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Review: Bloodborne

BY CONOR MCBRIEN | MARCH 26, 2015 5:00 AM

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Over spring break, a pensive friend walked into the front room with bad news.

“Guys,” he said, “Some bosses in Bloodborne can heal themselves.”

Jaws dropped, heads fell into hands, and couples cried in each others’ arms.

Bloodborne is marketed with intent to intimidate. For good reason, as it is essentially a spin-off of the Souls series of games by From Software and director Hidetaka Miyazaki, which began with 2009‘s Demon’s Souls. The series rose to prominence with the release of Dark Souls and its direct sequel since then. All of these games are unforgivingly difficult, a trait recent games often avoid because, when attracting customers, it helps to be at least somewhat accessible.

Older gamers will remember the turbulent days when the Internet was not always available to assist them and even published strategy guides to games that could be inaccurate. Games became obstacles that plagued the mind for days or weeks on end. The wee hours of the morning found  young people transfixed by the blue glare of their televisions. In front of them seemed to be an insurmountable challenge to cut their teeth on.

The Souls games are nostalgic in this way. They are perfect games to play at night, but only if you mute your cursing whenever a monster appears to end your little game without much warning.

Even horror games are kinder about these types of ambushes. 

Bloodborne opts out of this tense style of play by making the player less vulnerable. The enemies are still tough, and as mentioned above, some can heal themselves, but the player character is built to fight back. They are quick, strong, capable of regaining health, and better equipped to defeat distant enemies.

Typically in Souls games, the player character felt like an average person with somewhat realistic movement — a design not often used to one’s advantage in video games. Furthermore, players were often at the mercy of a stamina meter that drained even when dodging attacks or raising shields.

These actions were used often because bosses and enemies could be deceptively faster than the player’s below-average speed.

In Bloodborne, the evening of this once harsh playing field is most apparent in the first boss fight against the shrieking Cleric Beast, a gigantic monster that leaps several stories in the air and seems to cut the air with the swiftness of its claws. 

As the creature recovers from a missed attack, the opportunity to fight back lasts so long that the battles seems halfway over already. Compared with the older Souls games in which some bosses can kill you with a shrug of their shoulders, this is a pleasant surprise. 

Overall, the game is still challenging. For the price you pay, you may get your money’s worth, depending on how long it takes you to overcome it.

Grade: 9 out of 10

Bloodborne is available on PlayStation 4 for $59.99.


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