A critical and commercial success, Bloodborne is one of the most beloved games of the PlayStation 4. The game regularly tops “Best of” lists and many rejoiced when it was announced as part of the April lineup for PlayStation Plus. Bloodborne is part of the Souls series of games (according to some) so renowned for their difficulty the “You Died” screen is a running gag in the gaming community. Since being released in 2015, it has been a staple of the PS4 and anyone who owns the eighth generation Sony console has an opinion about the game. Except me.
Not only have I never played Bloodborne, I have never played any Souls game. I was not turned off by their storied difficulty, have friends who love the games, and I was intrigued by the setting, but for some reason they never interested me. When I heard the game was going to be free for PS Plus subscribers I knew I had to play it. After all, if I was not going to try it when it was being given away, then I never would.
So, what can I add three years after the game’s initial release after hundreds of reviews and walkthroughs and thousands of words have been written or recorded? Let’s find out.
(As a note, I chose offline mode the first time I played and never played online.)
As the game began, the first thing that came to mind is, “just how difficult can this be?” My question was answered within a few minutes after a huge wolf like creature easily killed me with what seemed like one swipe of his giant paw. This was a running theme in the game as it seemed like my first encounter with every enemy led to a “You Died” screen. I learned quickly that the game’s difficulty was not exaggerated.
I have played many games over the years and I usually do not die until I am hours in. I am not sure if this is a testament to my gaming skills or modern game design (I like to think it’s the former, but I am sure it is the latter), but when I do come to a part of a game that I have trouble passing, it becomes very frustrating. Long time gamers will tell horror stories of the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time or chasing Big Smoke on a motorcycle.
Bloodborne is different. You come to difficult parts almost immediately and it is frustrating, but it is also fun and rewarding. Each time I died, I learned something and the next time I played I was able to get a little farther. There was never a moment I felt cheated and there was definitely a reason for the high difficulty. It was one baptism by fire after another and I was the better player for it.
Bloodborne is also a beautiful game. Often praised for its Gothic setting and great atmosphere, I had never heard about the cut scenes it contained. The scenes not only add to the aura but were a pleasant surprise. Fog and smoke take on a photorealistic look and you can almost see individual strands of hair waving in the wind. Years after its release it is still one of the better looking games on the PS4.
Bloodborne is not without its flaws however, I think these are more due to me than the game itself. The game does not gradually get difficult and instead throws you into the deep end immediately. While it was rewarding whenever I advanced in the game, I also could not play for long periods of time since I expected to die constantly. In my case, the pros did not outweigh the cons and I got to the point where I just stopped playing. I do not want a game to hold my hand but I also do not want a game to take pleasure out of punishing me. Many years and less responsibilities ago, I would have loved Bloodborne. Now, I do not have the time or inclination to try to master the game. I have heard it is actually easier than the Souls games, which means I will never play them.
Bloodborne lives up to its reputation as one of the PS4’s most difficult games. It is surprisingly good-looking, is fair, and with practice and patience can be incredibly satisfying. If you have the time, this is a must play, but for more casual gamers who just like to pick something up and zone out, Bloodborne may require too much investment.