Thanks to the monthly batch of free games through Playstation Plus, I finally got to experience Bloodborne. When this game was initially released, I largely ignored it. Mostly because I’d never heard of the developer From Software or its series Dark Souls. But also because I was never drawn to games that are touted as hard or punishing by default. I’m the guy who always picks the Medium level difficulty if given a choice.
So despite the rousing accolades I kept hearing about Bloodborne, I chucked it into the Not For Me category.
Now, having played and beaten the game, I can say that I am fully on-board the bandwagon. The game is challenging and stress-inducing, but also reveals itself to be masterfully crafted and wholly engrossing.
Early on, I had several points where I said to myself that I see the appeal of the game, but I don’t know how long I will keep playing. Every step I pushed my character forward was a tense gamble filled with fear and anticipation.
Yet slowly, my character got stronger and I became more confident. The enemies got harder and more horrifying, yet the dread of encountering anything that moved started to fade away.
The risk/reward system in the game is one of the more ingenious systems in any game I’ve played. You are never allowed to store your blood echoes (the game’s currency and experience points) and dying will lead to losing them all. However, you have one opportunity to go back to your point of death to retrieve them. The complication is that anytime you die or leave an area, all the enemies respawn.
Every entry into an area became an internal debate on whether or not it was worth it to fight my way back to my blood echoes. And I usually went for it, accruing even more blood echoes from the freshly spawned enemies between my goal and me. So in a way, the game is giving you a consolation for dying.
Even after getting back your blood echoes, the next decision is whether or not to run back to the save point to safely use up your collection, or to forge ahead and risk losing them again, even deeper in.
It really clicked for me that this was a modern version of those brutal NES games like Castlevania or Ghouls N Ghosts. That was an era when games never held your hand, held back, or consoled you. You had to die enough times to understand the game, learn enemy patterns and spawn points. Nowadays, there’s almost no punishment for dying. You usually have unlimited lives and you respawn almost exactly where you left off.
Graphically, once the initial sense of horror subsides, the twisted majesty of the world comes forth. This is a distorted hellscape of a Victorian city, but it’s no less beautiful and awe-inspiring.
Beating Bloodborne has been an incredibly enriching accomplishment for me personally, and I’m already contemplating continuing on in the New Game+.
After Bloodborne, I decided to jump into Assassin’s Creed Origins, which is my first foray into the series.
The main draw for me was the historical setting and the fact that the developers took effort into creating a tour mode where you can be led throughout areas of ancient Egypt and learn facts and history.
I thought it’d be a quick overview through an area map, but it turned out to be an in-depth, running around the actual environments over several hours.
I was impressed and applaud what Ubisoft did here and hope that more developers mimic this feature. Even if a game isn’t as steeped in history, I’d love to hear more about the development and thought process behind how a game is created.
Imagine a game like Bloodborne or Horizon Zero Dawn guiding you through one of their stages and talking about the influences and why they made something the way they did.
As for Assassin’s Creed Origins gameplay, I found it a bit lackluster, especially coming right off of Bloodborne. It was just apparent how forgiving modern games usually are with dying and save progressions.
The combat also came off much more tame and unexciting. I could usually button-mash my way through an encounter and there was no fear of death since respawning was never too far away.
Transitions from in-game to cut scenes were also disjointed and awkward. I’d walk up to a checkpoint and the screen would go black and then a cut scene would play.
I applaud the effort to make an immersive and authentic historic experience, but it was obvious to me that this is the mold of a AAA game from several years ago. You can find more contemporary games that just do things better and more seamlessly.
Still, I’m happy to have finally played a game in this series, that has influenced gaming so much in the past few years.