Community Review: Bloodborne

Come on, as if today's Community Review was going to be anything else.

So let's talk about Bloodborne.

For me personally, talking in general terms about Bloodborne is difficult. Assessing its 'value' is even more difficult. Obviously I love it, but part of me would probably still have loved it, even if it turned out to be mediocre. In short, I feel ill-equipped to judge it as a video game. I'm just too invested in the series.

Regardless, here are my thoughts: Bloodborne is great. It's really, really great.

I love Bloodborne's world. I love the details and depth of the environments. I love how oppressive it feels. I love the harsh smog-filled orange sunsets. I love the crisp, clear moons. I love the enemy designs, especially when they surprise me.

The boss encounters so far, have been utterly thrilling and unique. Dark Souls often went big, Bloodborne does that too, but often they initially underwhelm, but satisfy with their attack patterns. They seem smaller, more intricate. Vicar Amelia is my favourite so far: those piercing screams. Otherworldly and haunting.

I love the honeycomb structure of the world design. It seems tighter, more intricate, than any other From Software game before it. I love the combat, which feels tight and rewarding. The biggest risks Bloodborne takes are in its combat and they pay off in an extremely big way.

I feel as though Bloodborne has trimmed a lot of fat. Some will miss the wide-range of weapons and gear we're used to in the Souls series, but I don't. More effort seems to have been place on making less weapons that are better designed, more unique.

Perhaps my favourite part of the game so far: I don't quite understand everything that's happening. To an extent, some of the mystery of the Souls games had been lost. We knew what to expect. With Bloodborne there are new things to learn. There are mechanics we haven't fully unravelled. We'll be doing that over the coming weeks and months and I can't wait to see what we uncover.

Some random points...

-- I love that everything feels like it's coated in oil. -- I love that the blood of your enemies literally splatters all over your clothes (that is a weird thing to love). -- I love the Haunted Forest even though I'm aware people probably hate that area. -- Yarnham is the best playable space From Software has ever built. -- I love that Bloodborne forces players to learn its systems by removing the shield. -- I've been exercising during load times. Literally exercising. They're pretty long. -- I don't know if its possible for another game to have the same impact as Dark Souls had on me, but this comes close.

Now I'd love to hear your thoughts! Let me know in the comments below.


Comments

    Damn it you're just doin' this to tease me now!!!!!

    Let's not, there's a fair few members of the community that haven't played it yet either because their copy hasn't arrived yet (me), or because they're out of the country, and a number of those people are among the most rabid Dark Souls (FROM Software) fans around.

    I'm loving it, but boy howdy do I suck (at least, compared to how I fared in DS2). Thankfully, I've thrown my shame out the window, and so for two of the five bosses I've killed I've summoned help (And I've tried to help a few times, but I've succeeded once at helping, and every other time I watched as my host was killed by the same gorramn attack).

    I've bought it, but waiting for the second patch to come along to improve the load times. I HATE loading times that are slower than 10 seconds or more!!! I'll probably start it this week but not progress too far if I get frustrated with the loading.

      I know how you feel, the loading is really putting me off sinking a lot more time into the game, I can't get in more than an hour or 2 straight before chucking it in.

    Just hit level 55 last night before I went to bed. Only need to level my strength up another 4 points and then I can run around with the Cannon as my sidearm. Really loving the game so far, won't spoil it for any one but I've just entered the Forbidden Forest and just opened the first short cut. Such a dark and gritty area.

    Also, I've been playing a lot of the Chalice dungeons. Chalice dungeons are a great way to help get some extra materials if you've found you've gotten stuck at a point. The bosses in them are refreshing as well. Even if you come across the same boss you have in a previous dungeon, you might find it has a different ability to what it had last time you fought it.

    Don't think I'll need any new games for the upcoming months because of this.

    You should expand the question: how does it compare when compared to Demon/Dark Souls/II?
    Better, worse?

    Picked up the game on launch.
    Only got to play for a few hours on Thursday night.
    Got to the fist boss and was immediately smashed !!
    Turned off to go to bed.
    Spent weekend in different state for a mates buck show
    Spent most of the time thinking about bloodborne
    spent rest of time talking about bloodborne to guys who don't game at all.

    10/10 would ignore strippers and annoy mates to think/talk about bloodborne again !!!

    I finally made a start on it last night. Died immediately four times. In my slightly inebriated state I cracked it and started playing Captain Toad instead. Died four times in that too, realised I was drunker than I thought I was and cut my losses. Will go back to Bloodborne tonight (and stick to the diet coke haha).

