I donít think Iíve ever felt as nervous booting up a game as I did the first time Bloodborne went into my PS4.
Part of it was down to expectation. Despite being initially resistant to the pull of Dark Souls
, when the game was done it instantly made its way into my top ten games of all time. Anything short of the same will leave me feeling disappointed.
Most of my nerves, however, were down to the daunting task I was facing. I was naive at the start of Dark Souls
. I had no idea what the game was going to ask of me. The difficulty is one thing but the lack of knowledge about what was behind every corner almost broke me emotionally.
These days Iím more aware of what Hidetaka Miyazaki is capable of. Among his many talents, he seems to understand how far he can push his audience and when they seem to have the better of him. With the insane challenge runs being conjured up by the hardcore of his previous games, he is now aware that he can push them even further.
If felt like picking up a huge book. You question if you want to commit the time and effort it takes to get through it, but with a writer this talented, you know youíll be missing out if you donít.
My first steps into Yharnam - the game's beautifully grotty city - created slow, strong thuds on the cobbled paving. Each considered and filled with tension. My heart was pounding before the light from the lantern had stopped bouncing off of my back and I had my first ďOh shitĒ moment within minutes as I stared down onto a mob of enemies gathered around a huge fire.
As I wandered around trying to find where to go I couldnít help but notice the incredible level design on show. Itís the best Iíve ever seen in a game, with a city full of shortcuts, intertwined routes and vistas over past or future areas.
It reminded me of the start of Resident Evil 4
. I felt like an unwelcome outsider. That all eyes were on me and the townsfolk were only quiet because I was in earshot. As I ventured though the opening area my paranoia was validated as enemies barked at me as they attacked. They feared me but tried to take their threat down.
It doesnít rest on its laurels either, with new enemy types around every corner. I wasnít only an outsider to the world Bloodborne
is set in, I was also one in the game Miyazaki has created.
Iíve finished Dark Souls
and Iíve played a big chunk of the game through a second time. Iím in no way an expert but with this prior-knowledge I should have been able to run through the start of Bloodborne
with ease, but thatís not what they want.
asks the Souls
-experienced player to drop what they know of the series. Thereís no shield to hide behind and health is now at a premium. Waiting for an enemy to attack first can be fatal and fat-rolling is a thing of the past.
is about aggression. It removes the option to wait back and size up an opponent before he reaches you. If you do that here, youíll find yourself in the middle of a mob and with no hope of survival.
So you adapt. You make quick tactical decisions and attack with force. If you get hit you now have a brief amount of time to win the health back by causing damage ,starting a loop on continued attacks in a hope that you donít have to waste any health items. It never allows you to take a breath.
Whether itís a new enemy type that hits harder or a wrong turn into an area that youíve got no hope of surviving, Bloodborne
is constantly keeping you on your toes and asking you to break through walls.
Continuing the pace, this game hit me with my first sticking point very early on. The first boss seemed impossible to me far too quickly. Known as the Cleric Beast, heís a big hairy dickhead with a huge arm that happily swings towards your skull the moment you look at it. Powerful, aggressive and intimidating. I thought Iíd never be able to progress.
But once he was down I looked at my hands and they were shaking. The adrenaline was pumping though my veins and I should have hopped into the shower straight after to wash the dried sweat from my forehead.
This is why I love From Softwareís games. They push you to the edge, keep you interested and then give you a reward not with in-game items but with personal achievement.
Iím still early on and feeling the pressure of the task I have
ahead of me, but the opening few hours have given me optimism that this will meet expectations.
It feels magical at times. Full of emotions that only Souls
games can achieve, and if it keeps this up Iíll ether have a new entry to my list of favourite games of all time or be in the fetal position in the corner of my house muttering Ďthis town's finishedí to myself over and over again.