It was time.
Time to take my game playing a bit more seriously. It was time to play Bloodborne.
And not just give it a quick go like I had done in the past, put it down again and move onto something else, then return to it at a later date. No! This time it would be different. This time I would stick at it until…. until, well I don’t know as I hadn’t made it out of Iosefka’s Clinic before.
And this time I did. Bloody wolf-beast ate me more times than I can remember but I did it (OK so I ran past it, but it still counts!), I had made it into Central Yharnam! Those wonderful gates had been opened and I breathed in the fresh, putrid, decaying air and with my shoulders back I went a-exploring. Around the corner and Mr Pitchfork/Torch scared the fuck outta me so I turned around and ran back….. into the bloody wolf-beast who was following me still. Damn.
Yeah, no shit. OK, so, deep breath and do it again. And again. And again. Eventually I did kill the bloody wolf-beast (who still mess me up more than any other enemy in the game it seems) with my bare fists, and moved onto the wandering Yharnamites. Yep, they got some punishment also, after a while at least.
The one thing that makes this game so hard to get into is the complete lack of any kind of tutorial. For instance, not only did it take me ages to work out how to defeat the wolf-beast but it took almost as long to figure out that, when you die and turn up in the Hunter’s Dream, you get given some weapons. Yeah, that might fucking help, eh? So, now with a saw cleaver in one hand and a pistol in the other I’m ready to rock. OK, I will rock only so far it seems but progress is progress!
Slowly but surely, I worked my way through the areas, learning the way, learning the enemies and what they do and how they attack. Unfortunately, parrying wasn’t the thing I picked up straight away so I spent a long time just hacking away at enemies when if I just shot them a-la Indiana Jones and stuck them with the damn weapon in my other hand I’d have been just fine. Either way, I was making progress, which is something that feels fantastic in this game, especially when you’ve been repeatedly seeing the YOU DIED message overlaid with the wailing cry of a dying hunter.
So, normal beasts have been tamed (at least in this part of Yharnam). Bosses on the other hand have yet to be encountered. Until we make it to the Cleric Beast that is. Bloodcurdling scream and a big furry, lopsided beast lunges at me over the top of a building. WTAF?!? OK, OK, hold it together, just keep your distance and try to work this out. Oh, no, that didn’t work…..
Multiple tries later, I had managed to manoeuvre myself around this beast enough to hack it’s humungous life bar to nothing. A pounding heart and sore fingers are eclipsed by the overwhelming sense of relief and accomplishment as I HAD JUST DEFEATED MY FIRST BLOODBORNE BOSS!!!!!!
This feeling of accomplishment and exhilaration did not disperse the whole way through this game. Every new boss, every new location brought with it a new challenge, something to be worked out whilst being assailed and brutally killed. Dying multiple times is no shame here, and it takes a while to realise that. Yes, it is disappointing but you just need to reflect on what you did and how you are going to progress past that next time. And that is the key, once you make some progress, you keep coming back for more, trying to inch that little bit further each time.
And throughout all this, in the few moments of respite that you get, there is some astounding level design all around you. If you get the chance to look you will notice so much. Especially in Yharnam I was blown away by the interlinked level design, seeing a place further on that I eventually get to and being able to see back to places I’d been. It all felt so big and yet so interweaved, crisscrossing itself, tempting you with the place you want to be, the place you need to be to progress, but not being able to get to it yet as you still suck. For the moment, that is. And just making it to unlocking the shortcut feels like a huge step forwards as you don’t need to battle through the same countless enemies any more to get to where you’re going. I found that mechanic to be perfectly implemented.
I spent every spare moment I had diving back into this world of pain and hatred. Mostly my pain and my hatred of the thing that is blocking my progress: Father Gascoigne; Vicar Amelia; Vicar Amelia; Damn, bloody Vicar Amelia! The annoying Shadows of Yharnam….
Then something strange happened. I don’t know if it was familiarity or powering up but I was becoming more capable, more consistent in progressing through the levels without dying multiple times (apart from stumbling into multiple enemy ambushes). My confidence grew. Slowly, as there was always something to knock me back down a peg or two if I got too much ahead of myself! Enemies fell by the wayside, even new ones that I hadn’t encountered before were put to the sword (or cleaver. But mostly Ludwig’s Holy Blade at this point).
Blood Starved Beast? Reaped. Rom? Gone. Amygdala? Amygde-legged. One Reborn? One Re-deaded. OK, so Yahar’Gul wasn’t as easy to do. In fact it sucked big time but by the time I got to the One Reborn, I was ready and put into action all that I had learned. Castle Cainhurst was confusing at times more than complicated or hard, although Martyr Logarius took a good few attempts to defeat (and a few times of trying other paths, so much so that I came back to him much later, just to feel that accomplishment).
