The PlayStation 4 is probably one of the most successful home consoles of the eighth generation. It beat the Xbox One by a long shot during the console wars, sold more than one hundred million units, and one of the main reasons it surpassed the Xbox One was because of its colorful selection of exclusives. Competition plays a big role in the video game market, and companies have to partner up with developers to come up with interesting selling points for their consoles. When a game is exclusive to your console then the buyers who are interested in that specific game will have to buy your console to play the game they want. This may sound bad especially for developers who published previous games on multiple platforms, but there sometimes just has to be a purpose as to why people should buy your product. Not only that, but the benefit of partnering up with a major company is that you get the funding for your game.
Between Microsoft and Sony, I have to say Sony actually cares about their exclusives and developers. They hired the right people, gave them the resources, funded them the right amount of money, and allowed them to take their time on making their games. They never spoiled them or forced them to make something they didn’t want to develop. They wanted them to put love into their games so both the developers and the players could be happy when the final product was released. Microsoft on the other hand doesn't really care about quality or developer desires. They took some of their greatest franchises and ran them into the ground. Made terrible business practices that only benefit themselves, their developers don’t know what they're target audience is, and the Xbox One is kind of just a bland console. Don’t get me wrong, before I owned a PlayStation 4 my main console was an Xbox One, but once I got a PlayStation 4 and started playing its major releases, I began to realize the faults of the Xbox One.
A majority of the exclusives on the PlayStation 4 are titles that I praise considerably not because of fanboyism, and while some of them have their faults they are well made games and define what should come from a Triple A studio. God of War is one the first exclusives I played. While it doesn't have the high-octane action the original games had, God of War (2018) is still a tremendous game that reimagines the formula so that old and new fans can enjoy. I love the amount of emotion that they put into the Kratos, the detailed environments, the satisfying combat, and how they transferred from Greek to Norse mythology while still making it feel like a traditional God of War experience. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a cinematic work of art. The gameplay is pretty good, but what stuck with me were the characters, stories, and where I wound up next during the journey. Horizon Zero Dawn addressed modern open world design tropes and added twists to make it for once fun. Then there’s Persona 5, one of the greatest JRPGs ever made. I love everything about Persona 5. The wide cast of characters, engaging story, believable world, stylishly animated combat, planning out each day and what to do, the presentation, and just about everything. Persona 5 is one of my favorite games on the PlayStation 4 and it just so happens to be one of my favorite games of all time. The best way to play it now is getting the Royal version which came out recently. I wrote a review on it, so check it out if you have time. Persona 5 is amazing, but there’s one game I love above all the rest. My defining game of the decade.
This is a game that I hold close to my heart and one that I believe every gamer should try out making the purchase of a PlayStation 4 worth it. I have played this game about four times already and not once has it gotten tiring. I’m talking about Bloodborne, the action RPG that came out in 2015 and is considered one of the greatest games ever made. I already did a basic review of the game, but it wasn’t enough to explain why I love it so much. There is nothing wrong I can find with this game and if so it's very minor complaints. It's the perfect example of how to make a video game, and I'll continue using it as an example in future reviews for what developers can learn from it. How to make a compelling combat loop, design a world, and tell an effective story. Today we’ll be talking about Bloodborne and why it’s not only just a masterpiece, but a title every developer should take note of. This essay will be spoiling huge key plot points in Bloodborne’s world and lore, so if you haven’t played the game yet I recommend doing so. Sit back, relax, and let’s hear about the gothic world brought to us by Miyazaki and FromSoftware.
Developing the Kingdom of Yharnam
The developers of Bloodborne are none other than From Software, creators of the famously acclaimed Dark Souls series. They also made King's Field, Demon’s Souls, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, but among all their titles Bloodborne and Dark Souls are the most iconic. Before the creation of Demon’s Souls, which was their first ever souls game, From Software wasn’t a standout company in the gaming world. Half their games were exclusive to Japan, and the titles that were released in other countries weren’t a smash hit. It seemed like they were going nowhere, but it wasn’t until Demon’s Souls that they became renowned. Unlike other action games at the time, which were beginning to worry more about accessibility options and guiding the player rather than letting them figure stuff out on their own, Demon's Souls focused on challenging the player. If the player was struggling, they couldn’t do anything but learn by themselves. You think this would be a bad thing, especially since most games these days offer multiple difficulty settings to make games more accessible. However, it turned out to be a good thing for From Software. I personally believe challenge comes first in every game, because it’s when you overcome a challenge that a game feels rewarding and fun to play. It allows the player to think for themselves, forge their own path, and create their own journey over how they got over the several adversities.
