Being what I consider to being a pretty die-hard fan of the FROMSOFTWARE’s Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls series, one could imagine how I felt when it was announced that Bloodborne was going to be the next spiritual successor to the aforementioned games.  Time has passed, and now that I finally have the game in my hands, I bid my family farewell, cut off the world and descend into the madness of the hunt.

But was it worth it? Read on my fellow hunters, read on.

Game Name – Bloodborne
Platform(s) – PlayStation 4

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer(s) – FROMSOFTWARE
Release Date – March 24, 2015
Price – $59.99
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4

If you’d ever played either Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls, then, for the most part, you are going to pretty familiar with the game. However, there are some slight differences and you’re going to need to accept or die. The biggest change is that parries and back stabs have been removed, which was one of my favorite things to do in the previous titles; sneaking up on an enemy only lets you get the drop on them and perform a major and damaging combo instead. You can now stagger an enemy that stops them mid-attack which will let you get the drop on them or lets you perform a “Visceral Attack,” an attack that lets you do massive damage, which reminds me of a riposte. Another change is that when you lock onto an enemy, you are no longer able to roll and instead will be able to do a slide step to either your left or right. This took a little bit of time to get used, coming from playing Dark Souls so much, but it was a welcomed change that helped break the pacing.

They also changed the stat system and now you have to worry about these key stats: Vitality, Endurance, Strength, Skill, Bloodtinge and Arcane. How you allocate these stats will determine how your character will change over time. It’s a small deviation from the series but fans will still recognize and understand the system while newcomers will easily pick up on what’s going on. 

For those who enjoy creating their own characters and creating masterpieces, you’ll be happy to see the changes to the character creator. While similar to the previous installments, the customization is a little more involved and ranges from facial details, skin ton, hair and much more. I loved it so much that I found myself playing with the character creator for at least 20 minutes before I started the actual game.

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How you attack has also changed and for the better. It’s fast, it’s visceral and it’s very satisfying. It’s as if FROMSOFTWARE had come off a massive Devil May Cry 4 play session and wanted to emulate that frantic game-style. There are no shields to hide behind (well there is one but it’s a bit of a joke to be honest) and to progress in Bloodborne you’re going to need to go on the offensive. The game-play is all about looking for an opening, attacking quickly and dodging / sidestepping to avoid being hit. It’s very frantic and it works. Enemies at the same time don’t wait on you to attack and will swarm to you if they notice you, which tends to turn a simple one on one fight into a blood-crazed mob. 

There are several places early in the game where you’ll notice 2 or 3 enemies and of course you’re looking to cut them down and proceed to follow them. Only to find out that you’re now in a an area where there are 10 plus enemies, which can surround you and make you dead real fast. They’ll charge you, surround you, strike you with pitchforks and various other weapons, even grab you if you let them. They aren’t playing around and as such you need to put them down and fast.

To promote faster game-play, FROMSOFTWARE has introduced what is called the “Regain System.” When taking damage, you’ll notice your health bar drop but instead of losing health instantly the portion of health you lost will turn orange. This means that you have a small window where you can get that health back from striking any enemies around you. This goes back to that frantic style of play and rewards gamers who willing to go on the offensive. However, if you get hit again before getting that health back, then you lose it.

Ah yes, the trick weapons. Gone are the days of carrying around a bag full of weapons and instead are what is referring to as trick weapons. Whoever thought of this idea is a genius. Basically, you get two functions in one weapon, so for example, you can get a sword that you can convert into a hammer or a spear that has a gun attached to it. It cuts down on a number of weapons in the game but at the same time makes combat even better as you can pull off some sick combos while transforming your weapons and busting some heads. Damned enjoyable that it is. 

I have to say that I’m glad that FROMSOFTWARE had decided to focus solely on the PlayStation 4 as Bloodborne truly looks like a current generation title. The amount of detail and polish that is present in Bloodborne simply could not be accomplished on the PlayStation 3, so if there was a compelling argument to if you should get a PlayStation 4, then this game would be it. Everything from the main characters animation, the vast amount of detail that has been applied to not just the bosses but all enemies present in the game. 

