Bloodborne Will Make You Beg for Each Breath

Bloodborne

Right off the bat: I’m going to keep this post somewhat spoiler-free, meaning I’m not going into heavy plot details or major strategies, but if you don’t want bosses or locations ruined for you, obviously proceed with caution.

I’m not a habitual gaming braggart. Even when I do, the people I brag to and instances I boast about are few and far between. The last time I felt I’d earned the right to be proud of something I’d achieved was back in November 2014 when I managed – under extreme duress! – to make my way fully through the superbly chilling Alien: Isolation. I know the game caught flak from a few sources, but maybe my decision to play on Hard my first time through was part of what made it such a fiendishly frightening affair.

Sure, there are little things I’m proud of, like managing to pop the Platinum trophy in The Witness last month, without the aid of a walkthrough, mind you. Of course, besting the original Demon’s Souls this past November is also on that list of feats I quietly grin bask in the glow of, though that game is too old to go shout it from every rooftop. Well, that and I wasn’t exactly shy consulting online guides when things proved to get too hairy.

But this time – this time I’ve achieved something I’m absolutely chuffed about! About a week and a half ago, I finally laid to rest the final boss in From Software’s latest (until next month’s Dark Souls III) player-killer, Bloodborne. I’m talking every boss, including optional areas, as well as the Old Hunters DLC, which came with my free download code, courtesy of writing for RPGamer. And what makes this achievement extra special to me is that I did it with only minimal online guidance and player assistance.

Bloodborne

An image from early on in the game, and still one of my absolute favorite visuals in the entire game. This really sets the stage!

This won’t fit in well with anything else I’m about to write, so let me get it off my chest here: I absolutely love, love, LOVE the visual aesthetic of Bloodborne, more so than Demon’s Souls, which was already pretty impressive. (I can’t speak much to Dark Souls, as I haven’t played either of those yet.) I adored the Victorian city tinged in Lovecraftian gore and nightmarish creatures. My trip through Central Yharnam, which I made many, many times until I mastered it, was an absolute visual feast. The amount of details in the visual design are staggering, and it doesn’t hurt that this game takes advantage of next-gen console capabilities. And those old dudes in the wheelchairs – hilarious, every time!

However, my journey through Bloodborne didn’t seem off to a good start almost immediately. I prevailed against the Cleric Beast, but then immediately succumbed to Father Gascoigne. I died. Then I died again. And again. He made a game of killing me, seemingly faster and faster each time I faced him. It was a mockery. Of course, I didn’t have the music box, didn’t even know that I could interact with townsfolk at lit lanterns, and had no clue how the Visceral stagger worked. My younger brother, who was well ahead of me by this point, gave me a crash course in the ways of Bloodborne one afternoon. It still ended up being a hard-fought battle, but eventually I emerged victorious.

Bloodborne

Darkbeast Paarl, that son-of-a-bitch!

I wouldn’t call what came next “smooth sailing” by any stretch of the imagination. I died, as I was meant to, a lot, and the game continued to hone my skills and provide a fun yet outrageously frustrating challenge. Still, I got past boss after boss in the next few weeks. I had to summon my brother to my side (in-game, this time) to aid me against the Blood-Starved Beast, and both Darkbeast Paarl and the Shadow of Yharnam eventually required an Old Hunter summoning. But I made steady progress, with the exception of about five to six weeks, from mid-January to late-February, when I put the game on hold in favor of other projects.

But eventually, back to the game I went, and this time rode it through to the sweet, sweet end. Rom the Vacuous Spider required a summoning to kill, then I took another break from the main storyline just before squaring off against Mergo’s Wet Nurse, to make an adjunct into The Old Hunters, as I’d read that beating the game would close the DLC for me for a while, and I rarely play any New Game + modes these days. By doing so, I extended my game with five additional boss fights, and this right before the game’s end. Not to mention that the very first of these, Ludwig the Holy Blade, was a bitch-and-a-half to down. I summoned for help here too, after many fruitless solo attempts and spending more time to level up in between fights. Funnily enough, my summoned partner died almost straightaway that last time, but I was able to bring the fight to a successful close on my own – somehow.

I ran through the remaining DLC bosses solo, had a bit of difficulty with Orphan of Kos, then decided to get help against the optional Laurence the First Vicar. All in all, the DLC was a wild ride, in which I terribly enjoyed most of the levels and environments more than all else. Then it was back to the main game, which, by this point, I was leveled enough to crash through in one sitting. The final boss – and yes, I summoned the Moon Presence for the hidden ending – I wiped up on my first attempt.

I don’t think I’m going back to a New Game + run-through, not now or ever, probably. I’ve got too many other games vying for attention. I’ve gotten back to and finished Until Dawn since then, and am now working on the Souls-inspired Salt & Sanctuary to review it for RPGamer. I’ve got my eye on STASIS and The Witcher for some upcoming gaming fun. But I plan on hanging on to my bragging right from Bloodborne for some time yet to come!

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