Daily Egyptian

‘Bloodborne’ is a bloodbath of frustration

By AUstin Miller, @AMiller_DE

Blood is gross.

Sure, it guarantees life for every animal, but seeing too much causes people to vomit. Even with this in mind, “Bloodborne” based its whole aesthetic on the vital fluid.

“Bloodborne” comes from From Software—no, that is not a typo, the studio is called From Software—the same studio behind “Demon’s Souls” and “Dark Souls.”

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Both of those games hold the reputation of being extremely hard, designed for the most hardcore gamers. They stood out with difficult gameplay and stories based on discoverable lore that does not beat players over the head. Both were noticeable among easy shooters with 10 minute long cut-scenes that pound monotonous narratives into your brain.

With those qualities in mind, “Bloodborne” follows suit.

The environment of “Bloodborne” is one of the coolest in recent memory. The Gothic city of Yharnam is said to have medical cures, which are greatly needed as the world’s population has been overrun by a plague.

Arriving in Yharnam, the player sees the city has been consumed by the plague, with many of its citizens having mutated into bestial creatures. Survivors take to the streets each night to hunt the beasts and save the city.

Players feel the plague hanging over the town. There is a cloud of darkness looming overhead that feels as if all hope has been sucked away and it has been raining ink for months.

Walking around, exploring and trying to talk to the citizens reveals the hidden story of “Bloodborne.”

After knocking on doors, natives greet gamers with disgust. Their optimism has faded and they see the protagonist as anything but human.

One example comes from a little girl who is worried about her mother. She has not seen her dear mom in days and asks players to keep an eye out. She says her mom is wearing a big, red brooch and hands over a music box so she knows you were sent for her. She said the the tune the box plays used to calm down her father when he was angry.

Hunting for this jewel among a horde of monsters becomes a real needle in a haystack.

The red brooch has still not been found before meeting the first boss of the game, Father Gascoigne, a man with a devilish cowboy hat and a bad attitude.

While running around trying to dodge attacks and bullets, you see several bodies of people fallen at the hands of Gascoigne. When suddenly, your eyes catch the red brooch. How did she wind up here?

After playing the music box with the hope of reviving the poor woman, players notice Gascoigne starts to freeze up and writhe in pain. That’s when the sad story comes together.

No, this guy is not some kind of evil priest striking vengeance at the behest of the lord, he is a man overtaken by the plague who took his own wife’s life. Now you know the little girl is orphaned in a world where the strongest barely survive and hope is a long forgotten concept.

Now it is the protagonist’s duty to defeat this monster and take at least one evil from the world.

This subtle storytelling makes the discovery much more haunting. Players have just started the game by the time they meet the girl, so they have not truly seen the despair of Yharnam. But stumbling upon her and finding the fate of her mom lets you know the world is truly lost.

As much as I loved the storytelling, this gameplay was less than I desired.

I knew the game would be hard when I first put it in. I knew I would die a lot, but I have enjoyed difficult games like the “Hotline Miami” series. Unfortunately, “Bloodborne” just made my blood boil.

Clicking the thumb stick locks the camera onto enemies, but moving the camera slightly moves the focus onto different beasts. When timing to attack one monster, the player lunges at another one, leaving him vulnerable to the original.

Fights can be fun and cool when they are just one-on-one. The physics of the blood in combat are kind of a sick treat to entice battle. Striking a beast with a weapon sends blood splattering in the direction of the exit wound, soaking the surrounding environment like a Jackson Pollack painting. The protagonist becomes coated in the blood of his enemies, like some kind of war paint to scare off the other brutes. But they do not care.

Each enemy attacks in different fashions. Some are fast, some are slow and others just beat the crap out of you.

“Hotline Miami” felt more like a puzzle. “Bloodborne” feels like a theoretical physics problem. Someone out there is smart enough to get through it, and I feel no shame in conceding. He or she is not me.

Each death results in running through the same areas repeatedly and the boss battles hurt my brain just thinking about them.

This is made even worse because the loading screen after each death takes nearly a minute, which may not seem like a lot, but feels like eternity after constantly meeting your maker.

It is pretty odd for me to really like one aspect of a game and really dislike another. Because I prefer a good story to good gameplay, I view “Bloodborne” in a more positive light. Gamers with a little more patience may like this game more than I did.

Jack Black said, “You’re not hardcore, unless you live hardcore,” in the film “School of Rock.”

I guess I am just not as hardcore as I thought.

3.5 stars out of 5

Austin Miller can be reached at [email protected]

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