlets, including Amazon: Bloodborne – Game of the Year (PS4)