Spending time on the PAX show floor is like Christmas morning set on a loop, with exciting new and in-development video games available to play. One of my most anticipated, and feared, games of this conference was From Software’s upcoming Bloodborne. This game, developed by Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, is designed to be relentlessly brutal because that’s what we want.
From Software makes games that look and sound phenomenal, but even armed with that knowledge I was blown away by Bloodborne‘s presentation. One particularly striking feature of this game is its almost overpowering sound design. Each step echoes loudly, and that combined with the intricately detailed environments has you constantly looking over your shoulder. Visually, characters and environments are exquisitely menacing and pull you right into the experience. In terms of gameplay, I only had one small issue with lock-on; it wasn’t as dependable as I had become accustomed from playing other From Software titles.
As a veteran of the Souls games, I learned a long time ago to tread carefully and not get greedy. This was especially important since I had no shield to bail me out of trouble if I got in too close to enemies. The playable demo takes place on the streets of Yharnam, an ancient city afflicted with a curse. The action picks up outside a locked gate with abandoned carts and boxes strewn about. Around my first corner I got ambushed by a cursed one but took him out handily. Then as I went down some stairs, I began to encounter groups, forcing me to stay back to work out a strategy.
One distinguishing feature of Bloodborne as opposed to something like Dark Souls is that I have a shotgun at my disposal, so I figured now was the time to use it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly as powerful as it looked (at least at this point in the game anyway). It staggered a couple of enemies, but alerted a host of others. Within seconds, I was completely surrounded and lay dying in a pool of blood and disappointment at myself for making such a rookie mistake.
At that point, when my demo ended and thanked me for playing, I saw a glimpse of that special ingredient from the Souls games within Bloodborne. It was the overpowering compulsion to dive back in and meet its challenge; to keep trying until I finally figure out a way through. If it were feasible (and if my boss wouldn’t kill me), I wouldn’t have a problem with spending an entire day with this game. One thing I do know is that I’m definitely going to have another go at it before this weekend is over.
Perhaps the most sadistic thing about playing Bloodborne is the crushing realization that I won’t be able to play it at release as it is a PS4 exclusive. Different people have different opinions about console exclusives, but the fact that it is only available for PS4 owners is, in my mind, one of the biggest arguments against console exclusivity.
Bloodborne is slated for release in 2015 on the PS4.