Critics praised Demon’s Souls for its steep learning curve and deep world building. A king and his people, who risked it all to maintain their power in the world. While it wasn’t the best game of 2009 it was one of the few more important ones that year. Setting the foundation for what was to come. From Software went on to make the spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls known as Dark Souls in 2011. Dark Souls was more open in world design, had more world building, and improved a majority of the problems Demon’s Souls had. Video games make you feel like a hero most of the time, but Dark Souls was a game that made the player realize that their actions can’t save everyone. The world was bleak but teeming with atmosphere, characters always had something sinister about them, and the lore can be sad at times. Dark Souls is a game about suffering and I’m not talking about the difficulty again. It was a game where struggling to find hope in a dying world was hard, but it was still possible. Critics praised Dark Souls for how different it was to other games and it went on to become one of the highest acclaimed games ever made.
After the massive success of Dark Souls, From Software went on to make a sequel. Dark Souls 2 released three years later, and it was... somewhat of a mix bag to fans. It screwed up some of the lore the original had, and the new mechanics and adjustments introduced made it harder than the first. Not as in harder but more rewarding, but harder just for the sake to be hard. Dark Souls 2 wasn't directed by Hidetaki Miyazaki who made Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, but rather swapped between two directors. That's why the pacing, consistency, and quality of Dark Souls 2 went all over the place. The first half about screwing up the lore is true, but the second half about the new mechanics I think is false. The mechanics introduced in Dark Souls 2 became staples to the series and some of the design choices From Software made were pretty wise. They just needed to execute them better which they did with Dark Souls 3. I’m not saying Dark Souls 2 is the best in the Souls series, it’s my least favorite, but it’s not a bad game. It’s pretty good at times and out of the many 2014 Triple A releases it aged the best. Still having the mystical feel Dark Souls is known for.
After Dark Souls 2, From Software actually began development on two games. One of them was the final chapter in the Souls series, and the other was a partnership with Sony. Sony came out with the PlayStation 4 at the time and wanted to work alongside From Software to help make an exclusive to market the PlayStation 4. They gave them the fundings and stated they could make anything they wanted. From Software then began developing a new property similar to Dark Souls. Gothic fantasy world, hardcore gameplay, and a world mind bogging to explore. This time however they wanted to change a few aspects. They grew tired of the medieval fantasy setting which I can understand. Fantasy is one of my favorite genres, but there is only so much you can do with it. Rather than fantasy, From Software decided to base the atmosphere of their new game on the works of H.P Lovecraft. Lovecraft was a writer best known for novels which blended both elements of mystery and horror. Such popular novels would include The Shadow Out of Time, The Music of Erich Zann, and mainly Cult of Cthulhu. Not only that, but From Software wanted to evolve the gameplay of Dark Souls. Faster combat and mechanics that drove the player to fight more aggressively. Eventually they came with Bloodborne, the lovecraftian inspired action role playing game. Truly a game worth their time and effort. Most video games take place in basic locations like cities or battlefields, but Bloodborne had an atmosphere unlike any other game. It became their most well acclaimed game and their fastest selling up until that point.
Presentation and Depth
Yharnam is a kingdom of both wonder and terror. You never know what’s going to pop around each corner, and what’s going to kill you next. That’s why the game is so memorable for me. Rather than tell the player what is going to happen and where they are supposed to go, they let the player figure that on their own. Explore the world at their own pace, absorb their surroundings, take time to practice and learn from their mistakes, and progress forward. Borderlands, Far Cry, these games are decent but one thing Bloodborne has that they don’t is well thought out world building and structure. Most Souls fans claim that the original Dark Souls is open and Dark Souls 2 is more linear. It’s true that Dark Souls 2 is more linear than the original, but I would have to disagree that the original feels completely open. The original often restricts where the player can go, and if they happen to wander into an area they are not supposed to go, the game will quickly halt them. It’s like hBomberguy said during his controversial defense of Dark Souls 2, “This isn’t nonlinear, this is a choice of which linear path you take first”. The last portion of Dark Souls is especially weak and it was for specific reasons. Miyazaki states they had to rush the last areas to meet the release date, and areas such Lost Izalith was a mistake on their part. Having an interconnected world is great but I'd rather take linear well designed levels rather than interconnected levels of varying quality.
