Bloodborne Review

By Robert Settle on 10th April 2015

I’d consider Bloodborne as the very first reason why you’d want to buy a PS4. It is a platform-exclusive that deals a huge amount of damage to its competitors. This is how a console RPG should be made; one that looks beautiful, plays even better and somehow manages to take you on an emotional rollercoaster that you only get to fully appreciate once you have completed the 50+ hours of the campaign. It is a game that tests your reflexes and rewards you for tactical, smart thinking. It is one that requires a huge amount of patience at times, but the patience is well rewarded. I can finally say that the PS4 has an exclusive that should entice non-owners of the console to consider picking one up.

Bloodborne is a game that really punishes you if you take a wrong step. It bases its roots off some of the more classic RPGs that were made purposefully to be difficult, unlike many of today’s RPGs that have been dumbed down. The game rarely holds your hand. It expects you to figure a way out of a situation with very little assistance. During your trials and tribulations (most of which you will spend trying to figure out where to go next), the game will throw a range of monsters and demons your way to make life even more difficult.

Whilst I am all up for the challenge, Bloodborne’s greatest downside is that it has extremely long load times. I’m not just referring to the initial load time when you fire up the game. Whenever the game needs to load or reload, it takes forever. If you die, there is a wait. If you travel to another zone, there is another wait. Fortunately, the developers have acknowledged this and are working on a way to speed up the loading screens. It didn’t bother me too much since I eventually got used to the waiting and therefore turned around to check my social networking feeds. I’m not usually one to forgive long load times in today’s age, however I will make it an exception for Bloodborne since it does almost everything else so brilliantly.

Those who were fans of Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls will love what Bloodborne has to offer. The game pretty much belongs to the same genre and is inspired by those two titles. However, rest assured that this is not a copy at all. In fact, the combat is completely different and has a unique set of controls. Bloodborne encourages you to be creative in battle. Weapons can be transformed into even more powerful weapons and you can completely counterbalance them by trading off power for a more agile and fast handheld weapon. You can even switch between various types of weapon in battle and continue to earn awesome combos.

This is where Bloodborne shines most. Unlike many other conventional games that require you to use the same weapon to prevent compromising your combo streaks, Bloodborne actually promotes you to switch between weapons seamlessly during a fight to suit your needs. It’s incredibly satisfying taking out a huge number of enemies with your quicker melee weapon before immediately pulling out a heavy sword to deal the final bits of damage to the remaining foes. The weapon switching also ensures that every battle feels fresh and unique. You’re not forced into using one weapon per fight (although you can if you want). The hardcore gamers will master the art of weapon switching to continue unleashing hell upon enemies without sacrificing combos.

One can argue that the weapon switching makes battles even easier to fight. This is everything but true. Instead, the game throws such a large number of enemies your way, that the weapon switching only serves as a purpose to help you survive under specific situations. The enemies will also deal you a great amount of damage. To counter this, you can now replenish health by throwing counters and catching enemies off guard.

No matter how overpowered your character may seem on paper, the enemies are even more dangerous to deal with. The variety of foes is so large that the game would be almost impossible to complete if you lacked the specific powers and abilities that make you strong. The enemy creatures look particularly outstanding. They genuinely are terrifying and some of them are psychopathic enough to charge at you whilst swinging an axe! Boss battles are even more daunting. Defeating a boss is highly rewarding and you’ll be glad to get through it. Each boss is unique and gets even more frightening every time.

Bloodborne’s checkpoint system is lacking. Again, I feel that this was done on purpose. There are infrequent checkpoints, meaning that you need to be absolutely careful when roaming around. It is why you often may want to try and take alternative routes to try and avoid the bad guys who will most likely kill you. You cannot quick travel in Bloodborne, which is a nuisance. If you want to go all of the way back, you have to walk it.

The game is also about exploration. Around the map, there are loads of secrets scattered for you to collect. They may be in the forms of whispers or actual items. By obtaining as many of these as possible, you’ll learn more about the world that Bloodborne is depicted in. If anything, these hidden items will help you realize just how dark and twisted this world is. None of this is mandatory though. You can just race through the campaign if you wish.

This is another aspect of the game that I appreciate. You’re not forced down a linear path. You can choose whether you want to embark on an exploration mission that is self-imposed. You can travel back and explore the world that you may have raced through before. You can actually use your time to talk and engage with the citizens, who will help give you a better understanding of the world that is being depicted. Some of these citizens may even give you gifts! Some of these may have no meaning initially, but if you keep them in mind, they can be powerful instruments of destruction. Bloodborne is the type of game that rewards you more if you put more into it.

It is this mentality that soon became my obsession. The moment I realized that there is a possibility of someone giving me a gift or perhaps I may end up unlocking a new secret, I felt that there was no choice but to explore as much as possible and interact with every object. It’s for this reason why the game can keep you going for more than 60 hours, which is a huge amount of content to be packed into one disc.

Bloodborne is ultimately a single player experience, however if you’re connected to the PSN, you can actually see ghost shadows of other human players. You can’t do anything with them; they are just there to add more mystery. Players can find creative ways to leave messages for other gamers who are at the same point. You can even see ghosts of players dying. By examining them, you can prevent yourself from falling into the same traps. It’s an incredibly genius idea that makes Bloodborne even more spooky. You can leave messages for other people and when others encounter them, they can rate your message. Whether you choose to help someone find a way out, tell someone of a secret that lies in a specific place or even leave a peculiar message that has no meaning, people can rate whether your input was useful.

If you’re really stuck in Bloodborne, you can co-operatively partner up with someone else. However, even the process of summoning another partner is done creatively. You need to ring the Beckoning Bell. Any other human player who is around and can hear the bell will then spawn into your room. However as mentioned before, Bloodborne doesn’t just let you do this without a catch. There are some humans who want to help you, but others who also may want to hunt you! By asking for help, you also open yourself up to letting humans in who are trying to hunt other players. It’s a great feature that works well. If you don’t want to open yourself up to being killed by other humans, you can just invite friends into your password protected room. This feature is what makes Bloodborne as easy as it can be, but even then it is a very difficult game to complete.

In conclusion, Bloodborne is the PS4’s first platform exclusive title that I believe is a console seller. If you don’t currently own a PS4, you really are missing out on an exceptional RPG that looks gorgeous, plays brilliantly and is a genuine challenge. Should you choose to complete the game fully, you will get more hours out of this single player campaign than most other games in the market that offer only solo experiences. Bloodborne will take you through a mystical journey full of emotion and narration that is expertly scripted to make such a fictional world seem everything but untrue.

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