I find myself having difficulty finding the right words when reviewing Bloodborne. My point of view is completely biased as the Souls series is one of my favorites. However, now that I’ve poured the amount of time into it that I have, it’s become fairly easy for me to see Bloodborne not as a Souls game, but the beginning of a new series from From Software. And it’s fantastic.
Bloodborne is a brutal, fast-paced adrenaline rush set in a horrifying, bloody world. Five minutes into the game and you’ll soon realize that this is some of From Software’s finest work. Their trademark level of difficulty is a constant presence throughout the game—casting its shadow over the player, creating anxiety of losing the program they have made.
This difficulty is only the foundation of the aforementioned anxiety players will experience. If a fear of death wasn’t enough, then the incredibly gruesome city of Yharnam might put you over the edge. Every area throughout the game has its own horrors waiting in the shadows of the splendidly detailed environments. Some foes will jump out at you, but it’s the excellent art design and cringe-worthy sounds that may cause you to fear a new area. Oh, and don’t forget that most enemies are deadly.
From Software has made sure to give the player the tools they need to survive Yharnam. Throughout your journey you’ll come across several “trick” weapons that transform between two different forms with different move sets. There’s a severely limited selection of weapons in comparison to the Souls games, but since each weapon is basically a two-in-one deal, I never felt like I didn’t have options. These weapons are also exceedingly cool. I had a lot of fun running around in earlier areas of the game testing them out as I found/bought them.
Side-arms—as you should all know by now—take the place of the shield in Bloodborne as a line of defense. Though they don’t transform like your primary weapons, there are still plenty to choose from. I stuck with the first gun I received at the beginning of the game as I didn’t use guns very much, but if you’re interested in using the firearms then you’ve certainly got options.
Your firearm is by no means your first line of defense. That title goes to the art of evasion. Bloodborne’s mechanics are tightly refined and lightning fast. The dash used to avoid enemy attacks is crucial to surviving many situations that the player is going to find themselves in. Combat is meant for the player to dive headfirst into the action. Learning to manage your stamina and perfecting the timing of your evasions will help you overcome many of Bloodborne’s challenges and make you feel like a total boss.
It’s all thanks to the tight, fast gameplay that makes battling other players so much fun. Everything becomes a blur as you and your adversary dash around the area firing off shots at each other and trying to find the smallest window of opportunity to get in a solid hit. Multiplayer works similarly to the games of the Souls series, requiring you to use certain items in order to interact with other players. There are a couple areas in the game, however, that became infuriating at times as players can invade you at any time while you’re there. The game is also made much easier when you can beckon two helpers into your world for assistance.
From Software has certainly done it again. They’ve delivered a solid game with great mechanics and an incredibly satisfying challenge. I felt there was a minor balancing issue when it came to multiplayer, but that may be a discussion for another time. I don’t consider Bloodborne a branch of the Souls series tree, but a new sapling if you will. It feels totally different from any of the Souls games due to its new combat mechanics and aura. It most certainly deserves to be considered the start of a new series.