Bloodborne is an even mix between openness and linearity. The main story can be followed in a linear path, but oftentimes the player can end up wandering down the wrong path. The game even makes it easy to wind up in optional areas and tricks the player to explore them! Exploring these optional areas may give them the gear and materials they need to grow stronger, or more insight into the world and history. Areas loop back to each other in weird ways, and overtime you get this mental imprint of how to navigate the world. Thanks to the consistent linear yet open level design.
The lore of Bloodborne is what helps it stand out most like an ordinary Souls game, but it has a better start out of all the games. Each Souls game usually starts off with an intro explaining the world and crucial characters, but Bloodborne places you immediately in which adds to that sense of mystery. You start off by waking up in Yosefka’s Clinic with no idea where you are. You walk out into the streets of Yarhnam and you can already tell what type of place you're in. It’s a kingdom abandoned by those who inhabited it and anyone who is left has been infected and transformed into ferocious beasts that roam the blood tainted streets. Knowing the player and how they wake up unarmed and unprepared for combat, they will die within the first few seconds by a beast, and this is when they are transported to the Hunter’s Dream.
They learn they are a Hunter, a being who is bound to a paranormal plain known as the Dream and must figure out what caused the bloodborne plague to spread throughout Yharnam. What plague? What is the cause? Well, the player learns shortly after from a few NPCs and the first major boss of how the plague is important to the story. What it has done to the populace. Not even one hour into the game and Bloodborne communicates to the player they must get used to the world they are in and how dangerous it is, or they will constantly be cut down and killed. This is genius! Rather than go through thirty minutes of mindless exposition or an introduction sequence, Bloodborne gets straight to the point and lets the player work off from there! You may be wondering what the story of Bloodborne? Well, that's complicated.
The Secrets of Yharnam
Dark Souls heavily revolved more around the player and how their actions affect the world, but Bloodborne doesn't do any of that. It focuses more on the world, the secrets the player discovers, and what they piece together over time. Once everything cooks together into a delicious pot pie, the world of Bloodborne appears to have more depth than you think. Before the coming of man there were beings known as the Great Ones. They had tremendous power, magical abilities, and genetic traits that weren’t carried over to later generations or species. Once they started to die out, they were buried deep underground and their tombs were then guarded by a new species known as the Pthumerians who were able to understand their magical powers. The Pthumerians died out as well and the tombs were later discovered by man centuries later. Mankind dug up the bodies of the Great Ones and they found that what was leftover was blood.
They discovered that the Great One’s blood had healing properties, capable of curing practically everything. Diseases, broken bones, and possibly prevent death. A group known as the Healing Church was formed and through clinics and research, they began administering blood and blood infused drugs to the people. Gaining the people's trust and making them believe the cosmic gods they worship. The beings who gave them the sacred blood. They tried to play God, an act that usually leads to corruption. In real life people will do anything to gain what they want, whether it’s for themselves or to help others. Find the cure to cancer, become the richest man in the world, those goals sound great but are they worth achieving? Maintaining status has been a recurring theme in the Souls series as once faithful heroes are driven mad with power.
Things go downhill when it turns out that the Old One’s blood started turning the inhabitants of Yharnam into beasts. They scour the streets and attack anyone on sight. To counter these beats groups of specialized Hunters were formed, which led to the formation of the Hunter’s Dream. The Hunters have eternal devotion to the Dream and they can't die as long as they are connected to it. This doesn't mean the Hunters are perfect beings. Some hunters realize the beasts of Yharnam were once civilians and quit hunting them like Djura. Encountering him will plead to the player. Telling them they too will face the hunt if they continue mindlessly killing with pleasure. it's a moment that works extremely well, because it makes us consider if what we are doing is right. We're hired to kill monsters, but trapped within them are tortured human souls. Constantly in pain and only fighting you because they want to defend themselves. Who is the prey in this scenario? Bloodborne may not have any moral choice or questioning, but it effectively gets the player to rethink how they approach killing in games without falling victim to ludo-narrative dissonance and hurting the plot.
