“Welcome home, good hunter. What is it you desire?”
A warm Saturday afternoon, you’re sitting on your couch, snack is ready and within reach. You’ve decided to marathon Overwatch, and the universe is finally on your side. All the chores are done, and you have no work to worry about — life is good.
It’s a very soothing imagery for an average gamer. In the end, what an average gamer craves is fun, that’s why he’s average. A hardcore gamer is seeking challenge, and he wants the glory associated with the game. If you want an example, just look at the top ranking player in any multiplayer game. That person embarked on an arduous journey, climbing his way. The majority of console/pc gamers are average. Although PC tends to be a little more involving because of the knowledge you require to build a gaming PC to play the latest and greatest games.
No, The Witcher 3 wouldn’t work on a Core2Duo grandma!
An average game doesn’t require much effort from the player to enjoy it. You can pick up any game and have fun. But I do believe that a player never gits gud because most games are dilated to fit anyone’s playstyle. Some people will never play on hard, and others will snobbishly state that difficult is the new easy. Video games are commercial, if a publisher can allure more players by changing some mechanics, they implore the developers to do it. Familiar game = more sales. A publisher’s belief, at least.
In an era where gaming is slowly dying, FromSoftware is always challenging its players to improve their gaming skills.
Thus enters Bloodborne; a linear game which you’ll be unconditionally in love with by the end. It’s not everyone’s cup of coffee, but some like it strong and others with sugar, you love the aroma, anyway.
I choose Bloodborne over Dark Souls because those games have a freedom to a certain degree, there are multiple approaches to playstyle. This game takes a single approach — aggression; and if you fail to adapt, punishment awaits.
If the mandatory death in the tutorial section didn’t fill you in on the tone of the game, you’re in for a surprise. After your first death by the scourge beast, you wake up in Hunter’s Dream. After the arrival, you will pick your tools for the hunt, a hunter’s weapon and a gun. Resurrect back at Iosefka’s Clinic and kill the cruel beast. Killing the beast brings a sense of power because you were helpless moments ago, fighting with your fist like a karate master, now, you’re ready for the hunt.
Shaping the gameplay
Dark Souls has shields. The beautiful things you can crouch behind and feel safe. You wait for the enemy to strike, let your shield absorb the damage and attack. It’s fun when you kill the bosses, but it’s not the right method to have a good time. As you progress through in Bloodborne, you’ll notice that shields are missing. There is only one shield in the game — the Wooden Shield. The purpose of this piece of equipment is to mock the existence of shields. The description of this item reads:
“A crude wooden shield used by the masses who have arisen to join the hunt.
Hunters do not normally employ shields, ineffectual against the strength of the beasts as they tend to be.
Shields are nice, but not if they engender passivity.”
Remove the shield, and you change the game. You have to rely on dodge, attack, and parry. It’s not easy because every enemy has its different opening, attacks, and health pool. So, you would have to test the water and get a feel for it. You have to stay on your toes. The attack should be your priority and parry your friend. I felt so secure behind a shield that I never learned to parry in Dark Souls, here, it became essential because some of my greatest victories came from a successful parry (Martyr Logarius and Gherman). Even if you do get hit, you can regain a portion, or all, of your health if you attack the enemy within a time limit.
Every enemy’s attacks thrust them forward. Whether it’s a slash, a grab, or a slam. There is no stillness in the enemies. They have fast attacks and quicker follow-ups. Every beast you kill has a deadly combo which can leave you scavenging for Bloodviles.
Environment and Bosses
Jump scares are cheap, but combine it with a gothic atmosphere, and you will shriek in terror. You see, Yharnam is a beautiful place ruined by the blood. Once the Old Blood was discovered, everything changed, and a deadly plague transformed the citizens of Yharnam into beasts. There is nothing you can call, “beautiful” in this game. The beauty of Anor Londo (Dark Souls) is replaced by gothic horror, and the images get harrowing as you progress. You’ll see graveyards, sacrificed beasts, incense burning, Holocaust. The game wants its hook in your throat, refusing to give you a breathing space. I’m sure there will be at least one area in the game which you wouldn’t wish to play again. For me, it’s the Upper Cathedral Ward (the atmosphere is chilling) and Forbidden Woods (f*** those moving balls of snakes).
Bloodborne’s bosses scream Lovecraftian cosmos and are twice as uglier than normal enemies if you can believe it. I would like to mention three bosses which will give you a brief overview of how the game forces you to play by its rules:
Father Gascoigne. The second boss of the game is a hunter succumbed by the blood and the hunt. He is a hunter type enemy, same as you. His weapons involve a long ax and a shotgun. He is fast and precise, and he combines attacks with gun shots to stun you. I’m sure you remember your first fight with him. He’s a challenging boss for an early level.
You have to keep up with his speed, combine your weak and strong attacks with perfect gun shots to parry him and get a Visceral attack. Using the music box is an alternative, but it works only twice or thrice. Once you drain his health to 50%, he turns into a werewolf, and his attack becomes stronger and faster. It’s hard to stagger him and the pacing you were trying to adapt to changes in a moment. You have to time your dodge and make an opening. It’s the thrill and pacing of the battle which cements it in our brain as one of the best fights in the game. If you kill Gascoigne without help, then I guarantee you’ll walk into the Cathedral Ward as a better hunter.
Blood-starved Beast. The reason for multiple broken controllers and hiatus from the game. He’s a nightmare. His attacks are ferocious. He launches at you with incredible speed and by the time he’s in his third form, you’ll either die from disgust or poison. So you either finish the fight quickly or drag it on. If you drag it, then you will need a lot of blood vials and antidote (for poison). The fight had me shaking, and the victory had me shouting with joy. There’s one little trick to this fight; you can parry the BSB by shooting at his right side just in time. Get a Visceral attack, and he’s dust.
The Keeper of The Old Lords. This @#$%! flame dog is the worst. The funny thing is, he’s completely optional, being a part of the chalice dungeons. If you’re going for the platinum trophy, then you have to face him. He is the second boss in the crooked defiled chalice dungeon.
Aggression is an understatement for this boss. Every attack hits like a truck and since you have half of your health, good luck stamina enthusiasts, that’s one hit kill. You can go near him, but he lazily swings his claws at you (the only attack that gives you a window), breathes fire through his mouth, spits lava, has a one shot charge attack, and a ridiculous AOE attack. If you want to beat him, then you must be equally aggressive while maintaining a steady pace. Lose your momentum, and it’s over. Even after summoning another hunter, the stupid dog kicked my ass over the moon.
There is no trick for this fight. You can scavenge the internet for all the easy methods, but you’ll find nothing. I believe this boss to be a true, somewhat unfair, test of player skills. Time your dodge and be relentless and maybe the dog will go down quickly.
By now you must have a good idea of what Bloodborne is and how it operates. As a Russian saying goes — Repetition is the mother of learning. You will die and repeat everything, slowly transforming into a hunter. By the end of your journey, you’ll walk the dark corners of Yharnam with confidence and skill, traits you lost hope of acquiring.
Some players are too uncomfortable with adapting to a new style of gameplay, maybe that’s why they buy the inferior new Call of Duty every year. Replicating their experiences every year, but can we at least try to break this barrier of familiarity to give games like Bloodborne a chance? And if you have the guts to finish the game, you’ll feel the joy equivalent of a headshot streak.
Modern games maybe don’t punish us enough to modify our behavior, and that’s where Soulsborne series excels. You feel the change, the lust for blood, the hunt of beasts, and before you’re done, you’ll want more; the thirst never settles, the old blood is cursed, indeed.