Like Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, Bloodborne has a tormenting poetic vein. This is based on the maniacal and mysterious reproduction of the setting: a continuous metaphor that goes from the nightmare to the dream, from the dream to the nightmare, until these two worlds blend and fade into a desperate grey.
From Software has chosen a style strongly connected to the Victorian Age for Bloodborne. It’s a historic period that has already given a lot to this generation of gaming console, but the developer has carefully taken the most gory aspects this time around. This would be Jack the Ripper’s London, the city of the boroughs and a Church blind to the needs of people just because it’s looking at its own wellness. Not exactly the London of the rich and scholars.
Also thanks to these elements, we are among action and horror, some splatter, with enemies getting out from the dark or being visible all the time because they are giantly disgusting monsters.
While leaving intact the foundations of its predecessors, with Bloodborne Hidetaka Miyazaki had fun mixing a little the cards on the table, favoring the attack where, in the absence of shields, it is better to complete each clash in the most rapidly as possible. This, together with the massive presence of vials of blood and accessible menus, led not to make the gameplay easier but definitely closer to the play-style of the modern gamer. Boss fights are the only exception.
The strategic component has not disappeared anyway, reasoning about your next moves is always the best way not to go k.o.: overall, locking the camera on a single “simple” enemy and avoiding its heavy attacks with a good timing, it’s hard you will encounter any difficulty and, so, this is the approach I suggest you most.
It’s always better to be patient and calm, beating all the enemies you encounter on your path and perhaps bringing home a good amount of blood echoes to invest in the Hunter’s Dream. From Software got back to Demon’s Souls basic introducing this new safe hub à la Nexus, as per fans’ request, and made it pretty good: Hunter’s Dream is both big in size and useful. You can spend there you echoes buying clothing and items, improving your character’s skills, accessing to PvP and random areas generated by the game.
An interesting twist in comparison with Dark Souls regards weapons. Bloodborne’s weapons are relatively few but all have two different modes to select pushing L1. An axe, for example, gets longer so you can use it from a greater distance and this gives you a new chance to beat enemies without taking any damage. With this option, anyway, you renounce to your gun. Guns are another new component of From Software’s game design, but surprisingly they reveal to be more important in defense than in offense: in fact, those are useful when you have to stop your enemy’s combo, and that makes guns an curious alternative to the missing shields.
Bloodborne shines even more thanks to two other components: Intuition Points and NPCs. You acquire Intuition Points when you progress in your game sessions, meeting from time to time enemies increasingly more powerful and capable to fuel protagonist’s insanity. From a certain moment in the game it is possible to spend those points, mainly because you need to get rid of them: the more points you have, the more the game gets challenging, even with enemies changing their appearances accordingly to the raising madness.
NPCs gives even more mystery and side-quests but new contents and ways to solve the ones you took earlier in Yharnam. Red lanterns spread over the city are a sign not only of characters willing to speak with you but also of items that could simplify your next challenge. What a great incentive for exploring the city and discovering all of its jealously guarded secrets.
Talking about graphics, Bloodborne is a typical From Software game, beautifully crafted but mined by a few technical issues such as excessive loading times and a very reduced field of view. While initially you won’t notice that, it takes about 40 seconds to load the game session after you die and death after death it becomes increasingly annoying. In the instant-on generation, with 8GB of memory, it’s a bit disappointing. Same as the details around the locations: objects in the background tend to be blurry or show aliasing, and that goes in contrast with how beauty are the main characters on screen.
With that said, anyway, Bloodborne remains the first true killer application for PlayStation 4. A game to be played, an experience to be lived. Who feared the Souls series has still good reasons not to approach it but we can’t deny From Software’s effort to bring a more modern gameplay to non-hardcore gamers and make it the base for an exclusive of great value.