Bloodborne review: The joy of relearning what you already know (2023)

Bloodborne review: The joy of relearning what you already know (1)

Game Details

Developer: From Software
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PS4
Rating: M for Mature
Release Date: March 24, 2014
Price: $60
Links: Official website

After learning that I had undergone a transfusion of the blood—the blood that serves as currency, medicine, religious symbolism, and much more in Bloodborne’s gothic world—I left my basement hospital bed to explore the world above. I was, of course, killed. Repeatedly.

Everything seemed to be in order.

Whenever the Souls games (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Dark Souls 2) are discussed, the focus usually falls on the series' punishing difficulty. Focusing on that one design element, though, obscures talk about the games’ incredible, interconnected worlds and the wonderful feeling of exploration they engender. That insignificant enemy that can kill you with three telegraphed sword strikes is just as important as the dozen-hour trek through the sewers to unlock a door in a forest valley half a world away.

Make no mistake; Bloodborne is a Souls game in everything but name, sharing a development lineage in From Software and Director Hidetaka Miyazaki. From the controls to the way progress is lost upon death, the sound effects to the goofy ragdoll physics, anyone with a passing familiarity with the series will recognize Bloodborne as part of the same family. But Bloodborne marks a departure from theSouls name, even while keeping the series' characteristic punishing repeat deaths, massive bosses, and environmental storytelling.

(Video) Bloodborne - Review

Like Demon's Souls, Bloodborne sports a hub world that keeps the regions—along with their various monsters, poisons, and traps—connected. Bloodborne's gothic city-state of Yarnam isn't as fluid as the recent Souls games, though. While its many zones do connect, there'snot as much frequency or depth to those overlaps. Thanks to the hub world (aka The Hunter's Dream), you can effectively tackle the zones in any order relatively early into the game.

In each zone you will find "beasts," the once human victims of a plague ravaging Yarnam and its outlying hamlets. The lucky, the rich, and the smart have locked themselves inside to ride out the game’s seemingly endless "night of the hunt.” You can even speak to these cowering characters through cracks in doors and windows—some will offer assistance, but most will simply flesh out the world through mocking dialogue.

It's actually odd to hear so much talking in a Souls game. The game’s esoteric, confusing plot (a hard-to-unravel tale involving monsters and a perhaps-evil baby) is told primarily through written item descriptions and context-free spiels from passing characters, just like the Souls games. But Bloodborneadds entire cutscenes with actual dialogue between multiple speaking characters. It's not much exposition by the standards of most modern games, but for a Souls game it's practically the opening crawl from Star Wars.

The old give-and-take

Further Reading

Learning how to die in Dark Souls II

(Video) Call of Duty Vanguard Was WORSE Than You Remember

For all the familiarity garnered from previous Souls games, there are quite a few significant tweaks to the gameplay formula in Bloodborne. The game does away with the option to block enemy attacks, forcing you to bob in and out of each enemy's reach. Veteran Souls players often ditch their bucklers in favor of heavier hitting implements anyway, but being able to absorb damage while squaring off against bosses or traipsing through unexplored hallways was a great way to learn their patterns. That's not even an option in Bloodborne. Even the armor seems less effective; you now wrap yourself in rags, cloaks, and leather, rather than onion-layered steel.

I wasn't prepared for the number of enemies onscreen at any given time, either. Demon's Souls and Dark Souls typically didn’t task players with more than about three opponents at once, though there werea few swarming, insect-like exceptions. In the very first area of Bloodborne, however, a dozen gun-toting, pitchfork-wielding, infected zombie-werewolves bombard you from all sides. It's a huge tactical adjustment for veteran players, especially now that the shield-blocking stance of the "sword and board" loadout is no longer a learning option. Crowd control is vital, as is picking your angle of attack to bottleneck adversaries one at a time.

Bloodborne’s design helps compensate for this new enemy onslaught with a few new tools, though. The most visible is what my reviewer's guide refers to as the "regain" system. Any time an enemy slaps, bites, shoots, burns, or otherwise tears out a chunk of your health bar, it's possible to get most of those stolen hit points back by counterattacking within a generous three-to-five second window.

The regain system effectively forces players to be more aggressive, though attempting to counter often got me into even worse trouble than if I had held back. You can never regain health faster than the enemy can dish it out, especially while being attacked by multiple targets. Instead, it's sometimes better to disengage and suffer the wounds, rather than dying on the spot.

