Will You Buy Dark Souls II After Bloodborne?

27 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Bloodborne’ May Be The Best ‘Souls’ Game Yet.

There’s something masochistic about video gamers. Descended from the cult hit Dark Souls series while offering several critical changes to the formula, PlayStation 4 game has wowed reviewers come its day of release. Even if you’re playing an innocuous-looking game like “Pac-Man,” you will be killed dozens of times before you get any good. “Bloodborne” (Sony, for the PlayStation 4, $59.99) doesn’t waste any time getting to the hard stuff. Ever since Sony first showed off Bloodborne at the Electronics Entertainment Expo in 2014, it was a game with great expectations, from a director (Hidetaka Miyazaki) and a company (From Software) known for terrifically difficult, enthralling titles (Dark Souls and Demon Souls). There’s 20 million PlayStation 4 gamers and counting, a dearth of new IP big budget games that are must have and it doesn’t look like the release schedules are packed with many more.

Jim Sterling, once of The Escapist and Destructoid, related his experience in a 10/10 review: “I’ve felt more genuine fear traversing Bloodborne’s funereal streets and dismal hallways than I have across countless instalments of Resident Evil or Silent Hill,” he wrote. I’m getting Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First Sin on my Xbox 360, as I can’t afford to upgrade yet, but when it’s time to get on the new gen Bloodborne will be there waiting for me and I’ll give a day’s wage for it. It is, in his view, “every bit a psychological horror game as it is one about swinging swords and levelling up, perhaps one of the most effective horror experiences you could hope to have,” one which combines “the very best of ‘Demon’s Souls’ and ‘Dark Souls’ … all while amping up the brutality to stunning degrees.” Game Informer devoted time to explaining the special place of boss battles in Bloodborne, climactic set piece events where players must defeat a particularly troublesome enemy. “These battles sync up incredibly well with the overarching themes of the game – keep your cool as the music and tension rise, and you shall emerge soaked in blood as fiends fall before you.” That intensity can also be found in encounters with other AI-controlled travellers in the Gothic plague city of Yharnam, where “a single mistimed manoeuvre can be the difference between victory and defeat.” Arduously difficult in keeping with its predecessors’ reputation, From Software plays to its strengths again “in communicating without ever telegraphing, in rewarding players who are willing to experiment and explore with knowledge,” writes EGM. “The Chalice Dungeons don’t come anywhere close to capturing that [handcrafted feel],” typical of the Souls games, perhaps a consequence of their necessarily modular nature.

Sure, you get reincarnated and armed with a couple of flimsy weapons, but if you aren’t prepared to die — over and over and over — you won’t get very far. “Bloodborne” is the latest torture device from evil genius Hidetaka Miyazaki and his Tokyo-based studio, From Software. Still, it’s a skyscraping 9.5/10. “Some are out there to find out about the world around them, and others want to fire a portable canon at werewolves for a couple dozen hours. Before I found myself in this snake-infested valley, I was exploring a hollowed out village filled with the same enemies we saw in Yharnam, only way tougher now. It’s the pinnacle of its little genre, the somewhat new brutally-challenging-death-at-every-turn brand of game, and it will push this brand of gaming to true prominence.

If you relished the challenge of their “Souls” adventures, you’ll love “Bloodborne.” If you hated those games — well, their new ordeal won’t change your mind. Once you get past that werewolf, you’ll find yourself in a sprawling city called Yharnam, where majestic Gothic towers loom over gore-drenched streets. It was after several hours of my “Bloodborne” review session that I discovered exactly why the gameplay was a combination or tense, exciting, rewarding and dangerously addictive. You start Bloodborne knowing little, except that somehow you’re on an operating table in a shady room, set free to wander with nothing but your fists. GC: We hope so, but it’s worth bearing in mind that Dark Souls has never been a particularly big mainstream hit, despite being a favourite of core gamers.

And just one hallway later, you’ve run into a werewolf, a battle you can’t win without weapons, a battle you lose despite even the finest efforts. It’s the creatures that have mutated — bloodthirsty lycanthropes, sledgehammer-wielding behemoths — that will send you screaming into the afterlife. You’re initially armed with two devices: a melee weapon that can be extended for longer-range attacks and a firearm that seems almost comically ineffective.

