Bloodborne constantly had huge lines at the Tokyo Game Show. Sony’s booth has always been quite popular — especially in recent years with the launches of PS4 and Vita — so the company runs its demo kiosks a little bit differently than others. They use a ticket system where you can’t just get in lines for games, you have to ask for a ticket, and each game has a limited number of tickets that can be given out in a day.
From Software’s Bloodborne proved one of the longest waits at the show. At one point, I saw the estimated wait time was 45 minutes and thought, “Eh, I’ll wait till lunch time and the crowd will thin out a little, and then I’ll play it.” Well, good thing I’m not a military strategist, because my plan sucked. When I came back, the wait was 75 minutes. Before the end of the day, not only was the wait 90 minutes, but the tickets had all been given out. The public days were even worse, with all Bloodborne tickets disappearing by the day’s halfway point.
It’s not because of Sony being stingy, it’s because mathematically, given the number of demo stations and play time of each demo, they’ve calculated how many people they can reasonably expect to cycle through in a day. When I finally got to play, I died quickly. “Oh yeah,” I remembered, “This is by the Dark Souls guy.”
The Victorian-era environment was amazing to look at. The flapping of my jacket, the detail on the roof tiles, the spikes on the gates, the lighting from the torches and fires, the way rain made things look, every single aspect of the visuals left me amazed.
I tried using some stealth to sneak up on enemies, but that either isn’t an option, wasn’t explained, or just wasn’t in the demo — I’m not sure which. I crept slowly up behind enemies who were walking away, which I felt should have left me undetected, but repeatedly, they’d turn around once I got within a very specific distance. Sony’s booth guides said that I wasn’t missing anything (cover or a crouch button or whathaveyou). There simply didn’t appear to be a stealth option — at least not in the style I was attempting.
The action RPG combat was difficult and fun. I could choose form a guy with a hammer the size of a tombstone, a twin-knife-wielding crow-masked dude (who could also switch one of those knives for a small gun), another guy with a big sword and gun, and one with a different kind of…awkward bladed weapon and of course, the gun. I forget their names, sorry; I was just focused on not dying, as futile as that may be in a From Software game. Pointy-hat-and-crow-beak guy was definitely my favorite class, as I loved his two-blade option and slick speed.
My enemies were angry townspeople bearing weapons like axes, knives, and pitchforks. They’d gang up if they could, and if they managed to do it, well, death was certain. I survived several encounters with two enemies, but if the count ever got higher than that, my ass was grass. No problem with that, though. Director Hidetaka Miyazaki (who also directed Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls) told me during the show that repeated death was important to his games, because it gave the player a sense of accomplishment, and to that point I must agree. I died a lot, but enjoyed every minute.
The enemies would say things like, “You’re cursed!” and “You’re not wanted here!” before and during the fights. It makes me curious about the story. I don’t read previews because I like to go in fresh, so if this is known, pfft, sorry. I’m just musing. I will write previews, however, because I realize I’m the weirdo. Maybe I’m cursed. Maybe I’m not wanted here. Wait, crap, the game is getting to me…. The addition of a gun definitely hasn’t unbalanced the game. It doesn’t have a tremendous amount of power or range, so one can’t rely on that. By contrast, I’ve been playing Yakuza: Ishin (if I can ever get a minute), which also made a gun a regular part of a battle system where it’d heretofore been a rarity, and been finding the gun is just slightly more powerful than it should be. I’ve had whole battles in that game (Normal difficulty level) where I just press square and win. Not every battle, mind you, but some. You can’t get away with that in Bloodborne; the gun is a short-range weapon usually, a mid-range weapon if you’re lucky.
The ragdoll physics of the corpses provided some great humor. At times, I’d jog past a fallen foe and I’s basically kick a field goal with the body, sending it flying six feet into the air and bouncing off a wall.I laughed out loud more than once. I hope this touch of game-ish humor stays in the final version of an otherwise dark and scary game. Bloodborne is dark, violent, and in its own way, beautiful. The finished product will be available in Japan on Feb. 5, 2015, and in North America and Europe on Feb. 6.
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