“The night is long and full of terrors” is a quote many “Game of Thrones” fans may be familiar with but it is the perfect description for From Software’s new role-playing game, “Bloodborne.” From Software is known for its hard-core games like “Dark Souls” that feature a steep learning curve and interesting multiplayer mechanics, and “Bloodborne” is no different.
As a Hunter who is tasked with cleansing the darkness on the night of the hunt, you will face all sorts of demonic creatures, infected townsfolk and other hunters with a variety of weapons and, if you’re lucky, you just might see another sunrise.
Chances are much greater that you will see an early grave that sends you to the only safe haven of the Hunter’s Dream, a hub world that houses your storage, leveling up with blood souls (there sure is lots of blood in “Bloodborne”), purchasing items with said souls and decking out your hunter in the most fashionable medieval monster slaying wear and accessorize with the deadly guns and multifaceted “trick weapons.”
These weapons come in a variety of shapes and sizes, such as axes, swords and spears that can be used in your right hand while wielding old-timey guns like a pistol, blunderbuss, portable cannon or torches to light your way or set enemies aflame. The trick part of your main weapon is allowing it to transform into a stronger two-handed melee weapon that can dish out more damage but swings slower and leaves you open for attacks.
It helps when you can steal back health within a few seconds of being attacked. This helps keep fights tense and offers a variety of different offensive and defensive strategies. Many of these strategies can be culled from the many notes left behind by other players warning of insidious traps, difficult enemies and secret areas that you can leave behind as well. These notes can be liked or unliked by players to tell the helpful advice from the misleading bull malarkey.
Part of “Bloodborne’s” masochistic charm is it doesn’t hold your hand and expects you to find out about the game’s story and mechanics through trial and error, online community help or just plain luck. Until you begin to level up your character, enemies that seem like nothing more than nuisances can become deadly if you become surrounded or find yourself unprepared. Plus any of the blood echoes you gained will be lost at death, like in the “Souls” series, but you can at least recover them if you can reach the point where you died or the monster that killed you and stay alive up to the point. Otherwise, you’re stockpile is lost to the winds and you’ll have to start from scratch. While this may make the game inaccessible to some who prefer a cake walk from their gameplay, the satisfaction gained from a hard fought and well planned victory is one of the most glorious experiences I have felt in a game.
Many of these victories came thanks to the help of players that can be summoned in to assist with a nasty boss or tricky area at the ring of a beckoning bell. Although actually finding another hunter to help can be difficult as they have to be ringing a complimentary bell of resonance and be in the same area you are. Keywords can be used with your searches to get specific friends to help you but, beware of players who ring the sinister bell that will join your game to try and kill you and steal your hard earned blood echoes.
And while the gothic horror setting helps to build its tense atmosphere, it is the fear of losing everything you worked so hard for and being caught in a new area unprepared that will fill your heart with terror. The moody orchestral score and gorgeous lighting effects help sell the horror tone as well.
While it would be difficult for me to recommend “Bloodborne” to everyone, it is a must buy if you like a challenge and have more fun discovering the intricacies of an archaic and mysterious game that still has many secrets locked away to uncover.