Bloodthirsty video game

Blood. The life force of almost every living thing on the planet, and yet not thought of as significant until one is in need of it.

This is the trend in Japanese game developer From Software’s newest game, “Bloodborne.”

As the game starts, the character is injected with what is referred to by one of the non-player characters as “Yarnham blood,” the blood of the diseased citizens of Yarnham, the setting of the game. That disease just happens to be a terrible form of lycanthropy, aka werewolves, and that disease just happened to infect the entire city, and now everyone in the city are morphing into bloodthirsty werewolves that want to kill the player and take their blood.

From Software is infamous for their creation of the Souls series, “Demon’s Souls,” “Dark Souls” and “Dark Souls II.” These games have been considered some of the hardest games of the last decade, and “Bloodborne” keeps up with its predecessors extremely well. In fact, I believe it to be harder than the previous games.

For one, the combat is faster and more aggressive than the Souls games. In the Souls games, the player would block and time his/her attacks, and that would be it. In “Bloodborne,” there are no shields, as they were taken out in favor of faster rolling and two new mechanics: quick stepping and the “regain system.” Quick stepping is used while targeting an enemy. When you press the “dodge” button, instead of rolling, you will strafe around the enemy. The “regain system” was put in to make players more aggressive in “Bloodborne.” If the player takes damage, there will be a dull red portion of the player’s health bar. Upon hitting an enemy, a certain part of the bar will be replenished, allowing the player to heal himself/herself by attacking. This helps to conserve blood vials, the healing item of “Bloodborne.”

The combat is fluid and amazing and absolutely challenging, as to be expected by From Software.

A doubt I had about “Bloodborne” is that the composer for the previous two Souls games, Motoi Sakuraba, was not the composer for the soundtrack. This left some troubles in my mind as to whether the music would live up to the previous games. After the first boss fight that fear was quickly washed away by the dark and eerie theme for the Cleric Beast, as Michael Wandmacher does an excellent job capturing the horror theme of “Bloodborne.”

This is another point. The enemy design in “Bloodborne” is top-notch and very unique. The game takes the stereotypical look of the werewolf as a bipedal humanoid wolf creature and makes it work. The beasts range from grotesque and disproportionate to absolutely terrifying. There are even a few human bosses to break away from all the werewolves. The level design as well is absolutely beautiful. The sky is incredibly detailed, the scenery is reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic Victorian-era Great Britain, full of broken horse carriages, torches and lanterns and even fountains. This helps the combat by making it harder to decide when to dodge and when to attack, or even how to dodge, as the player can be in a very crowded area or a huge open area.

All-in-all, my first few hours with “Bloodborne” have made it one of the best games I’ve played in years, even more so than the Souls games. I’m looking forward to even more from this game, and I hope it doesn’t fall short of my expectations.