Bloodborne: First Impressions
Bloodborne is From Software’s exclusive for the PS4, it is a large game with a great deal of content to cover. For this reason, I have decided to write a first impression which will later be followed up by a review that covers the games in it’s completion.
Yharnam is the home of blood ministration… you need only unravel its mystery and unravel it I shall. Blood soaks every pore of Bloodborne, and as a hunter you will find yourself bathed in it time and time again as every strike sprays blood from your prey and the same goes for you. A moment does not go past in Bloodborne without your character being covered in the visceral fluids everything seems to seek in this dark almost industrial era city.
You are a hunter, a foreign traveller from another land who has come to Yharnam, a city full of insane villagers and deadly beasts. Character customisation includes gender, individual eye color, glasses, hair and beards while also providing more indepth facial and body shape tools for those who want them. In addition, you choose a single origin, each which seems to start at level 10 except for an option that seems to imply your character is pathetic starting you at level 4. With no level 1 option I decided to check out one of the levels 10’s making my character look old and wisened as a “Veteran Soldier” who has come to Yharnam for blood.
I creep through the dark rooms of an infirmary the only way open to me is forward and the further away from my bed I move the louder the sounds of a snarling creature get. Bathing in pale light a creature like a Werewolf is crouched feeding on something… someone.
As someone who has played a souls game, I figured this was the first test and first step in a pilgrimage of ichor and filth to drink my fill of blood on the streets of Yarhnam. Moving forward I release an unarmed chop to the creature barley noticing the sliver of health deplete from its health bar, my first taste of combat in Bloodborne and I was already punching above my weight class.
Swooping around while locked onto the beast brought a new sense of speed to someone used to the games of From Software but a newcomer should find the movement responsive, allowing them to time to zip out of the way of an opponents attack at the right time.
Not locking on gives you a dodge and frees you from moving around your enemy, and I found it was easier to escape the beasts attacks using a mix of both swooping and rolling. Still that didn’t change the fact I could barely scratch the creature and he could hit hard. Most of my health bar turned orange in a couple of hits, but it didn’t immediately deplete it allowing me to counterattack, regaining some of my health. It is this system of counter attacking your enemies after being hit that forms the core experience of Bloodborne. Enemies are deadly but so are you and by striking back at an enemy after being injured you can regain a portion of health. This makes combat in the game feel fast and frantic but I found incredible satisfaction in butchering enemies later in the game and regaining my health in its entirety.
Realizing I couldn’t fight this beast I decided to do what any other person would do and ran. Heading up the stairs behind it I quickly made for a gate running for cover behind the corner of a carriage and “YOU DIED” appeared on the screen as an axe wielding maniac slaughtered my hunter.
The early sections of the game is a trial by fire, but I would say that with the speed of combat it provides an accessible but still challenging environment for players. Dying returns you to the most recently used lamp each of which is a fast travel point throughout the twisted but beautifully crafted city streets. Shortcuts and side paths riddle the gothic architecture creating the experience of exploring an actual city.
After dying for the first time you are given a choice of some starting equipment and then its back to the streets for some revenge on that beast.
The game certainly has it’s Lovecraftian influences with a stat called Insight giving you a measure of how the horrors of the streets are effecting your character I found that the more Insight i collected fighting the games bosses or using collectibles I found that some enemies would change in appearance gaining extra eyes and other creepy details. This feels almost like a sanity stat and I’m not sure if these creatures are actually changing or my hunter is just seeing them differently. In addition the game has its fair share of tentacles, bug like people and snakes. So many snakes.
The main thing you will be collecting in the game is blood echoes with each enemy slain giving you a changing amount usually based on how strong they are. These can be exchanged for stat increases but they are also your currency if you wish to buy new weapons or items.
The biggest bounties of souls usually come from bosses, each one usually placed in such a way that I have been surprised by being sealed in a room with a new boss to fight on a number of occasions. Most of the bosses I have faced while exploring the game have provided great challenges and interesting attack patterns, but I can’t say all the bosses will require more than the player brutally bashing the creature to death after avoiding one or two moves or minion creatures.
Weapon and armor choice in the early game are in small supply but each weapon you find during your hunt comes with two different forms each with different attacks this kept my combat interesting as I worked out how to mix up different attacks or work switching a weapon form into my attacks.
Despite some issues with some of the boss designs and some minor frame rate issues during very long hours of play and kinda long load times, Bloodborne has been an intense sometimes stressful game to play but I can’t put it down and it some of the most visceral and fun monster slaying I’ve done in a video game.
Stay tuned for Leon’s review of Bloodborne!
Have you played Bloodborne? What are YOUR impressions? Let us know in the comments below!