I'll never forget the first time I witnessed a scene in a movie or game that was needlessly bloody or gory. I remember being a little grossed out by the sheer amount of blood and guts on display as I witnessed a man being chainsawed in half in Gears of War, but I also found myself thinking it was pretty damn cool. Flash forward to Bloodborne and we have just that; a game with a needless amount of blood, but just because it is needless does not make it any less cool. And that is how I would describe Bloodborne in a nutshell, needlessly cool.
Bloodborne tells its story in the exact same manner that Dark Souls tells its story, and by that I mean it doesn't. Since these games are made by the same guy, Hidetaka Miyazaki, they follow an identical story telling formula of keeping it up to the player how much they want or don't want to know. When you kill a boss for example, you might wonder why a man of the church (his name is Father Gascoigne) is trying to murder you or you might not and just kill him and move on. You might explore the area before fighting Father Gascoigne and find he has a family and a tragic tale or one again you might just blow through the surrounding area, kill Gascoigne and move on. While I can understand why someone would hate this method of storytelling since it is heavily dependent on you being able to find all the connecting pieces in the world, it creates a personal sense of achievement when you do discover something as well as a sense of dread since Bloodborne and Dark Souls alike are not happy games. Another downside to a game being this open is that you can miss out on a lot of cool experiences as well as not knowing where to go a lot of the time.
You play in the city of Yharnam, a post medievalish London, and spend most of your time their. The graphics for the city are absolutely beautiful, at least for 2015 standards, and I found myself getting lost in the architecture of the crumbling city. As beautiful as the city is, you do spend a LOT of time in the city so it can feel a bit repetitive to be in the city most of the game. While you do visit some other areas, it can feel a bit brown and grey a lot of the times. That's not to say that this game is devoid of color. Besides the copious amounts of glorious blood, there are moments where the game just nails it with color for me. Specifically at a certain lake in the game and half way through the game where the sky starts to change color. While it isn't a whole lot, it's just enough to break up the color pacing.
Fortunately for this review, the gameplay does have its fair share of differences from Dark Souls. In the Dark Souls series as a whole, whenever you encounter monsters or a boss, it is encouraged to be cautious and utilize a more passive approach to combat. Bloodborne is the exact opposite of this. You are actively encouraged and rewarded for encompassing a more aggressive play style for dealing with enemies and bosses. How are you encouraged to be aggressive you ask? Well when you lose health from an enemy, you have a window of opportunity to hit the enemy back and gain some of your lost life. This creates an interesting dynamic of debating whether or not you should go on the offensive to get some health back or play passively and miss out on the chance to restore the lost life. It's a very fun mechanic. It also makes boss fights, which are absolutely riveting in this game by the way, that much more intense as the trade-offs are even riskier. On the topic of fun mechanics, each melee weapon in the game is transformable or you can change the move set of each weapon you come across. For example, if you were using a cane as a weapon you could either strike normally with the cane or press a button and now it operates like a whip. I personally believe that because of this every weapon feels unique and can be treasured instead of being hoarded and forgotten about. You're also given a gun which can tack on extra damage or you can risk it all to go for a parry, which in layman's terms means you can get a free hit if you time the shot correctly. Overall, I find the combat the most fluid in Bloodborne versus the rest of the Dark Souls series. A special mention is also needed for the final boss of this game (if you've played this game, you know who I'm referring to) for being an excellent challenge and an amazingly designed fight.
Bloodborne is a very well rounded experience from start to finish. Offering a grande host of (mostly) great boss fights as well as a hard but challenging experience. I strongly recommend this game to not only Dark Souls fans, but any PS4 owners who haven't played this game yet. It is a solid 4/4 all around and an unforgetable experience.