2015 was an incredible year for video games, but Bloodborne was my favourite. Point blank. No exceptions.
Bloodborne is my game of the year.
There’s a lot of reasons to love Bloodborne: the combat, the visuals. The general aesthetic, the pacing. Bloodborne is a special game.
But perhaps the most incredible thing about Bloodborne is this: From Software somehow managed to replicate the magic of Dark Souls in a completely new universe.
Dark Souls is a once in a lifetime game. The detail of the universe, its ability to take a tired genre and somehow imbue it with originality, to make it completely unique. It’s about the attention to detail. Dark Souls was incredible because of its environmental storytelling, the density of its atmosphere and its world. It’s a staggering achievement to the point where you might expect a creator, or a creative team could only pull it off once.
With Bloodborne Hidetaka Miyazaki and From Software did the same thing twice. And the beauty of Bloodborne is in its newness. Like Dark Souls it takes a genre replete with cliché and somehow embeds an honesty and realness to it.
How do pull that off? How do you do it twice? It’s amazing.
The world of Bloodborne is a spiralling, waking nightmare of density and chaos. The architecture towers above the player like a Victorian parody, but somehow manages to feel like a real place, a place you should be afraid of. It’s far more consistent in tone than Dark Souls, but that works in the game’s favour. Bloodborne is oppressive. You can feel the weight of the world, the decay, the brutality. The insanity. There is no respite. There is no Anor Londo. Only a deeper walk into despair.
Then there’s the combat, which borrows from Dark Souls, but also bravely subverts its proven formula. Long time fans of From Software wouldn’t have batted an eyelid had Bloodborne completely lifted its combat from Dark Souls, but the team somehow managed to forge its own path and actually improve upon the magic it stumbled across with the Souls series. That’s the miracle here: that From Software somehow managed to pull off the same trick twice with two completely different games.
Dark Souls in a Victorian setting would have been enough. We’d have been satisfied with that. It would have still made end-of-year lists and sold well. I’d still be writing about it here, in this post. I’d probably still be laying on the superlatives.
But no — Bloodborne pushes the boundaries. It tries new things. It is a new thing. That’s probably the best thing about it.