You travel alone through the decrepit, dark, cobble stoned street at midnight in the Victorian era meets Lovecraftian horror world. A lone traveller. A cursed town. A deadly mystery that swallows everything it touches. Welcome to the city of Yharnam, a forsaken place ravaged by a terrible, all-consuming, all-maddening illness. Can you survive the night? Fucking hell, no.
Church bells toll in the distance as chains rattle somewhere close by. Hordes of wolf men patrol the streets, screaming profanities at you, swinging axes and torches in your direction, terrified of you, furious.
You’re better off dead!
It’s all your fault!
The creators of the Dark Souls franchise have answered the prayers of all gothic horror adventure fans worldwide in Bloodborne. For someone who doesn’t play games like me, the game drags you in through spectacular world-building and storytelling. Like any realistic world, there needs to be dust, broken bottles and creaking of floorboards to show it is inhabited, not artificial. Or, in Bloodborne‘s case, death, broken bones and the shrieking of madmen. You’ll die more times than any other game, but you’re happy to endure the tribulations, not even for the end result but for tribulation’s sake. It feels good to feel bad. Bloodborne is as much a cinematic experience as it is a game, with characters as heavy and as real as any flick, and as scary as your worst nightmares allow.
This game is not for the weak of heart. Seeing a trolley full of limbs and skulls swinging their way towards you, vomiting acid from twenty meters away is no fucking picnic, God damn it. The creativity of design for vast amounts of creatures is awe and dread inspiring, from normal men whose heads explode to reveal striking tentacles, to floating brains who creep inside your mind and eviscerate you. Taking sci-fi terrors of the past and twisting them, morphing them to suit the world’s vision, is something Bloodborne does with precision. Cthulhu type creatures that scale walls and kill unsuspecting players, for one.
But the most challenging aspect of the game is naturally the most rewarding. You begin the game knowing nothing, and it might take you ten hours to find a book telling you one small detail of who someone is, or why some priest was killed. Then, onward and downward to a horde of giant fly monsters who attach themselves to your head. I’m serious. If you expect a stroll to a scroll in a library showing the entire timeline of the cataclysm that led to this kind of hell, you’ll be disappointed. But if you expect nothing, you’ll be delighted when you find something not even of value but of interest. It leaves the player starved of attention, Yharnam is the centre of this world and you’re just a visitor. An unwelcome visitor.
So you’ll traverse darkness and fog, weave your way through forbidden woods or up church towers, to find something, anything to help you progress away from the creatures hidden in darkness, who wait for you to come. But it keeps getting worse and worse, the monsters bigger, the moon redder, the screams louder and the game better and better.
Also be prepared to mow down lunatic old men in wheelchairs holding gatling guns.
The music, which took two and a half years to create, is one of the best soundtracks you’ll hear, and fits the visuals and storyline like that troll’s axe that fitted in your head at least twenty bloody times. In an era of unimaginable unimagination for games and films, with cash cows like Call of Duty (16 games) and the Marvel Universe (18 films) dominating the industries, the most refreshing aspect about Bloodborne is the perfected portrayal of a little used genre, and making it an experience like nothing you’ve had yet.