Bloodborne: Spawn of Blood
To really appreciate the difference between Bloodborne and the three Souls games that came before it, you can’t just rely on memory. Even going through them in a row in the correct order is perhaps not the best way: after all, the brain tends to make progress for granted and does not attach much importance to it – unless, of course, the changes are radical. And don’t get me wrong: Bloodborne doesn’t do anything radical with the formula. But if after it we return to, for example, Dark Souls II, then at first it’s frankly shocking how much worse the gameplay becomes without all those edits and innovations that Hidetaka Miyazaki diluted the series with when creating Bloodborne.
In particular, you begin to understand more clearly the people who fiercely criticized the Souls series for the braking combat system and awkward controls. It’s not that we agree with them: after all, in games it’s always important not so much the convenience of control and the degree of control over the character, but the successful combination of other elements of game design with this particular control. And the Souls series has always been pleased with an excellent balance, and monsters and locations were created by people who perfectly understood what a player with such controls would be able to do and what not.
But here’s the thing: other things being equal, it’s still more pleasant to play what is better controlled. If Bloodborne were a copy of Dark Souls in design, the only difference being a faster and more aggressive character, it would only get worse. However, FromSoftware developers are too well versed in their field to make such a mistake. The hero has become faster, yes. He began to respond better to pressure, he stopped lying on the floor for several seconds after falling and savoring healing potions with gourmand slowness. But the game didn’t get any easier, no. It just became even fairer in its complexity, giving even less reason to shout: “I didn’t die because of my mistake, but because of the jambs of the game!” Not that it helps the nerve cells, when another giant dog-like monster fills the entire screen and sends the supposedly pumped hero to the next world with a couple of mockingly fast strokes. But if you didn’t come to the Souls game for cruelty, hopelessness and a challenge, then what are you doing here at all? ..
No, it’s not a fair question. In fact, it would be great if FromSoftware followed the path of the Bayonetta authors and added to your new product (let’s pretend that this review was not written a year late, okay? ..) some separate mode for casual games. The benefit of Bloodborne is valuable not only for its furious complexity.
The game is very beautiful. And not only in terms of design, with which FromSoftware has always been in full order (with the possible exception of Dark Souls II), but also in terms of graphics. Gone are the days when their games seemed out of date for several years graphically, but at the same time they slowed down every now and then, as if they had come from the distant future. To do this, the team needed a new console, the ability to concentrate all their resources on one platform and all possible help from the Japanese branch of the owners of the said platform, but it was worth it: the world of Bloodborne is delightfully detailed, it’s not a sin to admire monster animations (and what else remains to be done after how did one of them leave the hero with a wet spot?), and the costumes available to the character look so cool that you often choose clothes not for their functions, but for their beauty.
Of course, FromSoftware employees could not do without technical flaws – for example, after the release, the downloads in the game were simply unbearable. But since then the situation has improved, and now they are only annoying. In general, there is progress, it is perfectly noticeable, and that’s great.
Another reason why I would like to advise Bloodborne not only to hardcore players is its storytelling … no, not like that. You see, Bloodborne, like all games in the Souls series, is one of those works where most of the interesting events happened before the appearance of the hero. But unlike the same BioShock, they will not seriously tell you about everything that happened – be so kind as to independently collect knowledge bit by bit, analyze, try to put the pieces of the puzzle together, filling numerous gaps with glue from your own conjectures. Dialogues here give only a tiny portion of information, the rest has to be extracted from the descriptions of objects and the appearance of locations. Seriously, this is one of those games where everything from monster designs to suspicious bloodstains on the floor often means more than just “Wow, that’s spectacular!
Alas, there is no “casual” mode in Bloodborne, except for “Put your casual friends on the couch and let them cheer you up while you’re doing the passage.” It’s a shame, a shame, but no one expected otherwise. Besides, it’s better to have no place for noobs in the new Souls game than for hardcore players, right? Let Bloodborne make us scream in pain and indignation when a stupid mistake takes away the experience gained in a couple of hours. Let tons of secrets, including a fair amount of levels, be kept behind seven seals and thirteen half-hints, forcing you to constantly keep the game’s wiki site at hand. Let some bosses seem almost unkillable, regardless of the level of pumping, the presence of partners and the knowledge of their weaknesses – after all, for all this we love FromSoftware games.
