For the past few weeks I’ve writing about different themes and topics while using certain games as an example. In some of those cases I actually had much more I’d like to say about the games themselves; which is why I’m starting this new “column”, or whatever you want to call it, titled “So that just happened”. In here I’ll be sharing my thoughts and experiences with games I’ve played recently – but they don’t have to be recent games, necessarily. Also, these won’t be reviews and they won’t have a score at the end, so yeah.
Well then, let’s start this with something that’s pretty recent and some of you may have heard about:
My relationship with the Souls series has been one of “watching from afar”. The gameplay and main aspects that kept me from actually playing them: the setting and the difficulty. By setting I mean being set in a more medieval period, for which I don’t really have much tolerance for – not that I dislike it per se, it’s just that it’s harder for me to enjoy works set in specific eras. I have far more tolerance for post-apocalyptic than pure sci-fi, for example. The only thing I’ve been following set in a medieval era is Berserk, and that’s enough for me. It’s just a matter of taste really, so yeah. I ended up watching lots of videos related to the series, because the interest was there.
That’s why when Bloodborne was announced as being set somewhere with a more Victorian style I was overjoyed! I love Victorian settings (funny enough, I’m hearing people saying no one wants an Assassin’s Creed being set in that period but I for one am looking forward to it). And what about the difficulty? Well, some of the things people were saying leading up to its release was that they were trying to make it “more accessible”; and no, “more accessible” doesn’t have to mean “dumbed down”, as people tend to think. It may just mean I’ll have a smoother entrance into the experience until I am completely crushed later on. Which I was.
So, with my issues taken care of, I embarked on my journey through the land of Yharnam.
The first thing I’d like to focus on is the sense of exploration this game gave me, for which the lack of a map was crucial. Usually when a game has a mini-map or something of the kind, I tend to rely on it a lot. Like when I’m driving with someone next to me who I believe I think knows the route better than me and have to constantly ask for directions (even though I know how to get there). As such, under these circumstances I tend to not get a feel for the place, and have much more trouble getting around it without the map.
In Bloodborne I got to know my around pretty well, even when I left something to check on later. And let me tell you, venturing forth into the unknown, just to get an elevator or opening a gate that leads right back into a lamp was such a relief! Most surprises I got in this game were more place-related than anything else. Like when I’m deep into the Forbidden Woods and find that life-saving elevator, those clothes laying around that really contributes to the make this a connected world, or when I got to Byrgenwerth and thought to myself “Oh my, I know what this is!”. And these feelings are something I don’t usually get with most games nowadays.
Also, I never felt I was “lost” or without knowing what I could do next. In some of the instances I wasn’t sure where to go next, after a Boss for example, there was always an area I left unexplored and went back to it to find something new. I admit that if spend too much time without knowing what to do, I‘ll check a FAQ or a video just to get through that. This comes with having less and less time to do everything I’d like and my patience in these kinds of situations starts to give. But that didn’t happen here and I’m really, really glad.
And I must talk about some of the characters that I really cared for. From the guy in red at the Cathedral, who seemed really nervous but I chose to trust, to the guy in the beginning that gradually turns into a beast. The way I found this was, after the Red Moon appeared I decided to check places I’d been to before. I remembered there was this guy near the beginning that wasn’t doing great, so I teleported there and, much to my surprise, one of the werewolf things popped up, I took it down and thought “These are going to appear here now as well?!?”. My brother, who had already finished the game and was watching when this happened, said “Look at the window”: “What? Oh…oh!”. It was really organic the way this “relationship” with a guy from the other side of the window developed, especially because of the way it turned out.
And I can’t talk about this game without mentioning other two characters. One of them is Vicar Amelia, whose battle was not only pretty difficult for me to overcome, but also the way she holds her pendant the whole time conveyed how much it meant to her. I knew nothing about her, yet that simple touch said a lot. The other is the doll. The first time I saw her standing and was able to interact with her was after defeating Cleric Beast on the first try. I was pretty shaken because I met it without knowing and had a considerable amount of echoes, so I lit the lamp and entered the Hunter’s Dream, put my face between my hands in disbelief, and when I looked there she was – “Holy crap she’s alive!” – scaring me a bit in the process. I tend to be easily scared, yes.
There’s something else that happened as well…I was finishing Tales of Hearts when I started playing this, and the controls are a bit different between these games. So, this one time I entered the Hunter’s Dream and, for a moment, I mixed the controls and forgot that R2 was an offensive action…and hit the Doll. That didn’t kill her, but I was like “Really screwed up now!”. In any other game, this would lead me to reset the game and shrug it off, but not here. I didn’t know what kind of impact this could have, but I assumed my responsibility and saw it through. Later I found out that she reappears if you kill her, but not knowing that made the situation much more relevant to my experience.
There are many other things in this game that I enjoyed immensely, but these are the ones that stood out to me. I don’t like horror games – or better yet, I don’t like works in which the main objective is to scare you – but I feel really glad when I’m able to overcome something that scares me or that would make me uneasy about playing a game, and am able to enjoy such a fantastic experience. This first started with Resident Evil 4, and I believe that me playing Bloodborne is, at least in part, thanks to that.
Well then, these are some of my thoughts on Bloodborne. Please share your experience, moments that really stuck with you after playing. Also tell me how you feel about this kind of writing; if you’d prefer something lighter, or even more detailed. I have a ton of games ready to be talked about so I’d like to hear what you have to say.
Please tell me your thoughts, your complaints, which kind of pillow you prefer and whatever else you feel like. I post weekly on my blog (https://themaninthegarage.wordpress.com/category/turbine-philosophy/) as well as other guys who are on it as well, so come check it out.
Have a [insert time of day you're in when reading this] and enjoy life. Yours, preferably.