I've Been Dreaming About BloodBorne

I've played for about 15 hours, but I've been dreaming about Bloodborne.

It’s sort of a waking dream. My two-year-old son is inside my game, sabotaging my character, trying to mess with my stats. My son isn’t an enemy necessarily, more like weight dragging at my heels. He’s pulling me back. He’s screaming in my ear as I move. Clinging to my coat tails when I attack. Almost like he’s trying to drag me, kicking and screaming back to the real world.

It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve been having actual literal dreams about Bloodborne and I’m not alone.

At least two people on Kotaku’s staff have dreamt about Bloodborne. It’s just that kind of game.

The kind of game that bullies its way into your sub-consciousness; the kind of game that occupies your headspace like a brain-slug. It doesn’t ask for permission. It’s a fucked up digital vampire. Invite it into your home: that’s your first mistake. That’s all the permission it needs to infiltrate your bloodstream and become a part of you, like a virus.

In other words: Bloodborne is very much a From Software game. It’s a Hidetaka Miyazaki game.

Well it is, but it isn’t.

It is because yes, literally speaking, Bloodborne was directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki. Yes: his name is on the box. And yes, it bears the hallmarks of his design philosophy. There are parts of Bloodborne that are unmistakably ‘soulsian’. The currency of ‘souls’, for example, remains. A different noun is attached — Bloodborne calls them ‘Blood Echoes’ — but I’ve yet to have a conversation, online or otherwise, where anyone has referred to them as anything other than ‘souls’.

Much of Bloodborne’s nouns are interchangeable in this way. Bonfires are now called ‘lanterns’. Demon’s Souls’ ‘Nexus’ is Bloodborne’s ‘Hunter’s Dream’. Souls fans will play Bloodborne and — for the most part — will feel at home. The pace, the feel, the controls all feel familiar. Comforting even.

But then there are the ways in which Bloodborne is different. The many, many ways. That’s what truly makes Bloodborne special, spectacular. Bloodborne is not a Souls game. It shares much of its DNA with that legendary series, but Bloodborne is unmistakably a new game with new ideas — brave ideas. Ideas that, if poorly executed, had the potential to derail what has become such a potent, definitive experience.

My favourite things about Bloodborne are the things that are different.

The setting. A fantastical version of Victorian London called ‘Yarnham’. Dense with grime and oil. Dotted with statues that raise their hands to the sky: a filthy sky permanently fixed in a blood-orange smog-filled sunset. Bloodborne is beautiful. It’s also pathologically ugly in a way that the Dark Souls games are not. It throbs oppressively with a dark menace. If there’s an Anor Londo to be found I’ve yet to come across it. Only the afore-mentioned Hunter’s Dream — dotted as it is with white, unsullied flowers — provides players with any kind of respite. I like this. Bloodborne is a different game. Its universe feels unique

Bloodborne’s world is more Demon’s than Dark Souls. It’s divided into sections, but the delicate ‘connectedness’ of Dark Souls — those paths that intertwine brilliantly – are not sacrificed. Yarnham, the game’s first major area is huge and progressing through the world is as rewarding as exploring Lordran. Dark Souls’ honeycomb structure is perhaps even more pronounced in this game.

Shortcuts manifest themselves at every turn — they feel more calculated, better designed. At times I literally hungered for a lantern only to find a brilliantly paced shortcut that rendered it useless. You wonder how it could possibly make sense in the context of the twists and turns you’d just made in your journey, but then it clicks. Of course it’s connected. Wow. Wow. This is Bloodborne – and From Software – at its absolute best.

Much will be made of the changes to the combat. This is arguably where Bloodborne takes the majority of its risks. A shield is available but you won’t want to use it, meaning players who clunked their way through Souls games with a raised, trembling shield must go through an adjustment period. It will be worth it.

Instead of a shield, you can wield a firearm, which is less of a long-range weapon than you might expect. It can be used at distance, but is far more effective as a ‘parrying’ weapon: if you time a shot during your enemy’s attack you have a window to completely disembowel them. It’s just about the most rewarding thing I’ve ever learned to do in a From Software game. The mechanic is essentially the same as parrying in the Souls games, but the execution… it’s pitch perfect.

The most dramatic evolution in combat is the ability to regain lost health by counter-striking. If you are hit you have a short window: if you successfully attack before that window is up, you get your health back. It’s an incredible risk-reward scenario, particularly during boss fights when the stakes feel incredibly high. Should I lunge back in and risk death, or should I take the loss and retreat? These decisions are important and context matters.

The well-documented intention of these changes is to increase the pace of Bloodborne’s combat, and it succeeds. But more importantly it provides a much welcome injection of surprise to the game. It gives you something new to learn, that shock of the new. Experienced Souls players will feel it, but won’t miss what is gone. The depth and quality of each and every encounter remains – if anything it has been enhanced. There are new options, new layers of depth. Additional intricacies, I suspect, are yet to be discovered.

Bloodborne will surprise you. Perhaps that’s the most beautiful thing about it.

It will infect you, most likely it will haunt you. You’ll think about it during work and play it obsessively throughout the night. In the weeks and months to come I wouldn’t be surprised if you, like me, begin dreaming of Bloodborne.


