Following the unimagined success of From Software’s Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls games, the company has teamed up with Sony to bring another, yet exclusive game for the PlayStation 4 with Bloodborne. After the developer’s successful launch with Demon’s Souls on the PlayStation platform several years ago, From Software is back with Bloodborne, a game heavily inspired by the Souls series. Just like other Souls games, Bloodborne will put your patience and skills into test as you traverse into another unfamiliar land, killing enemies countless of times and dying not only once, but over and over again. For people who are familiar with the Souls series, the distinct look of Bloodborne will make fans of the Souls series feel like it’s a Dark Souls’ clone, but fear not, it’s a whole new game that further improves what the Souls series already has.
Similar to other Souls games, Bloodborne doesn’t really have that story that will catch your attention right away. In fact, you will basically just get thrown into the game as someone who gets a blood transfusion and then you become a hunter. From there, you will kill the beast creatures that stand in your way. As you go deeper within the game, bits and pieces of the story will be given out through notes that are left in Yharnam, and sometimes through the characters that you meet along the way. For the most part, you will find the story cryptic and vague at the same time.
The challenge and difficulty that Bloodborne offers is on par with the Souls series. In the sixty hour playthrough that Bloodborne offers, you will get to learn that dying isn’t such a bad thing as you get to learn from your mistakes and try to figure out what you can do better next time. Whenever you are out exploring the dark city of Yharnam, you will always be at risk of dying, though if you collect enough Blood Echoes, which are Souls in the Souls series, you will get to level up your character – that’s if you manage to get back to the Hunter’s Dream, the game’s in-game hub. Just like in the Souls series, every time you die and you have a lot of Blood Echoes with you, it will get forfeited and you will have to go back to the area where you died to reclaim it back.
Combat-wise, I like it a lot as From Software made Bloodborne more fast-paced. Instead of having a shield and a sword that makes it very heavy for your character to move in the Souls series, you are given an option to dual-wield weapons – one acts as your primary weapon while the other is a gun, which acts as your secondary weapon. Those who love having a shield will not have to worry as there’s one that you will find in the early parts of the game. Regardless of what type of equipment and weapons you are wearing, the pace on how your character moves remains the same. In other words, it’s a lot easier to dodge now compared to the Soul series and it does make the combat accessible to many. In addition, From Software also introduced the “regain” system in which you can regain a portion of your HP as you strike your enemies continuously.
Aside from hard bosses that you will encounter in Bloodborne, another factor that made the game more challenging are the amount of checkpoints scattered throughout the game. If you are fond of having too many “Bonfires” in the Souls series, then the newly called “Lamp” in Bloodborne is something you will rarely see in the game. With the Lamp, it allows you to go to the Hunter’s Dream, which acts as your main hub in the game. From leveling your character using Blood Echoes to purchasing equipments from the Messenger, all of the things that you need in your adventure can be found in the Hunter’s Dream. That being said, it makes venturing Yharnam more challenging as there’s a bigger chance of losing the amount of Blood Echoes that you encounter if you die prematurely.
When it comes to visuals, Bloodborne looks stunning. The environment and the character models look a lot cleaner compared to the Souls series. The dark, gothic look of Yharnamis done really well and it really intertwines with the soundtrack and the creatures that you will meet in the game. If the Souls series didn’t creep you out, I guarantee you that this one will, thanks to the rich world and characters that you will meet in this game. While the visuals are eye-candy, there’s a downside to it. The frame rate isn’t stable as there are times that it chugs and the load times are just too long in between worlds. When you are about to start the game or respawn from the Lamp, expect a 40 second loading time. From Software is supposed to release an update soon that will improve the load times though.
Since the game is hard and there’s a big possibility that you will die a lot, there’s a way to ease the difficulty a little bit and that’s through the online functionality. Just like the Souls series, you can view messages that are left by other players, and see the ghosts of the other players who died at the spot that you’re in. As for the online multiplayer, it’s works similarly to the Souls series, though you don’t have to draw a sign on the floor. Instead, you will get a Bell and you get to ring it. If other players have the other bell called Resonating Bell, they are able to join you. When it comes to the stability of the online, it’s pretty stable to what I’ve played. I’ve encountered very little lag and I’m quite pleased about that. Those who are wondering if there’s now matchmaking implemented, sadly there isn’t, although there’s something similar to it that makes it possible to play with your friends. Thanks to the password system, you and your friend can set a password and when both ring the bells, you will be able to play together in killing bosses.
As for the game’s replayability, there’s a new game plus waiting as soon as you finish the game. One of the things that you can do in Bloodborne is tackle its generated Chalice Dungeons. The dungeons are full of items, enemies, traps and bosses. To initiate it, you must have the Chalice and do a ritual on it in the Hunter’s Dream hub world. Each of the Chalice has different tiers and depths. The bigger the dungeons are, the more challenging it gets. As you go deeper within the dungeon, you will get rare items that you can use, including another Chalice that allows you to unlock a far more challenging dungeon. Luckily, Chalice Dungeons can be done with three players, both private and public. While the dungeons are generated, there are times where I found them to be quite boring and thin. It’s a good thing that the enemies that you will meet varies.
Gamers who have never played the Souls series before may not like Bloodborne due to its high difficulty. As mentioned before, it’s a hard game and it will require a lot of patience to finish the game. However, those who are fond of the challenge that the Souls series offers, Bloodborne is a game that will get a lot of favors from fans, as it seems like From Software learned a lot from the three games they developed before. The Souls’ formula can still be seen in Bloodborne, although From Software refined every spot of the game to make it a big hit for the PlayStation 4. Needless to say, this is a title that every PlayStation 4 owner should experience!
[Editor’s Note: Bloodborne was reviewed on the PlayStation 4 platform. The game was provide to us by the publisher for review purposes.]