      It's a little more disturbing when Captain Toad gets covered in ShyGuy blood as he slaughters his way through them

    My personal opinion on those load times I feel as though it is a way to prevent people from farming to hectic. Because enemies continually re-spawn, the load times are probably there to prevent you from loading into areas quickly and just farm the shit out of everything in the area then us the hunters mark to warp back and rinse and repeat.
    Still big call but i think this in my opinion is the BEST FROM SOFTWARE game yet. Five thumbs up.

      They have already said they are looking to fix the load times, and if they wanted to prevent people farming they already had a system for that which was to stop the enemies spawning once you'd farm the crap out of them.

        The load times are huge, and while I will welcome any improvements there. I feel like they have saved me from myself a few times. I know I have killed myself in a really stupid places after dying and respawning in previous games. Jumping right back in impatiently and doing something idiotic.

        The load times (while frustrating) serve as a nice cool off period.

        Last edited 30/03/15 2:35 pm

          haha that is funny because it is exactly the opposite for me, the load times make me impatient, especially when retrying bosses, so I end up frustrated and charge towards the boss and die by making dumb mistakes on the trash between.

    10/10 no doubt. The game is a masterpiece.

    7 bosses down so far, Rom and Amygdala are next.

    I invested a chunk of the weekend on this game but feel like I've only just scratched the surface.
    I'm exploring the Cathedral and made it up to Vicar Amelia but haven't bested her yet, but at least the area is pretty good for soul farming with all those giants wandering around.

    It is glorious, but I am pretty shit at it (though getting better with every attempt). Only being able to play a limited amount of time each session is kind of affecting my mind being able to fully wrap itself around the fighting. The werewolves in particular. Also having some difficulty timing the visceral attacks.

    But I'll get it. Eventually.

    Love the almost Lynchian, nightmarish mystery about the world. It's a real joy to discover :-)

    Loving it. I've got two bosses down, who were surprisingly simple (hey, I'm not complaining - Sif took me six hours of constant attempts to beat, and that was not fun in any respect) - not sure if it's because they were introductory, or because I'm just really digging the combat. First boss I stumbled on, I expected to die, but dispatched him without dropping below 13 vials. Second boss took a couple of tries, but I'm honestly having more trouble with the brick trolls and executioners than the bosses I've faced so far. I do have what seem to be two boss areas waiting to be explored, however, so I'm well aware that my sample size of "two bosses down" is at best unreliable.

    Loving the counter-shot system, but I'm getting to the point they're less reliable - they'll halt an attack animation, enemy might even drop to their knees for half a second, but they'll get up and resume attacking before I get a chance to eviscerate them. Not sure if it's just that I need something better than the blunderbuss, or if it just needs upgrading more.

    Oh, and I really dig the aesthetic. Was trying to remember what it reminded me of - anyone seen a French movie called Brotherhood of the Wolf? Seems like this is nearly an interactive couterpart to it... Down to the clothes, the glasses, the forest, the blade-wolves...

    Last edited 30/03/15 12:02 pm

      brotherhood of the wolf is a good comparison, also the warhammer universe's witch hunters and mordheim setting looks like it played a big part in influencing the art direction.

    Just finished blood starved beast. I'm enjoying it. I'd give it an 8/10, it's a very good game but still has some flaws and bugs/frame rate issues/load issues. I really like the setting though, it's got a good feel to it and isn't set in an over used setting. When I first saw the launch trailer I thought it could be in danger of being too generic dark horror/steam punk but it's got a good style.

    I disliked Dark Souls 2, I didn't play 1 much at all, I finished bloodborne yesterday.
    The biggest change between BB and DS is that any time you die, you know it was your own fault. There are no areas that are frustrating to navigate due to clunky movement resulting in stupid deaths, the lanterns, while fewer in number, are better placed to allow semi quick recovery from areas that are hard to pass through or bosses that are difficult and shortcuts are quite a bit more useful than any I found in the souls games.
    Your character is more responsive, I don't feel like I am controlling a pregnant whale, he does what I tell him infinitely more reliably than my DS characters which leads back to my first point about dying always being your fault and never the fault of an enemy with a cheap combo or thin ledge etc.
    I would have liked the addition of a journal of sorts that updates as you progress through the main story giving you a basic idea of what you are doing and why. I get that the story is told through NPCs, item descriptions and so on and that is part of the pull of the world FS creates with these games but still some bare bones info to hold the game together
    even though I kind of understand the story and I get that anything like this would likely be inaccurate at best considering the "it was all a dream" they appeared to be going for

    The game is easier, likely due to tighter mechanics, more streamlined items/stats and a slightly more linear game which I am fine with, it is still definitely a souls successor and is supremely unforgiving of your eagerness or mistakes and rewards good play with results.

