GAME REVIEW: BLOODBORNE / DEVELOPER: FROM SOFTWARE / PUBLISHER: SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT / PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Right off of the bat, you can tell that Bloodborne is a Hidetaka Miyazaki creation, following in the vein of his work with the Dark Souls franchise. You’re a lone warrior inflicted by a plague, wandering across a lone city in search of a cure. Hounded by degenerates and monsters, devolved remnants of a better time, and risking losing your humanity. Second verse, same as the first. This said, it provides enough interesting twists to still truly stand out on its own.
The chief change this time is the overall setting, shifting from a medieval decaying world passing into a dark age to the Victorian-esque decaying city of Yharnam. Beautifully bleak and ruined to perfection, Yharnam itself is one of the most thematic locations rendered by From Software to date. Inspired by the likes of Dracula, it rivals the likes of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs in its aged artistic aesthetics. More than that, the monsters themselves have a far greater thematic coherency than Dark Souls as a result of the era.
Mechanically, the most immediately notable change stems from the addition of firearms. Serving in part as a replacement for shields, these weapons are not there to cherry tap enemy opponents to death so much as more immediately counter and interrupt attacks. It significantly speeds up combat and makes for far more damaging combos, yet can lead to complacency which can catch players’ off guard. Not to mention encouraging the ever-present risk/reward system dominating the experience points of these games.
The very act of healing itself relies upon skill combat. While not quite replicating Space Marine’s health regenerating stunning strikes, you can recover health by damaging foes for a few moments after being sliced open. This encourages commitment to fights and you’ll really find yourself pushed into trying to win battles against almost impossible odds.
The chief failing here unfortunately comes down to some surprisingly poor optimisation. Thirty frames per second was to be expected, but an astounding number of locations have it dropping to twenty or even ten at times. In a game where timing is so crucial, this can lead to many truly frustrating ends. In addition, some surprisingly lengthy loading times between deaths can result in tedious breaks between battles, often risking ruining any sense of immersion. Well, that and the very broad ye olde London accents.
Is Bloodborne the killer app for PS4 everyone has been hungering for? Probably not, but much like Mario Kart 4 on the Wii U, it’s enough to justify a purchase when combined with the hits already available. If you’re after a hardcore do-or-die experience, this will be well worth your time.