Ayyyy, Bloodborne! Finally finished dis bitch. DOOM is now my current game, though I doubt it’ll be the next game I finish. I’ve got way too many games to finish… I’m just trying to stick to one game per console at the moment. Pokemon Omega Ruby for 3DS, Metroid Prime 2 for Wii U, and DOOM for PS4. Or Gravity Rush. Or Transistor. The next entry in this series will be on one of those games!
My Thoughts on Bloodborne:
A Crazy Dream Turn Ceaseless Nightmare
While I’ve never read anything from H.P. Lovecraft or Lewis Carroll (though I’ve read more child-friendly versions of Alice in Wonderland), I know a good amount about their… eccentricity. From the horror fiction of Lovecraft to the literary nonsense of Carroll. Even though horrific nonsense isn’t my thing, I appreciate what it is for what it is. I like strange and interesting atrocities and the Jabberwocky or Cthulhu are no exceptions. And do you know a game series known for similar atrocities? Dark Souls! But like the works of Lovecraft and Carroll, I’ve never experienced a Souls game. I had seen bits and pieces of the Souls games prior to Bloodborne, but I never had the urge to step into that world. But for some reason, the look of Bloodborne’s world and gameplay greatly appealed to me. While I love knights and dragons and all that medieval goodness, the Victorian aesthetic finally made me take the plunge into a From Software game. And oh boy, did I like what I got! Until all that crazy fun turned into an exhausting grind….
I’ll start of with the story. Or what I was able to gather of the story from multiple articles and YouTube videos… I’ll try to dumb down all the stupid lore into one, easy to understand sentence. Okay, so… Illustrious beings called Great Ones wanted to reproduce but couldn’t because every Great One looked like some Lovecraftian abomination, so they instead decided to impregnate humans, causing even more fucked up monstrosities to crawl out of their surrogate mothers and be idolized as divine beings who’s blood was the new Kahlua of the people, turning those people into even worse Frankensteinian freaks. Like I said, easy to understand. Even though the whole plot of the game is one giant, crazy mess; I liked what I was able to learn of the story. I got only, like, a quarter of all that story information from actually playing the game though! I get that Souls is known for sort of “hidden storytelling” but I just wish I had gotten more info on the story through just playing the game. The first parts of the game gave me good information on the story though.
My character, down with some unsaid sickness, has traveled to the city of Yharnam, looking for the healing blood of the town is known for. But the blood, unsurprisingly, has adverse effects and ends up making me fall unconscious. Once I come to, I venture out into the streets of Yharnam where hordes of demented townsfolk introduce me to the joy of sharp objects. I soon find out that it’s the night of the hunt, a time where all sorts of beasts and monsters come out to play! My consciousness is also somehow tied to an ethereal dream spaaace where cute, little imp-like creatures called Messengers give me a trick weapon and a gun. I am then made a hunter of the nightmare and with my tools of the trade; I must traverse the waking world and find out what the fuck is going on. Throughout the rest of the game, I was able to learn a few interesting things about the story. Like the plague of Yharnam that has turned the townsfolk into beasts, and the Hunters who were tasked with cleaning the streets of the beastly scum, and the blood that every damn person was addicted to. But with all of that, I never really did get down to the bottom of what the fuck was going on.
In the beginning, I was super invested in the story as the world around me gave out niblets of information. While those story bits were small, they gave me told me just enough. But then the story started getting more and more convoluted and less and less concise. The small bits of information started containing crap that just didn’t seem make any sense. I don’t remember when, but there was a moment where I pretty much stopped paying attention. I know that the way the story was doled out, and the story itself is typical of a Souls game or Lovecraft story, but man… The story of the game started off in such a good way but ended up coming down on the weight of itself. Not just the weight, but how the weight was spread out. The weight was initially spread out well but everything just got so bogged as story progressed. After reading and watching a handful of articles and videos covering the story, I was eventually able to understand what the game and the story was trying to get across. And while I generally liked what I learned of the game’s crazy story, I didn’t get much of that information though just playing the game.
While the story ended up dropping me, the actual look and feel of the world was able to hold me. The designs of the enemies, the hunters, the weapons, the locations, almost everything in that regard was great. The black and bleak city of Yharnam was filled with dark and depressing locales that were all fairly varied. The setting of the night of the hunt was great. Some of the fucked up things you had to hunt though… From werewolves to old hags to piles of snake to white, sperm looking things crawling around in a poison swamp. Most of the beast designs were weird yet interesting and had mixed levels of what-the-fuckness. However, some creatures went a little too far… Not in a gross and disgusting way, but in a, “what am I even looking at?” kind of way. Like the monsters that were just amalgamations of random body parts. I liked the idea of those monsters; I just wish I could tell If I was looking at the face or the ass. Having strange shits fill a game is great by all means, but those strange shits should have semi-clear design direction. This goes for the bosses too. All had great designs, save for the One…
While I loved the designs of the giant beastly bosses, I didn’t particularly like fighting them. Other than their larger size and health pool, most of the boss fights just felt like fighting regular enemies. Wait for them to attack, hit them when they’re preparing another attack, back off before you get pulverized, then get back to the hacking and slashing while the boss prepares another attack. Doing that was fine for the regular enemies and the first few bosses, but it sure started to feel monotonous. Fighting the Cleric Beast was exciting because he was the first boss, fighting Rom the spider while dealing with all his smaller spiderlings was kinda fun, and that atomic type beast Pokémon was cool. The Amygdala was also a fairly fun fight, especially when it ripped off it’s own arms to use as weapons once its health hit the two-thirds point. But I should have been able to target the arms and cut them off myself, thinking that it would be beneficial but instead giving the boss another means to attack me. Another fight that easily could have been more enjoyable was the fight with the army of those blue alien men. In that fight, the little guys spawn in a garden of blue flowers. If the alien dudes actually came from the flowers, instead of just killing off them off, the point of the fight could have been all about some hardcore weeding. Things that would have changed up how you fought a boss would have made the bosses in general more enjoyable to fight.
