Bloodborne was an incredible game and I’m sure it’s one of the best introductions I could have had to the PS4. I loved the aesthetic and the way the story was conveyed but of course if anything stole the show it was the bosses. It seems like everyone who gets infatuated with Bloodborne or any of the games that end with ‘Souls’ goes through this phase where they have to gush about how great the bosses are and I am absolutely no different from them. I’ve only played Bloodborne once and it was the base version of the game so I haven’t been able to experience the supposed transcendent encounter that is the boss fight against Lady Maria or the Orphan of Kos. I haven’t bothered with the Chalice dungeons either so I missed out on...whatever the Hell is waiting for me down there but during my time with Bloodborne I did encounter and conquer 15 bosses so that’s more than enough for a top three! So allow me to bore you all with my opinions on my three favorite and my three most disliked bosses that I went up against in Bloodborne.
I feel like a very easy pattern will emerge in this top and bottom list so please try to look surprised when you get to number 1 on the top and number 1 on the bottom.
I’ll start from the top of the bottom (If I did bottom to top, I’d drop) but from the core of this experience I’ve found it very difficult to point at three bosses who I would call truly bad. That’s why number three of the bad list is the Celestial Emissary. The first time I started encountering these bastards in game I was actually killed by one of the tentacle-headed ones because I underestimated its telekinetic magic whatever-it-is. As for the boss itself, I was very late in the game when I found it so knocking out the underlings was incredibly easy. When I found the actual boss and started whaling on it, all that happened was that it became a much larger target. Maybe if I wasn’t using a fully-upgraded saw cleaver, it would have been able to hit me back but the speed at which I was able to kill the Celestial Emissary was so ludacris that it’s difficult to even see this thing as a boss. This was just free blood echoes and possibly a means of getting players to lower their guard for the much more dangerous Ebrietas who lurked very nearby.
(The Celestials look like they want to give me a massive hug, don't they?)
Over to my top three list which was a very, VERY difficult list for me to really compile because I knew who I wanted to include but I didn’t know how I wanted to order them. I wound up giving the bronze medal to Gehrman, The First Hunter. By this point in the game, I’ve already dealt with multiple hunters and humanoid bosses so I had a very good idea what to look for in terms of tells and I even had a lot of practice with the gun parry mechanic. The way I played, Gerhman was not the last boss I fought in Bloodborne but he was much more enjoyable and satisfying than the Moon Presence. Part of why I gave Gerhman the bronze is because I didn’t really get his lore in the same way that I got and appreciated the lore of numbers 2 and 1. It was incredible to see this guy stand up though and his declaration of, “Tonight, Gerhman joins the hunt” sent an excited chill down my spine. I kinda wish I was able to get his weapon during the first playthrough but hey, getting his scythe is a fun incentive to start a new game+ right away. I just saw this bad ass use the thing and I'm a bad ass so of course I want to use the scythe! Well I want to try using it anyway...
If we shift our focus back to the landfill that is my bottom three, I’m giving my bizzaro-silver medal to the Witch of Hemwick and her dopple. Like everybody else and their uncle and their uncle’s cat has said, this isn’t so much a fight as it is a game of hide and seek. The Witch herself looks really cool but you can’t really appreciate it when she’s wearing her invisibility cloak and sitting in the corner. Sure, there are other monsters around who could have been a threat but they didn’t seem to care about me at all except for that one time when I walked up close to one because I thought I saw the witch behind its spawn-point. Those monsters could have been a threat but this boss fight isn’t about them and if I’d gone in without any insight they would have been completely absent (or so I’ve heard). This fight is about a warty old crone who’s a pain in the ass to find. She doesn’t fight back (well she didn’t fight back for me), she doesn’t sit still and she makes you fight her twice. The Witch of Hemwick is much more of a...Switch...the kind that you fetch so that you can be beaten by an old person, not the Nintendo console.
As for my actual Silver Medal which is a badge of honor and not a poopy-smear I’ve given to a stock enemy I ran into in the area directly after fighting that Witch, I’m giving this honor of second place to Father Gascoigne. Father Gascoigne is arguably the first boss in Bloodborne but that doesn’t stop him from being one of the hardest enemies in the game. What made Father Gascoigne difficult for me was a few things: for one thing I was still very early on in my playthrough of the game (obviously) so I wasn’t completely familiar with mechanics like gun parrys, visceral attacks and, the fact that I get HP back by beating on the last SOB who hit me, ASAP. Father Gascoigne is incredibly difficult but he’s also one of the best tutorial bosses of all time. If you want to continue playing Bloodborne, Gascoigne is just forgiving enough and just slow enough that it is possible to see those tells and to find safety and heal. Everything about this fight hints at things to come and that transition to a beast at the end is the icing on the cake for me, especially depending on how you get him to transform. If you, like me when first I fought him, are spamming the music box he transforms very early on and punishes you for being unwilling to learn from the fight. If you use the music box sparingly it can be hugely helpful and speaking of the music box, I love the lore behind the fight. It’s incredibly grim but again, it prepares you for things to come and is the first hint that no matter what you do, this game is not a happy experience. There are beasts all over the shop and Father Gascoigne is one of the best.