    I have been playing a file alongside my brother and there are major differences between our bosses behaviours, 2 in particular Micolash and Logarius both of which were pushovers on my brothers file and rather frustrating on my own file. The latter in particular stuck exclusively to spells and long ranged abilities that, compared to my brothers melee only version was considerably more difficult to best.

    Bloodborne is a great game, unique and challenging but less frustrating (outside of the load times) than its forebears and if you put in the effort you will be rewarded.

    Can't beat first boss.
    Am enjoying the shit out of it.

      How to beat cleric beast:

      1. Throw blood cocktail to distract it
      2. Throw oil urn
      3. Throw molotov
      4. Repeat

        haha thanks my current tactic was dodge then beat it with a stick XD

    I would appreciate it if people did not post spoilers for the end game.

    I just defeated the

    blood starved beast

    and about to try to best

    Vicar Amelia and explore the lost workshop

    Bloodborne is for me the best game FROM has ever made, and is likely going to be in my top 10 games of all time. It is the perfect combination of Resident Evil 4, Zelda and Castlevania.

    Has anyone here contemplated going back to FROM's King's Field series?

    Souls games are like Zelda games, they may change the setting and characters, and tweak the systems but once you have played one game, you're more or less equipped with the core skills and strategies you need to tackle another. Bloodborne is no different and takes what the previous games have built, removes the training wheels (ie. the shield), gives the enemies a shot of adrenalin and tunes the combat to feel natural for anyone who rolled and parried their way through the other games. Familiarity is a double edged sword though, especially in a series whose biggest draw is encountering (and conquering) the unknown.

    From the Yharnam Visitor's Handbook:
    Welcome to Yharnam, home of the Muppets and headquarters of the largest Electric Mayhem fan club this side of the Reality Divide. It's natural export is the Quantum Wall, a technological marvel that can randomly allow enemies (and sometimes you) to move, attack or see through them. Tourists can lose themselves in the city and wander aimlessly for hours, taking in the sights and sounds, maybe shaking hands with the locals before having that hand ripped off and eaten.

    Overall, I'm enjoying Bloodborne as a game in which you are always seeking bigger and better challenges although the fluctuations between the tedium and the challenging seem to be a little more frequent than I'd like. It's my favourite game in the series by far, but I'm one of those apparently rare people who sits somewhere in between hate and love, settling for "It's pretty good". I look forward to where From goes from here.

    Last edited 30/03/15 12:36 pm

    I finished it last night, it's a perfect 10/10 for me. I have only given 10/10 for 2 games in my life this game is perfection

      How many hours/character levels?

      Last edited 30/03/15 1:47 pm

        bout 40 hours and I was level 100 when I finished

          Rad, I'm about 6 hours in, level 34 and just beat the blood starved beast, I know the game splits off a bit into different paths from this point on, I figured I have a very long way to go :P

          You are absolutely right about the 10/10 thing though, even with only a few hours in I suspect this game will join Wind Waker and Metal Gear Solid 3 in my favourite games of all time.

    Love it. In my opinion:
    The level design and atmosphere surpass the souls series.
    Had to learn the new combat system but that's part of the fun and I actually now prefer the faster shield-less combat, which I never think I would given my standard sword and shield play style in souls games.
    I don't mind the loading time. Can (should) it be shorter? Yes. But I find myself using those loading time to calm down and take a breather. I actually play better this way.
    Frame rate can be better. Not really an issue like blightown but it is noticeable that the frame rate occasionally take hits.
    Bloodborne has far less weapons than the souls series, but I don't mind as each weapon can be transformed and the transformation attack combo is adding another level to the combat. Overall, they are easy to use but hard to master. I do wish there are more armor (or clothes) set though. As well as the ability to customise them.

    Definitely a must play for souls fans and while it is no less difficult I actually think this is a better start to any new comers compare to the souls game.

    Last edited 30/03/15 12:36 pm

    started playing this yesterday afternoon... about 3 hours later i still hadn't seen a boss and had died many times... I've never put more than about 20-30 minutes into souls games but the changes in combat in this just feels better to me (basically the no shield thing appeals to me)

    after starting to feel a bit worn out and dying more frequently because i was getting impatient i stopped playing, but i couldn't get it off my mind... i started justifying the last 3 hours of failure by telling myself i'd learnt how to do a few things and opened up a few shortcuts... i also managed to find the hunter armor/gear which seemed like a decent little upgrade...

    so i stopped, had some dinner and watched some tv... all the time thinking what i should do next to try and progress or improve... while watching tv i was partly glued to my phone looking for hints and tips and given my weapon had started to deteriorate i gave myself a goal to go and earn some blood and upgrade it if possible... i did this... i also went back and earned some more to upgrade my stats a bit... i also read about how to unlock the shortcut at the top of the first big ladder... so i did that too... progress?

    then i found the first boss... and died... twice... improving each time mind you (getting about a 3rd of its health off or so) but yeah, that's where i'm at and i'm left wanting more... i'd love to be at home right now instead of at work because all i can think about is killing that first boss and exploring this world more

    so yeah, bloodborne... a game that makes you feel like you're potentially achieving nothing at times but feels so good that you just want more.... i'm hooked...