Other hunters are driven mad by the blood driven hunt and begin to lose themselves. Father Gascoigne, the first major boss, being the best example. He's an old man who wanted to protect his family so he took some of the Old Blood, but slowly realizes he will one day lose all of them. Transforming into a mindless beast hunter who hacks away at dead beast. Even the oldest and wisest hunters fear their past and remain trapped in a personal hell, an eternal nightmare. The Hunter's Nightmare which is home of the warriors of the past. Then there are hunters who have problems outside the hunt. One hunter in particular is Eileen the Hunter of Hunters, because she realizes that hunters can use their powers to actually harm others, so she goes out of her way to track them down. Soon the player learns that the reason why the Healing Church didn’t stop administering blood was because of their pursuit of knowledge. To push what they discover even if there are risky factors. Knowledge is a powerful gift, but it can have terrible effects if we mess with information beyond our comprehension. Insight on the world can lead to discovery of things horrifying to casual eyes. People will try to expose it, and others will find ways to manipulate it. Power and balance will fall apart. Freedom and discovery can destroy peace we try to maintain.
Aggression Over Defense
Now that we’re done talking about the world of Bloodborne, let’s dive into what makes the gameplay so compelling. The Souls games look simple on the surface but are more complex than they appear. Their action games with RPG elements, but what makes them so difficult are their design choices. In typical action third person games like Devil May Cry 5 you can cancel out of a current attack animation by quickly pressing another button. Meaning if you're rapidly pressing the attack button and the enemy is about to hit you then you can quickly press the dodge button even during an attack animation, and the game will clean up your mistakes for you. It's fine, but it means the player is never punished for not putting thought into their actions.
In the Souls games when you press a button to attack or dodge you can’t cancel out. You have to wait for your character to finish the action they are performing before you can do something else. Not only that, but unlike most games where you can wail on the enemy without any punishment the Souls game have a stamina meter. Every time you attack, dodge, run, or block an attack you use up some of your stamina. You never want this bar to run low, because if an enemy is about to hit you and you can’t dodge in time you're screwed. It’s less of the game's fault and more on the player for not being careful. It's like a resource you have to keep in mind. These mechanics sound limiting, but it helps the combat of Souls game be more methodical than a majority of action games. Finding a way to think quickly and decide during a stressful encounter.
The combat in the souls games is pretty fun and well-designed once you understand it’s base mechanics, but I believe it wasn’t until Bloodborne it actually became good. One of those reasons being the faster combat and how the game paces the player into it. Within the first hour, Dark Souls 1 gives you a close ranged weapon and a shield. They teach the player that as long as they use the shield, they can block all incoming damage. This proves to be useless later on in the game, because the player can be overwhelmed during group encounters and some attacks break through their defenses very easily. I’m not saying using a shield is bad, but much like hBomberguy said in his critique of Bloodborne, “welcome to having a shitty time”. Bloodborne ditches the shield entirely and gives the player a ranged weapon and instead a gun. The guns can be used to stagger enemies and cancel their attack animations, and if timed right they can parry them. This allows the player to perform a visceral attack which deals huge amounts of damage. It's a way of defending without it limiting it down to protection.
Bloodborne has a smaller arsenal of weapons than Dark Souls, but between both games Bloodborne weapons are more well-rounded and thought out. In Dark Souls there can be multiple versions of the same weapon, but their differences aren't really all that much. Who knows why we need so many spears, axes, and great swords? Each weapon in Bloodborne has two forms, providing two playstyles each. Usually there's a light form which allows them to hit and dodge quickly, and a heavy form which deals more damage but leaves the player heavily exposed. The Saw Cleaver is a short ranged saw that extends into a long glaive. The Stake Driver is a gauntlet that can give itself explosive damage. The Blood Axe is an axe that extends into a polearm. My personal favorite being Ludwig’s Holy Blade, a straight sword that transforms into a greatsword. Some weapons tend to scale up when you level up specific stats. For example the Chikage is a blood coated katana that increases when you level up Bloodtinge. You do this through a table, but Bloodborne's leveling table is much easier to understand than Dark Souls. Physical damage weapons always scale in strength, and skill which is the equivalent to dexterity. However, blood weapons and guns always scale in bloodtinge. While magic and elemental weapons scale in arcane. When it came to magic weapons in Dark Souls there were like three categories. Intelligence, faith, and attunement. It also wasn't always clear whether a physical damage weapon scaled in either strength or dexterity. Bloodborne keeps it simple, but it allows for builds to be much simpler to form and be narrowed down to specifics. Plus gaining access to more weapons much easier now that all the weapons share similar stat requirements.
