My Favourite Games Of The Year: Bloodborne

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.

Wrong.

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.


Comments

    Yo Mark, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but The Witcher 3 is the best game of all time. ;-)

      As much as I like the narrative of The Witcher 3, its game play has nothing on Bloodborne. Playing Bloodborne is like eating those wasabi-coated peanuts until your fingers are caked in green powder, then sucking those fingers and feeling your brain explode and dissolve down through your sinuses. Such wonderful pain...

        That analogy... that was... exactly right.

    Also my GOTY. 10/10. Would die again. And again. And again. And again...

    Yep my favourite game of the year too. It is something special.

    Finished it a few weeks after release, dabbled in chalice dungeons for a few months but put my attention elsewhere mostly.. Started all over again a few weeks ago in preparation for the DLC and just like Dark Souls I can honestly say this game just invades my brain when I'm not playing it. I'm thinking about the story, the area order, I write to do lists, I pour over lore theories and I watch Vaati's vids often... It's not just an amazing game, its an amazing virtual life experience.

    Started up a new save a few weeks ago and like Dark Souls it's just so much better on my second playthrough. Not to say I didn't love my first playthrough.

    Haven't tried the DLC properly yet, did go to it at a low level and got murdered hard.

    So is it worth buying the DLC?

      The DLC has the 3 best boss fights in the game, I loved the base game but the soundtrack to the fights in the dlc are perfect. Only thing I didn't like was the first dlc area but that was only because it didn't blow my mind as much as the other two. The last area is my favourite in the whole game in terms of atmosphere.

        Sounds good. Will put it on my Xmas wish list ;)

    I think Bloodborne is not only my goty but one of the best games of all time. I loved the witcher and they're hard to compare in many ways but the combat and movement in bb feels timeless and original.

    Yes! My GOTY

    I finished all the dlc and now I'm chasing that Platinum but my god Amygdala in the chalice dungeon is no joke D:

      That platinum feels so good. Dw the fire dog is by far the worst boss. I struggled with chalice amygdala until i watched some tip videos then i got it first shot

      I found Amygdala to be rather easy. All you have to do is run in between its legs and hit the tail a couple of times. Then just remain a few steps behind its left butt-cheek and wait. If it tries to circle around, just circle with it until it stops to allow another swing at the tail. If it leaps instead, just run to the same position behind it, hit its tail once and repeat process.
      After a while Amygdala will only jump. From then on it's really easy running to hit the tail over and over.

        haha @janedoe that dam Fire dog https://twitter.com/timmerks/status/676789449343143937
        In the end he was ok since I had the Bow and my hard hitting Holy Blade and good fire armour

        Amygdala just has a few one hit wipe attacks. Originally I was trying the between the legs trick but that jump it does gets me nearly every time. I've found that a hit and run focusing on the arms is working a treat but all it takes is one extra swing or running in too early or late *dead*

          You beat the F***ing dog, apart from the optional depth 5 cursed root dungeons you can do, you've beaten the hardest boss the game can toss at you

          For amygdala you said you had the holy blade, use it in its greatsword form

          There are 3 stages: the first is normal, the second is when she starts using the magic attacks and the third is when it rips its arms off and goes nuts

          Stage 1+2: keep your distance and bait her attacks (run in then back off) , you're looking for ones that end with her head close to the ground, run in and hit her in the head with Ludwig's L2 attack once or twice if you have the opportunity,

          Eventually you'll make her stumble and roar and her head will hang low, you can execute a visceral here.