    The Witches of Hemwick have been my favourite so far.

    Amazing music and the first fight I was genuinely stumped on for my first few attempts.

    Ok so this game started off extremely hard, the learning curve is one of the biggest i've ever had to overcome. However once you are past those first 2 bosses, everything seems to get a little easier... Is it just me or are the Hunters scattered throughout SUPER hard (woman hunter with double blades, cannot beat her)... i'm finding them harder than Bosses... is that weird?

    Visuals and overall atmosphere to the game is unreal. I was also constantly thinking about the game over and over in my head (at work too!) how I can tackle this boss and thinking about what's beyond... I don't think any game has ever done that to me.. Never played the DS series before this.

    Two things bugging me, super long loading times and the fact that characters mouths don't move!! What the F? This is next gen.. SORT IT.

    Overall pretty happy with it so far :)

    Sometimes I feel like admitting that you don’t like the Souls series on a gaming website is like walking into a hipster bar and telling people that Taylor Swifts new album is actually fun to listen to.

    Having played Dark Souls and reading this (surprisingly honest) dissection of the game on IGN (http://au.ign.com/articles/2015/03/26/how-and-why-bloodborne-lost-me) I’m really surprised that almost nobody else is throwing their hand up to say “this game is no fun at all!”.

    I mean even the most glowing review of the game is complaining about performance issues and ridiculous load times, plus a lot of the complaints listed seem to be entirely reasonable… yet some places you go it’s a near unanimous perfect 10 from people. I mean it’s CLEARLY not a game for everyone, the other Souls games weren’t either, but it’s odd that extremely few reviewers have come out and admitted that in their opinion the game is no fun.

    Something like Wolf Creek 2, for example, is targeted at the “torture porn” enthusiast crowd, and for them it might be the best film ever, yet when film reviewers assessed the film the vast majority of them came out and said “this film is garbage and I don’t know why anyone would like it” even if they knew that the film wasn’t for them….. Where are those reviews here? Surely someone else out there thinks it’s out-and-out lame to make someone replay something they already done 500 times over with 40 second load times between each go?

      As I've admitted above, yeah the load times are a bit long, and you'd hope they'll optimise this in future updates.. But the fact that I'm thinking about the game while not playing it, not something I've done in a while and it's extremely refreshing. Don't get me wrong.. the game is frustrating as hell at times.. But once you're past that first blood echo grind and beat a boss or two.. (with or without a little beckoning help from my friends) it gets pretty damn exciting!

      How much of DS, DS1, DS2, BB have you played?

        Only a few hours of Dark Souls, so I’m FAR from being an expert on the series.
        I didn’t like it very much, even though I could see the appeal. It was too slow and too repetitive for me, I don’t mind dying but I don’t want to have to replay a prolonged period up until the point at which I did die.

        I just find it strange that so few people question the design choices of the series and wonder if to some extent it’s a “gamer cred” thing. The game is shamelessly difficult (and promotes itself as such) and I think that lends itself to this feeling that it’s always the players fault if the game isn’t fun. It can’t be the game that sucks, YOU SUCK, and because of that people don’t judge it for what sometimes can be a genuinely bad design choices.

        A game that’s shamelessly weird shouldn’t be immune to criticism if it’s completely incoherent, a game that’s shamelessly easy shouldn’t be immune from criticism if that simplicity comes at the expense of depth, and a game that’s shamelessly hard shouldn’t be immune from criticism that it’s unfairly punishing or that it tests your resolve as much through unrelenting grind as much as it tests your skill and reflexes.

        The series really does discourage trying alternative things by making you go back to the same place every time to retrieve your corpse, for example. To me that’s a flaw, it’s annoying and means that lateral thinking comes at the cost of having to grind your way back through things you’ve already done before you can try something new. It’s not testing your skill, it’s testing your resolve and to me that’s a balance that Darks Souls got wrong and which (it sounds like) is replicated here. I don’t like it, and if I reviewed that game I’d tell people as much.

