This month marks the third anniversary of From Software’s masterpiece, Bloodborne.
With PS Plus offering the base game for subscribers, I felt it would be as good a time as any to revisit the game that not only made me a Fromsoft fan, but also a fan of the Soulsborne series. With its gothic horror setting, its challenging and rewarding combat, and its mystifying story, Bloodborne went from a game I had no intention of ever playing to my favourite game of all time. Let’s celebrate the anniversary of Bloodborne!
I’ve been into video games my entire life. Starting with arcades, I would spend hours and entirely too many quarters simply playing over and over, learning the patterns, getting further and further in the game. Then along came consoles. The ported arcade games mostly retained their patterns, and the games became easier due to memory. Somewhere along the way, narrative took over and games became more complex and able to infuse variables to solutions, and ultimately, games became really easy for me. So much so that nine times out of ten I would bump a game to its hardest available difficulty on my first playthrough simply for the challenge.
What does this have to do with Bloodborne? Quite a bit actually, because despite my want of a challenge in games, hearing people talk about the difficulty of the Souls games turned me off. I had no personal experience with them. Just a third-hand misunderstanding that I didn’t even know was a misunderstanding until I finally played Bloodborne.
It started because I had a hole in my Gamefly Que for March 2015. So I added Bloodborne to my Que and had it sent to me week of release. I figured I would play it for a couple of hours and then be done with it. Only a funny thing happened: I realised I was pretty good at it and I recognised something about it that I had been missing for a while; patterns.
Bloodborne is, in essence, like an old arcade game. It has patterns to learn, memorise and execute. As such, I became pretty good at it fairly quick. Taking down my first boss on my first attempt. Taking the second boss down on my third attempt. The next on my first. By the end of the game, only two bosses gave me what I would consider trouble — Vicar Amelia and optional boss, Martyr Logarius, both took around six attempts each. Despite my difficulty with these two bosses, nothing changed; I just needed a little longer to learn their patterns.
But Bloodborne is so much more than just patterns. It offers an interesting world to explore, a story that is opaque and surprising, and a true sense of dread that most horror games just don’t have. While I know many of these things are staples of the Fromsoft formula, as Bloodborne was my first, this was such a fresh and mind-blowing experience for me. So much so that I earned the Platinum trophy, played up to NG++++, started two new characters and played through the game with different builds. It’s a game that I can still return to and enjoy every bit as much as any subsequent playthrough.
Bloodborne is a special game for me. It reinvigorated my love of gameplay over story, it made me a better player, and it introduced me to the rest of the Souls games which are now my favourite franchise/genre. So happy anniversary, Bloodborne. I hope being available on PS Plus gives others the chance to feel what I feel when I played you for the first time. Here’s hoping we get to see a new you again soon.