The Bloodborne Mumbles

I’ve been playing and publicly humiliating myself at Dark Souls for years.  I finally got myself through that.  You might think I need a break from that, but nope, apparently not.  After a scant few weeks away, I started playing Bloodborne, and stepping back into that engine, that design philosophy, that world of challenge… well, it felt good.  It felt right.  So much so that, after spewing so many words at Dark Souls, it just feels like there’d be something wrong with the world if I didn’t do the same for Bloodborne.  No Let’s Play here, because I don’t know how to get screens off my PS4 I want to play this one for myself, but I’d still like to get my first sessions’ thoughts down about the game.

Let’s make this happen.

  • First things first, the Otaku Judge and I’ve been in each other’s spheres for a good long while now. So when I finished up my Dark Souls run, he suggested Bloodborne to me, thinking I would like it, unaware that I had already picked it up and it was already on its way through the black magic and the mail.    And hey!  He was right!  I do like it.  Great minds thinking alike and all that.
  • Dark Souls was a very hard game to stay unspoiled from. I ran into things by accident.  Knowing I’d eventually be interested in playing it, I’ve been a lot more careful with Bloodborne.  This will be about as pure an experience as I can get here.  Very little spoilers for me.
  • We plug the game in and… not off to a great start. I’m really starting to get tired of always being asked to download and install a patch every time I buy a new game.  I get this thing, I want to play it.  I don’t want to spend my limited gaming time with this new piece of art I’ve been looking forward to just slapping some files together.    Screw that.  I don’t get to play online because of it, but whatever.  I’ll just try it out later.

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  • Dark Souls’ opening was full of lore and backstory. High concept fantasy stuff.  Bloodborne’s is a lot different.  The big thing they’re delivering is unanswered questions.  Hinting at the lore to come.  I’m a paleblood, whatever that is, and I’m here for blood ministration.  Going by the dictionary, that’s ‘the provision of assistance or care’.  To my blood.  I’m here for a transfusion with some of Yharnam’s super cool pimp blood, then contracts are mentioned, then character creation screen.
  • You get a lot of options with character creation. As is my wont, I spend a lot of time here.  I’m really attracted to the options you get with the skin color.  I briefly consider popping the Incredible Hulk in there, but since girls aren’t watching and I don’t have to show off, I go with something a lot more basic.  I end up with a willowy muse, who just happens to be very, very blue.
  • Demon Souls let me have my characters face, but didn’t have a lot to play with in creating it. Dark Souls was less limited, but in one memory I actually find really funny, totally played me by making my character completely skinless.  Kind of wondering if Bloodborne will end up jerking me around the same way.  I’m hoping they will, actually.
  • I originally intended to base my starting class on which one had the sexiest hat. Unfortunately, none of the classes change your equipment layout.
  • So, the embarrassingly long amount of time I’ve spent fine-tuning my appearance is over, back to the intro. I pass out, creepy wheelchair doctor disappears, here comes a werewolf made of blood.  Just like a Tuesday morning for me.  Werewolf burns for no reason, then from around the bed I’m strapped to, here pop a whole lot of creepy baby Ghoulies.

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  • Okay seriously, I don’t like these guys. Don’t want to look at them.
  • Oh hell they’re touching my face!
  • Okay, that was horrifying and I’ll never be clean again. I’m free now, though.  Let’s play with the controls.
  • Okay, that is totally just Dark Souls. I can’t block, and my dual wielding button is moved, but otherwise, right at home.  The path I’m on leads me to a werewolf.  Let’s test my knowledge of this out.
  • Considering I’m unarmed and doing 12 damage a shot, I’m actually doing quite well. The werewolf can’t touch me.  At least at first.  But one difference from Dark Souls, when you’re locked on, your dodge is a quickstep rather than a roll.  The timings a bit different.  While it’s clear from the first time I used it that there’s some invincibility frames in there, I don’t know where they are, exactly.  After smacking him like twenty times with my bare fists, I get caught, and that’s the end of that.
  • That seems to have been the intended path, though. That makes me even more frustrated at that loss.  I bet I’d have gotten something super sweet if I had managed to get past that first werewolf.  In any case, upon death, I’m transported to the Hunter’s Dream, which seems to be the hubworld for everything else.  Big flashbacks to Demon Souls here, but unlike that time, it wasn’t something super sick wicked that killed me.

