March 26, 2015


Lasting First Impressions

I remember my first time trying to play 2009’s Demon’s Souls.  I died. A lot. Then promptly gave up and vowed to never play these types of games again.  Hardcore games like Demon’s Souls and its successors, the Dark Souls series, are for a very specific kind of gamer.  They are for the gamer that enjoys a near impossible challenge. A gamer who doesn’t mind dying numerous times before finally conquering a stage or a boss. These games are for the gamer who actually revels in frustratingly difficult tasks and the challenge they present.  From Software‘s latest entry into this series of games, Bloodborne, exclusive to PS4, is no different.  So you’d think right away that I wouldn’t enjoy this game wouldn’t you?

Bloodborne Screen (2)

I’ve learned a few things about these hardcore games since my foray into Demon’s Souls.  Bloodborne, and its cousins Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, is intended to force the player pay attention and learn.  To learn how certain enemies respond to you; to learn their moves; to learn the environment as a whole.  When you first jump into Bloodborne, you will encounter your first enemy with no weapons in your hands.  Try as you might, you will die.  Welcome to lesson one: You will die.  A lot.  That’s the intention of the game.  Every time you die, you learn something; you get stronger; you gain skills; and you try again.  After your first death, you will gain your first set of weapons, return to your last checkpoint, and will get past that first enemy with ease.  See? It’s easier already. This opening sequence teaches the player that death is not the end; death is simply the beginning of your journey.

As you progress through Bloodborne and defeat enemies, they will drop soul gems that are the currency in the game to purchase new weapons and armor while in the Hunter’s Dream, the place you find yourself after death.  With every death, however, you lose all the gems you were carrying and you will have one chance, and one chance only, to reach your dead body to recollect all you have lost.  Throughout the game there are lampposts that, once activated, become your checkpoint and a location in which you can respawn after dying.  These are, however, few and far between.  During my time with the game, I managed to get fairly far and through a large area with a lot of enemies only to die before finding another lamppost.  So I was left starting again and having to do an hour’s worth of gameplay again.  You see, when you die, or when you visit the Hunter’s Dream, every enemy you killed, in every area of the game, is reset.  In short, Bloodborne is brutal.

Bloodborne Screen (8)

The atmosphere is quite unsettling too, taking on a dark Victorian England style visual.  The background sounds throughout the city only add to the creepy factor, with screams and cries emanating from somewhere around you.  At times there is even laughter heard from some houses, reminding you, dear player, that you are on the outside amidst the danger of The Hunt while they are settled safe and sound inside.  It is a gentle reminder that there is nowhere safe in this world and you are only getting closer and closer to your imminent death.

So, after my first hour of playing Bloodborne, would I go back to play it again?  Yes, I absolutely will, though the brutality of this game is one that I can’t play for long periods of time.  After dying and losing all my progress, I was certainly not in the mood to do it all again and retrace my steps to regain all those lost soul gems.  The biggest catch to a game like this, one that seems to be difficult just for the sake of torturing the player, comes after you’re done playing each day.  It’s when you start taking about the game with other people playing it.  It’s when you realize they know something you don’t, and you both share information.  This vaporizes the frustration you had with the game the night before and gives you a renewed hope for success.  The only thing you can think about is getting back in and trying again.  Bloodborne will dig its claws deep inside you and, while ripping you apart piece by piece, will convince you that this is what you want and you will obligingly come back for more.

Bloodborne Screen (4)

If you’re a gamer who sits down to play games to relax and doesn’t look for frustration in your entertainment, then stay away from this one.  On the other hand, if you are a gamer who revels in the difficult and enjoys the most brutal of challenges, Bloodborne is certainly a game for you.  This is a game that will stick with you long after you finish playing each day. It is one that you will find yourself talking about and sharing and eager to get back to.  If only just to get past that one difficult location and move on to the next one where you will surely die again. And again. And again.

For more of my personal thoughts on this game, be sure to listen to Episode 146 of The OMG! Hour podcast.

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About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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