You play as a hunter, who will have to find the source of the nightmare and the beasts appearing around Yharnam. As you progress in exploring the haunting city, you will find that the city is not as it seems, and many people that you will encounter may not be what they seem to be.
Like Demon's Souls and the two Dark Souls games, the story is simplistic where you must find various hints by reading lore notes scattered throughout the game as well as by talking to people in the game. The story is actually well-crafted and makes sense once you piece the clues together yourself, and speculating what actually happened in the game.
Like other Souls games, the characters are memorable too. The Doll is a doll that is given life and devoted to the hunter, and Eileen is a dedicated hunter who hunts hunters who have gone mad. Other characters such as Gehrman, Djura, and others are likable despite minimal roles in the game.
This is the complete version of Bloodborne, which includes The Old Hunters expansion. The Old Hunters expansion introduce new Trick Weapons and Firearms, as well as new tools, new areas, and new bosses. The Old Hunters expansion is also very challenging, with dangerous enemies and ruthless bosses await for you in the game.
2) Exploration and Progression Section
The game plays like previous Souls games, where you can freely explore in interconnected areas. The main location you will be exploring is the city of Yharnam, with various interconnected locations that you can explore as you progress. What makes this game different than Demon's Souls and the two Dark Souls games is that this game features less traps and other environmental dangers, but it has more dangerous and aggressive enemies that are ready to kill you on the spot if they see you.
Most of the time, you need to find and defeat bosses guarding certain areas to proceed the story. Otherwise, you can find key items or interact with objects to open pathways to other areas. You may also explore any optional areas in the game to find newer items, weapons, and upgrades.
Questlines are also available in this game, where most of them are character-based quests where you must speak to NPCs to start it and to progress it. Some of it may require you to do optional things such as killing a boss, or giving certain items. Certain questlines are rewarding, such as rewarding you badges to buy new weapons and attire sets. There are also several optional locations in the game with optional bosses, where they can be rewarding if you choose to explore and complete them.
This time, purple lit lamps act as checkpoints in the game in case you died or to warp to. You must activate it to make sure the lamp is active. You may choose to warp back to your central hub to replenish your supplies, or to go to another location easily. Unlike Dark Souls II, lamps are lesser and more strategically placed with convenient yet sometimes guarded shortcuts. You may also find shortcuts lead back to lamps, although you must clear out some enemies in order to do so or do other actions such as using a switch.
You may also choose to explore optional dungeons called Chalice Dungeons. Chalice Dungeons are underground dungeons with their own sets of enemies and bosses. All of the preset Chalice Dungeons have predetermined routes, enemies, and bosses. However, as you progress in completing Chalice Dungeons, you will get the option to create more tougher Chalice Dungeons with more rewards by spending ritual items. They are entirely optional, but you may fight against some never before seen enemies and bosses in the Chalice Dungeons. You may also choose to do online co-op in Chalice Dungeons.
3) Leveling, Upgrading and Customisation Section
Before you start the game, you must create a new character. You may choose to alter the appearance and gender of your character. Another thing you should watch is the character's Origin, which will determine the character's starting stats.
Stats are incredibly important in this game, where you should level up your stats to wield newer weapons and have higher attack damage. For example, certain Trick Weapons require certain Strength and Skill stats to wield it, and some Trick Weapons may only require one stat. Depending on how you build your character, focusing on leveling your important stats are rewarding. For instance, creating a pure Skill character with high Vitality and Endurance stats allows you to use Skill-based Trick Weapons effectively with high damage. Some Trick Weapons may have focus on one stat to inflict damage, whereas some of them may inflict damage split by two different stats.
You may also choose to upgrade your Trick Weapons and Firearms to improve their damage. This is recommended as you progress the story, newer areas will feature more tougher enemies as well as dangerous bosses. To do so, you must spend Blood Echoes (currency in Bloodborne) and certain upgrade materials to improve it. As you upgrade your weapons, further upgrades will require even rarer materials, which can be found while defeating monsters or by looting.
You may also choose to equip your character with different attire sets. Different attire sets not only look different, but they also provide different defense bonuses against different threats. For example, one attire set offers better resistance against Fire damage, and another attire set offers better resistance against physical damage. Depending on situations and type of enemies you will be facing in an area, switching weapons and attire sets is best practiced regularly.
4) Combat Section
Combat is the meat and focus of this game. Abandoning the 'block and attack' strategy from the Souls games, this time you must always stay on your toes and attack enemies while they are open. You can only dodge enemy attacks by rolling, or sidestepping when locking on an enemy. The combat is more fast paced, and even the enemies are not afraid to show off their aggressiveness. There are only two equipment that allow you to block attacks, but they are not reliable as blocking drain stamina and they do not deflect enemy attacks.
The controls are simple, as you can walk or run to your destination. You may also choose to sprint at the expense of Stamina, and dodge roll to avoid attacks. Each Trick Weapon has their own sets of movesets, both in their own default and trick modes. It is best to experiment them on different enemies and choose which one suits your combat style.