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  • Weapon time, though! I almost gave up on them, given that the Ghoulies have touched all these weapons and they’re super icky, but I’m not into that much abuse.    I know very little about how Bloodborne differs from Dark Souls, mechanically, but I do know that it requires a more aggressive playstyle, focuses on counters over guards, and has you fight groups of enemies a lot more often.  In light of that, I opt for the faster weapons over the stronger ones.  Figure mobility is more key here.  On top of that, this gives me the option to beat down werewolves with a cane, like the gentleman I was always meant to be.  Sweet.
  • Fast forwarding a bit, the first bits of lore you get about the game you find from talking to jerks hiding in their houses. And they’re always jerks.  Anyways, that’s some great use of light.  There are lots of doors, given that you’re fighting your way through city streets, but all the ones that will talk to you have a lit lantern next to them, or light peeking underneath, or some other use of lighting that just draws your eye to them.  Clever, and it feels really natural.
  • So, yeah, lore. The city of Yharnam is pretty screwed thanks to ‘the Hunt.’  I am a ‘Hunter’ and it’s up to me and ilk to slay ‘beasts’ such as those werewolves and all the other jerk townsfolk I’ve been smacking around.  Also, I’m an ‘Outsider’ and that means everyone ‘hates’ me even though I’m somehow supposed to make everything better and they can all go ‘die horribly in a fire’.
  • A few werewolves have been crucified and set on fire. Not necessarily in that order.  So far, I’ve mostly been smacking around a bunch of townsfolk who’ve gotten a little too bigheaded, rather than the beasts everyone’s talking about.  I wonder if this is going to end up being me just going mad and slaughtering everyone, my insanity driving me to think I’m some great liberator as I’m doing so?  The pieces all fit.

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  • The Dark Souls engine was never great at having you fight groups. The camera’s too close and controlling it uses the same thumb as your vital dodge button, your defenses are pretty uni-directional, and the margin of error is way too slim.  Bloodborne keeps some of those problem, but fixes others, so overall, it is a bit better suited.  Namely, your dodge roll/quickstep is faster than it used to be and actually has some invincibility frames, so you can weave through multiple attacks a bit better, and, I don’t know if every weapon has this, but the alternate blade-whip mode of my cane was great for keeping groups of enemies at bay.  I still had to employ a good bit of my old Dark Souls scumbag tactics to get through, but I’m comfortable with that.  Positioning is very important, taking control of choke points or at the very least getting everyone to come at you from all directions, but so far, the levels seem designed to give you ample opportunity for that.