          Now, her head is broken, it will take more damage but she will eventually heal - be careful, when her head is broke hit it nor more than TWO TIMES

          The reason for this is that she'll "repair" her head (she'll pause and a red aura and sound will appear around her head) and then resume attacking, you can then resume attacking and eventually you'll do enough damage to trigger stage 3 of her fight

          When this occurs fight unlocked and run into her legs and whale on them. She will leap, there are two things you can do. 1st- stay absolutely still, she will always land where you are standing when she jumped but you will be safe and it will open her head up for an attack

          The second thing you can do is sprint in the direction directly behind you until she lands, should protect you. Keep picking away and you'll kill her

          She is equally vulnerable to any elemental damage

      Stand behind it's tail, wait for it to jump, stand still and it will miss. If you wind up a charge attack in the direction it's head will be while it's air born you will hit it when it lands. Only way I could win that boss fight. So hard otherwise.

      Oh I finally did it!! It's a sweet platinum to have

      It really came down to having a good run, attacking conservatively then backing away and then finishing him off with the Simons Bowblade. The other bosses were cake compared to this ahole

    I'll pay that. My GOTY as well, and you summed it up perfectly. I'd actually rate Bloodborne higher than Dark Souls (which is still fantastic in it's own right) because I prefer it's style of combat more. And I love that they took a risk and implemented the faster play style, when the previous games were known for being more conservative and slow-paced.

    *Salty xbone owner glares at comments sullenly before quietly sobbing*

    One of the greatest games I've ever played!

    I've just started a new game for the DLC,

    I can see how some people would rate it GOTY. I LOVED it for the first few bosses but then found it was too repetitive for me in it's combat, the rpg elements felt too thin and it just felt like it was boiling down to the same thing every fight. Really felt like they could have fleshed it out more.

    Last edited 17/12/15 8:20 am

      Did you press on though? As much as I love it by the time I go to Vicar Amelia I was thinking the same thing as you, whilst beautiful the environments were all the same Gothic buildings, the bosses were similar (Cleric Beast, BSB and Amelia).. But I feel that after you defeat Amelia things really open up and start changing (Hemwick lane/Forbidden woods) and then the whole world seems to lose its shit once you kill Rom enter the Nightmare areas. Definitely worth a full play through!

        I stopped after vicar amelia, I think I may have done one more optional boss too though.

          Well like I said things change a lot after that point in the game, the story and environment becomes quite weird and surreal and is what makes it a truly great game in my opinion. Play it!

            I was feeling pretty similarly even up to Rom, to be honest. Once you get your preferred style down, there's not a lot to it. The weapon and armour variety was severely lacking compared to Dark Souls.

    A counter argument for @markserrels!

    I finished the game but honestly it didn't really do it for me. I too felt the RPG elements were lacking, and combat basically boiled down to learning the enemies' attacks, dodging at the right time and counter attacking. I might get flamed for saying this, but I believe that it's only really the difficulty holding the game together, and if you strip that away, you're left with a pretty average action RPG.

    I don't think Bloodborne particularly lived up to the hype. I mean yeah it was a good game but it had a number of flaws I think, not the least of which being the path to the bosses in general was much tougher than the bosses themselves. Gascoigne was the hardest fight in the game and the bosses got easier from there, not harder. The game also does a piss poor job explaining how certain mechanics like insight work, one-hit kills you every now and then because of reasons (no, random one hit kills don't make the game harder), really odd lantern placement at times (making you travel really far between them at some points, and putting a couple very close together at other points), and a complete lack of real armour options (never found a better overall armour set than the set I purchased for a few thousand echoes at the start of the game - and I played through every optional area). Lastly some elements of the UI were not helpful at all...like not being able to compare attire to what you currently have *before* you buy it. Oh yeah, and you can't pause the game even when playing offline...too bad if the phone rings in the middle of a boss fight.

    Bloodborne was my first Souls game...the only other From Software game I have played was a somewhat obscure card-based RPG on the Gamecube called Lost Kingdoms.