The one boss who I would say is utterly bad is the Witch of Hemwick but the boss who I would say is Gods-Awful is Micolash, Head of the Eldrich Track and Field Team. If you’ve used that insight of yours to decipher the pattern of this top-and-bottom list than you’ll likely know what I’m about to say about Micolash and the bottom bosses in general: I HATED the bosses that you had to run around and look for. I’m scared too after all, this is Bloodborne, it would be weird if I wasn’t scared but that’s no excuse for you bastards to run and hide. What makes Micolash worse than the Witch though is the labyrinthine library that I have to chase him through. I know where he goes its just a matter of finding the right path that takes me to him. Once Micolash is cornered, he was an absolute joke to take care of but getting to him was downright annoying. If I’m forced to say one nice thing about him though, I do like how he expands on the lore somewhat and how he teases Kos, a freaking DLC boss. Unfortunately, Micolash himself is a pee-pee-cry-baby who makes me fight the marionettes from Devil May Cry which isn’t what I was expecting when I put Bloodborne into my Playstation 4.
Before I talk about my number one, I did want to mention some of the bosses who didn’t make it into the top or bottom lists. I’m one of those people who didn’t hate Rom the Vacuous Spider, in fact I would have liked the Celestial Emissary a lot more if it was more like Rom (ie: don’t hide the Emissary and make me fight my way to it while it attacks me from range). Giant monster bosses like Mergo’s Wet Nurse, The One Reborn, even Ebrietas felt very much alike since my strategy of sticking to their butt and mashing R1 worked wonders on just about all of them. I didn’t hate the big monsters but they all felt kinda bland. Mergo’s Wet Nurse sticks in my mind in a big way though because her background music is the same music you hear when you use the music box and I know that has to be significant but I haven’t bothered to look up any plot analysis about that one tidbit. Finally, the random hunter battles in the game went from being something I would dread to being something I would greatly anticipate. Some of these guys felt like bosses on their own, especially when I started running into the Shadow of Yharnam again in Mergo’s Loft.
My favorite boss in Bloodborne was Martyr Logarius. He wins brownie points with me right off the bat because I too would give my life to protect the undead Queen (because no, it wasn’t a phase Dad). Logarius didn’t murder me nearly as many times as Father Gascoine but he was able to smack me around a lot. I mentioned above that I liked the Hunter fights but by the time I got to Gerhman, the hunters had started to almost, sort of feel similar to each other. Sure, some had more aggressive AI than others and there’s definitely a difference between a threaded cane wielder and a Ludwig’s Holy Blade wielder but after a while I felt like I could have assigned each of the hunters to their own flavor variation of Coca Cola: minor variations of the same enjoyable thing. Martyr Logarius kinda, sorta, almost feels like a hunter when you’re close to him because his sword and scythe can do a decent amount of damage and he has a flying lunge attack but if you can’t close the distance then Logarius is more than happy to fling incredibly powerful magic your way. Big blood skulls, little blood skulls, an explosive area of effect spell but perhaps his most deadly spell involves tossing his sword into the air and attacking you with his scythe while the sword magically flings bloody duplicates of itself at you. I should have died to Logarius more often than I actually did because this guy is fast, his attacks flow in an unpredictable sort of way and it’s very difficult to stun him since he also seems to be able to make your bullets go flying uselessly into the air instead of into his face. Another thing I really liked about the Martyr fight was that you had to earn it. What I mean by that is, you have to go on a side quest in an easy to miss part of a large, twisty area to even unlock the area wherein he resides, Castle Cainhurst. It’s a beautiful and unique place but getting through it can be tricky thanks to things like gargoyles and humanoid mosquitos. Another thing I love is that once you beat him there’s another hidden area that you can access which is full of addition lore, a new NPC and, an opportunity for more horrible, disturbing, NPC interaction that’s absolutely, 100% worth it.
I really enjoyed Bloodborne while I was playing through it but since my initial playthrough I haven’t really gone back to play it. I do see myself eventually getting the DLC and I do see myself eventually giving the chalice dungeons a try. At the moment though I’m really happy with the core Bloodborne experience and even though I was able to bring up three bosses who I disliked, on the whole, the bosses in Bloodborne were mostly excellent. Even the bad bosses were either interesting to look at (except for Micolash) or they offered some hints at the overarching story. They were the main reason I decided to sit down and try playing the game and they’re the reason I kept coming back. I can’t wait to play Dark Souls for the first time this spring and honestly, I’m feeling tempted by my copy of Scholar of the First Sin over there on my shelf.