At times like these, you can break out the guns (another major addition to the formula) to stagger or slow encroaching foes without dealing much damage. You can also make use of a secondary “trick” mode on every melee weapon, which usually lowers the inflicted damage in favor of crowd-controlling range. I started with a sword cane that morphs into a Castlevania-style whip, eventually moving on to a mace that I could charge with enemy-scattering electricity.

For returning players, each new Souls game could never quite match the intensity of the first game. Familiarity with the series’ basic systems made every game past the first one you played much easier and a bit less magical. Learning these kinds of new strategies in Bloodborne was a welcome return to something near that "learning to crawl" high I got playing the original Dark Souls years ago.

(Video) Souls Inheritors: Bloodborne vs. Sekiro vs. Elden Ring [Spoilers]

Taking a step back

Aside from the welcome combat changes, a few other tweaks make Bloodborne feel like a bit more of a grind than previous Souls games. Healing "blood vials" are at a premium now that the rechargeable healing Estus Flask from the past two Souls games has disappeared. Bloodborne players are dependent on salves found as random drops or funded through expensive shop purchases, just like in the original Demon's Souls.

The bonfires from previous games are also absent, replaced with lanterns that teleport players back to The Hunter's Dream hub world. The old bonfire and the new hub allow for the same basic actions: managing stocked items, leveling your character, upgrading weapons, and respawning enemies to grind for experience-boosting “blood echoes.”

But The Hunter’s Dream transport adds some insufferable loading times to the proceedings. The entire fast-travel-and-respawn cycle to get to the hub world and back includes two separate loading screens and takes a good 30 to 50 seconds each time. It's a painful wait you’ll have to suffer over and over and over again after every frequent trial-and-error death. That’s bad enough, but you also have to sit through this laborious process every time you want to repopulate the world with some new enemies, or replenish exhausted supplies, or simply cash in your gathered experience. It's a baffling throwback to a problem the series solved back in 2011’s Dark Souls (Sony tells IGN that an upcoming patch will reduce the load time issues).

In any other game, the constant loading annoyance would have been a major hindrance to my overall enjoyment. But Bloodborne and its predecessors are all about finding ways around problems—even ones needlessly created by the developers.

To avoid loading times, I ended up eschewing an enemy-farming “refresh” at the hub world in favor of re-exploring old areas, looking for hidden paths and items, and gathering echoes while opening new shortcuts. In this way, I'd gather the same crucial healing vials while also getting closer to leveling along the way. Sometimes I’d even discover new shorter ways through the world on these wanderings. This workaround doesn't excuse the frustrating design, but working through it felt like just another unforgiving puzzle for me to solve in the end.

Recapturing the magic

Bloodborne review: The joy of relearning what you already know (2)
Once you get around the loading annoyances and when you manage to gather up the requisite massive supply of healing items, Bloodborne is wonderful. The Gothic theme is overruling at first, but it eventually gives way to new and treacherous environments I loved exploring. Art design remains one of From Software's great strengths, and thanks to the PlayStation 4, we can finally see these environments running at a solid resolution and framerate.

The bosses you dispatch in those environments don't have quite the kick as those in the first Dark Souls (too many clock in at under 20 stories tall, for my taste), but neither are they as easy as the diluted hordes found in Dark Souls 2. When you do manage to find and fight a boss, it feels special.

(Video) Bloodborne... 7 Years Later

Basically, Bloodborne’s design tweaks recapture everything I loved about playing through Dark Souls for the first time. Sometimes that delight is marred by some unfortunate, regressive design choices, but it's not enough to sully what remains one of the best formulas in games.

Author’s Note: This review encompasses roughly 40 hours of exploration through Bloodborne’s world. While I managed to spend significant time in every in-game region, I didn't quite defeat the final boss in time to file this review.

The good

  • Veteran Souls players get to learn how to play all over again.
  • Combat changes bring fresh new strategies.
  • The new Gothic theme is grim and gorgeous.
  • Exploration and the slow build of power aresatisfying.

The bad

  • Farming for healing items.
  • Long load times.
  • A few underwhelming bosses.

The ugly

  • If you ever have to think "I wonder if I can survive that fall," you cannot survive that fall.

