“Bloodborne”: A new video game with major Lovecraftian themes

Review by Matthew Sommerfeld.

Unsettling atmosphere? Incomprehensible sights? Cosmic Beings? Everything in the making for an incredible Lovecraftian story.

FROM Software’s newest title, Bloodborne, has been recently released for the PlayStation 4. Featuring one of the most immersive worlds in recent years, Bloodborne will have you wanting to explore all of the game’s hidden mysteries.

About

Bloodborne starts with your character receiving a (somewhat) requested blood transfusion, and being told you should seek out “pale blood”. Not knowing what it is, you set out into the city of Yharnam, and immediately notice things are out of the ordinary. Humanoid and inhuman monsters roam the streets, and a few friendly people hide within their homes, hoping to wait out the bloody night of the Hunt. You soon discover that the blood transfusion you received has come with a price. You are a Hunter. Tasked with the duty to purge the city of these abhorrent creatures, you set off in search of answers, and to partake of your newly begotten task.

Gameplay

The gameplay of Bloodborne is very solid, featuring a more aggressive and fast-paced system compared to FROM’s other recent titles (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls 1 and 2.) Throughout your journey, you’ll find several useful weapons, interesting sets of armor, and other items to further enhance your characters abilities. One of the most interesting things you’ll find are called “Runes”, and we’ll touch more on them shortly. The game revolves around being able to plan out your attacks, dodge enemies assaults against you, and being able to think on your feet. You can definitely expect to have many instances of difficulty (and maybe even frustration) while playing this game.

It is all worth it, however.

On average, a first playthrough can take around 30 hours to get through, potentially more or less depending on your adeptness with these types of games. The game offers incentives to do multiple playthroughs, including multiple endings, heightened difficulties, and the aptly named “Chalice Dungeons”, that have you delving into the depths to fight previous bosses that have been enhanced, or new bosses that you won’t find in the story of the game.

What does it have to do with Lovecraft?

The true beauty of this game lies in its relation to Lovecraftian and Cthulhu mythos. Throughout the game, you’ll slowly begin to notice things getting progressively darker, unsettling, and at times, despairing. About mid-way through the game, you’ll come in contact with a creature known as a “Great One”. The Great One’s are cosmic beings not of the game’s world, that have been interconnected with the humans for quite some time. However, not everyone knows of these beings, as they are kept hidden, plotting to usher in the birth of a new, all-powerful race.

Upon killing the first Great One, you receive a vision that further details this creatures, and your character is rendered unconscious. When you awaken, you’ll find that these creatures have been lying in wait throughout the city the whole time, watching your every move.

You will encounter many Great Ones, all having unique looks to them. Some are aggressive, some are very passive until you try to hurt them.

During your journey, you’ll happen upon items called “Insight”. The more insight you have, the more knowledge is bestowed to your character. But is this really a good thing? The more insight you find, the more you’ll see weird happenings and abhorrent creatures. Bosses and enemies will have more attacks to use against you, and your character will fall ever further into being the prey of something known as “frenzy”. Is the knowledge worth the price? I think this is something one often asks when reading Lovecraft.

In addition, the Runes that you find in the game, are actually written in the language and tongue of these ancient creatures; by finding these runes, you are slowly able to learn their meanings, and enhance your characters abilities with their scribings.

Unlike the Cthulhu Mythos, your character can very much slay the beings in this game. However, I find that the reason for this ties into a very Lovecraftian, yet very unique theme. The three endings for this game all offer something unique, with the True ending culminating in the closest thing we can to Lovecraftian feelings (in a game) the best.

In Summary

Bloodborne is not a perfect game for those seeking a true Lovecraftian/Cthulhu mythos experience. There are many things that stray from the hard-set facts of Lovecraft’s worlds, and this may turn off many diehard fans. A lot of the game is left up to the players perception on how things are, and having a careful eye for minute details, as well as an imagination, will make this experience insurmountably grandiose. Everyone will see things a bit differently from others when they play, and that in it’s own is a reward.

As I said, Bloodborne is not perfect for those wanting a direct translation of Lovecraft to a game. However, for those desiring an incredible game with many inspirations from Lovecraft’s works, as well as a unique story of its own, Bloodborne will not disappoint.

Review by Matthew Sommerfeld.

One response to ““Bloodborne”: A new video game with major Lovecraftian themes

  1. Wow…looks amazing! My fave video game of all time was/is *Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver*. One of the movies I love to watch most is the extended version of *Brotherhood of the Wolf*. One of the reasons I liked Soul Reaver so much is every aspect of the game was done by artists and writers who seemed to care. The look was cool, the voices were amazing, the storyline was very interesting (and supposedly author Mel Odom MIGHT have had something to do with it ~ don’t quote me though) and though the gameplay itself was a bit archaic in that it was a little difficult to get your bearing and move around problem-free, the overall feel and gameplay was worth considerable musings beyond the game itself and fun. It seems to me *Bloodborne* – though different in many ways – has some similar qualities at first glance. I like the third person play and how the characters wear tricorn hats like in BOTW, and face what looks to be a full cast of demonic Lovecraftian creatures. Definitely interested in checking it out.

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