I like having just a blade and gun rather than carrying around a shield. Why? Because it motivates the player to fight more aggressively. By removing the shield, you force the player to dodge more often, and dodging plays a big role in Souls games. No matter how big the enemy is and how fast they are, as long as you dodge at the right time and in the right direction you are immune to all incoming damage. It’s thanks to the generous amounts of I-frames, otherwise what most players called invincibility frames. It’s how long the player is invincible during a dodge animation. So Bloodborne circles around this dodge and hit system. Wait for the enemy to be exposed and hit them afterwards. It makes the gameplay more fast paced and requires more reaction out of the player. Another problem that the Souls games that Bloodborne didn't have were the gimmick bosses. Fights that were challenging but were easy once you figured them out. It's better to have a dynamic boss with an attack pattern you master as it makes future playthrough challenging as before. I also like how instead of dodge rolling you sidestep. It only works with lock on, but it allows the player to quickly follow up with an attack after dodging an enemy.
Healing has played a big role in the Souls series. Demon’s Souls had grass; the player could carry as many as they wanted but their supplies were finite. Consume one patch of grass and it’s gone for good. Dark Souls has the Estus Flask, a bottle of fire that is refilled every time you rest at a bonfire but the carrying capacity is limited. Not only that, but when you use a healing item your character grinds to a halt and uses it. This leaves them open for attacks. You could complain that the game is forcing you to find windows of opportunity to heal, but you want to know what sucks? Dying because you tried to use an item that was supposed to save you during battle.
Bloodborne has the best way of healing, Blood Vials. Much like Demon’s Souls’ grass Blood Vials are a finite resource, but just like Dark Souls their carrying capacity is limited. However, Blood Vials are pretty easy to come across. Some enemies you kill are courteous enough to drop one or two. You don’t always have to visit the main hub area like in Demon’s Souls to buy more and you don’t have to revisit a bonfire if you start running out. Popping one or two open is enough to refill your entire health bar, and you can actually move while healing! Yes! The game made healing during combat viable! I mean Dark Souls 2 had lifegems which also allowed you to move while healing, but man Blood Vials are more useful! This made tough encounters much easier, I just have to back up and use one. There’s also another way of healing, rallying. If you do take damage, you can regain some of the health you lose back if you quickly retaliate against a nearby enemy. I like this mechanic, because it again encourages the aggressive playstyle and the player doesn't have to waste their supplies if they take damage before going into a boss fight which they may be saving them up for. It also makes them feel less worried with how much health they are venturing around with. Blood Vials, again, always being provided when powerful enemies are slain. So overall Bloodborne teaches you to be brave and be aggressive rather than defensive. A good approach especially when going against the colossal bosses. Speaking of which.
Hyping Each Boss Fight Up
Bosses are the most important part in the Souls games. They're basically what stand in the player's way of progressing through each area. They are oftentimes huge, battle you in wide open arenas, and can kill you within seconds if you're not careful. What makes the fights in the Souls series so memorable is how they are presented and what it feels like to finally conquer them. A dragon made of teeth sounds like an average idea when describing it out loud but seeing its head show up first and slowly revealing its gaping mouth physically is what gets to the player. There’s no other game that I believe hypes up its boss battles more than the Souls series besides a few good examples like Octopath Traveler, Hollow Knight, and Persona 5. This doesn't mean every boss in the Souls series is well thought out though, because they have good presentation but bad execution. A majority of Dark Souls 1’s bosses could be cheesed if you relied on certain tactics or in game systems. The Iron Golem and Quelagg look like menacing foes, but if you summon NPCs designed to take down these foes easily like Black Iron Tarkus or the Maneater Mildred they can be killed within seconds. Most bosses can be beaten by circle strafing, some of the demons could just be hugged behind their rear end, and then there’s Pinwheel… I don’t have to say anything for him. The only boss fights from Dark Souls 1 that were great were Artorias and the princess' protectors, Orenstien and Smough. They were fights less based around gimmicks and more on actual skill and reaction. Hounding on the player and making them analyze their attack patterns.
