Welcome Home, Good Hunter
From Software certainly has a type and that type is punishing gameplay and esoteric story telling. Not content with myself after I got the platinum Sekiro, I looked at my hefty backlog for another hard game to challenge myself with. I’m shocked at how few “hard” games I seemed to own, I could play XCOM2, Nioh, or Surge… But then I saw it. Bloodborne. A game that I’ve played on and off for the last 3 years. Every time I would load it up, start a new character and play until I had enough. Each attempt I would get further and further. This time I felt it would be different because I was different. I had beaten Sekiro. I was a From Software fanboy now.
The Blood Seems a Bit Nightmarish Around Here
I’ve always thought the Dark Souls formula would be perfect with a HP Lovecraft inspired story and it seems like Miyazaki thought so too, because Bloodborne is rife with Eldritch horrors and themes.
Playing as a fresh hunter who wakes up on the worst day the city of Yharnam has ever had, you must brave the streets and survive the night whilst also uncovering many, many dark and twisted secrets about the Church and their penchant for using some old blood they found underground to heal people and their ailments. It’s an obsession that seemed to have been beneficial at first, but now everyone is cursed to become beastmen wandering the streets. Which is where the hunters come in.
Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough, but I couldn’t find anything in the game that indicated why or how often a hunt happens. It’s my speculation that if a person abuses this special blood “healing” then they eventually turn into a beast and every so often hunters are required to track down these abominations and end them. However, since everything is heavily inspired by HP Lovecraft, it’s entirely possible that the night lasts longer than 12 hours, is perpetual, and possibly the only thing anyone knows any more.
What I do know is that long ago there was a Pthumerian Queen, Pthumerians being a race of people who had intricate knowledge of the Great Ones, and she gave birth to a sort of half Great One called Odeon. I guess sometime later the Queen also died because some scholars would happen upon her corpse in an underground labyrinth and upon realising her blood was special, built a city—as well as the Healing Church—on top of this labyrinth and named it after the Queen, Yharnam. But that’s really all I know.
I find it really hard to focus on the little nuggets of lore that From Software games slings at me here and there. I’ll see a cool little fact on a loading screen and I’ll want to know more, but I have no idea where to look for it in game; and when I did, there wasn’t anything more to be learned. I know this is likely a conscious choice made by Miyazaki and his writing team to keep a certain type of player invested and digging for more information, but I can’t help but think that a more hand on story—like that of Sekiro—would have really benefited Bloodborne.
Trick Weapon or Treat?
Bloodborne’s weapons are some of the coolest weapons I’ve seen in a video game and probably has one of the coolest mechanics too.
Some weapons look like they were hastily thrown together the night of the first hunt. The Saw Cleaver and Spear look someone took old rusty parts from a lumber mill and wrapped rope around them to create a makeshift weapon. Other weapons are beautifully forged with intricate patterns like Ludwig’s Holy Blade which implies that it was crafted ceremoniously for the purpose of ending beasts.
The best part, however, is that every melee weapon has a “trick” to it. Upon pressing your weapon will transform from a single hand version to a two handed one giving you more attack patterns and better reach. The Saw Cleaver seemed to make the best use of this since it deals incredible damage, is really fast and has a combo (, , that staggers damn near everything.
It’s not just swords and rusty serrated blades though. Every hunter carries with them a pistol. This pistol is intended to be used as a tool to parry and stun enemies which is vital if you want to use visceral attacks and deal huge amounts of damage. During the wind up of an enemy’s attack, you can press to fire a shot and if you got the timing right, they will drop down to one knee (or lean down towards the floor if they’re a giant beasty type) and you can get in close and press for a deadly visceral attack where you shove your hand inside them and rip it back out.
Possibly your greatest tool, however, is the humble dodge . There’s two types of dodge. When not locked on to an enemy you can hit the dodge button and do a sick roll that seems to have some very generous iframes. When locked on, you do a sort of dash, which has iframes, but they seem to be much less forgiving. A lot of enemies are too large and fast to use the lock though so I mostly used the dodge roll and had a much easier time in combat.