The city of Yharnam in which Bloodborne takes place is a wonderfully beautiful location and full of shortcuts and interesting features such as the windows and doors, that aren’t clear giveaways, but if you approach them and either talk or knock on the doors, they give way to either story elements or even providing you with some interesting conversations. The graphical and audio elements in this game simply need to be seen and heard. In fact if you didn’t tell me that this was a 1080p title that ran at 30 frames per second, I wouldn’t have believed you. This is definitely one game that will fuel the fires of which is better; 30 or 60 frames per second.

Bloodborne-shot3-city

Sadly, while most of the game shines in such a brilliant light you would think that it could do no wrong, however as good as Bloodborne is there are several issues abound. The most outstanding are the loading screen monster, er… how long it takes between loading the game either when you return to Hunter’s Dream or first starting out or worse when you die. Currently, it takes up to 40 seconds or more loading time when going from the Hunters Dream into the world or when you die and have to restart. I feel takes away from the games hype especially when you’re starting out and die within 20 seconds and at the loading, waiting while you’re eager to get back into the fight. It’s even worse when you get your ass handed to you by a boss and you’re itching for that “One more try.”

On several occasions when I died, I ended up walking to my kitchen to get a drink and get back to the game to find it still loading or just finally getting back from loading, it’s really a pain. However, FROMSOFTWARE and Sony has mentioned that they are working on a patch which may or may not address this issue. An alternative solution for those who have more money than they know what to do with can resort to upgrading their PS4 hard drive with a solid state drive as it should shorten the time the game takes to load.

*Sadly, while I was updating the review, Sony stated that the upcoming patch will not address the loading issues and that will be handled in a later patch.*

I also noticed from frame rate drop at times. While it wasn’t game breaking, it did popup a couple of times, including in combat with multiple enemies and that is the worst time to experience that. However, boss battles were lag free, so I’m not sure exactly what is going on there.

 I do also have to state that I felt that game, while it is an epic journey, is a bit on the easy side. I wouldn’t say that FROMSOFTWARE has dumbed down their tried and true formula but more along the lines of if you played “x” game before then “y” game will seem familiar. After getting over my initial few tries, everything felt very common and started to flow as if I played the game before. I can account that to 500+ hours of Dark Souls 1 and 2 and countless hours with Demon’s Souls has prepared me for what was in store with Bloodborne.

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I encountered this guy WAY TOO Early…

The game is also on the short side, I’m afraid to report, progression-wise that is. I’ve managed to end the game at 26 hours and while there is still plenty for me to do; online play (PVP) and the chalice dungeons, I was hoping that the game would be a little longer. Though for the more experienced hunters, I strongly suspect there are more secrets and items to find in the game and that we haven’t even scratched the surface. Lastly, there still seems to be an issue with summoning and being summoned. Out of the 10 times, I tried to get someone to help me, I only managed once to get a player to assist. At the same time, I was never summoned to help anyone, which I was pretty bummed about. the best parts of the Soul series was the co-op and seeing how Bloodborne has the better system, I was expecting more. This also needs to be addressed.

All minor issues aside, if I loved this game even just a bit more, I’m sure my wife would start getting jealous. Seriously folks, this is that good.

Bloodborne is the reason to own a PlayStation 4

Go forth and slay some beasts! Fear the old blood!

Bloodborne is perhaps the best reason to date to own a PlayStation 4. Despite several minor issues that I have with the game, it’s easily the best looking title on the system and easily my favorite (I still love you Driveclub). It has fast based combat system, more than enough weapons to keep just about everyone happy, interesting locations that you’ll wander and get lost in and more importantly, it’s fun. Lots and lots of fun. Despite the game being so short, Bloodborne is exactly the shot in the arm the PlayStation 4 need and another notch on FROMSOFTWARE’s games that kick ass list.

Hopefully we’ll get some much needed DLC to expand on the game as it feels that there is still much we can do.

NG+, here I come!

  • Bloodborne is a welcomed change in the Soulsborne universe
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