  • Can’t level up just yet. The only way available for me to improve myself is to buy this new set of armor.  That… actually takes a bit of the pressure off.   I don’t lose anything by failing to retrieve my souls, because after I’ve bought that armor, I’ve got nothing else to spend them on anyways.  In any case, upon buying the armor, I’ve found the way they’re going to make all my character creation pointless.  They’ll just have all the armor covering my face.  Man, that’s a sexy hat though.  I approve.
  • One thing I’ve noticed, not having a shield, or even a reliable defense at all, means I’m making a lot more use out of all my offensive options. Back in Dark Souls I was all about my sword, and everything else was just a utility to me.  Here, though?  I’m constantly popping my cane back and forth between swordwhip and whoopstick modes, always beaning people with pebbles and molotovs, and so on.  The only thing I haven’t found much of a real offensive use for is my gun.  It has the distance, sure, but this is a Japanese game so of course its attack power is limited.  It’s your main tool for countering, thus turning the rhythm of a fight around, but thus far I haven’t been able to find the right timing for it.  I wasn’t great at parrying either, but at least that I knew you were supposed to kick out right before an attack hit you.  The countershot, the game has said you need to do while the enemy is attacking, but I just can’t nail down the specifics for it.  It’s fine against the smaller enemies, as it will at least stagger them out of an attack, but against bigger foes, like those fatso zombies?  I have a lot harder time.  If the timings off, I’m guaranteed to eat an attack, and I just can’t get it to work consistently.  Hopefully there is some sort of pattern there, that I just need to find.  If the timing’s something that changes based on the attack or the enemy, and there’s no consistent pattern to it, I have a feeling that would really drag the quality of a game down.  On the plus side, the riposte of this game?  Beautifully visceral.
  • So, the two wolves on the bridge. They’re a big stopping point for me.  So far, it seems that my combat in Bloodborne is based on lots of fast hits, being aggressive, and using dodge for defense.  My combat style in Dark Souls, that which is so ingrained in me, was based on doing lots of damage with single, selective hits, carefully picking my moments usually after I’ve already deflected an attack, and relying on my shield for defense.  This is all a long way of saying I’m not very good at this game.
  • Ended up just bombing them with molotovs to get through. After I got to the other side and opened up the shortcut to the next check point, I discover the werewolves’ major weakness.  They cannot walk through open doors.  They’re like vampires, needing permission to enter or something.  I cheese this for all it’s worth on future runs through the area.

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  • Okay, first boss of the game, and…. it’s Manus’s geeky little brother. Bloody hell, that’s giving me PTSD.  I don’t fare much better against the cleric beast, either.  Three problems with the fight here.  The first is the camera.  Being locked on to him leads to a lot of times where the camera bumps up against the wall and just stares at nothing useful for a good long while, forcing me to dodge based on feel alone.  Problem the second is that I really miss my shield.  It doesn’t seem I can counter him with my gun, and I still don’t have a handle on where exactly the iframes are on the dodge.  The third problem?  Well, as I mentioned, I’m really not good at this game.
  • Hey, now I can level up!  No idea what triggered that, but ok.
  • It takes me more tries than I want to admit. In the end, I just get tired of it and unload my entire inventory at the cleric beast from afar.  I alternate between jars of oil and molotovs at first, then just molotovs when that runs out, then I finish it off by chucking a dozen throwing knives into its face.  Pretty sure that’s not the intended method of beating him, but hey, I’m the one that walks out of here alive.
  • I get a badge out of it, which I’m pretty sure just tells the Ghoulies to sell me more stuff. Nowhere else to go from here, though.  Was this an optional boss?  The first boss in the game is completely ignorable?
  • Okay, second play session. The PS4 has downloaded and installed the patch when I wasn’t looking.  Black magic, at work.  In any case, it lets me play online!  I can’t wait to see all those messages telling me to jump down a pit!  So, I’ll just hit the play online button and… oh, right.  You have to pay to game online with the PS4.  Well, guess it’s an offline game for me.

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  • Let’s take a look at the enemies I have to deal with. There’s the average townfolk, who make up the most of who I’ve been cutting down.  I’m starting to run across a tougher, more beastial variation of them, which goes to explain why Yharnam is going to hell and what the nature of The Hunt is in the first place, all without committing any words to it.  Glad to see the old subtle storytelling is still at work.  Then there’s the fatso zombies, who I believe exist largely to force you to learn how to countershot.  I’ve been mostly getting by with molotovs, because again, I am bad at this game.  There’s the skinless dogs, who can go screw themselves.  There’s werewolves, for whom I’ve been gleefully abusing the fact that they can’t pass through doors to render them harmless.  Then there’s the demon chickens.  What the hell.  Every other enemy carries some sort of threat, but no.    Chickens.  Popping up all over the place.
  • ALSO THERE’S A GIANT PIG WITH A ONE HIT KILL IN THE SEWERS WHY FROM WHY?
  • If you’ve been reading the Dark Souls series, you know that I am both the sexiest man you’ve ever seen and also a tactical genius. I use this genius to circumvent a trap before it’s even there, climbing the side of a bridge and laying the smackdown on the enemies poised behind a giant stone ball on right on top of a flight of stairs.  I see a horde of enemies at the bottom.  I get an idea.  I shove against the ball, and it doesn’t move.  I attack the ball and it doesn’t move.  I leap into the ball, and… well, you get the picture.  Bloody hell, you give me the makings of magic like that, but you don’t let me go through with it.  How disappointing.
  • Never any fog gates here until after you’re coming through the area a second time. If you have a boss fight coming, it’s always Bam!  You’re chunked now!