It wasn’t until Bloodborne that I really thought they started to have good bosses. Bloodborne’s bosses are mostly giant colossal mashed up pieces of flesh or fur, but at least they are as powerful as the way they present themselves. The Cleric Beast which is the first fight in the game jumps out of nowhere and starts piledriving the player into the ground. Vicar Amelia morphs into a beast similar to the Cleric Beast, but scurries around rampantly and is more agile. The Shadows of Yharnam have the ability to avoid your attacks, take turns attacking the player, and will cut the player down if they can’t maintain their ground between the three of them. Amygdala is a giant with multiple arms that can crush the player. The human/hunter sized fights like Martyr Logarius and Lady Maria are still standouts. Not because of how important they are lore-wise, but you fight an opponent equal to you and trade blows like an actual sword fight.
One of my favorite fights has to be with Father Gascoigne, who is the first mandatory boss of the game. Well, if you kill the Cleric Beast, he’s second, but still. For a majority of newcomers to the Souls games, Father Gascoigne is a tough beginner's fight and will probably be the first major difficulty curve. He’s basically the point in the game where the veteran players realize their knowledge from Dark Souls 1 & 2 won’t work. A majority of his attacks always follow up with another. Punishing players who attempt to dodge backwards, so it's encouragement to get up close and personal. Maybe even try dodging through an attack instead of away. Players have to dodge, learn his attack power, and counter. Halfway through the fight Gascoigne transforms into a beast and he can kill the player instantly if they get caught in a chain of attacks. Subverting expectations. Here the player has to learn new attack patterns for the fight, and this may even be the perfect time to learn how to perform a visceral attack.
So many of Bloodborne’s bosses live up to expectations and they can’t be cheesed so easily. Some of them force you to utilize the terrain of the arena rather than circle strafe them in order to find open points in their attack combo and avoid wide area attacks. A point I want to bring up is that the summonable NPCs work in Bloodborne. They aren’t as powerful as Dark Souls 1’s NPCs, but they aren’t designed in a way where you have to rely on them to carry you forward. They're there to provide support, just offer a good distraction, and help players playing offline not miss out on co-op. A bosses’ attack power and health bar will be increased when you summon a companion, and sometimes you’ll make them harder if the summoned companion dies early in the fight. It's more possible to beat all the bosses alone in Bloodborne than previous Souls games. If you want to preserve that Insight, which is what is used to summon companions but can ultimately be used to purchase gear exclusive to the messengers in the Hunter’s Dream, then you might want to learn how to fight the boss on your own. A challenge feels more rewarding when you conquer it by yourself rather than rely on the advice of others or something you probably looked up online. You feel triumphant and that triumph is what gives the player the drive to push forward and see what is next to unravel. Bloodborne’s bosses are promising and deliver, they might not be as iconic as Dark Souls’ bosses but they achieve what they set out to do.
Memorable Challenges Over Comfort
When Bloodborne originally came out it was considered the hardest among the Souls titles. It was a change in pace and some people weren't willing to accept change. Then Sekiro came out and took the trophy of kicking people in the balls harder than a car traveling 90 miles an hour towards a brick wall. What I’m trying to say is Bloodborne is difficult for a majority of modern gamers, but it’s fair once you understand the rules of the game. Sometimes that difficulty is made due to the player refusing to learn and adapt. To get good. That phrase was made not to mean, but to point out people who lack brain cells and probably refuse to change how they approach a game.
During my Sekiro review I complained that video games should stick to having one set difficulty rather than worrying about accessibility options. That having multiple can break the balance of a game. I still stick with that belief. First person shooters like Halo or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare can feel incredibly imbalanced with weapon damage, hitboxes, enemy hoards, and arena layouts when the game is struggling to find the perfect difficulty setting adjustments. It’s by having one set difficulty that the game convinces the player that it is set in front of them is fair and whatever mistakes they make is on them rather than the game. It’s by challenging the player you force them to learn. If they refuse to learn they can’t improve, and if they can’t improve, they can’t progress with the game. Some modern games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassin’s Creed kind of just drag gamers by the hand and never really punish the player for making drastic mistakes. This is a bad thing, because that is what leads to games becoming very bland and lacking consequences.
What happened to keeping players engaged? To have systems that require them to think, strategize, and change their playstyle? Now all we see these days are the same design tropes. Go to the icon on the map. Follow the dotted line towards the icon on the map. Do a quest in a linear fashion rather than experiment and do things out of order. Have a trailing mission that slows down their movement to listen to a mumbling NPC ramble on for a few minutes. Why not have fights that do more than serve as a quick cinematic. To reward them for overcoming insurmountable odds and keep them pushing forward? Games should be games; they shouldn’t be movies you paid sixty dollars for just to be disappointed with how they failed to connect the player to the characters and world. Bloodborne is engaging because of how it invests the player into the world. The difficult combat, maze-like world, and game design of Bloodborne is the best FromSoftware have ever done. However, you don’t just play Bloodborne to have fun and master everything thrown at you. You play it for the setting, history, characters, lore, and to create your own personal adventure. That is the investment more games should try to do and it’s sad how other devs haven’t done this often.