Although you have to understand: even veterans of Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, the current Victorian project may not be able to handle it. People who are accustomed to slowness, caution and hide and seek under an impenetrable shield will have to relearn: now aggression is in favor, the ability to return blow for blow (health taken off by the last blow received can be returned if you quickly chop someone up in response) and … parry .
Oh, it’s a parry. It was present in the creations of FromSoftware before, but in those days the game was not at all worth the candle: the risk was too great and the window for repelling the attack was too small – it was almost always easier to dodge or defend, and only then go behind the enemy’s back and properly smack. Now you have to fend off attacks not with a shield, but with shots from a pistol, while maintaining a distance – the risk for once has decreased enough that in some cases you want to actively use a pistol. Not always, however: distance is distance, and bosses whose attacks make sense to parry can often reduce any distance to zero in an instant.
But enough about the complexities. Another major new feature introduced in Bloodborne is Chalice Dungeons. This is a series of underground labyrinths, for the creation of which you need to make certain sacrifices in special bowls. The bottom line is that each of the dungeons has not only a well-defined “main” option, but also an endless series of randomly generated alternatives. That is, theoretically, Bloodborne can be played endlessly, as if in some kind of Binding of Isaac. But the reality, alas, is not so good.
The problem is painfully obvious: the bag from which the generator blindly drags parts for its dungeons is too small. After all, the idea behind roguelikes is that each new passage should be noticeably different from the previous one, but with Dungeons of Chalices, the effect seems to be the opposite: as if you are endlessly doing the same thing. The arrangement of monsters is changing, separate new rooms are added on deeper floors, but still the exclamation “Damn, you again …” comes from the player’s lips much more often than is permissible in a good “bagel” (and the floors look almost identical at all – except perhaps the color of the “wallpaper” changes). But in theory, it’s a great idea! Actually, even though Bloodborne seems like a completely finished work, I still want to see its continuation – just to expand and improve the system of randomly generated levels there.
And at the same time did something with their balance. So far, the situation is this: if you want to get to the final boss of the subway, then you will go down so deep that the monsters you meet will simply shower you with experience, and you will return to the surface so pumped that the final boss will die with a few hits, without even having time to demonstrate his abilities …
…Although no, wait. Why “even”? Bloodborne has an expansion! And there the bosses will not stand on ceremony with you – no matter how you pump.
Supplement The Old Hunters
FromSoftware knows how to make games. But they make additions almost better. Of course, The Old Hunters also has critics who say, for example, that it starts too boringly, throwing the player into a disfigured, but still version of the already explored location from the original. And technically they are right: yes, the authors dared to reuse some of the models and textures. But at the same time, the city is warped and buried under so much hardened shit that there really isn’t much in common between the locations, and rare recognizable sights only reinforce the breathtaking feeling that you are in the wrong, broken, crazy world.
Not that this feeling really needed to be amplified. After all, this is a location where the main opponents are constantly resurrecting hunters. The very analogues of living players, who in Dark Souls took the form of red spirits, are the basic enemies in the whole location. Yes, this DLC is no joke.
However, the next levels of the add-on – a psychiatric hospital, a fishing village and a small but obligatory cave with a bunch of rickety wooden structures and stairs (the authors couldn’t leave the Souls successor without their counterpart Valley of Defilement, Blighttown and The Gutter) – seem much easier after this here are tests of strength and nerves … They, not their bosses. That the beautiful Maria, that the ugly child Cosmas, that one of the main positive characters of the Bloodborne lore (the battle with which is optional, but you didn’t buy the DLC in order to skip the content!), Turned into a monster vomiting and shitting with lava – all of them impress with both speed and strength, and the ability to draw you dozens of times into their swift attacks even when you have long since memorized them all. These fights are so chic and sophisticated
Instead, let’s give a real compliment: to the already excellent selection of dual weapons in the DLC, a bunch of new entertaining specimens have been added. It’s not a fact, of course, that you will seriously use them – after all, by the time the add-on opens its doors (hidden, by the way, so deep that Sony had to give an official guide on every corner), you will already get used to something to someone else. But if you like experimentation and variety, then a selection of weapons from Bloodborne combined with The Old Hunters will bring you many pleasant moments and reasons to go to New Game+.
Let’s be honest: Sony released quite a bit of its own exclusives in 2015 (even if it didn’t slow down the pace of PS4 sales for a moment). But some great games are worth ten good ones. Bloodborne is one of those. And if you love Dark Souls, but for some reason have not yet joined Bloodborne – fix it immediately. Yes, even if it means borrowing or buying a PS4.