I beat Bloodborne last night. I'm tempted to talk up my gaming prowess in this opening paragraph, but I'd be undermining the entire point of this editorial if I did – there's way too much e-peen measuring going on elsewhere around the web with regards to From Software's latest. The thing is: I was just like you – I was terrified of the PlayStation 4 exclusive, expecting it to rip me to shreds and push my patience to its extreme limits. It turns out that I just really, really enjoyed the game.
I'm not going to lie to you: it's hard. You have to play it with the right mentality, as approaching this gothic outing as though it's a spiritual successor to Devil May Cry will get you killed. But if you play cautiously – watching your corners, taking on one enemy at a time, and learning the patterns of your foes – you will triumph without too many problems. I'd estimate that I died about 50 times in my 40 or so hours with the adventure, and at least 20 of those came courtesy of Father Gascoigne.
And that's because the game really isn't as impenetrably difficult as some people will lead you to believe – it just requires you to re-learn everything that you know about games. Checkpoints? They're few and far between. Progress? You'll lose it if you're impatient. Bosses? Yeah, they're tough. Well, apart from the Celestial Emissary – he's a bit of a joke. None of these things ever feel especially unfair, though, and if you can overcome the initial hump, you will progress.
There's way too much e-peen measuring going on around the web with regards to From Software's latest
There's one tip that I'd share: if you're a beginner, read every piece of material that you can get your hands on. I tend to avoid spoilers like the plague, but with this game, I just decided to absorb every guide that I could find – and it served me well. I knew exactly which class to pick, where to level up, and some general strategies for all of the bosses before I got to them. Some may argue that I ruined the element of surprise, but I also felt prepared – and it helped me to appreciate the game.
I know dozens of people that would enjoy this title, but they've all spun me the same line: it's too tough. But, with the right attitude, it's not as hard as you think – in fact, I think it's expertly designed. Every single encounter has been tuned to a point where it's challenging, but never overwhelming. And while you may die, you'll learn something along the way; be it a shortcut or the placement of an enemy, you'll get better and better and better with every minute that you invest. That's satisfying.
I will criticise one area: the Chalice Dungeons suck. I like the idea here, but replacing all of the abovementioned hand tuning for an algorithm doesn't work, and you end up in scenarios that are unbalanced and unfair – especially when the game strips you of half of your health for fun. But these are, by and large, optional extras – and they only serve to highlight just how brilliantly designed the rest of the release is. Ignore them, and you'll never even consider tossing a controller.
At this point, I actually think that the Souls series' fearsome reputation is working against it. I should stress: my experience with the franchise outside of Bloodborne rests with an hour or so with Demon's Souls – a game which launched at a time when I couldn't commit to it properly. Beyond that, I was put off the brand due to the promise of frustration. Maybe this latest instalment is easier than its predecessors; all I know is that you shouldn't ignore it just because you're scared that it's too hard.
How have you got on with Bloodborne so far? Are you a beginner or a veteran? Do you feel that it's impenetrably hard or is Sammy on the mark? Try not to die in the comments section below.