Bloodborne is a really unique game. Through its notoriously unforgiving difficulty and unconventional aesthetic approach, it’s gained a steady reputation for a compelling, challenging, but rewarding game. Based on FromSoftware’s history, though, this all makes sense. Like their previous Souls series entries, Bloodborne is a game that appears to be very challenging, but ultimately is rewarding. In this Bloodborne review, we’ll take a closer look at the game, see how exactly the total experience adds up, and whether or not we believe it’s worth it after all.
|Type of game:||Action RPG|
|Total Play Time:||35-45 hours|
The World of Bloodborne
Bloodborne, like some of its predecessors in the Souls series, takes on grim, dark aesthetics as a driving force for setting the scene. Through this, it then takes the players on an incredibly gruesome and difficult journey, having a very steep learning curve. There’s no doubt that players all over the experience spectrum will find aspects of the game difficult, but in many situations it’s positive reinforcement as opposed to unnecessary gate keeping.
We’ll be taking an in-depth look at the Atmosphere & Location, the Main Characters, the Storyline, and the DLC to give you our opinion on the game overall.
Atmosphere & Location
As someone who is not as experienced with harsher difficulties in games, I found this game to be intensely brutal. However, unlike other games I’ve played where it feels unreasonably difficult, this didn’t feel as impractical as others. Bloodborne requires you to be better with its steep learning curve because it wants to teach you the game and prepare you for later sections. Never once while playing the game did I slay a boss and feel like my time was wasted; while progressing through the stages I realized the importance of sitting it through and learning how to get by, as that would only prepare me for the more difficult bosses to come.
That being said, it’s a pretty brutal game with little room to open up for casual gamers who may be easily dismayed by this. That can be an issue in creating a game that’s truly accessible for everyone, but for those already interested in the game it isn’t much of an issue.
It’s worth noting, though, that it’s hard to be swept up in the difficulty when admiring the atmosphere and locations the game takes place in. The graphics are gorgeous and the perpetually dark, nighttime atmosphere makes the gothic designs and monsters prove constantly compelling and sometimes really terrifying. The character design ranges from bland (generic skeletons) to impressive (demon with thousands of eyeballs comprising its head), but when it hits the mark you’ll be dazzled and asking yourself “just how did they come up with that?”.
The approach Bloodborne has to its main characters may come off as confusing and underwhelming. The game’s beginning finds the protagonist signing a contract with an old man, who then pumps him full of a specific type of blood before the player wakes up to find that the town they’re in is in the midst of a hunt in which beasts hunt the town’s population and vice-versa. This element of the game keeps you on your toes always, but also blurs the definition of story and character progression it may have.
Though the main character is interesting, the surrounding characters that help contextualize the story is where the game really shines. Haunting stories behind townsfolk, a chilling series of patients discovered in an asylum, and bosses you have to come to terms with all have detailed backstories that for the most part are unexpected and completely surprising.
While progressing you’ll start to notice that everyone you talk to is in the game for a reason, with there only being the occasional useless NPC. This realization pushes the player further into the backstory, forcing them to become well-acquainted with the people they meet along the way and even the people they face.
Like the characters in the game, the storyline can be deceiving. Though there is a really satisfying trajectory paced over the full game (in particular the narrative shift a little over halfway through that is particularly jarring), a lot of the story is in the details.
You’ll find more of the nuances in the story through picking up objects and reading their descriptions or exploring areas of the map you aren’t necessarily directed towards. Some may find this off-putting due to its reliance on the player’s intuition to tell them important aspects of the story, but I found it placed a unique emphasis on exploration and in a way changed the dynamic a player has to the story they’re exploring.
The power of the Healing Church and the other religious elements of the plot are haunting in their detail and universe. As you travel around and learn about the other villages, their geographical nuances, and the relationship to the story, you’ll become more interested in the details of the story.
The main emphasis of the game on chugging along may make these opportunities for exploration become lost in the mix, though. If you continually stay focused and methodical, it’s easy to overcome this cognitive dissonance and get the most out of the game.
DLC & Expansion Packs
Bloodborne already has a boatload of content to explore and be mystified by. That’s also the exact reason why the addition of DLC is even more exciting, considering that it adds so much to an already filled-to-the-brim game. There also isn’t much that the DLC adds that isn’t offered in the main game. Challenging bosses, seemingly endless difficulty curves, and detailed story are all things you have before adding “The Old Hunters” DLC.
However, I didn’t feel like the DLC was necessary but ended up thinking it was actually a good fit for the game. For those who have beaten the game and hunger for more, it’s a good fit. Its awkward place in requiring you to basically play through the game again to get to it might be deterring for some, though.
No matter which type of gamer you are, Bloodborne is difficult. This shouldn’t be a deterrent from the reward you get from putting the time in to familiarize yourself with it, but for those who are averse to incredibly steep difficulty curves, it can be daunting for all the wrong reasons.
If you put the time in to figure it out, though, you’re rewarded with an immensely detailed game, an intricately beautiful universe, and a compelling story that will keep your interest. Though it may be an inaccessible game for many, the people who stick around are rewarded with a truly incredible experience.
We’re giving the game a 9/10 for its sheer quality, though its difficulty and awkwardly placed DLC makes it difficult to say there’s much replayability.
What did you think of our Bloodborne review? Do you agree with us? Do you think this game is worth the hardship? Or do you think it’s not that hard after all?