Bloodborne is the latest game from From Software, the company that make itself known with Dark Souls and Dark Souls II in recent years. Bloodborne is an excellent spiritual successor to those games. It uses the same skeleton of game mechanics that made From Software famous, while building on them to create a game that will appeal to veterans and newcomers alike.

Bloodborne does not take place in the same universe as the Dark Souls series. The setting is a bit more modern- there are lamps instead of bonfires and the player’s secondary weapon is a pistol. It still retains the ruins and Gothic flavor, but it feels like a setting more Renaissance than medieval. The graphics are excellent- From maintains their trademark ability to link together the whole map, so that major objectives loom large in the views ahead, and sites of past battles are visible in sweeping vistas of the territory. Fans of previous From Software games will expect this, but it never stops being striking.
The gameplay is significantly different.

The offhand pistol is a secondary weapon used for stuns and similar small attacks. There are many mainhand melee weapons, each of which has two modes that act quite differently. Generally, one has more range and one has better damage, but the combinations are innovative and powerful. There is no more blocking- combat is much faster and more agile in Bloodbourne, full of acrobatics and dodges. Swapping between weapon modes is seamless and opens up opportunities for natural combos of attacks, although the game does not have a combo system per se. The player has access to a special life-draining counterattack that can let them claw back some of the damage they took if they get hit.

It’s a more fluid and tactical approach than Dark Souls and Dark Souls II took. Bloodbourne removes a lot of the spells and similar abilities previous games used, as well as the need to specialize in certain stats for certain weapons. Characters in Bloodborne are less differentiated, and there’s less need to specialize in a particular style.

The streamlined approach might turn off some people who liked the deep customization and hard choices of previous games, but it does make the combat system a little easier to work with. And the game is well up to the standards of difficulty that fans have come to expect- expect to die over and over. The souls mechanic has been replaced by the very similar blood mechanic, with the difference that nearby monsters can pick up the accumulated blood that the player drops upon dying. That means they need to track down and kill that monster to reclaim the blood, a cool expansion to reclaiming dropped souls.

Bloodborne is a streamlined and reimagined Souls game that builds on its predecessors with new mechanics and a new setting. While it doesn;t have quite the “wow” factor as the original Dark Souls, fans of the series and newcomers alike should love it. 9.5/10.


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