Image Credit: MenasLG on Deviant Art
So I gave in to the desire to play Bloodborne. I bought a PS4 bundled with it and drenched myself in the blood that had called from that game over the past weeks. I was a big fan of the Dark Souls games, unfortunately I haven’t played Demon’s Souls which is the spiritual predecessor to them all. I would absolutely recommend you try out either of the Dark Souls games(perhaps number 2 if you would like an easier time). Both are still brutally hard to those of the modern gaming generation where everything is hand holding and you always know where to go.
From Software are the creators of these quite infamous games. They are known to be brutally unforgiving and relentless. You are given very little in terms of direction, or story… or anything really. I can’t speak for Demon’s Souls I think the direction you are given is “Slay the Arch Demon”. In Dark Souls it is “Ring the Bell of Awakening” and in Dark Souls II you are told to “Seek the King”. It is just as vague in Bloodborne “Find the Paleblood”. Each story begins with whatever character one chooses venturing into some land to accomplish a task. In Bloodborne, it is unknown why the player character seeks out this Gothic city known as “Yharnam” which is famous in this universe for it’s blood. Yes, blood. Yharnam is famous for it’s blood which has incredible healing properties, disease doesn’t exist and so on. Blood Ministration is a term you come across a lot in item descriptions.
I didn’t really know what direction I wanted this piece to go in. Something has struck me as so interesting in these games since I first played Dark Souls and was brutally introduced to the gameplay style. Lore, on most occasions, is presented to us quite plainly with maybe some intrigue where needed to push a player on. In the Souls games and now Bloodborne, lore has always been this mysterious puzzle that every player must put together themselves. You don’t know why your character came to Yharnam, many theorize he had a terminal illness and came to Yharnam to be healed. You never find out, but the puzzle that is Yharnam is one that is even larger and more complex. The inhabitants have become monsters, beasts transformed by the magical blood that is revealed to be tainted. The same blood that you use to heal throughout, the same blood that is transfused into you upon starting the game. You are tainted and must “Find the Paleblood, to transcend the hunt”. The Hunt seems to be this perpetual hunt for beasts throughout the streets(performed by people who are barely human any more). Most of the lore is found through item descriptions, which are both enlightening and frustratingly vague at times.
“If Bloodborne was like every other modern game” (via altered_state on Reddit)
But I don’t want to spoil anything, what I wanted to get across was a sense of confusion and not knowing. You awake in every game, unaware of where you are. Often unaware of who you are. This allows for an excellent relation to your character and it is this atmosphere of terror and the unknown that pushes players on.
Many would call these games unfair and too hard. That they throw the player into scenarios that they are unprepared for or unready for. But many, including myself, would disagree. The Souls games work on the old system of gaming. Which teaches the players through gameplay, not tutorial screens or prompts. It punishes the lazy and complacent. It rewards exploration and Bloodborne in particular; rewards aggressiveness. These games, while many see them as hardcore, are in reality closer to the original state of gaming. Bosses are hard and often require several attempts, or at least a lot of luck and patience. The road to a boss is not easy either, it is paved with enemies(each of whom can easily kill a foolish player). There are enemy patterns to learn, weapons to master, techniques to perfect. I think that more people should play these games, at least for a few hours. They teach a player a lot about gaming.
So if you have a PS4, buy Bloodborne if you want a challenge(trick weapons are incredible I promise you!). Dark Souls is available on last-gen consoles and PC, and Dark Souls II is on all consoles these days. Finally, Demon’s Souls(which I have heard argued is better than any of it’s indirect successors) is available only on PS3.