Bloodborne has a special meaning to VALUE, as it was the first game we played together. Most of us have in the meantime played Bloodborne and finished it, but none of them went as hardcore as me. I racked up about 300 hours in a total of 7 playthroughs, and that’s not counting the hours spent on Reddit reading about and discussing the game’s lore. I even blew up a tv after a 9 hour long play session. What is the reason for this? Why can Bloodborne or any From Software game have that kind of impact on a gamer?
I think the main reason for its addictiveness and attraction is its difficulty, because there’s no setting. There is just one: HARD. When you play Bloodborne, you’d better be prepared to die. A lot. The screen “YOU DIED” is a screen From-players have seen all too often. It happens so often that after a while you can’t help but laugh at your own misery. The thing is that the game expects you to die, especially the first playthrough, as the game’s point (“blood echoes”) system revolves around it. Nothing bad happens when you die, you just lose all your echoes and they are where you left them. All you have to do is go get them back… However if you fail, and die again, you lose everything. And that dying happens so fast, anything can kill you. That mob you killed 28 times in a row now with two hits? He corners you and that’s it, game over. This makes you either play very, VERY careful, or go all in without thinking about dying because you have nothing to lose anyway. But the real reason for the game’s difficulty being the reason for its success is the sheer satisfaction when you DO succeed. To me personally, no game has given me that much reward in the 26 years I play video games.
The combat system is another thing that the game has working in its favor. It’s fast paced, unforgiving but very rewarding when you get it right. Parries, backstabs, all the well known moves from the previous From Software games are still there, but they offer way smaller windows of opportunity and take a lot of practice before you get the hang of them. Combine that with a weapon system in which every weapon has unique qualities and suits certain build styles, but also two forms (“trick weapons”) switching from a short axe to one with a 2 meter radial range or my personal favorites, the Blade of Mercy (two short blades become one) and the Rakuyo (DLC weapon, a Katana and a shorter blade) which suit a fast, swift, combo encouraging, absolutely punishing style of combat. Whether you want to smash your opponents with one big slam, combo them to death or even fight them with fire and arcane, Bloodborne has something for everyone.
But that’s not all. The architecture, the monsters, the weapons, just everything art related is mind blowingly beautiful. The game is set in a Victorian, dark setting that is reminiscent of the movie “Le Pact des Loups” down to the costumes the hunters in that movie wear. You’re hunting werewolf-like creatures, beasthood infected townsfolk, witches, hulks that hit like trucks, and even other hunters. But the best moment is when the game transforms. It no longer is a hunt for beasts, it has become more than that. This is where HP Lovecraft comes in. Those of you who don’t know him: he’s basically the creator of Cthulhu, a cosmic entity that is often referred to as the high priest of the great old ones. And that is exactly what you start to dig into, the Great Ones as they are called, and what their part is in the creation of the Nightmare, the origin of the Old Blood and why we basically find ourselves being attacked by everything the game throws at us.
And that brings us to the next big trait of Bloodborne: the lore. Miyazaki is known for story writing in a vague, obscure way, leaving a lot if not everything open to interpretation. From blurry item descriptions to events in the game to bodies you find or opponents you face, everything has a meaning and a backstory. The reason for Miyazaki’s style of writing actually goes back to his childhood, where he as a child had access to very little literature, but he did for some reason have access to HP Lovecraft’s novels. Of course he could not understand all of it as there was a language barrier and it’s not what one would call light material, so he had to imagine what he could not understand. He therefore mixed Lovecraft with his own imagination, which is ever so clear in the style in which Bloodborne is written. Reddit user Redgrave has written an amazing piece of literature about the Bloodborne lore, the Paleblood Hunt, and if you have ever played the game, this is definitely a highly recommendable read.
All in all, Bloodborne has an amazing amount of detail, an atmosphere that sucks you into its dark, unforgiving world and an overall feel that makes you want to play more and more and more. That’s the reason why most people that finish it immediately start another playthrough, whether it’s on a new character or on the harder NG+ mode, because they will have always missed something, want to see another ending, start a perfect PvP build or just delve deeper into the mysteries that Yharnam hides from the surface to well below ground level in its even more unforgiving dungeons. It is also therefore that Bloodborne is the first game I have ever played Platinum. It’s just that good.