BloodBorne has finally released and now that its here the big question on everyone’s mind that hasn't picked it up has been clearly answered. Does it live up to the hype? Absolutely. The expression “I like pleasure spiked with pain” pretty much explains how many of us feel about BloodBorne. While staying true to challenge and difficulty BB manages to bring a few new elements to the series that fans new and old are sure to appreciate. Keep in mind this is not a sequel but a spinoff so before we get too deep into new elements we need to go over the basics.
Set in the city of Yharnam where there is a rumored medicine that can cure all illness, travelers near and far have made long pilgrimages in hopes to heal their ailments. As the player, you are one of those travelers but not all is well in the dark ancient city of Yharnam. Your arrival is met with finding the city cursed with a horrid endemic plague. Villagers and travelers alike are stricken with bestial features and lack of a sane mind. Now you must navigate through the city trying to survive deranged mobs, beasts and creatures made of a nightmare. Will you find the cure or turn into that which you hunt?
BloodBorne is an Action-Adventure RPG that will leave most players dying for more. Whether the player makes one crucial mistake or gets a little too cocky for their own good, unless its a former souls fan they will probably die more in this game than an 80's kid playing Super Mario Bros. FromSoftware is known for delivering challenging titles that will reward players for learning from their errors and this game is no different. Its important to remember that a hunter is never alone. Players having a difficult time can call for help from other players that have already beaten an area you may be playing. They can help you all the way to defeating a boss and will go back to the world from which they came. Players can also offer to help one another when they have a certain item that allows it. Gamers can also invade other players world or could be invaded themselves. There are ways to banish an unwanted guest but sometimes the rewards of engagement are too high pass up. To sweeten the pot a little there is also a nice messaging system players use to warn other of possible traps or secret locations. You can also watch a dead players ghost and get an idea of how they met their demise. However there are certain items needed for using multiplayer and all is not as simple as it sounds.
BloodBorne has a high difficulty in order to force players to rethink every move which extends the amount of time someone could spend playing this so, giving you an actual average to complete this game would be inaccurate and misleading. I can tell you I have personally put over 20 hours into what I consider the first chapter of the game but I also search for every last detail and that takes a while. Oh, and I die a lot too so there’s that. Truth be told the difficulty is one of the major high points of this game but in turn makes it not for everyone. You may like the sound of wielding a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other all while fighting off hordes of grotesque beasts but if you can't handle losing your characters life repeatedly or even have rage control problems while gaming in general, I suggest you play Little Big Planet instead. LBP is a great game that caters to more than just a younger audience so keep that in mind the next time you feel like raging. You could try eating a Snickers bar, I hear that helps.
Mentioned above, Swords and Guns! While the souls series put emphasis on needing to use a shield, BloodBorne does the opposite. There are shields in the game but from what I've seen of them so far, you would be safer shielding yourself with a cardboard cutout during a rain shower. To be fair, there is a description at least on the shield I found that basically said if you try to hide behind this you might as well jump off a cliff. That being said brings us to our next major point in the game which is fighting with endurance. Because of no real way to block opponent attacks without hiding behind an unbreakable structure you need to be quick, fearless and smart. When you do take on an enemy its best to dodge and roll to stay clear of any attacks. Using your main weapon for the brunt of the work you have a medium and heavy attack you can use in combos but keep an eye on your endurance, once that's gone your life probably is too. Guns aren't real powerful but they certainly come in handy. They can stop an enemy from finishing an attack and give you the chance to counter or flee. There are several types of melee weapons and firearms to choose from as the game moves forward so its up to you discover how and when they work best.
Yharnam is a pretty big place, while you could say its an open world I like to think of it as having many paths to choose from. You can go back to just about anywhere you've already been but in order to open up more of the area you have to follow the games path in a manner of speaking. There is a big emphasis on short cuts and revealing hidden areas to either speed things up or open a gate for easier passage later on. Keep in mind that an enemy can be lying around any corner as they do enjoy ambushing unsuspecting victims and they all pack a pretty mean punch so tread carefully. Breaking everything you can to check for secrets can be time consuming and tedious but at the same time it's a good way stall before you go venture into a new area of the unknown. I find that I will sometimes clear out a room of enemies and then go around breaking everything in sight. Not because I believe there will always be treasure as much as I believe I am mustering up the courage to brave into a new area because I never know if my next move will greet me with safety or death.
All in all BloodBorne is both a fast and slow paced game with constant mystery and intrigue that delivers an experience only FromSoftware can give. If you are looking for a title with a great replay value than this is definitely a game worth picking up. A beautiful landscape and smooth game play, with elements from several other genre's this is a sure competitor for game of the year. If you're a souls fan there have been some features added/changed I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Some will be liked and others may be hated but these should not be considered deal breakers by any means, especially considering this is supposed to be a new series in itself.
One of the biggest changes in features that many souls fans had asked for was a consistent place to make item transactions. In past souls games you could not sell many of your items. You could trade here and there but you often found yourself just dropping lots of items or filling up storage and never taking it back out. Later in the series you could kind of sell items by feeding them to a giant snake like being and then even later sell almost anything to a vendor that kind of hopped around until he was finally in one spot. In BloodBorne you can sell just about everything unless it is a quest item and there are no strings attached. You can always find your vendor which takes a little stress off.
Healing has changed a bit from the souls series as well. Players once depended upon refilling a flask with healing properties in order to keep in top physical condition. Now players can carry up to 20 blood vials which will replenish health. That does make things a little easier in a way seeing as fallen enemies drop blood vials all the time and you can slightly heal yourself if striking an opponent at the same time. The reality of it though is that enemies can destroy you with ease whether you’re carrying around health potions or not so it really isn't a bad change. When you take into consideration the lack of shield defense that many players were once used to, it doesn't hurt to have a little bubbly kicking around.
While there are many other new elements to cover this review is still under development and will be updated periodically so check back for more and be sure to let me know your thoughts on BloodBorne! We are also working on a walk through video guide to help out in dire situations! Good luck and good hunting!
Review Update: At this point I have completed BloodBorne and started New Game Plus. I put over 140 hours into my first run through and I will say it was all worth the while. I reached certain points of frustration when I found myself up against a boss that I just couldn't seem to take down with my "normal" methods but I'm not ashamed to admit that when all else failed I rang the Beckoning Bell for a little multiplayer support. The game is meant to be difficult but not impossible and when you do manage to complete an area its both rewarding and relieving at times. BloodBorne is meant to be an action horror title but there's something about it that's welcoming to even those that would rather not play a darker genre. There have been some minor glitches that pop up from time to time such as falling through a floor and outside the map. At one point I fell for about 5 minutes while helping another player complete a section in the game. Luckily if you die in MP (if you are helping in another world) you won't lose anything, not even the blood echoes you collect while you are there. A patch will be delivered by the end of April to fix a few things as well as speeding up load times.
Blood echoes are currency you receive from items and slain enemies that are used to upgrade your character, purchase new weapons or items from the "shop" and upgrade weapons.You will find there are plenty of side quests that are optional in BB but it's highly recommended to explore everything and complete all the additional areas as they provide rewards that can change the course of the game and how well your character develops. I have spoke with many people that managed to miss or mess up a side quest and regretted the mistake from that point on. New game plus does offer plenty of chances to revisit things you missed but second chances come with a cost. Once you begin NG+ you still have everything in your inventory before you finished the game but your enemies are now much, much stronger than before. Some have even said enemy character's behave differently so you can't quite predict their reactions. While I myself haven't seen this yet it is known that there is a glitch that makes bosses easier to defeat by leaving the game on idle for roughly 12 hours but that is the opposite effect of NG+. That glitch is also being patched end of April.
BloodBorne has a high replay value and makes trophy hunting seem that much greater just knowing when people browse your list and they see you've completed the game. While this game isn't for everybody I recommend at least giving it a shot to those curious about what they've seen or heard. A full written walkthrough is also underway to help guide though every area and side quest known. Not an easy feat considering there are endings.