Bloodborne for PS4 - not for the faint-hearted
Hardcore gaming critics have already proclaimed Bloodborne as the best release of this generation so far.
It's true, to some extent, with the action role-playing game exclusively available for the PS4 offering an incredible experience: a profound, almost philosophical adventure into the bowels of a unique hell, alongside innovative combat and enduring multiplayer modes.
But it's not one that'll appeal to everyone. Simply put, it's a hard game - very hard, in fact. The kind that only obsessive, multi-decade hand-eye coordinators will truly delve into and find rewarding.
On the surface, every aspect of Bloodborne resembles creator Hidetaka Miyazaki's previous Dark Souls achievements. Peel back the layers, though, and it's incredible to see how past glories have been kept in check, while consistently building for this new generation.
The story, for instance, follows a similar pattern of gothic horrors. Players take on the role of a hunter seeking a cure for an illness and thrown into the bleak Yharnam, a city whose inhabitants are turning into hideous monstrosities. But here the game treads deeper metaphysical territory, delving into the link between man and beast - how easy it is to slip from one to the other.
The world, too, initially mirrors Souls' Lordran, with Yharnam acting as a haunting blend of Stoker settings and Lovecraft's creatures. Tarnished pathways, intriguing religious structures and frightful iron towers are all present. There's also the ghostly Hunter's Dream, a graveyard-like sub-world where entrenched players can upgrade skills, weapons and equipment.
And then there's the combat. Offence is key, not just to land important blows using a range of quick-fire weapons, but also for your survival. A perfectly timed retaliation, for instance, refills your health bar slightly, and it's here that the challenge comes in.
Fighting off beasts, exploring frightening worlds and challenging players in several online modes is all well and good. But the difficulties can't be ignored. It takes plenty of skill and precision for those perfectly timed hack-and-slashes in the seemingly impossible boss battles.
Far be it from us to put off fans from taking on Bloodborne's devilish world and multi-faceted gameplay, but be warned: here's a game that offers a true challenge and rewards you for all the blood spilt.