    On my playthrough, the toughest boss by far was Father Gascoigne, who is the first mandatory boss in the game, and the second boss I encountered (having felled the Cleric Beast first). None of the remaining bosses matched that difficulty. Logarius was the closest, and Amygdala gave me headaches until I worked out I was approaching the fight the wrong way. Gehrman was Logarius without the ranged spells and was taken down with similar strategies, he wasn't hard (it baffles me how some people found him harder than Logarius). Ebrietas was moderately challenging but only really because of BS one-hit kill moves...avoid those and the fight is pretty straightforward. The Celestial Emissary, Rom, One Reborn, Paarl, Witch of Hemwick, Micolash and Wet Nurse fights in particular were pretty lacklustre, the last couple of those perhaps being the most disappointing as they are the climax of a super tough area (Micolash was trying to talk me to death or something, I guess?). Pretty much every boss with the exception of Gascoigne and Amygdala I beat within 2-3 attempts, some even on my first attempt. Rom was one of the easiest fights in the game.

    The thing that gets me though is that almost everyone I've spoken to about this says something along the lines of "Ho ho! Wait until you try {insert boss} on NG+/NG++/NG+{x}!" - spoken in a "when", not "if" way, like it's actually expected that you play through the entire game again because you somehow don't get the real experience the first time. It's impossible to conceive the thought that someone would not want to give the game a second or third or fourth play through. No thanks...one playthrough is enough for me, I have other games to move on to, and I'm not playing through it again just to see if and how the bosses get harder. As it turns out though, if I actually wanted to play the DLC, I'd need to play through a full third of the game again to reach it.

    Last edited 17/12/15 1:22 pm

      Still have not beaten Father Gascoigne. I gave up after my 20th-odd try. I WANT to beat him, I do but he's a serious MOFO.

        Learn to use the gun parry system. Shooting him when he's mid-attack (with a bit of finesse on the timing) will stun him and allow you to execute a 'visceral attack' for incredible damage by pressing R1 right in front of him while he's stunned. Even works during his beast mode.

          Or failing that, cheese his beast form between the tree and the gravestone at the back of the area. He can get jammed pretty easy there if it's giving you too much trouble. But learning to parry is an absolute must in this game. Particularly for later stuff like Logarius.

      You come across as quite bitter.

        Not at all, just putting forward my argument for why I don't believe Bloodborne is GOTY material. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I'm not trying to convince those who love the game that they don't love it. Just explaining why I didn't.

        While we're using standard overused ad hominem' s instead of legitimate arguments why not chuck in a few more buzzwords. Salty much? U mad bro? Trololol u upset fag?
        Seriously people who says things like this in response to a well presented opinion are just unable to accept that anyone can have a different (While still being correct) opinion. Grow up and realise that you're not right about everything and stop being a little fag.

          Says the guy whos using 'fag' as an insult. Congratulations.

            Thanks so much brah, make me a trophy next time.

            Last edited 27/12/15 2:39 pm

    Yeah. Got bored and never finished. And I say this as a huge Souls fan.
    Almost every foe is a guy in a trenchcoat or a dog, just with a slightly different attack pattern. Bosses included.
    Every zone is either greyscale Victorian town or greyscale forest.
    You have one basic playstyle with limited weapon choices and your 'armour' is irrelevant and all looks the same.

    After hitting the same mobs with the same weapon in the same way, while wearing the same coat in areas that all look pretty much the same, for 20 hours, I moved on.
    Might go back and try again but not today.

      Weird. I loved Demon's Souls, but Dark Souls I just couldn't feel the love for. I tried two or three times, months apart, and never got it. This, however has my full attention. It's just incredible. The whole thing. The setting, the design, the atmosphere, the combat, the music, just... everything. It's an utterly stunning game.

      Am about level 70 odd at the moment, and just beat The One Reborn. Gascoigne gave me a bunch of grief to start with, but once I figured out parry/viscerals, he was easier. Rom and Logarius are probably the hardest fights I've done so far. Chalice dungeons are fantastic too.

      I'll probably go try Dark Souls again, or at the very least Dark Souls 2 SotFS as I have that sitting here on PS4 as well.

      Last edited 25/12/15 9:53 pm

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