The fights with enemy hunters were more appealing to me, though two fights did stick out more prominently to me. Facing off against Father Gascoigne was a good and enjoyable fight. Not only was I thrown off guard when he transformed into a beast-man halfway through the fight, but using the music box during the fight to momentarily stun the hunter was a cool concept. The other fight happened to be my favorite boss fight of the game, though it wasn’t against a hunter per se… It was the fight against Micolash, Host of the Nightmare! I really enjoyed facing off against him because it wasn’t about waiting and dodging then attacking followed up by more waiting and dodging then attacking. I enjoyed chasing Micolash down and around creepy and foggy corridors mostly because it was different than all of the other fights. Every other hunter fight was good enough. Except for one thing, the end results of those fights.
Every NPC in the game could be attacked, even the friendly ones. And being who I am… I made it my mission to do a hyper aggressive play through. In other words I killed every NPC that could be killed. I murdered every enemy and friendly hunter! It all started because I wanted the Blade of Mercy, held only by Eileen the Crow. But killing her didn’t immediately net me her weapons and clothing. No, the only item I got from killing her was a badge that allowed me to buy her gear from the Messengers in the Hunter’s Dream. Blood Echoes, the currency of the game, was a valuable resource. You could level up your stats with the echoes and each level caused the price to get to the next level to rise. Due to my general suckiness and high rate of dying, I primarily used my obtained echoes to level myself up and buy potions and bullets. Leveling up my stats kept getting more and more expensive and I didn’t want to use my echoes to buy expensive gear! While using 40000 echoes to buy the Blade of Mercy was totally worth it cause dual wielding is my shit, I wanted to use the blades as soon as I killed Eileen. In the very first area of the game. Farming 40000 echoes that early in the game not only took forever, but was a lot to spend on NOT leveling up! Hunters, friend of foe, should have just dropped their clothing and/or more importantly their weapons when killed.
Not only did I not want to spend any more echoes on gear, but the Beast Claw, one of the weapons I really wanted to attain and use, couldn’t be found in the main game. Even though I was attacked by an enemy hunter with the damn claw! I thought the claw looked super cool when that hunter tore me to shreds. After some grinding and leveling up, I went back to kill Mr. Claw Hunter (and the two other hunters he was ganged up with). When he finally hit the ground, instead of getting his weapon that I so badly wanted, I got a damn blood gem or whatever. Like I said, the item drops of defeated hunters should have been their equipped gear. If the weapons couldn’t be directly obtained through killing hunters, they should have been pick up items scattered in the overworld. But no, only four weapons could be found in the all of Yharnam. Blood Echoes had to be spent to attain every other weapon. Because I assumed I’d be able to attain at least most of the weapons through just playing the game, I sold my starter weapon the cane whip. So from the very first area of the game onwards to the very last boss, I only used the Blade or Mercy that I bought and the Saw Spear that I found. Using only two weapons throughout the entirety of the game was fine at first. Two-thirds into the game, however, I pretty bored of my limited weapon selection. Yeah, I could have bought another weapon, but leveling up and buy potions was a better use for my echoes.
My aforementioned high death rate wasn’t only due to my suckiness though. For the most part it was, and I knew I just had to git gud, but there were a few game mechanics that were the literal death of me! The mechanic that I absolutely hated the most was goddamn frenzy, a status affliction that’s not only quick to trigger, but takes SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF YOUR MAXIUM HEALTH AWAY WHEN THE METER FILLS. Not 75% of your current health. YOUR TOTAL HEALTH!! . There were three status afflictions in the game; poison, rapid poison, and frenzy. Poison was fine, rapid poison never showed up, and frenzy was unfair as shitballs. In my mind, rapid poison and frenzy should have just been fire and bolt… But back to frenzy! While it didn’t appear all that often, when it did, I raged hard. Especially in the Nightmare of Mensis location where the Brain Lady could give you frenzy by just looking at you while you were standing in a poison swamp. Dealing with being poisoned was fine by itself, but FRENZY and poison was a BS combo. Another game mechanic that I disliked was the up button the D-pad. Down let you cycle through your quick select items while up caused you to convert a portion of your health into quicksilver bullets. There were multiple times where I was in the middle of combat and I would hit down one too many times and miss the item I wanted to use. Being that I was in the middle of combat (and that I’m a general idiot), I would try to get back to the item I passed by pressing the up button. Instead of going UP through my quick select items, I would lose a portion of my health. IN THE MIDDLE OF COMBAT!!
Ignoring all my bitching in the last couple of paragraphs, I did enjoy my time with Bloodborne for the most part. Fighting was fairly fluid, causing enemies to stagger with a well-timed shot was satisfying, and visceral attacks were super effective. My main problems with Bloodborne only really showed up towards the mid to late portions of the game. That was when my limited weapon selection and the sameness of the boss fights made the game feel like a grind while the story just ended up losing me. Hell, I didn’t even encounter much of frenzy until the final levels of the game. What’s funny though, is that the final bits of the game where kind of the best bits. The final parts of the story, the final enemies, and the final boss fights were all great. I just really liked the Castle of Mensis and everything within it. I liked the first parts of the game and the final parts, but the parts in the middle? That’s what made the game feel like a nightmare. And not the kind of nightmare the game was talking about…. So all in all, while I generally liked Bloodborne, it could have been so much better. Hopefully I’ll enjoy the DLC more than the main game. Whenever I get around to playing it…