        It’s all part of the weird nature of games and the importance people give to review scores. In a perfect world it would be perfectly acceptable one reviewer to either love this style of game and give it 95% and another reviewer to hate the design choices and give it 50%. The games divisive, the scores it receives SHOULD be divisive and we should all be accepting that this games Almighty Metacritic score should reflect that. Instead reviewers seem to be scared to be critical at the risk of offending everyone from rabid Sony fanboys, to developers who rely on Metacritic to get paid, to gaming hipsters who view the Souls series as the craft beer of the gaming world…..

        Ok that was a massive rant there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good game and people should be enjoying it, I’m just confused by the near-unanimous praise.

          I've owned all the Souls games from Demon's Souls on but never finished any of them due to the mindset of hating having to rekill things I had already cleared but as I was reading your posts here I had an epiphany of sorts.

          If I'm playing a platformer, say Mario Bros back on the NES, and I die on my way through a stage before a checkpoint then I get rest back to the start of the stage (or last checkpoint) and now have to go back and reclear everything that I'd already cleared as it has respawned. It gets worse if we consider a Metroidvania game where we need to explore and can get punished for exploring and getting to areas we aren't ready for yet since we get sent back to the last checkpoint.....we're effectively punished for exploring in the same way as Souls does.

          Taking this in to account, is it really that egregious a sin for Souls games to essentially just do something that a plethora of games (including some of the most loved and seminal genres) have been doing for the last 30 years? Or is it just that we see Souls as RPG's and these things "shouldn't happen"?

          I guess even if it's the later we can look at things like Shadows of Mordor to get a reason for what's happened....when we die time passes and mobs repopulate the areas you have cleared since things previously lived there and it's reasonable to assume that as viable housing becomes available new tenants will move in :)

      The problem with that comparison is the actual involvement of the reviewer that is required to make the review. Any body can sit through an entire horrible movie to come up with the "its terrible" conclusion. But a video game you don't like? Much harder, and made harder again when its a Souls type game, chances are if you hate it you aren't going to experience much of the game, especially if you're employed by someone like IGN or Kotaku, where you can pass the game off onto someone who does like it to review it.

      That IGN article for example is not their review, it was an opinion piece, go look at their actual review. It is done by a different person and the result is it is amazing. Why wasn't it done by Dan? Because he either didn't make it far enough into the game in time to do a review (remember you have to get your review out there as quick as possible) or flat out refused to go far enough to be considered having played enough to formulate a valid review. So of course you are going to end up with across the board glowing reviews of what is a great game even if it isn't everyones game, because the only people who haved played enough to really be considered to have enough experience to review it were already going to love it.

        That makes perfect sense…. it’s still not an ideal situation though.

        It’d be interesting to see how the internet would react (actually it wouldn’t be and I’m sure we already know) if he posted a review saying he only played the game for 10 hours and thought it was pretty shit for all the (fairly reasonable) reasons he listed.

        I mean the game is supposed to be intentionally trying, I don’t know that a review that said “this game fails to strike the correct balance between tests of skill and tests of resolve. Like me, most people will have better things to do. 4/10” would be completely unfair. I mean if you hate a game for 10 hours do you really owe it to the developer to finish all the content? If a game has a sticker on the box that says “this game in designed to be a trying grind for 70 hours” does that make the game beyond criticism if it is a trying grind?

          But that isn't fair to the product, you can't have something as targeted as games be reviewed by someone who is not going to give it a fair chance. That just gives the wrong impression to the people who will like it and robs them of the information they would get from the review of someone who "gets" it.

          I guess in that sort of idea you would need two reviews, in this case, one by a guy like Mark and one by a guy like Dan, but I dont think that would meet budgetary needs.

          Last edited 30/03/15 3:31 pm

            I agree that you need two reviews. I suppose my bigger question is: “how much do you need to play if you really don’t like a game”.

            A film goes for 3.5 hours at the most and if you really hate it you should still be expected to complete it, but a game that takes at least 70 hours and for some people it could be a lot longer than that? Maybe you should give the game an ‘N/A’ for the score and report that you didn’t finish it because you had better things to do. I don’t know what that would do to the games all-important Metacritic score.

            I couldn’t think of anything worse than being forced to finish a 70 hour game that very intentionally forced you to replay battles you’d already mastered just for the sake of testing your resolve to ‘try-again’. At the same time I think it’s rubbish that someone who legitimately approached the game and only hated the first 20 hours of it shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion.

              But that is the difference, he can and does have an opinion, he wrote an opinion piece. A review is meant to be objective, which is free of opinion. Which yes I know is a complete joke because a review without opinion really doesn't exist, especially in gaming, but there it is.

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