Verdict: It may not surpass Dark Souls as my favorite game in the series, but Bloodborne is still a wonderful way to usher the franchise onto a new generation of consoles, for new and old players alike. Buy It.


What you should know before playing Bloodborne? ›

Bloodborne: 10 Must Know Things For New Players
  • 3 Explore At Your Own Risk.
  • 4 Blood Vial Hoarding. ...
  • 5 Your Gun Is For Parries, Not Attacking. ...
  • 6 Faster Than Dark Souls. ...
  • 7 Learn From Death. ...
  • 8 Assess The Situation. ...
  • 9 Learn Enemy Attacks. ...
  • 10 No Shields Here. ...
May 9, 2021

Is Bloodborne a soul game? ›

Bloodborne, for example, is a Souls game, despite not having the word 'Souls' in the title. Elden Ring is likely to do something similar, but set within its own universe while borrowing from previous FromSoftware games. Many will consider Elden Ring to be a Souls game, yet it's still very much its own entity.

Is Bloodborne connected to Dark Souls? ›

They are completely unrelated. FromSoftware just likes to reference older titles in most of their games, specifically, they like to reference King's Field(a launch title in Japan and FromSoftware's first game, and a game that influenced current FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki).

Is Bloodborne too hard for beginners? ›

Bloodborne is a hard game. It will savage you and leave you for the birds many times over. Accept that and move on. If you keep practicing and keep fighting, you'll overcome the challenges in the game.

Is Bloodborne really that hard of a game? ›

Parents need to know that Bloodborne is a wildly difficult and extremely violent role-playing game.

Why is Bloodborne the hardest Souls game? ›

Bloodborne is often touted as one of the hardest games of all time. For that matter, the entire Dark Souls series is bandied as some of the hardest games ever, but Bloodborne is often seen as particularly challenging thanks to its fast-paced combat.

Is Bloodborne better than Elden Ring? ›

Both games feature great soundtracks, challenging combat, and diverse character-building. Certain aspects, such as combat pacing, are a matter of preference over fact. Bloodborne appeals to aggressive playstyles, while Elden Ring is more methodical.

Which Souls game is closest to Bloodborne? ›

Dark Souls 3

This game is also the fastest game of the franchise when it comes to gameplay. Considering that shields are weaker, attacks are faster, and a few locations look somewhat like Yharnam, one can see why Dark Souls 3 is the one that is the most like Bloodborne.

Why Bloodborne is so much better than Dark Souls? ›

But Bloodborne is a bit better. In its case, the studio took the best Dark Souls mechanics and improved them even further, creating something truly epic. The combat is faster, the world is darker, the bosses' graphics are better, and the multiplayer mechanics allow even more fun.

Is Elden Ring related to Bloodborne? ›

Although both Elden Ring and Bloodborne contain similarities in the figures of the Outer Gods and Great Ones, respectively, their roles in their game's lore are much different.

What is the easiest class in Bloodborne? ›

Also the name of an excellent indie game, Lone Survivor is probably the best class for beginners. This class has the most Vitality, so you're going to be able to withstand quite a lot of damage early on. If you're new to the Souls games, that will come in handy during the tricky opening exchanges.

Is Bloodborne easier or harder than Elden Ring? ›

Bloodborne is one of FromSoftware's most beloved games, but after playing Elden Ring, players can find that its opening level feels a lot tougher. When Elden Ring released in Feb. 2022, it was adored by fans and critics alike, becoming one of the highest-rated games of all time.

Is The Witcher harder than Bloodborne? ›

5 Bloodborne

Bloodborne is one of the most difficult and darkest games of its genre. You'll face numerous bosses, whereas The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has fewer bosses that pose a problem. Technically speaking, Dettlaff from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's Blood and Wine DLC is more difficult than anything in Bloodborne.

How long is a full game of Bloodborne? ›

When focusing on the main objectives, Bloodborne is about 33 Hours in length. If you're a gamer that strives to see all aspects of the game, you are likely to spend around 76 Hours to obtain 100% completion.

How long is the average Bloodborne game? ›

NUMBER OF PLAYERS AND AVERAGE PLAYTIME: This cooperative board game for teens and adults can be played with 1 to 4 players and is suitable for ages 14 and up. The average playtime is 60 to 90 minutes.

