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Bloodborne Hands-On – It’s Dark Souls, Guys

by Ron Duwell | September 20, 2014September 20, 2014 8:00 am PDT

I’m getting a little deja vu here. Last year at Tokyo Game Show 2013, I made a beeline as soon as the doors opened for the game everyone wanted to play, Capcom’s deep down, and I walked away thinking that it plays identically to Dark Souls.

Fast forward to this year, and I am at Tokyo Game Show 2014. I made a beeline as soon as the doors opened for the game everyone wants to play, FromSoftware’s Bloodborne, and I walked away thinking that it plays identically to Dark Souls.

At least this year’s game has an excuse because it’s made by the same people.

Yes, Bloodborne is Dark Souls with a gun and a new Victorian setting. The controls are the same, the combat is the same, the difficulty is the same, even the on-screen interface and health status bars are exactly the same. Everything is exactly the same. With the fifteen minutes I had to give it a whirl, I died three times and didn’t find much of a difference in how either of the games played out.

If FromSoftware changed the name of its franchise from Demon’s Souls to Dark Souls to make it easier to ditch Atlus in favor of Bandai Namco, then it wouldn’t be hard to believe they did the same in the switch from Bandai Namco to Sony.

What’s different? Well, the character now has the strength to actually fight back against his enemies. No longer must he crouch behind a raised shield before charging headlong into an enemy’s weak spot. This hero is all brawn, and he can tangle against an angry mob and still come out on top. I’m still convinced this game was set at a “convention” level of difficulty, though, the equivalent of “very easy” in lay terms.

It was an instant trip back to the main menu when my character caught a sword through his body and perished. No respawning was the first thing that came to mind, but I’m pretty sure that won’t be carried over into the main game. It would be a horrible step back to the original PlayStation days if it did; I’m looking at you Castlevania: Symphony of the Night!

Beyond that, Bloodborne¬†is just gorgeous. For an early PlayStation 3 game, Demon’s Souls looks just fine, and Dark Souls also finds plenty of genius ways to get around its limitations to still be a beautiful game. Many readers might know that I was no fan of Dark Souls II, and one of the many reasons was the dull graphics and atmosphere and how they failed to live up to the dishonest demo at TGS 2013.

I’ve learned to be wary of FromSoftware’s demos at conventions, but I’m hoping that this is exactly how it can get the final game to look.

Our protagonist is fine looking enough and I wouldn’t mind bumbling around with him for a few hours in this game. However, it is the enemies which are the show-stealers. The Victorian lycanthropic¬†villagers are loaded with character and personality. Their voices, their faces, their movements, and their various designs are just terrifying.

I wish I hadn’t died three times in the demo and that it had a respawn function, because I never got to a boss. I wanted to be blown away, but I guess I’ll just have to be patient.

Presentation is half of every game whether we like to admit it or not, and if Bloodborne had been the direct sequel to Dark Souls rather than Dark Souls II, I would have had no problem with it. The graphical boost is so out of this world that I barely even notice I am playing the exact same game for the fourth time now. Plus, the setting is far more interesting than Dark Souls II’s remote kingdom, meaning I’ll always be pushing forward to see more.

I still have a day or two before I give a run-down of Tokyo Game Show 2014, but I think its safe to promise that Bloodborne is going to do quite well. It is obviously the fan favorite of the whole show, and it only has a little competition on the next gen console front.

Bloodborne has a solidified release date of Feb. 6 on the PlayStation 4.


Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...

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