Early on in the PS3 lifecycle, exclusives were hard to come by. When they were available, they were, well… Haze and Lair — games that are practically painful to recall. Another game that’s painful to recall — not because it was of poor quality — but due to how punishing the difficulty level was, is Demon’s Souls.
The difficulty level garnered so much attention and respect, that it led to two spiritual successors in the form of Dark Souls and its direct sequel, Dark Souls 2. But From Software isn’t done with PlayStation exclusives, thankfully, as Shuhei Yoshida so gleefully announced at the Sony E3 Press Conference — they’re bringing a new IP to the PS4 as an exclusive in the form of Bloodborne.
Unlike Dark Souls, and despite a very familiar look and feel, Bloodborne is not a spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls and bears little relation to it aside from the From Software trademark disturbing difficulty level. A difficulty level which Game Director Hidetaki Miyazaki said he wasn’t sure if he’d “be allowed by Sony to go more difficult” than, effectively pushing the limits of what’s acceptable. However, Miyazaki assured press that it would have the “same weight” and live up to fan’s expectations.
And then some…
Beyond the difficulty, Bloodborne, focuses on three key themes: “exploration of unknown, truly perilous combat, and a unique online concept”.
The game starts you off in the middle of this horrifying world filled with disgusting beasts and wicked weapons without explaining why you’re there or how you got there. It’s then up to you to reward yourself by piecing together the puzzle along the way. Not only are you to discover on your own the story and explore the expansive map, but also the gameplay strategy and how best to utilize the weapons you’re given. You’ll need to be a quick learner, too, as the game is gruelingly unforgiving.
Every battle from the seemingly insignificant to the frightening beasts that range from slithering crows to wretched-looking monsters, will instill you with genuine fear — fear of dying again and again, and the fear of the grotesqueness of the enemies. Not only are the enemies visually appalling, but the weapons they use are, too. Don’t be surprised if some enemies stop you in your tracks simply due to how horrifying they are… which makes defeating them all the more satisfying.
Bloodborne features foggy, dingy, gothic cobblestone roads and stone structures amongst a dark color palette to help send the message home that you’re in a truly awful place. Slowly slinking monsters can be viewed in the distance carrying torches. You can hear the sound of something — something massive — smashing at a gate. All of this sets the tone for fear — fear of what’s in front of you and fear of what isn’t.
Along the short journey, the main character, shrouded in mystery, comes across a NPC character battling two sub-boss type monsters. Player choice comes into effect here, allowing the option to help in battle or leave them to fight to death. Should you save this NPC, the reward comes via support when you finally meet the horrid boss that you previously heard banging on the wooden gate. This greasy-haired boss had a bone-chilling shriek and could pick up the main character and repeatedly bash him into the cobblestone road below, kicking up piles of dust with every devastating smash. You’d soon find that the help was more than welcomed.
For a game meant to be ugly and strike fear into your heart, as well as only being at the end of Alpha phase, the game was quite stunning in the setting, the lighting and shadows, and the fluidity in the gameplay. Combat is from a third-person perspective, though, it’s much faster than Demon’s Souls and has much more interesting use of transformative weapons that are used to break and enemy’s defenses or stun an enemy. Plus, a unique combination or short-range firearms and long-range melee weapons freshen up a traditionally stale formula.
Bloodborne is a bleeding-edge next generation game that was one of the surprise gems of E3. A game that’ll be known for it’s difficulty just like other From Software titles.— a difficulty that starts now having to wait for it to release. And that’s sheer brutality.