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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

 

+, +, – pretty much another souls game. On the one hand that’s good, on the other after all the talk of it being different and special I was expecting something different. The much trumpeted lack of a shield is in many ways just a limitation, in the sense that there were souls players who played without a shield before too, some, like me, as a mage while other as skilled dualwhielding. I do admit the whole recover some of the lost health through action does add an interesting gameplay thing… but it also takes things in a God of War frenzy direction which i might consider as a step back from calculated progress sometimes.

+, +, – the with the environments i had mixed feelings. On the one hand i was supposed to love them, because of the darker tones and gothic decorations, but on the other they had a lot of asset duplication and repetition, taking from the specialness of statues and gothic decorations, as your brain just tunes out from the details as they’re not helpful any longer in identifying unique locations. I missed this from some of the souls games where i had more the impression that each location is unique. It was my great surprise that Assassin’s Creed Unity did better and more and the kind of environments that I was expecting than Bloodborne. I’m still liking the darker tones, but the artwork quality is not quite of the same level IMHO.

-, – the story is not just as lacking as other souls games (which was always a problem, even for a mystery lover like myself), but by doing the historical and atmosphere move it even feels poorer. Not only did they not innovate at all by very simply just mixing up words (the blood acts exactly like souls lost/found), but in the process of pretending to be different while doing the same they I think lost one of their big cultural mythological tapping points: there is a very rich religious/cultural/and human storytelling & terminology and emotional moods around the concept of souls, lost souls, allowing the souls games to sometimes play the role of “purgatory” type places, and at other times to sound like certain religions, giving a kind of mysticism to the whole cycle of deaths that’s the core of the gameplay. This does not work the same way and is not nearly as rich in the blood/warewolf/beast universe. It doesn’t even tap into the whole vampiric mythologies, leaving it somehow unexplained in story terms, just floating in there just for the sake of gameplay. Which brings me to the other point about storytelling: i not only find it okay for a story to be mysterious, but i find it often improves on many stories. Take for example the Lovecraft style of storytelling. It almost seems like they were about to realize this connection as the game has some Cthulhu type motives, but even for that the story is way way too underdeveloped. I’m sure, like before, the fans will find rich stories hidden in the world, but unfortunately I again get the feeling the gameplay and environments were there first, and the story might or might not pop up later, without having been thought out. That’s not as bad as it could’ve been though, because:

+, +, the environments still have a lot to offer, doing some crazy and interesting stuff, and providing a story of their own through atmosphere

-, –  they still cling on what I consider the retro lame clutch of boss fights: like in old games the world is often interesting to explore but then this joy is broken up by pieces of frustration where after a tough environment you also have to face an arbitrary boss. The difficulty is made to be punishing for stubborn people. In the end as veteran souls players for us it was okay, but the flaw remains a flaw, even if again it can be a bit compensated by calling in helpers… but that again breaks a singleplayer game by putting it on a multiplayer crutch.

+, +, -, + There are a lot of paths and alleys and twists and things to discover. A LOT! After my initial disappointment with the game I was expecting less but it then surprised by proving to be much more hidden content than I thought (even whole areas!!!). In terms of openness and paths: on the one hand there’s a lot of interesting alleys and corners, on the other hand instead of a more open world as I was hoping it goes back to a Demon Souls type design with a nexus instead of visible/logical interconnections. I personally find seeing many places from a distance and then reaching them in many ways more interesting.

– I think the devs missed and opportunity to reinvent themselves by bad weapon balancing: with new and original weapons I feel they should have been the best ones, and I was ready to use them, but when the best weapon is a huge souls style sword… well. I’ll use that. Too bad, it would have been nice if this reinforced the period/atmosphere. Similarly with the clothes i felt it was badly balanced: in the souls games when you saw other players each looked unique and interesting as each piece of equipment could be customized and improved until it was worth keeping. Here not only do you find/get soon the best equipment but since they’re not improvable a lot of players choose the same things. In this as in other ways (like the shield thing) it feels like only 70% of the content of the souls games, like a politician using spin to present the lack of some features as a plus and bonus. Another example is the lack of many realistic stats, including inventory weights which also homogenizes gameplay. It’s like the developers wanted to take away player freedom and dictate to them how they should play. In other souls games with many factors in a decisions, for example weight alone could mix with other considerations resulting in very different and interesting player decisions in equipment load and strategies of gameplay.

Conclusions: 3 (on a -5 to 5 scale). Despite my complains I must admit it’s a quite great game. The world is big, there’s a lot of interesting places, the mechanics still work fine even if they’re the same. The environments have too much asset repetition, but on the other hand they do try for interesting places. It’s weird to see the same statue the 30th time, making it feel like a storehouse of mass produced statues at times instead of monumental locations, but I do admit it does create a certain unique mood and given the real development costs probably with the statues is far better than without the statues. All in all I enjoyed the game, am still playing it a bit even after finishing it and I definitely will be playing it again when the addons come.

Bloodborne - impressions, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating