Bloodborne, Miyazaki, and the lasting impact of the Souls series
January 20, 2015 3:48 PM   Subscribe

“On the other hand, I see advantages to having a smaller team, a smaller, more conceptual project. Why do I say that? I get down to the details when it comes to direction — the story, the art and everything. I’m a pretty anal person. I tinker with every little thing. In five or 10 years, my guys aren’t going to want to work with me. At that point, maybe it will be smarter for me to work on my own little idea.” Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of the Souls series of games, talks to the LA Times about his philosophy of design, and his future in games. The article references his upcoming project, a spiritual successor of the Souls series, Bloodborne.

Previous interviews with Miyazaki in the lead-up to Dark Souls, from IGN and another interview regarding Bloodborne.

Two developers quoted in the LA Times stories have been heavily influenced by the Souls design philosophy: Sean Velasco, who created the throwback hit Shovel Knight; and James Silva, who is developing the upcoming Salt and Sanctuary

Although it's not mentioned in the article, the mobile game Wayward Souls is an obvious descendant of the Souls series. There is also Lords of the Fallen, which is a fairly direct copy of the Souls formula within the framework of an American AAA game.

A member of the Souls online community, Vaatividya, has videos about Bloodborne, Salt and Sanctuary, and the Souls games as a genre. Vaati has a pleasant voice, and an encyclopedic knowledge of the series. His channel contains much explication and speculation about the story that resides in the background of the souls series. Videos assume a familiarity with the series, so expect spoilers throughout.

The Souls series has been discussed periodically on the Blue previously.
posted by codacorolla (20 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I am very near the end of Dark Souls 1 after stalling in Demons Souls, and having the Prepare to Die edition since it came out and failing to progress when I would occasionally pick it up.

It is a _really_ impressive piece of work, Bloodborne looks like more of the same, which is awesome.
posted by lkc at 4:12 PM on January 20, 2015

The finest series in all of gaming. I've been singing its praises since the first thread in 2009 (!!)

Dark Souls II was very nearly the only game I played last year. When you're deep in that obsession, who needs anything else? (Shovel Knight was quite fun, though I think the design philosophy only borrows a few elements here and there.)

Even as a veteran, the three pieces of downloadable content for DS2 were too punishing for me. Wonder if any of you managed to finish all of it.
posted by naju at 4:22 PM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

Bloodborne is looking like the Castlevania I've dreamed of for years. The Souls series is one I've dipped my toes in, but never got up the bracing nerve to plunge in deep.

I made it a good way through, or at least heavily sampled the locales of Demons way back upon release, and got perhaps a quarter through Dark Souls without ever going near the Abyss.

I saw Dark Souls 2 as spectator sport, and will probably indulge the Scholarly version on next gen console.

Bloodbourne, though, that's whole hog eating.
posted by chainlinkspiral at 4:32 PM on January 20, 2015

I haven't played Dark Souls II yet (I just had my initiation-by-fire into the Cult of Souls last year), but Bloodborne looks awesome. I'm strictly a PC gamer but I'm toying with the idea of getting a PS4 just for that.

(In related Dark Souls news: There's apparently a planned revamped re-release of Dark Souls II coming out soonish, so if you're like me and haven't invested in the sequel yet, it's probably best to wait if you're on PC.)
posted by neckro23 at 5:01 PM on January 20, 2015

neckro23: My glacial pace and knowledge of the new version is what stopped me from getting it on steam during the holiday sale. Even with the discount, the DLC pushed the price back up pretty close to what the new version will cost.
posted by lkc at 5:25 PM on January 20, 2015

Even as a veteran, the three pieces of downloadable content for DS2 were too punishing for me. Wonder if any of you managed to finish all of it.

I've gone through Sunken King, about 1/3rd of Frozen and 1/3rd of Old Iron. I like Sunken King quite a bit, because all of the areas are essentially connected, and there's a lot of exploration and secrets. It sort of reminds me of exploring Bonfire to Undead Burg to Parish.

