Game Review - Bloodborne on Playstation 4

Written by enderx30 on October 03, 2016 @ 6:34 pm

Bloodborne bore the weight of being heralded as the “true successor” to the Souls series, and for good reason: Dark Souls 2 was developed by the “B-Team,” whose efforts were commendable but ultimately did not achieve the heights of their predecessors. I feared that Bandai Namco would milk FROM SOFTWARE to churn out yearly rehashes not unlike the CoD franchise.

FROM SOFTWARE plunged its hand into my bosom, viscerally ripped that fear out of my torso, and planted a new one in its place. And this new fear is absolutely delicious, a kind of horror not seen in even horror-centric games. With Bloodborne, FROM not only demonstrated its superior mastery at the trade, but also brought about a new pinnacle in its genre.

Bloodborne gave the Souls formula a much-needed refresh. Making dodging a necessity—though the Souls games also encouraged it—quickened the combat to a hectic yet tightly controlled pace. This is reflected in the vastly decreased stamina required for dodging. However, FROM, being FROM, knows how to prevent the player from being comfortable, if at all. The new combat system encourages aggressive behavior, but many enemies require player contemplation and planning as well. You simply could not stick to one M.O. and expect to survive every encounter, and therein lies the genius of FROM’s game mechanic design.

Every design aspect of Bloodborne coagulated together to become a greater whole. The level and character design was as much a part of the story as the writing itself, which FROM deviously told once more between the lines. The urban areas of Yharnam resembled the glamour and grit of Victorian England—fit for the ‘classical’ horror theme—though the game did encompass a wide variety of vistas, each pleasing to the eye and yet terrifying to behold. The same went for the monster designs, and the PS4’s power was put to full use in fabric, particle, hair and, of course, blood physics. My only complaint about the visual fidelity of Bloodborne was its use of chromatic aberration, the slight blurring and discoloring near the screen’s (and objects’) edges in order to simulate CRT effects. For games like Alien: Isolation where the 80s feel was intrinsic to the game, it makes sense. However, many mistake such intentional blurring for “realism” and perhaps the “cinematic feel,” but I argue the opposite: why intentionally make a game visually flawed when the medium can deliver clarity that film could not? Bloodborne was not a particularly “cinematic” game, so why use this effect? It took the electronics industry decades to eliminate such distortions, so I find it funny that games are adding it back in, and I also find the trend of its use disturbing in the industry. But I digress, and that is only nitpicking, for the aesthetic design of Bloodborne more than makes up for that tiny flaw.

In terms of story, Bloodborne has distinguished itself from its Souls predecessors by its take on horror. The game’s descent into madness was slow and suffocating, and the revelations for the eldritch horrors were terrifying. Bloodborne set itself apart from psychological horror and survival horror by combining both into an unholy offspring. Things were seldom what they seemed, and FROM somehow set a poignant philosophical debate as the hidden backdrop for Bloodborne. Giving in to one’s beastly nature and “ascending” to greatness with knowledge both have “rewards” and the severe consequence of losing one’s humanity…

I spent less than fifty hours completing my first run, and I definitely had a blast. This game was, most importantly, absolutely thrilling to play. My heart was pounding at nearly every boss encounter, and when I beat a few of them I scream-yelled. There is a ton of replay value in the dungeons, and I have yet to complete them; there is also lore significance to them, apparently, so I suspect I am not done with Bloodborne just yet. The music reached new heights for a FROM SOFTWARE title, and that was an incredible feat for me, as I held the Demon’s and Dark Souls soundtrack in great esteem. I won’t go into too much detail as I am writing a completely separate review for my favorite tracks for the game, but I will say here that the fully orchestrated tracks by Ryan Amon, Yuka Kitamura and others were fantastic and horrifying like the game itself.

The story arcs for NPCs and Yharnam itself somehow managed to be darker and bleaker than Dark Souls, making the player progress yet watch the world descend into irredeemable terror. I’ve used “terror” and “horror” so many times that, if you played a drinking game reading this review, you would probably be inEBRIETAS. There is so much more to say and I have barely scratched the surface in my analysis, and I hope Alexandros will post his essay about it in the near future so I can have my mind blown endlessly. Bloodborne is a fantastic gem of a game, and is definitely my GOTY for 2015.

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Game Information

Platform
Playstation 4
Developer(s)
From Software
Publisher(s)
SCEA
Genre(s)
Action, RPG
NA Release Date
March 24, 2015
JP Release Date
March 26, 2015
EUR Release Date
March 27, 2015
AUS Release Date
March 25, 2015
ESRB Rating
M
MVGL User Score
9.0
Composer
Michael Wandmache
Official Website
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