After the events of this weekend, I’m reminded of when I finally beat Father Gascoigne in Bloodborne. I remember being dead silent after delivering the final blow, worried that somehow he would rise again, fully healed and stronger, to resume the fight. I held my breath until “Prey Slaughtered” finally left my screen. Only then did I celebrate, but the relief didn’t last long.
I failed a lot before even reaching Father Gascoigne. The Cleric Beast in particular gave me some headaches, but no boss frustrated me so much as Gascoigne. There was a time, when I was constantly throwing myself into him only to taste defeat, that I considered giving up. It felt like no matter how much I leveled up my weapon, upgraded my armour, or poured blood echoes into my stats, I had hit a plateau and would never be able to beat him.
Father Gascoigne frustrated, demoralized, and totally turned me off from my first foray into the “Soulsborne” experience. Bloodborne and its From Software siblings are known for being extremely difficult, with a reputation, at least among normies, that they’re made for only the most “hardcore” of gamers. I mistakenly believed in that reputation. Plus the idea of constant failure being a feature rather than a bug made me hesitant to give Bloodborne a shot. Who wants to play a game where one misstep could mean a massive loss in progress — thousands of blood echoes gone thanks to an ill-timed dodge or unlucky bullet. Every enemy you conquered before, back again waiting for another chance to tear you apart as you try to reclaim what you lost. Why do any of that when Animal Crossing is right there?
Still, my desire to beat something difficult moved me to try.
I sought help from friends, heeded the advice of my partner, and even consulted speedruns for tips to fell the monstrous Gascoigne. From them, I learned that I should not fight him in the cemetery like I had been, but on the stairs. Stand above him and the change in elevation, plus the fact there are no tombstones to get caught on, will make dodging and landing visceral attacks easier. After countless attempts and days of frustration (thank god there’s no in-game function that keeps track of how many times you’ve died to a boss) I beat Father Gascoigne the second time I tried fighting him on the steps.
The relief was palpable but ultimately fleeting — so much so that I felt a little bit odd for celebrating so fiercely. The game wasn’t over. I hadn’t truly won. There were many common enemies still waiting for their chance to ambush me. Old Yharnam with its chime maidens constantly summoning a never-ending horde also lay ahead. Bosses like Rom, Micolash, and Vicar Amelia had yet to be bested. The plague still raged on.
After defeating Father Gascoigne, I took a moment to breathe then continued on. The Prey had been Slaughtered, but the Nightmare had yet to be slain.