Bloodborne's Horror Universe
July 7, 2015 3:45 PM   Subscribe


Bloodborne and Lovecraft horror is an 11 minute video essay (once again: many spoilers) that examines the Lovecraftian mythos that Bloodborne draws from, and the way that it mechanically ties to ideas of cosmic horror.

Games critic Joshua Trevett goes deeper, talking about the social and cultural ramifications of Lovecraftian horror, and how Bloodborne turns those on their head,
People go crazy for Lovecraft, and blinders go up the instant his name is mentioned. His endless legions of fans don’t really feel comfortable acknowledging that so much of what informed his ingenious take on horror was his terror of immigrants, particularly black people, and the squalor in which they were made to live. All he could manage to do with that fear was loathe them ... Lovecraft’s work was good enough, and its inception gross enough, that it deserves descendants which take a closer look at it and do some real unpacking. Thankfully, Bloodborne came along to do just that
posted by codacorolla (49 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I watched one or two Inside Gaming (I guess Funhaus) plays of this and it looked...not as good as I'm now being told it is. They were mugging for the show I suppose, and I only saw about 15 minutes or so of gameplay, but to me it didn't look like it did anything particularly interesting or new, and seemed very glitchy.

What the vids didn't capture, of course, was the atmosphere that you'd get by playing it solo in a darkened room, and I have to say that for that experience it sounds amazing. But then I don't even have a PS4! Or a PC that will run it if it's ever released on PC! Grar!
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:54 PM on July 7, 2015

turbid dahlia, I don't play many video games anymore, but I watched these videos from this rather hefty FPP, and they give a pretty good sense of it, I think (and the narration is mostly free of awful sexism, so that's a plus). It does have some pretty good horror moments (even though your ability to kill everything takes it a good step down from "cosmic"), and the character designs are very evocative.

Trevett's criticism of Lovecraft didn't work well for me mostly because he doesn't know enough about Lovecraft (although he quite correctly skewers Lovecraft on racism, I don't think he has a very deep understanding of even that). Alien, for example, is Lovecraftian not because of the creature design but because of the uncaring nature of the creature and the setting. Bloodborne does better than most games at Lovecraftian themes -- there are the alien "gods" whose study means become inhuman, there is the sense of inner taint, there lots of hints that remain only hints, giving the player plenty of room to write their own interpretation. About the only place where the game fails is the combat aspect -- a Lovecraftian game should really have you doing about 20 hours of reading, then surrendering your character in despair to vast abhman forces. But I am not sure the gaming world is ready for that.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:12 PM on July 7, 2015 [13 favorites]

One of the things that from has done well in its 'Souls' series (of which this is a 'spiritual successor') is to leave a large portion of the lore unclear. You are forced to assemble hints as to the over-arching story, what your goals you even got there. It doesn't hold your hand, and most people i have spoken to say the same thing about all 'souls' games : play through once again and talk to other people to figure out what is going on!

I am on my second play through of BloodBorne right now, and while i don't think it has the replay-ability of the other 'souls' games, it makes up for it in atmosphere, design, and overall epic feel.

I am actually pretty active on the /r/bloodborne sub-reddit (the only place I go on reddit really, except for /r/onebros) , and the posts there are pretty evenly distributed between

- OMG HALP this game is so hard
- Offering help if someone wants to beat the [boss]!
- I think that [something in the game] has the following meaning!
- People aren't doing PVP right.

The lore is HEAVILY discussed

One of the things about the lore and plot is that the fact that it is a 'Lovecraftian' horror was actually a bit of a twist: you are going along, in a vaguely victorian city/costume...fighting what appears to be some sort of werewolf-like plague...and all of the sudden, eldritch horror from beyond time! (Which is spoilery..but hey, the lovecraft connection is mentioned in the original post, so I think that ship has sailed.

It really is a great game. I am gonna play as soon as the kids are in bed.
posted by das_2099 at 4:33 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ebrietas is lifted, almost word for word, from the pages of "At the Mountains of Madness" - the Elder Things, I think they're called, that they find all frozen in that cave outside the mountains. And let me tell you, what was risible in prose (Lovecraft never was good at describing monsters — why do you think so many things are unnameable, indescribable?) is absolutely horrifying in motion.

Bloodborne was a fantastic game, and despite its intense difficulty I recommend it widely because the narrative experience is one of a kind. Playing through it naively and without help or looking things up (other than an occasional boss strategy) was terrifying and difficult... but once I started diving into the lore, it struck me that this was as far as I could tell the perfect fusion of Lovecraftian horror with action gameplay (leaving out other genres).

