Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Why I Sold Bloodborne

Bloodborne was something of a smash hit in 2015, selling healthily and having Game of the Year nominations and awards thrown at it. With the team from Dark Souls behind it I decided to keep clear of spoilers and get it, I was a huge fan of Dark Souls and was eager to see what they could do with a PS4. What a shame I didn’t read the previews, I could have warned myself.

Dark Souls was a revelation, an experience unlike any other (I know Demon Souls came first but I heard of it after Dark Souls.) It’s punishing gameplay, amazing world design, dense lore and unique blend of Japanese and Western sensibilities made for a truly landmark game. Dark Souls 2, whilst good, simply offered more of the same and, sadly, tired after the halfway mark.

Dark Souls is an astoundingly good game...
With Bloodborne featuring the return of Dark Soul’s mastermind and being current-gen only, I had high hopes for another amazing, unique experience. What I got was Dark Souls with guns.

Put down your pitchforks and hear me out.

Yes Bloodborne is faster paced, yes it features a heavier emphasis on ranged combat, yes it features a plethora of small tweaks to the Souls formula. This doesn’t mean it isn’t just the fourth entry in the Souls series. Demon Souls set up the franchise, Dark Souls cemented, Dark Souls 2 stagnated it. Bloodborne, and I suspect I’ll say the same of Dark Souls 3 if I ever play it, is an unnecessary and tired sequel. The novelty of the Souls formula has worn off, it isn’t different anymore, it feels like each game beyond the original Dark Souls is difficult just because and features the pillars of the formula simply to tick them off of a list.

...Bloodborne is an astoundingly dull one. 
It feels like From Software have become complacent and, after putting roughly ten hours into Bloodborne I hadn’t really seen or done anything I hadn’t done in Dark Souls, the sense of De-Ja-Vu was nauseating, what used to be a rewarding challenge is now just a tedious slog. The tricks and strategies of Dark Souls are now boring habits and only takes a few minutes to adapt to Bloodborne’s systems so, really, there is no risk, no reward. The only learning curve to speak of is how long it takes you to realise that, underneath the pretty Lovecraftian imagery, Bloodborne is Dark Souls is Demon Souls – they are all Souls games through and through.

Miyazaki and the team at From Software are obviously immensely talented, Dark Souls speaks to that talent at a cacophonic frequency, but they need to pull their fingers out and get the creative juices flowing again. I hope Dark Souls 3 is the last Souls game and I hope we don’t see a Bloodborne 2. I’m excited to see what From Software can do next, not to see a rehash of what they’ve done before.

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