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Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid Of Bloodborne

by Daniel Tack on Mar 25, 2015 at 06:51 AM

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Well, okay. You should be a little afraid of Bloodborne – it’s a horror game after all, filled with sprouting tentacles and terrifying monsters. But what you shouldn’t be afraid of is broaching the game because of the perceived difficulty or challenge. Yes, I would place the difficulty as on par with From Software’s Souls franchise, but as I stated with Dark Souls 2, it’s not about how hard or difficult things are, it’s about approaching the game in a fundamentally different way than games have trained us to play over the last decade.

Before we get into specifics regarding the challenges, I want to state that much of the enjoyment in a Souls game and Bloodborne comes from discovery and exploration at the self-level, which is why despite the fact that guides, walkthroughs, and videos of boss kills can all provide valuable tools to help make things a lot easier, there’s nothing like seeing encounters or areas for the first time without any guidance or assistance. Discovering your own way to tackle the myriad situations you are faced with is far more satisfying than looking up a lesson and then following the rote mechanical solution.

That said, let’s get into the actual difficulties that often come up in this discussion. The concepts of punishing, artificial difficulty are often injected in conversations where From’s action/RPGs are involved, but I’m wholeheartedly in the camp that thinks these issues don’t really exist. Yes, you’re going to die, and if it’s your first rodeo, you’re probably going to die a lot. But these deaths should strengthen your resolve, teach you your weaknesses, and get your mind working – something missing in far too many game experiences offered these days.

Sure, I’m all about moving through a game with ease with my hand being held, directing me to the next objective; it’s all in a good night of gaming fun. But at the same time, the fact that these games do none of these things is a major reason to give them a shot – the fact they offer something so far from our general expectations is a major reason to delve in, if only to get to experience something completely different.

And that is at the crux of these games. Experience. The combination of never-ending tension, spectacular and demanding boss fights, and enchanting areas that provoke your curiosity while layering on a thick sense of dread add up to an overall experience that can’t be replicated easily. You will be challenged. You will throw down your controller in possible frustration and awe at the impossible situations you face. But you will also be hardened by these encounters and come back again and again until through a mix of practice, luck, and problem solving defeats your tormentors. This is where things all add up – because you had to work for it, the sense of achievement that comes after emerging victorious against a particularly challenging foe will be so much higher than if your triumph was simply handed to you. These high-pressure battles lead to moments where you leap out of your chair after a win.

Don’t be intimidated by the game’s difficulty. The challenge makes the victories more meaningful. Come at the game unlike others – expect to be defeated. Expect to be defeated again and again. Come up with strategies, solutions, and explore new areas when you get completely stuck. The game isn’t trying to frustrate or crush you; it’s actually providing you with the tools to unlock your own potential. It’s indifferent to your success its own terms – it respects you as a player, it knows that you’re ostensibly an amazing human being with the capacity to use your brilliant mind to formulate a plan and execute it perfectly.

I won’t lie that these games can seem overwhelming and crushingly difficult at first. Here’s something you may not know – the first time I played Dark Souls, I absolutely hated it, for many of the reasons that are often cited as condemnations of the franchise. I was lost, I had no idea what I was doing (I, like many others, spent quite some time partying with the skeletons near the catacombs instead of heading in the “right” direction), and I was being absolutely obliterated by the combat,  which I instantly attacked for being clunky and terrible. I was swinging my sword and falling off cliffs as a result, I had no idea what stamina did and was just trying to swing spam my way through battles. It didn’t go well. I put the game down for months before picking it up again.

The second time, things clicked. I was ready to learn and to play by the game’s rules instead of my preconceived notions about how things “should” work. And in doing so, I discovered an amazing world filled with incredible sights, sounds, and boss battles. The first time I beat Ornstein and Smough was an amazing victory, as I imagine it is for many a first-time Souls player.

Reaching this click-point is the challenge. You must unlearn what you have learned and approach the game with a new mindset. If you can get there, a whole new realm of games will open up to you and embrace you – and you will embrace them right back.

All that said, remember that leveling and co-op are also available for when things look like they’re absolutely insurmountable.