Saturday, March 28

Bloodborne: A Plea to Play

          I will be surprised if Bloodborne is not my game of the year, not that the distinction has any particular meaning.  It really is amazing though; it requires skills I pride myself on like caution, observation, and reflexes, and the world is rich and dripping with atmosphere.  If you're open to a gothic/Lovecraftian aesthetic (spoiler warning), and don't mind a steep and somewhat unforgiving difficulty curve, then Bloodborne will slake your thirst.

         I first played Demon's Souls, one of Bloodborne's progenitors, a handful of years ago, and I had no idea what I was doing.  Certainly, if there is a major flaw to From Software's hack-and-slash fantasy series, it's the barrier to entry.  The game attempts to explain its basic premises, but a lot of it relies on the player already having a certain knowledge base.  The tutorials are insufficient.  I like how the game teaches a lot of its workings and doesn't feel the need to handhold, but text-dump tutorials are generally bad design.  Even in Dark Souls, probably my favourite game, it took me a terribly long time to learn how to aim a bow.
But Demon's Souls.  I must have tried that first level nearly twenty times before even making it to the boss, and I can remember the absolute frustration that came with it.  It takes a while to get into the mindset these kinds of games require, which is something I forget too often when recommending them.  These are not small commitments.  Unless you are a veteran of the series and playstyle, you can't just have fun for twenty minutes to relax.  Try Skyrim, or Bejewled, those are both great for it.
Side note: That's not a crack against Bejeweled or Skyrim.  You want to relax and feel good for a bit?  Both will satisfy that need.
But is Bloodborne worth that commitment?  Yes, a thousand times yes.  The games can be frustrating and impenetrable, but the world, story, and design are so rich and deep that it far outweighs the loss.  Please play a Souls game, whichever you can get your hands on, and really give it your all.  You'll hit a wall, everyone does, but there is no shame in asking for help or needing a walkthrough.  However you need to get through the game, you should do it, because eventually you'll come out the other side,  and when you look back and see the trail of perseverance you left behind, you will feel stronger for it, more able, like you've taken away something great.

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