There are two category of weapons. Trick Weapons are melee weapons that allow you to attack enemies in close-range. Most, if not all have alternate forms called trick modes which can grant you more variety of attack moves and more choices on defeating your enemies. For example, the Hunter Axe's one-handed mode has faster attack speed than it's trick mode, but it's trick mode is a two-handed axe that allows you to attack multiple enemies and stagger them easily at the same time. Depending on the situation and your playstyle, Trick Weapons can grant you various strategies on beating your enemies.
The second category of weapons is Firearms. Unlike regular guns used in other games, the Firearms here function mostly as a way to stop enemy advances as well as stagger them to give you a chance for you to execute a visceral attack. A visceral attack is an attack that can deal high damage on staggered enemies, which most of the time deadly against regular foes. Bosses however, are trickier for you to execute visceral attacks on them, but it is still possible to do so. Like Trick Weapons, Firearms can deal decent damage if you invest enough points on certain stat and upgrading it to make it worthwhile. Firearms require the usage of specially made bullets, which can be dropped by enemies or found by looting dead bodies or chests scattered in the game.
You may also choose to use items during exploration or combat, as some of them can be highly useful. For example, you can use antidotes to heal your poison status. You may choose to buy items, Trick Weapons, Firearms, and attire sets from the vendor if you have the proper badges. Some badges can be obtained by defeating bosses, found in the game, or rewards from questlines.
There are variety of enemies to be fought in this game, such as human mobs of Yharnam, dogs, wolf beasts, and many more. Some of the enemies may have weaknesses, such as beasts are weak against fire attacks and serrated weapons like Saw Cleaver. As you can only equip two Trick Weapons and two Firearms at the same time, choosing proper weapons in combat is vital to survive. You may also encounter buffed versions of the enemies at later areas as well.
Bosses are another highlight in the game, where they will prove most difficult obstacles to most players. Some of the bosses may be gigantic beasts, humanoid enemies, or other types. Many of these bosses have special attacks and defenses that will prove challenge to you, but with the right weapons and strategy you may be able to beat them. Most of the bosses are highly aggressive, and some of them are only open to attacks after they finish attacking. This is best done while you are evading their attacks by sidestepping or rolling, and unleash your attacks on them.
Each combat action drain Stamina, such as a strong attack consumes more Stamina than regular attacks, and rolling/sidestepping consumes small amount of Stamina. Your Stamina amount can be increased by investing on Endurance stat. HP is also another important stat as it dictates how many hits you can take. Considering many enemy and boss combos can kill you easily, investing points on Vitality stat is recommended as well. You may also recover your HP by consuming Blood Vials, or attacking enemy during a short recovery period after taking damage. As HP is important to survive heavy assault by enemies, conserving it and recovering it are vital to survive.
Defeating enemies will reward you Blood Echoes, which is a currency in the game. Sometimes enemy will also drop items for you to loot as well. Bosses will also drop Blood Echoes and other rare items as well, but their Blood Echoes tend to be more than regular enemies's amount of Blood Echoes spoiled. Beware that if you die anytime, you will lose the Blood Echoes gained. However, you can still retrieve it back from touching your bloodstain, which is nearby to the place you died previously. At rare occasions, enemies will retrieve it and you have to kill it to retrieve back your Blood Echoes. If you die again before retrieving your Blood Echoes, it will be permanently lost.
5) Online Section
This game also features online gameplay, where you can play with online players within the same level range as your character. For instance, a level 100 player can never interact or play together with a level 20 player. There is one exception to do so, which is by using a password.
There are two main online features you can do. First, you can play together with another online player and help them clearing out an area or defeat a boss. Defeating a boss will always bring you back to your world, and reward you with Blood Echoes. There is few penalties when playing co-op with other players online. As a helper, your character's HP will be reduced to a certain percentage, and bosses will have more health than usual. Sometimes, playing co-op is better when handling aggressive bosses, and sometimes playing solo is preferable to reduce enemy's health. Player skills is important, as the one who is helping should be competent enough to damage the boss or enemies and the summoner should be competent to stay alive enough until the boss is dead.
You may also choose to invade other players's games and fight them. You may choose to challenge them to a honourable match, or kill them sneakily. Defeating online players will reward you Blood Echoes, but since your HP is reduced as well, fighting another player requires great playing skills as both of you may be experienced players.
6) The Old Hunters Expansion Section
This expansion introduces new things such as new Trick Weapons, new Firearms, new items, new enemies, and new areas. Last but not least, there are several new bosses to be fought in this expansion.
The expansion is terribly challenging, especially for first time players as well as for those who accessed the expansion content very early in the game. It is best to tackle the expansion when you are near halfway through the game at the very least, or when you have a very high-leveled character. Many of the boss fights in the expansion are more dangerous than the main game's bosses, and even the regular enemies scattered throughout the expansion's game areas are dangerous as well, such as the deranged hunters in the first area of the expansion.
The lore of Bloodborne universe is also expanded in this expansion, but it is not a straightforward explanation to what has been going on in the game and instead, you must again speculate yourself what exactly happened in the new expansion areas.