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  • In this case, I walk into a graveyard and am treated to a cutscene of some rough guy carving up a bunch of corpses, seemingly for fun. Doesn’t seem to have a real beef with me, but seems to want to fight me anyways.
  • Hey, I recognize the way he’s handling his weapons! Found myself another Hunter, whatever that is.  Also, Father Gascoigne.  No idea how to pronounce that name.
  • Guess who just learned how to countershoot! Maybe I’m not bad at this game after all.
  • That’s actually the crux of my strategy, wait for an attack try to counter, and hope I don’t get hit. Dude’s way to aggressive for me to match hit for hit.  Still haven’t figured out how to dodge his shotgun, though.  Every time he fires, no matter when I quickstep, I’m spitting out lead.  He doesn’t rely on it alone, though, and I’m able to catch enough of his attacks to drive him down.
  • Except now he transforms! No fair!  I just figured out that boss fight and now I have to deal with a whole new one!
  • Yeah, so that didn’t go well. I try a few more times.  Those go even worse.  I’m not able to get him to transform then.  When he kills me in his human form, he expresses dismay that I’m not showing my ‘true face’.  So I’m supposed to be able to do that too?  No thanks.  Don’t want to ruin my badass hunter’s outfit.
  • So, I’m probably not good at countering in general, but I am good at countering Gascoigne. I push that for all it’s worth.  Turns out you can counter his beast form too.  Hurray!  And actually, once you’ve gotten him down to his beast form, he’s only one or two ripostes away.
  • So, that’s that. Lessons learned: I rule, and not even games I’m bad at can stop me.
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6 responses to “The Bloodborne Mumbles

  1. That’s the nice thing about downloading games off of Steam, isn’t it? Not only do you install the latest version of the game right away, but it updates them in the background as long it’s open. With console games, you never know until you try to boot the game up again.

    Looks like when I eventually pick up Bloodborne, I’m going to have to use completely different tactics considering that my Dark Souls strategy was to tank everything with the shield. I plan to check this game out when I pick up a PS4.

    • So, since posting this up, I did in fact find a shield. It sucks. Also, from what I understand, is the only shield in the game. But yeah, the lack of the shield fostered probably fostered the biggest change in my combat style. I’m not as good at the new one, but my old way of fighting isn’t even available to me anymore. Also, there’s a stat for ‘Arcane’, but I haven’t run across magic yet, so not sure where that one applies right now.

      I’d definitely recommend picking it up when you get the console. It’s got some more apparent flaws than Dark Souls, but even so, I think it’s my favorite of the three PS4 games I’ve played so far.

      • I’m so glad I’ve finally been able to enjoy some of these games. Dark Souls III has me completely engrossed.

        I may take another stab at Bloodbourne later…in the meantime I can live vicariously through your blog.

      • Odd thing. The more I’m playing, the more the differences between Dark Souls and Bloodborne are coming through to me. It’s a lot of relatively subtle things, but altogether, it does change the experience quite a bit. I’m not sure any longer if liking Dark Souls means you’ll probably like Bloodborne. They’re enough different to play on somewhat different tastes.

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