There are a number of items you can use to compliment your combat too. Fire and Bolt paper is probably the most useful as it applies a fire or electric element buff to your trick weapon. Antidotes and Sedatives cure you of Poison and Frenzy, respectively. Pebbles are pretty useless though I’ve heard stories of people maxing out their Strength stat and getting 1-hit kills on some bosses by launching a tiny pebble at their face. Almost like that scene in Parasyte where Shinichi kills his murderous classmate by using his incredible strength to throw a small stone at him with orbital strike levels of efficiency.
Welcome Home, Good Platinum
Oh, You Must Be a Hunter
I’m going to disregard every time in the past that I started a new character and played for a few hours only to uninstall the game later and say that my journey started very recently when I looked at Bloodborne with fresh eyes.
Before I made my final character, I did some research online and wrote down the rough locations of each weapon and tool that I was going to need so I was prepared. I could come across a new location and I’d be able to check my list and see “Oh, this item is supposed to be around here somewhere! I’ll go look for it”.
So with my trusty list always within reach, I created a new character and woke anew in Yharnam’s sick room. Just down the stairs I could hear the unmistakable sounds of flesh being torn from bone. I instantly remembered what that was. A fully transformed werewolf beast. Still, I had no time to waste with it, I had a platinum journey to start!
I ran past the beast and into the courtyard outside. I quickly opened the next gate and made a run for the lever to drop the ladder. There’s a lantern just above that I can use to get to the Hunter’s Dream without dying. The ladder dropped and just as I was about to climb it, I saw an item out the corner of my eye and the looter inside me took over.
I’m glad I did because there are so many bloodstones and cold bloods dotted around that I was able to level up myself and my weapons pretty quickly in the early hours of the game.
Safely inside the dream, I picked my starting weapons and headed back out to go find the Cleric Beast and Father Gascoigne. Along the way I was surprised to discover that the combat felt incredibly slow compared to Sekiro and I was having very little problems dispatching the mobs. Eventually I resorted to running around most enemies and only bothered with them once I reached the Lecture Building where I would farm blood echoes.
My goal from there on out was to just rush through each area, reach the boss and kill it which was surprisingly easy. Before I knew it I was standing over Ebrietas’ now lifeless corpse as it faded back to whatever jacked up reality it came from. Next up, the Chalice Dungeons.
The first 3 were the easiest challenges in the game. Enemy’s would die in one hit and the bosses were mechanically simple and had swiss cheese for defence. However, the cursed dungeon is where things started to get tricky. My health was halved and now I was the swiss cheese boy.
I spent a good 30 minutes each fighting the last two bosses (Amygdala v2 is almost too easy if you just stay behind it and hit it’s little tail) before I could challenge the Blood Queen to a one on one. The Blood Queen wasn’t too difficult. She had some clones that she would spawn in here and there and if you heard a crying baby and attacked her, then you’d lose a lot of health. Other than that, she was easy to put down in the end.
Ending one was easy, I just had to let Gerhman end my nightmare. Ending 2 and 3 on the other hand, were challenging to say the least. Gerhman is fast and seemingly teleports to you which makes him almost impossible to parry or dodge. I had to use 18 of my 20 blood vials just to defeat him. This wasn’t the best strategy as the 3rd ending requires you to fight an additional boss immediately after.
I died, which was excellent because I was able to run in with a full stock. This final boss wasn’t too hard to figure out except he had a move that would strip my entire health bar down to the last pixel and I had no idea how to prevent it. Still, I prevailed and my platinum trophy popped and I was, at last, free of the nightmare.
Fighting your way to the final boss
Collecting all Weapons and Tools
If you’d like to take on Bloodborne, then make sure you check out our Trophy Guide
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