Old Iron has been pretty fun so far, with a number of mob fights where I had to try several times to make it, and each attempt was very close. I haven't fought any bosses yet.

Frozen is my least favorite by far. The enemies in all of them are, regrettably, mainly humanoid knights, but Frozen has the most irritating and boring of the three. I'm also not a big fan of the level, since it's so white and bland. Compare that to the Painted World (also a snow level) which took pains to vary colors and palettes so it wasn't just a sea of white. I'm sort of stuck at the first boss there.

I found that, unfortunately, all three have a sort of optimal build, which priorities having high agility (the rolling stat), not relying on shields, having a strike weapon to hit the weakness of the 90% heavy armor enemies, and not using offensive magic. That matches my current build, but of course it's disappointing that From decided they wanted a very specific type of character to be able to best complete the DLCs.
posted by codacorolla at 7:32 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I thought this post was about the Soul Caliber games, I guess that's no longer the "Soul series."
posted by synthetik at 7:34 PM on January 20, 2015

Curious about the Souls series but terrified of the difficulty? Please allow me to point you to "Let's Play" videos.

Specifically Kay Plays. I tuned in to see what all the Souls fuss was about without investing the money, the rage-induced broken controllers (as the game does, indeed, seem to be cruel in some ways) or nearly as much time as it would take me to play myself. I've ended up enjoying the entirety of the series through Kay Plays. She's thoughtful, thorough, and very, very good at the games. Between the quality of Kay's videos and the fact that I would not have bought or played the games otherwise, I don't feel like I'm missing out just because I'm not actually, you know, playing the things. It's a great way to experience the artistry and creativity that are put into these games without (for me, at least) the attendant likelihood of hurtling a Playstation off the balcony after having died so damn far from a bonfire.
posted by all-caps relapse at 10:50 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

For those who played the Kings Field series on PS1/PS2 and lamented the lack of a follow-up, the Soul games in this original post are actually the spiritual successors with a much more gritty and bleak feeling to them. I went through most of the PS3 lifecycle lamenting the lack of a follow-up in the Kings Field franchise. I found my way to Demon's Souls somewhat randomly and shortly after starting the game I thought "Wow. This fields like the Kings Field games I loved so much." A bit of online research later lead me to realize that feeling was more than mere coincidence - it was the same developer.

For those caught up on the Souls games who missed Kings Field, you might take a peek at them. You'll likely recognize a few items - like the Moonlight Sword.
posted by Krommers at 12:20 AM on January 21, 2015

I'm a Souls vet: 3 platinum trophies from the various regions of Demon's Souls, plat on Dark Souls 1/2, about 4,000 hours on the franchise so far. I'm massively conflicted not about Bloodborne, but about Dark Souls 2.
I remember when DS2 was first announced for PS3/Xbox 360/PC and they said they'd not release it for the next-gen consoles; I thought "GOTY edition + cashgrab DLC INCOMING." And lo, I was right. The $15 DLC packs that were, I thought, pretty obviously planned from the start, plus the suddenly and mysteriously downgraded graphics on console, represent an existential shift for From Software. King's Field, Armored Core, Demon's Souls, none of these franchises suffered the same exploitative bullshit that DS2 did. As a PS4 owner, I'll definitely pick up Bloodborne, but as for the re-release of DS2? I dunno.
DS2 is clearly the weakest of the four games, and the most cynical from a business point of view, but I'm still strangely drawn to it.
posted by GoingToShopping at 1:30 AM on January 21, 2015

I'll consider getting the updated DS2 if they fix god-damn soul memory. Until then, no.

But Miyazaki is a genius and Bloodborne looks amazing. The part I'm really looking forward to: the "chalice dungeon", a section of the game that is apparently going to be randomly generated so that each character gets their own version of it, which other people can visit through multiplayer. Can I justify buying a PS4 basically just to play this game? Yes, I think I can.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:41 AM on January 21, 2015

I've been...obsessed is probably not too strong a word...with this series since Demon's Souls. I'd guess well over a thousand hours playtime across the three games...maybe closer to two. Literally sunbroing at Raime in another window while reading MeFi...

I'm convinced it's a true work of art, beyond mere entertainment. The storytelling, the *way* the story is told - fragmented, layered, tenuous and translucent - is like nothing else in gaming history. And the mechanical innovations, the way all the standard computer game tropes are sublimated into functions of the world-story, the best-in-class script and translation...

...but...I hate being forced to buy a console for a single game. Hate the whole idea of it. It's a form of blackmail and I'm angry Miyazaki is a part of that.
posted by jet_manifesto at 6:54 AM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'll consider getting the updated DS2 if they fix god-damn soul memory. Until then, no.

There's an indication that they will. The Agape Ring is an item being added with the free patch, which will absorb any souls you collect while wearing it. That means you can do whatever you want and it won't change your SM. I'd prefer they fix it without requiring me to waste a ring slot, but whatever.

Honestly, having played through a few times, SM isn't a huge deal. There are enough players where as long as you're not grinding each area of the game you find plenty of action in each spot you're trying to summon or co-op in.
posted by codacorolla at 7:36 AM on January 21, 2015

a seriously lame thing about being a game developer is that the majority of games stop being fun to play, as all you see is the seams: wonky geometries, prefab textures, shaders from "whacky bobs shader pack vol3" and cut-n-paste a* enemy behavior. Thats not always always true, but much more often than not. the souls series is one of the few sets of games that I can keep coming back to and always "enjoy", if that's the right word for it. and it's not because it lacks the seams, in fact there are many many glaring issues, but somehow the mood and immersion is always enough to make you completely forget the terrible clipping issues or whatever. and I say this as a person who generally hates the brown grimdark fantasy slasher aesthetic, but dark souls is a goddamn masterpiece. and that's clearly a result of Miyazaki as auteur. few games can you really speak of in those terms.
posted by young_son at 9:44 AM on January 21, 2015

I always feel like I'm living in a parallel universe when Dark Souls comes up. Because I thought the DS games were okay. Not great, not terrible by any means, but not classics or anything. And I don't know what it is I'm not seeing.
posted by Justinian at 2:44 PM on January 21, 2015

I play Demon's Souls most. I think the levels are prettier.

I really don't like that there's no pause. Bladders fill, kids cry, phones ring. Never liked it.
posted by Trochanter at 6:43 PM on January 25, 2015

IGN has the first 18 minutes of gameplay up. Spoilers, obviously.

I think it looks GREAT. The changes that they've made to make combat more brutal and dynamic seem like a good step. I'm a shield user myself, but I think the gun for crowd control and the main-hand weapon for damage with rolling to dodge is much preferable.
posted by codacorolla at 8:37 PM on February 3, 2015

I had been resisting the urge to use my tax refund to buy a PS4, but after watching that gameplay footage... my will is broken. I'm sold. I MUST PLAY IT.

But I'd like a better console bundle than The Last of Us and GTA5, two games I already own on PS3. I suppose it's too much to hope a Bloodborne console bundle will be released along with the game itself?
posted by Roommate at 10:40 AM on February 4, 2015

From what I've seen there's AT LEAST a Euro console bundle... maybe not in America, but I've also seen the game getting a lot of hype. It might not be out of the question. I'd wait and see before pre-ordering anything.
posted by codacorolla at 10:41 AM on February 4, 2015

IGN has a fairly long interview up.

Looks like match making will still retain the interior logic of soapstone, but will also streamline the process a bit, and make it less helter skelter.
posted by codacorolla at 11:12 AM on February 5, 2015

« Older Lady Di and Dodi demise film, "Unlawful Killing"   |   Tonight I ask Congress to ... confirm Judge... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments