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An Excursion into Madness

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    Rating: 4.5 – Outstanding

    An Excursion into Madness

    Bloodborne is a punishingly hard, incredibly polished and lore rich game that counts itself as one of the PS4’s top exclusives. It pulls much of its inspiration from the Dark Souls series of games, but takes place in a totally different setting. Unlike Dark Souls though, it limits your weaponry and emphasizes skill in learning to use your complex weapon to the best of its potential. It also removes use of the shield almost completely, in what will probably be the most divisive aspect of the game.

    Ultimately, it caters to a subset of Dark Souls players, those who enjoy fast paced twitch gameplay. While forcing you into this style of play is a bit disappointing, it also changes up the formula in ways that reward it. At least… sometimes.

    Plot – 9/10

    The game’s story has a heavy dose of cosmic horror mixed with 19th century monster hunting escapades. While perhaps not the most original thing in the world if someone is a big fan of HP Lovecraft, it’s still quite unique for a AAA video game to include these themes to such a degree. As per usual in From Software games, the lore is deep, intricate and very hard to decipher. It’s enjoyable to trade theories and try to figure out the truth, although the game sometimes comes off as overly obfuscated. The voice acting is incredibly good.

    Unfortunately, the plot has a gameplay specific flaw – the NPCs are nigh impossible to find. Despite being marked by special lanterns, it’s incredibly easy to miss them, and furthermore, remember them. You will have to explore a lot if you hope to find all the aspects of the plot without reading a guide.

    Gameplay – 8/10

    The gameplay is probably the weakest part of Bloodborne, ironically. That doesn’t mean it’s bad – far from it. It’s very polished and still lightyears from the janky combat of Dark Souls 2. Even so, the gameplay shows massive flaws in a certain important area – bosses.

    You see, the gameplay has morphed, from Dark Souls’s "shield or dodge" into a purely dodge based system that gives you more I-Frames (invincibility time when dodging) at the cost of not being able to block. You can shoot your gun to do weak damage, and do a long distance "parry" of sorts, as well as have a limited array of magic.

    You recover health when you hit enemies, causing the game to encourage being aggressive in your attacks. During normal gameplay this has a natural equilibrium of using blood vials to heal, killing enemies and getting them back as drops. However, this balance comes to a screeching halt when you reach a boss. During bosses, it’s often incredibly hard to get your health back if they hit you, forcing you to expend blood vials almost solely. This in turn causes you to waste vials and having to tediously grind for more. It feels like the game is punishing the player just because it can. What’s worse is how cheap bosses can often be.

    Beyond this flawed system the actual process of combat is exceedingly fun, thanks to the wide array of transforming weapons with inventive designs. Unfortunately, this also falls flat when fighting bosses, where the lack of a shield feels more like a liability than a benefit. While you can parry some bosses with your gun, it’s likely your left hand will go totally unused during the entire fight, as the gun does such pitifully low damage most of the time unless you make a build entirely focused on Bloodtinge.

    Graphics – 10/10

    The graphics are stunning in this game, full of exquisite detail and brilliantly original designs. Some of the bosses are incredibly cool, and the enemy animations look practically real despite their outlandish designs.

    The only real con I have is that there’s STILL no lip sync for the dialogue.

    Sound – 10/10

    The sound fits the game very well, and I have no real problems with it. The music, and sound design are utterly perfect, and though the reuse of many sounds from Dark Souls can be a bit distracting and immersion breaking, it’s also nostalgia inducing and humorous at the same time.

    Overall – 9/10

    While Bloodborne is a beautiful game with an original and interesting storyline to be deciphered, its gameplay is somewhat flawed and makes some inexplicable steps backwards from previous games. Still, it’s highly recommended for anyone who enjoys games that require a high level of skill to beat.

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