Bloodborne is a role-playing action video game with elements of horror developed by FromSoftware and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was launched in March 2015 as an exclusive title for PlayStation 4 users.
Although nowadays the Japanese company has gained great popularity from the Dark Souls saga, it has been actively operating since 1986. From its origins, it maintained a pronounced identity by creating franchises with very high difficulties that cannot be changed.
According to Hidetaka Miyazaki, the company’s president, this is because they want all users to experience the same challenge and make every effort to overcome it. In this way, the Dark Souls saga Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and its most gothic entry so far: Bloodborne were born.
A short but concise history
The title story takes place in the city of Yharnam. This area is known for its medical advances using blood as its main element. In this case, the player is only called The Hunter. The only thing known about him is that he wants to get a powerful element called Paleblood. Apart from that, he has no background and no one knows why he undertook this search.
Upon arriving in the city, the character quickly realizes that all of its inhabitants are infected by a disease that turned them into wild creatures. In addition, those who still maintain their human form are driven insane and act very violently, attacking the protagonist.
After several events, he ends up in a realm called e Hunter’s Dream, where he meets two characters who will help him during the game. Gehrman, an elderly man in a wheelchair, offers advice to the hunter. Then The Doll, a life-size live doll, helps him level up. Then, with Gehrman entrusting him with a new mission, the protagonist resumes his search for the Paleblood.
Different gameplay, the same essence
The mechanics of the title work similarly to Dark Souls, its predecessor. In it, the player must strategically plan his attacks, where even the weakest enemy can become a challenge.
Also, experience points make a return, where in this case they are called Blood echoes. In addition, dying in combat causes the character to lose the points, which can be recovered if he returns to the place of his death or kills the enemy who steals them. The complicated bosses are also a constant of the developers: in Bloodborne appear some of the most horrendous and complicated of all the sagas.
The game also received several changes that separate it from the rest of the deliveries. Firstly, apart from the potions, the player can now heal himself by quickly attacking the enemies, which generates a much more offensive approach. This is designed to prevent players from abusing the “Hit and Run” strategy, with the firm intention of achieving aggressive and fluid gameplay.
Bloodborne does not have very varied weaponry, but this equates to introducing the mode of the double stance. Each weapon the hunter gets will have two alternatives, where for example, one can be useful to clean waves of enemies and another to quickly finish a 1v1.
The excessive difficulty as the main attraction
As one might expect, Bloodborne is an unfair game. Every part of it is designed to generate frustration and helplessness in its users. Even with experience in similar titles, the new mechanics come hand in hand with more violent enemies who do not hesitate to join in hordes to attack the hunter.
Furthermore, despite his attacking power, he has no armor and can be quickly killed by his enemies, making the challenge higher than ever.
As if the gameplay wasn’t enough, the developers also added other ingredients to overwhelm the player. First of all, the game will give almost no hint to the newcomers and they have to learn the mechanics on their own. The death of the character comes with long loading times, so he must wait approximately 40 seconds for the game to restart. In a title where the user is expected to fail countless times, this challenges his patience. If a particular section becomes too hard, there is an online tool available, where one can make their game visible and get help from someone else.
Naturally, FromSoftware was not going to provide this help for free. Consequently, incoming users are still allowed to murder the protagonist and steal his experience, so this becomes a gamble that can go wrong.
Bloodborne’s audiovisual approach: realism and atmosphere
The graphics accompany perfectly the Gothic-Victorian atmosphere that the game tries to achieve. Regardless of the location, shadows take up most of the screen, but almost never get in the way of the player’s vision. On the other hand, the cold palette used for almost every corner of the city is cleverly employed to highlight elements such as blood or torches.
Each enemy has an innovative design executed with great detail that emphasizes realism, the other priority of the developers. This is also reflected in the buildings, which together with some characters seem to be taken from a novel by the writer H.P. Lovecraft, one of Bloodborne’s great inspirations.
Another strong point of the release is the soundtrack. With a group of six composers, FromSoftware relied on the illustrations to make music according to the environment. This is used in several cases to generate a sense of danger for the player, with frantic and violent rhythms when the battle against a boss begins.
The safest locations are a different case, where a mysterious but relaxing melody is played in order to distract the user from what is to come. These tones had a great elaboration, where for most of them more than 60 musicians were used for the orchestra and more than 30 for the chorus.
One of the biggest inspirations for the team was the soundtrack of the film Dracula, directed by Coppola, which has a similar aesthetic to this adventure.
In short, Bloodborne is a great title that in just a few years is already considered a masterpiece and a cult game. The wonderful neo-gothic graphics and bloody sound effects are part of a new entry in this franchise that stands out for the challenge it gives to players.
On the other hand, if players manage to overcome all the barriers of difficulty and discover all the secrets that this semi-open world hides, they will feel a sense of achievement that few games can provide.
Image credit: FromSoftware