Out of all the games that came out in 2015, Bloodborne is the one that probably aged the best. Not saying games like The Witcher 3 or Undertale are bad today, they're just not the masterpieces everyone remembers them being. Bloodborne is a game with high amounts of replay value. New Game Plus mode allows the player to replay the game with the equipment and stats they had from their previous playthrough, and the enemies become stronger than before. New Game Plus in Bloodborne actually stacks on top of each other, each playthrough becoming much harder, but it's well balanced and no playthrough gets worse than before. I’m always finding something new each playthrough. Whether it’s fighting a new boss or trying out a new weapon. I mean this is the game I played four times, so I don’t know what you expect next. There is a wide build variety and there are websites that allow you to plot out what you can make. You may end up creating several characters and playing as each one multiple times.
Bloodborne’s community is lively even to this very day. There are hundreds of players online who help each other during boss fights and a competitive PvP community who tests their skills against one another. The chalice dungeons are an aspect not many people really like about Bloodborne, because there are just the same copy-pasted rooms that disguise normal enemies as bosses in between floors. I can understand why people don’t like this aspect, but the chalice dungeons are at least a serviceable amount of content. They sometimes have bosses exclusive to them and when you stumble upon them you feel excited. Plus, the chalice dungeons can be played with friends, and the multiplayer community I mentioned earlier love to use the chalice dungeons to fool around.
The fanbase is the best part in my opinion, because they're just so loyal to this game’s legacy. Cosplayers who dress up as the hunters or bosses. Artists who make tons of fanart or murals based on the game. Lore artists like VaatiVidya who analyze the game’s world and history so that other platters who want to have an easier time understanding the lore of Bloodborne and why it’s so deep and compelling. People who make guides to show everything the game has in store for the player. There is a crazy speed run community who invent weird ways to play the game. Live streamers who still haven’t played Bloodborne, but due to the game’s rise in popularity they are giving a whirl at the game. Sometimes these live streamers are why new members are being added to the Bloodborne community. Musicians who make songs based off of Bloodborne. Such as The Aviators who made When Our Bodies Wash Ashore, and my most favorite musicians out there whose a talented independent artist known as Gavin Dunne. Otherwise known as Miracle of Sound who made Paleblood Moon and one of my most favorite songs by him is A Thousand Eyes which I’ve listened to more than dozens of times now. So the entire community still remains to be amazing. I’m so happy to be part of such a community filled with talented individuals.
Thank You, From Software
So that’s my analysis of Bloodborne. I hope you all enjoyed reading through this essay and that you too can one day try out this wonderfully crafted masterpiece. Bloodborne is one of the greatest games I ever played and is definitely one of my top three games of all time. It’s rewarding and allows the player to invest without having to meet such dire requirements. If you are wondering what my favorite game in the Dark Souls series is, it's Dark Souls 3. From Software learned from the successful changes they made with Bloodborne and used that knowledge to make the most accessible game in the Souls series. It’s aggressive to encourage that engaging playstyle, but it still lets the player use a few defensive options. However, my most favorite From Software game will always be Bloodborne. This Lovecraftian, horrifying masterpiece.
It showed me that you don’t need fancy cinematic storytelling or rely on methods that handicap the player to have a good time. You don’t need highly detailed graphics or a powerful engine to make a compelling world. You don’t need to sell out to the design trends of today to hook the player in. And you don’t need the story to focus on the main character to make them care. They should constantly challenge the player, reward them for their efforts, and keep pushing them forward to discover more about the world they are in. The time I played Bloodborne was the time I began to realize video games have given up on trying to be fun. Bloodborne reminded me of what fun is. What video games should be. It made me fall in love with gaming again. In the end I just want to say thank you. Thank you From Software for making this game and bringing joy to thousands of players the past five years. Currently you guys are working on Elden Ring and it is rumored that a Demon’s Souls remake may be coming. I wish you guys the best of luck and hope you continue to shine among the game industry. Thank you.
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