Get ready to die. Again and again. In horror-themed action role-playing game Bloodborne, fighting (and being killed by) unreasonably strong enemies over and over again to learn their attack patterns is part of the process. The developers deliberately made the game this hard to encourage an obsessive level of commitment to practice and perfection, and the end result is a wonderful experience – if you have the patience to keep at it.
You play as the hunter, sent to the gothic town of Yharnam to cleanse it of a mysterious curse that has turned most of the populace into blood-starved beasts. As you delve deeper into the sprawling city, you’ll discover the source of the plague, and battle to save not just the town, but your own sanity as well.
The main draw of the game is the deep combat system. Each enemy has a specific moveset that you’ll have to memorise so you know exactly when to attack and dodge. One mistimed roll and you could find yourself staring at the game over screen. And because the levelling system requires you to bring your experience points back to camp before you can improve your stats, you are in constant danger of losing all the hard-earned points you’ve gathered if you die.
The level design is also superb. Each major area of the game has its own atmosphere, so whether you’re exploring the university that secretly performed experiments on human subjects, or the forest ruled by sentient snake parasites, you will always be surprised by new types of enemies.
The variety of weapons also means you will never get bored of Bloodborne. Each weapon has its own play style, from a powerful but slow-swinging greatsword to a nimble but less damaging rapier. You can always go back and try to master a different weapon in another play-through, and your experience will be completely different.
Bloodborne is not for the faint of heart or the easily deterred. Most players who start the game will never finish it because the punishing first level is so frustrating. But if you decide to push through that wall, you’ll find a masterpiece of a game that is one of the best gaming experiences you will ever have.