Can you make Bloodborne easier? ›

- When you get three Bloodstone Shards, upgrade your weapon immediately. Weapon upgrades helps more than anything else in the game in terms of paring down difficulty. - Save up Blood Echoes for your first set of armor (err, clothing), which will help a bit to mitigate damage before you can actually start leveling up.

What is the shortest Souls game? ›

Dark Souls 3 features the shortest average playtime out of all the games in the series.

What is the easiest FromSoftware game? ›

Ranking Every FromSoftware Soulslike From Easiest To Hardest
  • 14 Dark Souls II.
  • 13 Bloodborne.
  • 12 Dark Souls III.
  • 11 Demon's Souls.
  • 10 Elden Ring.
  • 9 Dark Souls.
  • 8 Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
  • 7 Dark Souls: Artorias Of The Abyss.
Mar 8, 2023

Which Souls game is easiest? ›

In many ways, Dark Souls 3 is the easiest Dark Souls game because FromSoft had ironed out many of the little problems from previous entries. Combat in that game is far more polished and faster than it was in Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2.

Who is the hardest boss in Bloodborne? ›

1. Orphan of Kos. Without a doubt the toughest fight in Bloodborne, and perhaps in the entirety of the Soulsborne series. Orphan of Kos is the final boss of expansion The Old Hunters, and is worth the wait.

Why Bloodborne is the best game ever made? ›

From the setting to the story and characters, Bloodborne was a great experience for gamers new and old to the Soulsborne genre.
  • 2 The Fashion.
  • 3 Simplicity Of Weapons. ...
  • 4 Speed Of Combat. ...
  • 5 Chalice Dungeons. ...
  • 6 Eldritch Horrors. ...
  • 7 Mysterious Lore. ...
  • 8 Diversity Of Builds. ...
  • 9 Grotesquely Awesome Boss Designs. ...
Jun 23, 2022

What is the best Bloodborne origin? ›

Bloodborne: Best Origin Class For Beginners To Souls-Likes
  1. 1 Military Veteran.
  2. 2 Professional. ...
  3. 3 Violent Past. ...
  4. 4 Troubled Childhood. ...
  5. 5 Lone Survivor. ...
  6. 6 Milquetoast. Sometimes, the best class is one where players are pretty well-rounded and can start from whichever class they want without too many issues. ...
Feb 3, 2023

Is Sekiro easier than Bloodborne? ›

Sekiro is the easiest once you have mastered parrying. Dark Souls is harder unless you go for a tank build. Bloodborne might be the hardest after all. I've not played bloodborne but with the dark games once you're past the first playthrough you start to over level your character which counters game+ making it easier.

What is the oldest Souls game? ›

Dark Souls is the first game in the series; it is considered a spiritual successor to Demon's Souls (2009).

What is the most successful Souls game? ›

Dark Souls III - 10 Million

This was many Souls fans' first game in the franchise, and it did not disappoint. Dark Souls III received over ten million sales which far surpassed any of FromSoftware's previous entries.

Is Bloodborne more aggressive than Dark Souls? ›

"Bloodborne is more aggressive than any of the three Souls games. Although sword-and-board was the default approach in the past, dual wielding or two handed weapons is the way forward."

Is Bloodborne more violent than Dark Souls? ›

Much more violent and gruesome than the Dark Souls trilogy. The player can use weapons such as guns, cannons, swords, hack saws and handheld pile drivers to kill zombies, humans and monsters.

What FromSoftware game should I play after Bloodborne? ›

This means that the order should be: Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3, and then Sekiro, which would bring the player up to the release of Elden Ring.

Is Elden Ring harder than Dark Souls or Bloodborne? ›

Are you wondering whether Elden Ring is harder or easier than Dark Souls, Demon's Souls, Bloodborne and Sekiro? The answer: It's the hardest FromSoftware game so far, harder than Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne and Sekiro – if you play it legit without abusing exploits/cheese methods.

Which is better Dark Souls or Bloodborne or Sekiro? ›

Both Games Impress In Unique Regards

Sekiro chases a much more fluid and fast combat experience, reliant on the posture system to push aggressive play against bosses. Bloodborne resembles Dark Souls more than Sekiro, but still has a lot of visual and gameplay flair to make it distinctly its own game.

Is the DLC good Bloodborne? ›

Overall, The Old Hunters DLC is fantastic value for money, adding some horrifying new bosses, incredible weapons, and fascinating lore. It's a must-play DLC for any Bloodborne fans. It is incredibly difficult in places, however, so I'd advise you play through it on a fresh save, as opposed to going in via New Game+.