For the next 50-plus (emphasis on the plus) hours, you’ll walk a tightrope between the confidence that you’ve beaten that werewolf and the fear of how easily that wolf dismantled you at the game’s outset. I’d already scoured Yharnam, the fiery, werewolf infested Old Yharnam, the Grand Cathedral, and Hemwick, all crawling with witches and other terrors. From Software’s trajectory in the last few years has been pretty extraordinary, and it’s heartening to see a studio resolutely doing its own thing achieving the degree of commercial success it has. Those guys, like the ax-wielding lunatic Father Gascoigne and the tree-sized Cleric Beast, are less predictable, and you’ll need some trial and error before you can figure out their attacks.

All of these areas weave together in what can only be described as sheer genius—the mad genius of truly thoughtful and inspiring 3D level and environment design. If you lose, you get sent back to your last game save, at which point you have to slog your way back through the horde of lesser enemies you’ve already defeated and make your way back. I love the movement and map design; running along the sides of buildings and utilising vertically to best opponents is a great departure from the more grounded, military shooter.

Here’s the spot where many players will slam down their controllers in frustration — not at losing a boss battle, but at having to retrace all the tedious steps that led up to that fight. The end result is most comparable to that acclaimed Ninja Gaiden game on the original Xbox: it feels fast enough to be fun and accessible for anyone and then insists that you learn its mechanics. The studio has built an impressive cult audience for its brand of abuse, but if you’re the type of person who plays a game to relax and unwind, “Bloodborne” is not for you.

The alternative is to earn some echoes and head back to the previous lamp to use them, but all of those same enemies will reappear when returning from Hunter’s Dream. The above scenarios are the cause of the constant inner struggle of “Bloodborne.” Do you hold onto that ever increasing number of echoes in the hope that a new lamp is around the next corner? And eventually you will come to understand the systems and by the time you reach that first boss, the Cleric Beast, there will likely be some sense of empowerment. So you cautiously move ahead, wary of the lessons you’ve learned as you worked to beat the Beast, cautious because, hey, that werewolf crushed you at this game’s outset, at a time when an average game is serving up only patsies. Below the chapel you pass through a door and descend into the aforementioned Forbidden Woods, a far darker and more cramped and terrifying place than Hemwick.

The phone game thing is a no-brainer, they need some of that easy money but why don’t they just build a powerful machine with a 500GB hard drive and Blu-ray player? The technical prowess of the engine is apparent in the whiskers on the werewolves and the flaming torches carried by the zombified humans you’ll frequently face. GC: Hardcore gamers may want a super powerful PlayStation 4 clone as Nintendo’s next console, but it really doesn’t fit their core audience or business style. You discover the game, find the paths to the next boss or the next section, uncover how these sprawling areas tie together through elevators and locked gates and other gaming machinations. You’ll traverse a sewer section, hop into an elevator, unsure and concerned about where you’re going, and experience an “aha!” moment when you reach a familiar area.

But don’t eschew trips back to those lengthier paths; as you gain Insight, one of several things you can level up in this game, you may discover more in those prior sections. Something has happened to this world, turned it all into this religious caricature, turned pastor to evil boss, wolf to werewolf and done so many other things.

But the narrative doesn’t overpower; it’s told in a great many easy ways — a super-short cutscene here, a tight conversation there — that it never interrupts gameplay. As for the accusations of gun porn, it is only a game – so the fact that everybody has access to military grade hardware should be taken with a large pinch of salt. There’s a deep and rich online tapestry here, beginning with the notes that fellow gamers leave you to help you along your way, super-short notes that can assist (or, alternately, hurt) your adventuring, and culminating in cooperative play, which can help both gamers gain Insight, a key characteristic to level up.

I know it’s an updated version of Defender but the graphics and gameplay are excellent, and the weekly challenge drags me back time and time again with that ‘Just one more go ‘ feeling. How you strategize is important, and you’ll be thinking on your feet even more than in previous games, where you once could hide behind a shield and heavy armor. It does break the immersion somewhat when after a whizz bang opening cinematic my character is bobbing their head up and down like a jowly dog selling insurance.

I would just like to offer my praise for the New 3DS XL, it really is a fantastic bit of kit and feels like everything the original 3DS XL should have been. I was also impressed with how well the console has dealt with the ‘ghosting’ effect – even when I held the sweet spot on my original XL I would notice a great deal of ghosting, but my new console has eliminated a lot of that. The circle nub is another great addition, perfect for adjusting the camera in Majora’s Mask, although I think it may come up short for third person shooters like Resident Evil Revelations. The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Revelationman07 (gamertag), who asks what’s the most a game has ever affected you on an emotional level? It can be any emotion you like, from fear to sadness to joy or anger, but it has to be a feeling the game itself was specifically trying to foster through either the story, graphics, music, or gameplay.

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