On and on I went, and on and on the enemies came. Blood splashing across the hunter’s outfit, glistening off the blade as it was thrust through or slicing across their feeble bodies. Was I blood-drunk? Possibly a little. But there was some kind of mission to complete.
I have no idea why I’m doing this. Why am I struggling through this world? What am I trying to accomplish here other than a complete one-man genocide? Hmm, might need to think a bit more about this one. I know there is something about a Nightmare and Great Ones and tainted blood something or other, but it doesn’t really make much sense and doesn’t really feel like a driving force behind it all. What does, is a bloodthirsty need to destroy all that come before you. And, to be fair, they attacked first! I’m just trying to survive in this day and age….
And then it happened. Mergo’s Wet Nurse in all its sharp-bladed glory, put to my blade (and the Executioner’s Gloves at this stage).
YES!!! OMG! That was so challenging, I did it!! Woohooo! And breathe. Get control again. OK, ready to use the controller again now that my hands have stopped shaking. OK, what’s next. Ah, ok back to the Hunter’s Dream and, what’s that? Gehrman is waiting for me? Old, frail, wheelchair-bound Gehrman? OK then…..
And actually he wasn’t so bad. And neither was The Moon Presence. So, yeah. Done. I’ve completed the hardest game that I’ve ever played. All done and dust…. What’s that? There’s a DLC? And something called Chalice dungeons that I’ll need to do for the Platinum Trophy? They can’t be that hard, I mean, I’ve just finished the big challenge, the main game, haven’t I?
Dungeons are more of a pain than a challenge, although the Abhorrent Beast was a major hurdle for me and the Yharnam Queen was frustratingly complicated to beat. But The Old Hunters DLC? This’ll be fine, surely.
The sheer number of hunters here can just do one. If I wasn’t sure of my parrying before this, now was a great time to get some practice in! To be fair though, I should have been much better at it by this stage anyway. So not only do you have the greatest hits of enemies, all in one place but then you have THE hardest collection of bosses in the whole game. Ludwig? Seriously. The massive, sword wielding horse-beast, whilst it is a fantastic fight and amazing atmosphere (the music/score for the whole game is breathtaking at times, but this one is brilliant), was a pain in the ass. The Living Failures? Whilst being at the end of a fantastically complicated and intricate level, were fine. Maria? Maria! Maria! Oh, sweet, graceful, deadly Maria. How I loved this fight. How I hated this fight. Thank god, there was a 10 second lead up to getting into the arena here, allowing you to focus everything onto beating her rather than a long trek. Back to Lawrence, The First Vicar and, oh look, it’s just another Cleric Beast. I’ve beaten one of these already a long time ago. What’s that? It spews fire and generally is a nightmare? Oh, yes, I see that he is. You’re not wrong. Fuck this, I’m going to try someone else. Who’s still to go? Logarius? OK, I’ll give him another shot or two. Ah, fuck it. Who else is there? The Fishing Hamlet. The last area of the DLC, can’t be that bad can it? Creepy, I’ll give you that. Dark and foisty. And what the fuck is that Shark-beast-thing??? I didn’t survive long enough to find out what they were just yet.
More toiling away, inching ever closer to the end. Shortcuts opened. Lanterns lit. And now we have the experience of the last boss in the game. The Orphan of Kos. Looks alright this guy. Small enough with an inconsequential looking weapon. Should be alright, come on then, let’s be having ya….. Absolutely destroyed me, time and time again. And that fucking wailing! Aarrgghh!!! Arsehole!
OK, change of plan. Back to the others, to do them properly this time. Logarius. Check. Lawrence. Check. OK, what’s left now?
No, seriously, what’s left to do?
There must be something else to complete, somewhere else to explore?
Please, don’t make me go in there again. There must be some way around it, isn’t there?
Orphan. Of. Kos.
Head hung low, I trudged back into the arena. Dead. Dead. Dead again. Deaded. Deadarino. Pounded into the sand and stones of the beach. Fuuuuuuuccckkk!!!! Fuck this guy. Seriously, what do I have to do???? OK, change of tactic. Need something different as this isn’t working at all. Change of weapon. OK, what do I have that is damaging enough but not cumbersome? Oooh, the Rakuyo. Got for defeating those damn Shark-beast-things. Must be decent if it was guarded by those big bastards. And that, my friends, was how the Rakuyo became my most favourite weapon in the game. Much dodging and slicing later and the Orphan was no longer an Orphan.
Bloodborne Platinum Trophy achieved. Life now seems pretty empty…..
And that is the story of how this game did not let go of me until I had finished it. And even then it still tried to pull me back in to continue on a NG+. The nerve-jangling and heart-racing caused by the boss battles was only bettered by the sense of relief at beating them. I’d never experienced that before whilst playing a game but I’m sure that I’ll experience it again as I’m sure I’m going to attempt another FromSoftware at some point.
What an absolutely awesome, awesome game.