You're the cat's-paw in a horrifying, multi-dimensional battle between Great Ones, and you have no idea what you're doing until you've already done it — like so many Lovecraftian protagonists. Reading up on things afterwards, you realize many things about where you were, what you were doing, who you were slicing up, and how you were being manipulated. In particular, I found that in retrospect, the overcoming of the many barriers to Byrgenwerth, the ambiguous gesture of Willem, the slaughter of the peaceful Rom and his students, and the appearance of the paleblood sky and the queen with her bloody dress..... highly tragic and horrifying.

The love of and care taken with the lore and with Lovecraft's ideas — the expanding them and making them fit with ideas of gaming and community — is really masterful.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:43 PM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

Yeah (spoiler alert)

I beat a boss and went on a grinding mission to level up a little, and after about a half an hour of this I accidentally moved my camera up to look at the church steeple and OUT OF NOWHERE THERE'S A FUCKIN GIANT OCTOPUS CTHULHU THING WRAPPED AROUND THE FUCKIN CHURCH OH MY GOD I nearly jumped out of my goddamn chair.

It's moments like that which just reading about can't do justice, you really have to play it for yourself. The various "Insight" symptoms that creep in once you've crossed that sanity threshold are genuinely creepy as hell, but I can't help but wish they'd actually gone further with the idea, instead of just showing a few environmental jump scares and changing up enemy behaviors. Games with a "sanity meter" pretty much have an obligation to fuck with your head, Eternal Darkness style.

But yeah, after a certain point in Bloodborne, shit just goes loco.

On the subject of eroding sanity in games, you should all play Darkest Dungeon, in which you not only have to manage the health and supplies of your raiding party, but their mental health too -- they each have traits which make them likely to develop depression, paranoia, cowardice, betrayal, etc, right in the middle of each mission. Afterwards you have to help them regain sanity by unwinding at brothels, churches, or taverns. Watching your band of stalwart heroes fall to pieces and start refusing to follow orders, or outright killing each other adds an unbelievable amount of tension to the dungeon-crawler formula.

Based on my experience crawling through dungeons and fighting zombies in real life, I gotta say, it's pretty accurate stuff.
posted by jake at 4:58 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Grant us eyes! Grant us eyeeeees!
posted by mysticreferee at 5:13 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Reading up on things afterwards, you realize many things about where you were, what you were doing, who you were slicing up, and how you were being manipulated.

Yes, this exactly. I'm on my second playthrough and still piecing things together. There's not just one big reveal - like "oh, it's actually about Eldritch horror! OK, done" - instead, the unraveling is ongoing, and the effort is happening in these online communities. It's enormous fun. This was the case with the other Souls games, but it's particularly satisfying in this iteration because there's so much that can be clearly figured out that ends up being part of a larger tragedy.

In addition to the obvious Lovecraft influence, I can sense a deep abiding love for Gene Wolfe as well, even if it's not as thematically clear. I see it in the unreliable narrator device taken to extremes, and the sense that there's a carefully designed second story entirely hidden under the first. It's world-building as an elaborate puzzle. I love that stuff.
posted by naju at 5:16 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm looking forward to playing Darkest Dungeon, jake.

For me the crazy moment was when I got snatched by a snatcher (aka "sackbro") and ended up in the Hypogean Gaol with that terrifying music and hideous Amygdala statue (I thought it was straight-up Cthulhu at first). And then, the petrified masses merged with the walls all along the road to the One Reborn? Ugh! Uuuugh!

Also when I left the Lecture Hall and was presented with a cave and the area title card "Nightmare Frontier." NO THANKS!

So many good memories
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:18 PM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

I wish I could enjoy Bloodborne, but I'm way too easily frustrated. I've watched a friend play several times, though - because it really is fascinating. On one hand, the atmosphere is so over the top that it's hard to take it seriously, but on the other hand, it is genuinely well done and creepy.

I'll just have to satisfy my curiosity by reading about it, I suppose.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:19 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Agreed, the masses merged with the walls , trying to escape from whatever had been released/beckoned through the void....horrifying.

And I never really could put my finger on it, but the reference to Gene Wolfe hits it exactly. Like the other souls games, I find that you can play it through, completely ignoring lore, killing everything, and reach an ending, and be done. But if you stop to examine, or question the action game model of 'if it moves, it dies' realize you have been manipulated in ways you don't even understand.

During my dark souls second playthrough, the ending i received when i walked out of the kiln, rather than relighting it blew me away. Same with the ending in BB - My experience with the souls game had me examining every object, reading every note, and stumbling across the 'third' ending, by accident. Even that revealed another level of WTF.

I still have lore questions about Yharman, and the MP, and the doll.