7) Gameplay Conclusion
The overall gameplay. Solid balance of free roaming exploration, fast-paced and great combat system, variety of unique weapons to be used, many unique and tough boss fights, great variety of enemies, variety of areas to be explored, and responsive game controls. The weight and feeling of using different types of weapons is very well-done, as well as having different pros and cons. Boss fights are certainly tough, where most of them are very aggressive towards players. Regular enemies are no slouches either, and they won't hesitate to attack you with their own combo moves that can kill you easily. The game controls are also very responsive and suited for more aggressive playstyle than Demon's Souls or Dark Souls playstyles. The interconnected areas and branching paths are also well-done. The difficulty is also harder than Demon's Souls and Dark Souls games to me, personally and it presents very fair yet tough challenge to players equally. The combat is also fluid thanks to great animations, movesets and respnsive controls.
Despite the gameplay being great, it has some imperfections. Firstly, there are not many playstyles compared to Demon's Souls or Dark Souls game, where you can be a mage, an archer, or other classes with more variety of playstyles. In this game, you are stuck on using only Trick Weapons for melee damage or using items and Firearms to deal damage on your enemies. However, since all Trick Weapons have unique movesets most of the time, this issue can be ignored as different Trick Weapons encourage different character builds and strategies when fighting enemies. Secondly, the lock-on camera can be an issue when fighting larger bosses, but it is never an issue when fighting smaller ones like hostile hunters or regular wolf beasts. Most of the time, it is better not to lock-on large bosses and instead fight them while rotating your camera manually. Thirdly, some of the character customisation options are lacking, such as not enough hairstyles. Regardless, the gameplay is excellent with only few flaws.
Like it's predecessors, this game boasts amazing graphics with incredible art design on characters, enemies, and especially the environment. The environment designs have some Victorian influence, and many of the locations look really awesome to look at as well as being creepily gothic. Unfortunately like previous Souls games, your character or NPCs do not have any lip animation while talking, which can be observed during in-game conversations.
The game has solid framerate performance, but veery rarely suffers slowdowns. Some bugs and glitches can occur, such as enemy corpses disappear while clipping through walls. They are minor, but notable.
The soundtrack is well-done and excellent. This game has many of my favourite themes, such as the opening theme, Father Gascoigne theme, Cleric Beast theme, and many more. Many of the themes are bombastic, as well as haunting and epic to listen during their boss fights. Like other Souls games, most of the time music will only play during boss fights and central hub.
The voice acting is also well-done, with all voice actors did commendable job as their roles. Few of my favourites include Father Gascoigne, the Doll, Gehrman, Eileen, and many more. Sound effects such as beasts roars, enemies' grunts, and others are particularly done effectively in the game.
You can continue on playing next playthrough with your current character, but the game difficulty will be increased with enemies having more health and deal more damage on you. You may also play a new character with different gender, origin, design, and play style to experience different playstyles in the game. You may also unlock the secret ending, as well as collect all Trophies. Completing Chalice Dungeons is another option as well.
Demon's Souls and Dark Souls are two of my favourite action RPGs, and this game is another one in my list of favourite Action RPGs. Aggressive combat playstyle, impressive level designs, challenging and unique boss fights, tons of unique weapons to be used, impressive graphics, excellent soundtrack and voice acting, and high replay value sums up this complete package of the game. It has some minor flaws, but that doesn't detract this game's greatness.
Not only the expansion added more usable weapons, it also introduces newer weapons for players to use. Many of the new weapons are to my liking, such as the deadly Whirligig Saw, dangerous Beasthunter Saif, as well as the deadly Rakuyo. Many of the boss fights are excellent, which includes Ludwig the Accursed, Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower and the final boss in the expansion. The main story has many unique weapons, such as the blood-draining sword Chikage, the hammer-sword hybrid Kirkhammer, and many more. The main game bosses are deadly as well, with most of them eneded up being my favourites.
I do however, recommend first time players to complete the game without any online help, as this will reward you greater sense of accomplishment of beating tough bosses yourself as well as self-imposing you with greater solo challenge. As some players may feel lost as to where to go next, read walkthroughs if you need to but try to avoid playing online until you complete the game.
This is my personal Game of the Year along with The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, and this game gains a personal perfect score from me. However, this game should be reviewed fairly, and I highly recommend players who are looking forward to play difficult and challenging Action RPG should try out this game.
Pros and Cons
- Self-speculating, intriguing and epic lore.
- Many memorable characters, despite minimal roles.
- Impressive and fast-paced combat.
- Brutal yet fair difficulty.
- Variety of enemies to be fought.
- Unique and great boss fights.
- Many unique weapons and items to be used.
- Responsive and good game controls.
- Intriguing and solid online play.
- Excellent graphics.
- Great soundtrack and voice acting.
- High replay value.
- High quality and value expansion.
- New weapons to be used in the expansion.
- New and tough boss fights in the expansion.
- Few character customisation options.
- Less diversity of playstyles compared to Demon's Souls or Dark Souls.
- Lock-on camera on larger bosses can be problematic.
- Minor bugs and glitches.