Release date: 14/03/15
Online co-op: Yes
DLC: The Old Hunters additional content saw release in mid-November 2015
You can trust me to be late to a party. Its perhaps a trait I'm not to fond of but none the less exists. To be late to one of the PlayStation 4's defining titles and earliest exclusives, Bloodborne, is a situation all of my own making. I didn't let that put me off though and finally picking up a copy of the atmospheric RPG by renowned Japanese developer From Software, sat down and reasonable time with the gothic title set on one very bloody night of a hunt for various blood-craving beasts.
Perhaps a skillful evolution of developer From's famed franchise Dark Souls, Bloodborne sees significant changes in favour of a more aggressive and offense style of play. Rather than pensive progression with sword and shield, players will often find themselves dodging, sidestepping and dashing among foes in efforts to slay them before being made into a bloody mess. It certainly is initially a stark contrast to the playstyle of the Souls games but compliments the overall style and feel of Bloodborne. You can still feel highly skilled once you familiarise yourself with the new control scheme.
A change from riposting in the Souls games is the ability to carry a firearm in the character's left hand. This allows players to score a counter hit if the enemy is caught at the right time, leaving them open for a visceral attack (a strike that tears through the enemy's insides and does significant damage). It again rewards skillful play and timing, a risk/reward scenario that allows its bearer to either revel in a successful takedown or suffer the brunt of the opponent's attack. The ability to consume blood vials on the move to recover health further adds to the higher tempo the games progression brings.
|Even in the grim world of Yarnham, things can look beautiful|
Fundamentals aside, From is no such when it comes to the game's art design. Set in a fictional late-Victorian era gothic city named Yarnham, everything from the architecture to the weapon, creature and boss designs are fantastically detailed, dripping with both splendour and grotesqueness in equal. The interchangeable nature of the game's trick weapons is also neat, allowing players to adapt their play style to the situation at hand (adjusting a weapon's length, strength or secondary function all at the press of a button). Its use in mid-combat keeps things exciting, allowing players to explore new avenues whilst playing Bloodborne.
Those who want to take a break from the game proper can face one of the many Chalice dungeons accessible from The Hunter's Dream (the player's general hub area). These allow players to descend through randomly generated dungeons to reap additional blood echoes and items (proving very handy when you reach a point in the main game you are currently unable to traverse). It adds additionally content to the main game, a great idea that gives die-hard fans almost infinite trials to overcome.
|Great night for a beast hunt indeed|
Online co-op has been a part of From's Souls games since Demon's Souls released back on the PS3. Teaming up has thankfully been made easier in Bloodborne due to being able to set passwords, allowing friends online to more easily locate each other and assist with the many dangerous areas of Yarnham together.
If you can't tell by now I'm quite a fan of Bloodborne. It is true the developer From Software has found a formula with their more recent 'try hard, die more' action RPGs but when the atmosphere, feel and general gameplay are as strong and immersive as they are here, this player is pleased to continue experience the developers titles as long as they keep making them.
'Live by the Blood, Undone by the Blood' indeed...
If you've read this far thanks for taking the time to do so. If you have any thoughts about my general impressions of Bloodborne feel free to leave them in the Comments section below.