Finding Fault with Bloodborne
Bloodborne is outstanding. You probably already knew this, either from first-hand experience or thanks to all the gushing reviews you’ve seen online. I could tell you how much I'm enjoying it, how after even the most brutal of sessions I'm desperate to jump back in, but you will have read that post elsewhere.
So let's try something different. Because I'm a bit of a contrarian, and there are only so many times I can write "great" before I get bored, I thought I'd share a couple of the issues I'm having with Bloodborne. No game is perfect, not even the second coming of Dark Souls, so let’s get to it.
1. Central Yharnam
That first stretch is a nightmare. Under powered, ill equipped and clueless, you must pass along narrow streets, trying to split a mob of disturbed locals into smaller groups, ready for slicing and dicing. Throw in a couple of dogs, some rifleman, nightmare crows, a large and aggressive oaf and two werewolves and you have a recipe for frustration. It took two nightmarish evenings before I made it to the next save point, and that only happened once I’d decided to grind the first half of this stretch multiple times, so that I would have plenty of blood vials to burn through during the latter part of the area.
I know this opening gauntlet is designed to teach you the ins and outs of Bloodborne, without actually telling you anything, but it felt too much like hard work and had me pining for one of Dark Souls 2's most divisive features - limited enemy respawns. However, that soon passed, once I'd secured that second lamp.
2. Load Times
The load times between dying and respawning, or teleporting to the Hunter's Dream, are tortuously long. I shudder to think how many hours I will lose to these screens during the course of the game. The long wait between dying and being born anew severely discourages you from taking risks in a game that should be played aggressively, where death is an important part of progress and each failure teaches you something new.
From Software could have at least given us something nice to stare at while waiting for the game to load, rather than a simple title card. Why not offer some text about Yharnam's history or hunter's lore, item information or hints and tips? Or how about a brief update on the progress of our friends - SuperHunter69 has died three times fighting the Cleric Beast? Anything would be better than that black screen.
3. The Hunter's Dream
I like the Hunter's Dream. It is atmospheric, mysterious and full of those adorable messengers, but I wish I didn't have to go back there every time I want to spend souls and level up. Of course, without the long load times, this wouldn't be as bothersome. However, as it is, I end up carrying around more souls than I ought to in an effort to avoid a break in play, and that rarely ends well.
4. No Pausing
I was half way through the Father Gascoigne fight. I'd already attempted it at least half a dozen times, but on this occasion it was going rather well. I'd finally cracked the blunderbuss, staggering the father with ease and leaving him open to a gutting. He was barely hanging on to life when I heard my daughter crying upstairs. I pressed the PS4 home button, put down the controller and got on with my Dad duties. I calmed her down, read her a story and rocked her back off to sleep, all the time thinking about that bastard Gazza and how much I was going to enjoy finishing him off. When I returned, I was distraught to find myself back at the lamp, minus my precious souls. Bloodborne cannot be paused, and the unholy father had slaughtered his suddenly unresponsive foe.
I know pausing is not straightforward in a game that is constantly running online features, however subtle, but surely some sort of compromise could have been reached. I'd kill for something as simple as a protected state, where the world continues around me, but I cannot be touched. Bloodborne demands your undivided attention, but that's not something I’m always able to give.
5. The Blood Soaked Beast
A poisonous twat.
All that being said, Bloodborne is great and you should definitely play it.