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Bloodborne Review

From Software should be sitting proud right about now, not only have they created one of the gaming world’s most infamous series with the Souls games but they have now managed to top them with Bloodborne, a game with plenty of nods to its predecessors but also having enough of its own personality to catch the attention of newcomers to the genre.

Bloodborne places you into the shoes of a Hunter visiting the city of Yharnam, a gothic nightmare of a place that holds many secrets to seek out and where as a Hunter you need to negotiate the cobbled streets and dank sewers, dealing with the cursed inhabitants as they wander the dimly lit passageways in search of prey. In typical Souls form, the story itself is only hinted at and offered at key points of the game, the majority of the plot is down to you to discover, chatting to the petrified uninfected in their boarded up safe houses or even fellow Hunters. 

Though the whole city is hunting out for your blood, you're well equipped with an assortment of brutal weaponry that you can quickly switch between, in your right hand are your melee weapons, starting with a varied selection including a saw or a cane, these weapons are perfectly crafted to deal out pain and more importantly, free the blood from within its target. Each weapon has a combination of moves, which is then doubled with their alternative attack modes, the cane turning into a whip, the saw into a longer reaching staff and with this dual feature you are able to tackle all manner of fights, from one on one battles to larger crowds. If a flesh ripping whip is not enough in your left hand you can also carry a selection of support weapons, from a shield to a torch to the now signature firearm, loaded with Quicksilver bullets, be it a pistol or a blunderbuss, these can be used to stagger opponents, allowing you to pull off even more moves.

My first observation is that Bloodborne is Dark Souls; take away the new scenery and flashy visuals and that is what you have, an action RPG game that we have seen From Software release for a good few years now, just replace soul collecting with blood and there you have it. All of the now classic Souls trademarks are there, scant story explanation other than what you uncover, a pain to operate co-op and online system and a reluctance to explain anything but the basics, relying on communities and forums to unravel the finer workings of the game, great if you love that sort of thing but a real struggle if you just want to butcher some baddies.

Though a lot of the game will remind players of the Souls games there is enough here to separate the two. Thanks to the two offensive weapons Bloodborne is a lot faster paced, using both the firearm and multipurpose melee in a flurry of attacks, bravery is always rewarded as even if you take damage there is a brief window allowing you to reclaim blood with successful retaliation. An area that I have not put enough time into as yet is the Chalice Dungeons. Created in the Hunters Garden, these dungeons are supposedly similar to procedurally generated games, where each level of the dungeon is different depending on who visits and how they are initially created by the owner. This is a very fresh approach to Souls games as where players usually train to learn patterns and enemy placement, there is nothing like that here, players relying more on skill and quick reactions. This will keep the game going long after the completion, with players learning of new ways to influence the dungeons they create and share.

Is Bloodborne hard? Well yes and no; I found some of the battles surprisingly easy, with a few bosses going down on the first attempt but the game does requires 100% concentration; let your mind stray to other matters other than killing the beast in front of you and it will certainly end you, though as the great Vigo the Carpathian once said, “Death is but a doorway” and in Bloodborne the only real inconvenience of death is a loss of the blood you had accrued, delaying you spending it back at the Hunters Garden on levelling up your character or purchasing new items. What really helps are the bells, a group of items that unlock as you play and aid in the overall experience by calling out to fellow Hunters and then teaming up to tackle whatever lay ahead. Sadly the director seems as stubborn as ever in his ways by creating a minefield of connection issues and confusion with bells only ringing in certain areas and then being restricted to calling on players who also ring a bell that are of a similar level to you; but before all of this you need Insight. Earned by killing bosses or picked up as rare items Insight is a rather annoying mechanic as they are used up with each ring of your bell, irrespective of whether anyone answers you call or not.

Just taking in the screenshots and videos really do not show just how beautiful Bloodborne looks and moves, pushing the PS4 to new levels of graphical quality, the city of Yharnam unravelling like a giant puzzle and its beastly inhabitants look stunning. Sadly with every step forward there seems to be one back, as being a serial Souls player Bloodborne gets so much right but then messes up on the silliest of things that really grate on the gameplay experience like the antiquated menu system that is in real need of an overhaul, an ill-conceived fast travel system that requires you to return to the Hunters Garden (the main hub) each time, which then leads to the biggest crime, the overly long loading screens. There have been numerous reports of frame rate drops but I have witnessed very little of this, with only one area of Yharnam a culprit, not really effecting the gameplay enough to become an overall problem.

Being a Souls fan for a while now Bloodborne is exactly what I was expecting for the new generation of consoles, with its stunning vistas, brutal battles against some phenomenal beasts and a challenging but very rewarding experience overall, I am able to ignore the niggling issues and enjoy this for what it really is.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: PS4)


+ Exhilarating action with a dash of RPG
+ Fantastic looking world to adventure through


- Online co-op and multiplayer can be a pain to set up
- Loading times do drag

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Edited On 31 Mar, 2015

( 4 )
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 2 years ago
Still not buying a PS4 yet
Zombieflamingo's avatar
Zombieflamingo 2 years ago
The loading times are terrible. There are somethings to make the coop easier. I find if you make sure you both stand next to the same bonfire (lamp) then it goes really quickly. Got my first chalice dungeon last night as well and that was really awkward to set up for co-op.
Anonymous user's avatar
PHILIP 2 years ago
This is on my Father's Day list so hopefully the loading/co-op issues will be patched or maybe improved by then. Looks a great game.
Akemi no Zero's avatar
Akemi no Zero 2 years ago
Still look beautiful none the less, no doubt the problems will be patched.

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