Bloodborne: Dark Souls’ Gothic Cousin

Welcome to Yharnam, where your nightmare can and will kill you early and often.

Bloodborne has all the trappings of a From Software Souls’ game but with a grimmer, more Gothic feel. While not connected to the Dark Souls world, this PlayStation 4-exclusive title knows why players love these games, and continues to deliver on its high standard of excellence.

Death is common in Yharnam. Nobody likes you, and only some of them do not want to murder you.

Unlike Dark Souls games, you are given an idea of what you are supposed to be about in Bloodborne. Granted, it does not lay out everything, and certainly hides important details from the you. But compared to its cousins, Bloodborne’s story is straightforward if disturbing. Become a Hunter, destroy the beasts infesting Yharnam. Delving deeper into the story reveals how shallow that really is, but most of the delving is done though item descriptions, so be ready to read. The story is deep and enthralling, however, and well worth the work.

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Combat in Bloodborne is faster than it’s predecessor, Dark Souls 2. No more shields to hide behind and wait for that perfect moment to strike. Just you, your weapon, and a single-shot gun. The gun, while doing little damage in its own right, can be a powerful tool; when timed correctly during an enemy’s attack, you can stagger them, allowing for a visceral attack that does massive damage.

Another new feature to Bloodborne’s combat is the ability for you to recover health by hitting the enemy that recently hit you. This is a short-timed affair and often dangerous, making you think that quick flailing will allow you to recover. Sometimes this is true; sometimes this gets you hit more, and brings about your demise.

Leveling up in Bloodborne is slightly different from other From Software games. You have to obtain a certain item, or stumble into a boss fight, before the Doll in the Dream will wake up and talk to you.

And when you die (and die you shall) you drop all your blood echoes, which you need to level up your character and get stronger. Usually these are just dropped on the ground where you died, allowing you to recover them by finding the place of your death and picking them up. Another twist to Bloodborne, however, is that enemies that walk over that spot might also pick them up. When that happens, recovering them requires you to find that enemy and kill them. They are distinguishable by their glowing eyes and will be around the area you died in previously.

One of the things that Bloodborne reduced from it’s relatives was the number of weapons available to use. While each weapon has an alternate form for a stronger or lighter attack, the lack of variety overall does get a little wearing. And while you are given three options from the start, one is certainly for more experienced players (not that the game makes that clear).

Bloodborne’s multiplayer is very similar to Dark Souls’, where you can summon helpers to fight bosses or be invaded by people who want to make your day more miserable. There are covenants to join and rewards therein for those interested in dueling or ambushing other players.

Overall, Bloodborne is a good addition to the PlayStation catalog, giving fans of From Software a big incentive to buy the system if they did not already have it. The game looks beautiful, if dark and foreboding, runs reasonably well and offers all the challenges one could want in what is collectively known as a SoulsBorne game.

Things are not friendly in Yharnam. Exploring offshoot alleys like this one might lead to an axe in your face.

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