Release Date: March 24, 2015
Platform Played On: PS4
2018 Placement: #15 (-1)
What It Is:
A brief detour from the Souls series, Bloodborne is a PS4 exclusive that Miyazaki was working on while another From Software team did Dark Souls 2. It takes the Souls formula and puts a different spin on it: instead of dark fantasy, you are deposited in a Victorian-esque world where beasts run amok, only for it to pivot to cosmic horror about halfway through the game.
Instead of magic and swords and shields ruling the day, you are given a gun and a trick weapon. Each trick weapon has two different setups that you can switch between at any time, even in the middle of combos. From the Threaded Cane (a cane that turns into a bladed whip) to Ludwig’s Holy Blade (a longsword that is sheathed in a greatsword) to the Blade of Mercy (a short sword that can be split into dual blades), the trick weapons offer a bevy of styles for how you want to approach the hunt. And the gun isn’t used for damage: instead Bloodborne builds off a unique parry mechanic where firing your gun at the right time will open up the enemy to a counterattack for massive damage.
Why It’s Important To Me:
I’ve never been a huge fantasy fan. I’ve always leaned more towards the sci-fi genre and outside of a few particular series (Wheel of Time being the main one) I’ve always generally not been interested in high fantasy. When I do dabble, it tends to be dark fantasy like Dark Souls or a mix of fantasy and sci-fi ideas (like Final Fantasy). Bloodborne’s Victorian gothic setting that transcends into eldritch weirdness is a backdrop that we rarely get in AAA games and it just oozes style that hasn’t been replicated yet for me.
The trick weapons are my favorite Soulslike iteration on weaponry, and while not all of them are useful their designs are fantastic and I love how smoothly they transition and how well they work within the world built by Miyazaki. The gun-parry mechanic is the only time I’ve ever really gotten parrying down (sorry Sekiro) and its uniqueness makes it stand out to me as fun and engaging in a way a simple shield or sword does not. And the bosses in this game have some of the best designs of any From software game. The simple yet otherworldly look of Rom, the terrifying Lovecraftian design of Ebrietas, and the hauntingly sad transformation of Father Gasciogne from man into beast: all of it is just top-tier visual design that is backed by the best gameplay From has to offer.
My Strongest Memory:
When the Old Hunters DLC came out, my character was on New Game+. I didn’t want to start a new character just to play through to get to the DLC, so I powered through to the point where I could access it and went from there. It was slightly harder than intended for a first run (New Game+ will do that) but I managed it – all the way to the last boss of the DLC, Orphan of Kos.
And there I was stuck.
I had to leave and come back to it, and because summoning isn’t as reliable in Bloodborne as it is in other Souls games, I ended up having to take on Orphan of Kos solo. It took me many, many hours. Cumulatively it’s probably the most time I’ve spent on any singular boss in any game. But by God I DID IT. I memorized his moves and I beat that sorry ass orphan one-on-one. To this day, the relief I felt when I got the final blow has been unmatched. I shouted. I jumped. I shared it with anyone who would listen. But I beat that fucker without any help on NG+ difficulty and while that may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, I will wear that victory with pride because of how much time and effort I put into learning that battle.
Why It’s #16:
As I said in #17, Bloodborne and Persona 5 are locked in an infinite battle: my deep love of traditional JRPGs versus my newfound love of the Souls ARPG format. Bloodborne is the peak of the genre for me (yes, even with Elden Ring entering the fray) and, like Persona 5, is at the top of its class when I consider “modern” gaming (i.e. games I’ve played within the last decade that aren’t also tinged by nostalgia as a kid). The setting, the lore, the weapons, even the shitty-ass Arcane spells. I love all of it, and it will always have a place among my favorites.