Essentially another iteration in the Dark Souls franchise, yet dropping the name of its predecessors, Bloodborne is a PS4 exclusive that has captured the attention of Dark Souls fans, but will it live up to the cult following that the previous installments have garnered?
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The Hidden Sequel: Bloodborne is essentially the sequel to Dark Souls II and is similar in a multitude of ways beyond the storyline itself. Although lacking the familiar name of Dark Souls that is so often associated with brutal death, screaming expletives and crying frustrated tears, the gameplay itself takes many queues from its predecessors.The story though, is a unique one. With an abundance of religious undertones and Christian influence in the environments and the enemies that you face off with, not only will you maneuver through locales such as cathedrals, but some of the enemies themselves share religion-related mannerisms that are reflected in their demeanors and attacks – the massive figure that brings its hands together in a praying form before smashing onto the floor comes to mind. Technically, on the most simplistic level, Bloodborne is a tale that revolves around the town of Yharnam, where a fabled potent healing tonic is said to be located. Many travelers and adventurers go there in search of the medicine but often find far more than they bargained for. Playing as one of those mysterious travelers, you come to discover that the majority of the population has been transformed into monstrous, infected beasts that are more diseased killing machine than they are man. Although you begin your adventure in a fairly limited setting, you will soon open up much more of the environment, discovering various pathways and entirely new locations that are interwoven masterfully. While previous installments in the franchise (although technically Bloodborne is considered a new IP) have showcased varied environments in the past, they were not necessarily connected in a logical manner. In Bloodborne, each setting that you set foot in is tied to those around it, no matter how vastly different and seemingly unrelated they may appear to be. Like so much of the title though, you will only see the clarity in those connections and the deeper ties between everything in the world as you progress through the narrative and further your adventure. At the core of Bloodborne is a pile of mysteries that do not have light shed on them until you actually manage to near the perceived end of the road, so to speak. This mysterious intrigue has a tendency to not only boggle the mind with its uniqueness that defies what you see in a typical video game, but also, of course, keep the gamer entertained throughout.
Practice Makes Perfect: Bloodborne’s gameplay - unlike its deep, interwoven storyline – draws far more inspiration from Dark Souls and Demon Souls and gamers who are familiar with the series will be well acquainted with the concepts applied to Bloodborne.Unforgiving, brutal, gameplay that demands perfection, repetition and keeping alert are staples of the franchise and Bloodborne itself. From the get-go, the title throws hordes of enemies at you and forces you to learn the refinement of your skills on the job. Although technically not considered exclusively for hardcore gamers, there is something to be said about the now infamous difficulty level that is coupled with the series and essentially every game that director Hidetaka Miyazaki is involved with. It comes as no coincidence that many of the familiar aspects seen in Bloodborne were introduced in titles such as Demons Souls and Dark Souls. The fact of the matter is that you will die, and you will die often. Bloodborne understands and accepts this, and also makes an attempt to make you feel content with dying as well. Although when you die, you are at risk of losing blood echoes, a valuable currency that you utilize for various purposes in the game, such as refining your skills and abilities. Bloodborne approaches death in such a manner that they not only make you feel disappointed about dying, but also makes you feel inadequate in the sense that you missed something. Did something inherently wrong in order to die. While Bloodborne is a very difficult title – there is no disputing that – it is also one that can be conquered if you gather the wisdom and experience necessary to have the foresight of danger. The gameplay showcases a gimmick in the form of the regain system that allows you to regenerate some health after being hit, but only if you connect on your own attacks. However, beyond that aspect, Bloodborne is about timing, forethought and paying attention. Even when mobbed by more enemies than you believe you can handle, there are solutions given to every problem. Disengaging and bottlenecking your foes is one such option, as it manipulating your use of crowd-control attacks to slow, cripple and whittle down the health of the angry swarm before they do the very same to you. Side and back stepping, dodging, watching the timing and patterns of enemies, utilizing the environment to the best of your ability, those are all necessary components of successful combat for a Bloodborne player. Not advised, not suggested, but flatly necessary in order to avoid untimely deaths that will continuously frustrate you. The kicker is that even when employing all of the exquisite brilliance in your little brain, you will still die often – ironically, the challenge of the game is what keeps many gamers interested, as it fuels a competitive desire to finally succeed after failing so many times. The combat is repetitive, there is no doubt about that, but it does require your focus and attention, which, even if provided, will still not assure your safety over the course of the game. It is easy to look at videos and walkthroughs of Bloodborne and believe that this title is simply not meant for a casual gamer, but that is but a misconception birthed by those lacking the patience and willpower to improve themselves and their abilities in Bloodborne.
Rent vs. Buy: Bloodborne is a deep, interesting, masterfully forged title with an abundance to offer. The mysteriously intriguing storyline and varied, interwoven environments are alone is enough to bring entertainment value to the table, but this is no Two Worlds when it comes to gameplay – thank God.Aside from the enthralling atmosphere that Bloodborne breeds from the first step you take, the gameplay is challenging, yet alluring in the same way that you desire to finally dunk successfully after failing to jump that high on countless other occasions. While frustrating – oh it is very frustrating – Bloodborne does a wonderful job of keeping your attention and developing a burning hatred of failure that, of course, paves the way for successful adjustments in your strategy and thinking. There is no doubt about the fact that Bloodborne will simply be too difficult for some gamers. There is minimal hand-holding and you are not only expected to figure out how to carve your own way through the world, but expected to have the maturity and intelligence to read between the lines of the narrative, cut scenes and interactions with the denizens you come across. You will not have blinking markers and obvious synopsis’ of recent events thrown in your face and at your disposal, but rather you are expected to listen, pay attention and recall information later when you may need it. Considering many gamers are dozens of hours into the title and have yet to scratch the surface of things to discover, pathways to uncover and mysteries to unfold, it is safe to say that Bloodborne is a title that you will get your monies worth for. I believe Bloodborne is a title that most PS4 owners should have in their library, and I personally do not respect being a pansy and avoiding this title simply due to difficulty. But that is my personal ideology and I understand fully that there are a multitude of people who will be unwilling to undertake the challenge that the spiritual successor to Dark Souls provides.
Considering many gamers are dozens of hours into the title and have yet to scratch the surface of things to discover, pathways to uncover and mysteries to unfold, it is safe to say that Bloodborne is a title that you will get your monies worth for.
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