For those that aren't aware, I'm a proper wuss. I have an irrational fear of spiders and other creepy crawlies, and I'd much rather watch the works of Walt Disney than Tobe Hooper. The scariest film I've ever seen is probably Alien, and I'd say the scariest game I've ever played, until recently, was The Last of Us. Halloween for me is carving pumpkins and hoping trick-or-treaters don't arrive to steal my chocolate. I'm not into horror on any level, really.
However, back in March of this year, Sony added two highly acclaimed PS4 exclusives to the PlayStation Plus lineup. One was Ratchet & Clank - which I'd already played and loved, obviously - and the other was Bloodborne, a joint effort between From Software and Japan Studio. I'd heard a lot about this game, not least from Push Square's illustrious editor and Lovecraft lover, Sammy Barker. I distinctly remember the reveal of the game formerly known as Project Beast during E3 2014. Let's remind ourselves of that initial trailer.
It's hard to think of a game trailer to which I could have a stronger aversion. Good grief, it's horrible. Just the drop of blood at the start is unsettling enough, but abandoned, rusted baby buggies on a dimly lit, cobbled street? Chained up coffins lining the walls? Shambling, diseased people in dishevelled clothes? Dogs that look like they've been turned inside out? After watching it, I felt like I needed a shower, as if the muck and the blood had oozed from my laptop. "This game looks utterly miserable," I thought. "I'm never playing that."
And I didn't for years, despite glowing reviews and incredibly positive testimonials from all corners of the web. Fancy wanting to play a game so bleak, so disgusting, so repulsive as this. From the outside looking in, Bloodborne just seemed to be revelling in its own misery; here's a world with murky skies, corpses in the gutters, and disturbing creatures that are somehow both more fleshy and more hairy than I'm comfortable with.
After a long time spent mostly ignoring the game, its inclusion as part of PS Plus sparked a newfound interest. Having grown accustomed to the game's grim aesthetic and heard so, so many good things about it, I decided to pluck up my courage and dive in.
I'm very glad I did. It doesn't need to be reiterated, but Bloodborne really is an excellent game. It did take me a while to settle into it, with its heavy atmosphere, uniquely aggressive combat, and horrifying enemies, but once I acquired a taste for the hunt, I discovered a brilliant action RPG lurking beneath the grim exterior. Yharnam might be a depressing setting, but it's unbelievably well realised, with a layout that loops back on itself and some astonishing sights throughout the city. The monsters might be gross, but they're brilliantly designed -- even the repulsively fat crows are a stroke of genius.
I have died a lot, and I've yet to finish the game, but I'm over the hump now. Some of my past assumptions about Bloodborne were correct -- it is pretty horrible, for one. However, there's much more to it than its visual language; the action is brutal and fast, and the underlying storytelling is subtle, but has plenty of depth.
I suppose the point to take away from this is that, if you step outside your comfort zone once in a while, you may just discover something new to enjoy. It applies to anything, but with gamers usually sticking to what they know, I don't think it'd hurt for everyone to cast a wider net. Then again, I don't know whether I'll be playing too many more horror games, to be honest. I've had my fill of nastiness from Bloodborne, and that's enough for me for the time being. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm about to put on The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Did you try Bloodborne for the first time when it arrived on PS Plus this year? Do you have a game that became a favourite after you took a chance on it? Throw some pebbles in the comments below.