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Bloodborne to be punished

Apr 7, 2015

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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BloodborneWhat you're about to read isn't a review for Bloodborne - it's a warning. Because anyone who hasn't experienced the "Souls" games (Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, or Dark Souls 2) developed by From Software should know that describing Bloodborne as punishing is a vast understatement, and the level of dedication it requires is nothing short of mind-boggling.

That doesn't mean it's a bad game. Quite the opposite, in fact. It's completely and utterly engrossing, and is masterfully designed - and not just the fictional world of Yarnham itself, but the combat system.

BloodborneYes, you will die a lot, but you truly do learn something new every time you return to an area, so even if you're making your third, or fourth, or fifteenth attempt at getting through a certain group of enemies or boss, you're always making progress. And isn't the idea of progress what many gamers and developers obsessed with these days?

Bloodborne handles this differently, of course. You won't kill a miniboss and always earn a new upgrade for your weapon. Heck, sometimes you'll vanquish a massive boss and be "rewarded" with a dead end. Helpful items will appear (albeit very rarely), but it's the tiny nuggets of knowledge that will be helping you progress in the game.

BloodborneThere is absolutely no hand-holding in the game. Just like in the days of the NES when there was no Internet, you'll need to talk to friends to figure out strategies. It wasn't until I was several hours into Bloodborne, for instance, that I learned about the offensive parrying move. By shooting your gun at an enemy at the right moment, you open them up to a devastating attack. This mechanic is absolutely crucial to your success in the game, but there are no loading screen tips telling you this, and no helpful NPCs to teach you.

There are also no maps to help you follow along, and very little explanation as to how the numerous items in the game work. That's the thing though - it may sound frustrating (and truthfully, it is) but what Bloodborne teaches you is that you can't run around and expect to master the game in a few hours. You need to pay attention, try different things, and stay constantly focused.

BloodborneIt's difficult to convince a newcomer of how this is a superb game, but there's a reason Bloodborne is earning such rave reviews. Of course, this isn't a game for everyone. It requires an extremely high level of dedication, and I'd argue that it's nearly impossible to even dabble in other games while trying to fight your way through Bloodborne.

I'm at a disadvantage in that respect, because I'm constantly cycling through games to review. I had an amazing time in my 15-odd hours with Bloodborne, but I knew the exact moment I had to put it away for good.

BloodborneSee, you may have heard that for all the heartbreaking defeats you'll experience in Bloodborne, the lows those moments produce can't match the high of finally downing a boss. I never had that moment. Yes, after a lot of grinding and learning, I finally beat the first boss, but while I did experience a sense of accomplishment, it wasn't a feeling of utter euphoria that urged me to continue on.

I truly would love to spend dozens and dozens of hours in Bloodborne, and one day be able to say I completed it, but it's just not in me. Instead, I'll live vicariously through the many friends who are still playing it. Every time I ask them about the game, they're always ready to share another story about a hard-fought victory or terrifying encounter.

That's good enough for me. And if you're a newcomer to this genre, I say "go for it." Just know that as cliché as it may sound, nothing can prepare you for what awaits. And that's a good thing.

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.