Comments

    I.CAN'T.WAIT any longer, even replaying the souls game won't do it for me anymore.

      It's reviewing insanely well too. Yay!!

        Even the lukewarm reviews give it 7.5 or above. A good game worth the wait for sure.

    I thought I was the only one. Every night since I started playing it I've dreamt about it. Every. Single. Night.

    Mark STAHP! The wait is killing me

    Damn, this has stoked the hype fires big time.

    ...Guess it's time to go and start rubbing up against anyone that coughs or sneezes in the hope of taking the rest of the week off sick.

    Break street date plz

      I saw some copies (Not sure if display or legit) at my local JB the other day, if i get around to going there again i will fill you in.

    Reviews are out folks, so many 9s and perfect scores.

      Great news! Now my ps4 will finally get the usage it deserves!

      Wiki entry.

      "Critical reception has been very positive. Gamespot gave it a 90/100. Pretty much Miyazaki is a God and thats all you need to know about Bloodborne."

    I played it last night, it wasn't a dream, I was in the Hunter's Dream. Only a few more hours for you folks, stay strong and keep safe!

    Wow ! This game is scoring nicely on the reviews , some people saying this was a extremely important game for Playstation & Sony , looks as if it's done the job.

    So much backlog of games I have and now this comes out :( just started playing dieing Light on hard with a mate , come on stop with all the games :)

    Good lord, how many reviewers did Miyazaki have to sleep with?

    Highly unethical.

    Last edited 24/03/15 2:14 pm

      Kudos for making a comment about GamerGate which is both insightful and funny.

    So a quick question for those that have played it. What is the stat system like? Is it as convoluted as the Souls series?

      There are fewer stats but this time around the stat upgrades don't spread that much, like how previously if you upgrade STR your HP would also increase, now it seems you really have to pump some points into VIT and END.

    One time when I had a fever I dreamed that my cat stole the car then got recruited to join the Avengers and had to leave in a hurry so she left our car in the middle of an intersection, unlocked with the keys in the ignition. I was so mad at her in my dream, like "SERIOUSLY COOKIE WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT."

    It made sense at the time.

      Fever dreams are the best.... Once there was cricket on TV in the house while I lay there dropping in and out of a fevered sleep... Heard the name "Doug Bollinger" and that's the only thing my brain would process all night....

      Doug Bollinger Doug Bollinger Doug Bollinger Doug Bollinger Doug Bollinger

      Hearing his name still sends my brain recoiling...

      Ahahahahah. It's a pretty 'cat' thing to do, really.

      RE: fever dreams - last year I contracted food poisoning from a chili dog at a certain brick-themed fun park in Southern California and had to fly to Mexico the next day, vomiting and clammy and near hallucinating all the while. I actually felt OK when I got there and went out and checked out some museums, Mayan art and whatnot, but the next day it struck again with a vengeance and I had a series of intense panicky fever dreams where dudes in crisp white suits with jaguar and deer heads chased me around the city trying to kill me by blowing clouds of poison and plagues of bugs at me through trumpets and saxophones. Absolutely terrifying, and obviously influenced by stuff I saw at the museum the day before. I sweated the liquid equivalent of a whole other person that day and after that I was good as gold.

      If you ever go to that brick place, eat something else.

      Last edited 24/03/15 10:59 pm

    Just trying to think if there's any legal way I can come up with the money for a PS4 in the next 24 hours??

    Nope ...shit out of ideas ...

    I hate you Serrels :)

    Plz make it stop!!!!! (me & every Xbox One owner...)

    I might pick this up tomorrow. Only costs $5 more at JB than at ozgameshop (still $20 less than at EB!) This will be my first Souls game since Demon's. Looking forward to diving back in :-)

    Embargo didn't break at all at the store I work at. Worst. Guess I'll just have to pick it up at 9AM tomorrow, take it home and update it, then go to work later in the day...

    Should i play this tomorrow or wait and play pillars of eternity first hmmm

      You should try this out first, Pillars of Eternity is an adventure that will wait for you, while with Bloodborne everyone will try to get all the great gear so that they can stomp you in your game.

    I'm about to head overseas for half a year tomorrow. I'm taking my gaming laptop and gaems vanguard brief case with xbox one in it. My ps4 will gather dust at home until I return.

    TL;DR I'm sad Sony own rights and maybe even pc won't see release of blood borne.

    Please don't reply with some retarded console war speel. This game can run on everything, Sony are the only roadblock.

    Is it as difficult and deliberately frustrating as Dark Souls? If so... pass.

    Oh man, this has got me super excited for this game. It's been so long since I've dreamt of a game - and I LOVE that feeling. Becoming so invested in a world that you don't even leave it when you aren't playing.

    Lol bloodborne is the perfect case of why metacritic is a joke. It's been getting 0s and 10s since right after launch by people who clearly haven't played it regardless of their score. Most reviews are 0s with no comment or 10s with people complaining about the 0s lol. Metacritic needs a way to weed out the people who rate a game purely based ontgeir fanboyism

    Today is the day!! Long day of work ahead before I can play. C'mon 5pm

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