Is anyone still playing Bloodborne? ›

People still play the first one many years later cuz the gameplay, story and world is so interesting.

What is a great one Bloodborne? ›

The Great Ones are a race of eldritch god-like entities that reside within the universe of Bloodborne. They serve as the main antagonistic race in Bloodborne.

Who is the blood guy in Elden Ring? ›

Mohg, Lord of Blood is an optional boss in Elden Ring, demi-god and lord of the Mohgwyn Palace. He is a powerful spellcaster with a wide variety of bleed inflicting spells, as well as powerful melee attacks.

How are you supposed to know what to do in Bloodborne? ›

  1. Don't worry about dying – you're supposed to. ...
  2. Look for shortcuts and Lanterns. ...
  3. Choose your beginning weapons. ...
  4. Learn to dodge, rally and parry. ...
  5. Use pebbles to lure enemies and pick them off separately. ...
  6. Buy, loot and equip new weapons and gear. ...
  7. Retrieving Blood Echoes (don't be afraid to run) ...
  8. Don't fight Father Gascoigne first.
Mar 6, 2018

Is Bloodborne harder than Elden Ring? ›

Yes absolutely easier than elden ring. For me blood borne is very easy, there are plenty amount of heal in the game and bosses doesn't do that much damage its not look like they gonna one shot you at anytime like in elden ring.

What should a beginner level up in Bloodborne? ›

To make the entry into this game easier, here's an in-depth look into Bloodborne's best stats to level up.
  • 6 Endurance.
  • 5 Bloodtinge.
  • 4 Arcane.
  • 3 Strength.
  • 2 Skill.
  • 1 Vitality.
Jul 26, 2021

Should a 13 year old play Bloodborne? ›

A PEGI 16, obviously too strict but very bloody

First of all, most PEGI 18s are suitable for 12 year olds, so a PEGI 16 is obviously not for 18+. Bloodborne is a grim, but incredible game with loads of blood, drenching clothes and splattering the environment.

Is Bloodborne as hard as Dark Souls? ›

Bloodborne is often touted as one of the hardest games of all time. For that matter, the entire Dark Souls series is bandied as some of the hardest games ever, but Bloodborne is often seen as particularly challenging thanks to its fast-paced combat.

What is more difficult Bloodborne or Dark Souls? ›

Especially since the bosses in this game have absolutely no attack pattern – their actions are random, unpredictable, and highly brutal. Everything happens very quickly and often in small spaces, so you may not have much room at your disposal. And that makes Bloodborne much more challenging than Dark Souls.

Should I play Elden Ring or Bloodborne? ›

Both games feature great soundtracks, challenging combat, and diverse character-building. Certain aspects, such as combat pacing, are a matter of preference over fact. Bloodborne appeals to aggressive playstyles, while Elden Ring is more methodical.

How long does it take to complete Bloodborne? ›

When focusing on the main objectives, Bloodborne is about 33 Hours in length. If you're a gamer that strives to see all aspects of the game, you are likely to spend around 76 Hours to obtain 100% completion.

Is Elden Ring the hardest game ever? ›

Elden Ring is one of the most popular games in recent years, and also one of the hardest games of all time.

What is the strongest class in Bloodborne? ›

Lone Survivor

As the name implies, this class is high in vitality. No matter what genre you play, if you're the type of play who chooses to boost their HP first, you should like the lone survivor. It has the highest starting hit points out of any class at 659. By comparison, the well-rounded milquetoast only has 594.

How creepy is Bloodborne? ›

What makes so many of the areas in Bloodborne genuinely spooky is the atmosphere and player experience that comes with progressing through the game. The game successfully taps into the feeling of dread and anxiety as you explore each area, fight each boss, and discover new secrets about the world.

Why is Bloodborne capped at 30? ›

The reason for this isn't because the PS5 hardware is too weak however. Instead, FromSoftware has intentionally locked the game 30FPS so it can't go any higher even if the hardware is capable of doing so.

Why is Bloodborne always trending? ›

There have been over 8.5k Bloodborne tweets, which have caused the hack-n-slash title to trend on Mr. Musk's social media platform. One fan joked, "Guys just think, one day Bloodborne will be trending, and it'll actually be good news...


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