We should set up some metafilter co-op play when the DLC drops. Or now :)
posted by das_2099 at 5:27 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

As for "getting to the truth," I really have the opinion that there are many truths, and each of the factions is right in its way -- what the "gods" think is too alien for anyone to really get to the bottom of, I think, and I appreciated that. They are all right, wrong, and mad in their own ways. As are you...
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:36 PM on July 7, 2015

Also when I left the Lecture Hall and was presented with a cave and the area title card "Nightmare Frontier." NO THANKS!

I felt trepidation as soon as I read " door to outside"

I also can't stop talking about this game, even on metafilter it seems.
posted by das_2099 at 5:39 PM on July 7, 2015

Continuing to find unexplained things as I'm playing through...

Another player invaded my world, with no weapon equipped, and refused to attack me. We bowed to each other a few times until I killed him. Probably just fun/trolling, but it was still weird. The game has enough opaque systems, it's not out of the question that he was trying to die for some game-related reason.

I entered a co-op chalice dungeon a few days ago, and the game took me to a boss fight I'd never seen... the message "[Player] has entered the final battle" appeared on my screen. Final battle?

Someone also uploaded video of a rare tentacle creature in a chalice dungeon that no one else had come across, apparently.

Lots of oddness going around!
posted by naju at 5:42 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I always thought a good game idea would be to take the "deserted-land-with-puzzles" elements of Myst and inject it into a "through-a-portal-to-another-world-and-there's-an-abandoned-city-under-strange-suns" sort of Lovecraftian environment and then you take the stupid Myst puzzles out and it's just a 3D first-person exploration of this creepy-as-fuck alien place and I guess probably you die at the end and it's nothing like Myst at all really.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:48 PM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

I entered a co-op chalice dungeon a few days ago, and the game took me to a boss fight I'd never seen... the message "[Player] has entered the final battle" appeared on my screen. Final battle?

It is just the same text grabbed from any boss fight when co-op playing: "final batte for that level/area" is your cue to enter the fog gate and help.
posted by das_2099 at 5:50 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

What makes the game difficult? Fast twitch? Puzzles?
posted by Beholder at 6:13 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Metafilter: I guess probably you die at the end and it's nothing like Myst at all really
posted by AdamCSnider at 6:23 PM on July 7, 2015

What makes the game difficult? Fast twitch? Puzzles?

it's definitely a game of reflexes in combat, but one that anyone with patience can figure out. the general mantra people use is 'tough but fair'. mostly you're trying to keep yourself from freaking out and mashing buttons, looking for visual cues from enemy attack wind-up animations, and keeping yourself from getting surrounded.

you can play it safe and conservatively (and everyone does to start with) and over time your comfort with the pace and terms of combat are built up, and you have a really rewarding sense of mastery over stuff that took effort to figure out. these games (from software titles) inspire cult followings largely because they challenge you, and when you learn to approach the game thinking 'what did i do wrong' after you die instead of hollering (everyone does this as well), you learn its systems and how to best them. they're Good Games
posted by p3on at 6:57 PM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

What makes the game difficult? Fast twitch? Puzzles?

Kind of both? Mechanically, it has third-person combat that relies a lot on pattern recognition. It's not fast or complex by comparison to bullet hell or fighting games, but it does require sustained, patient, careful execution, and especially at the beginning enemies do a lot of damage relative to your small health pool.

At the same time, there are puzzles, but not of the 'what items do I need to combine to open this door?' adventure game kind. The best way to explain it is that the game world and systems are themselves puzzles, and they're not explained particularly well. This is on purpose: a big part of the game is figuring them out as you go along.

You need to navigate a hostile environment and manage your resources -- health potions, for example -- in order to traverse what can be pretty long distances between checkpoints. The layout of the world is serpentine and densely interconnected: you eventually learn to navigate it efficiently and in minute detail. Strengths and weaknesses of various gear and character stats are not always obvious. There isn't a conventional tutorial. The world changes state several times, and both the triggers for and effects of the state changes are not immediately obvious. You can take actions that have consequences, and those consequences are often unclear in advance and impossible to take back until your next run through the game. Oh, and you can't cheese the game via the save system: it's automatic, and it saves all the time.

Putting the story together is likewise a puzzle. While there are a handful of oblique cutscenes, the plot is presented mostly through item descriptions and environmental cues. It's relatively easy to miss what's going on, especially if you are playing without reading wikis or other spoilers.

So yeah, Souls games are difficult, but not in the way I was expecting. For me, two things make them hard.

First, you need to play patiently and carefully. It's very easy to get flustered, impatient, or greedy, and when that happens you are likely to die. Knowing this intellectually doesn't keep it from happening: when you finally get one of the involuted, decaying, towering bosses down toward the end of their life bar on your tenth try, it is really tempting to push for just one more hit and put yourself in a position where you can't avoid the inevitable counterattack.

Second, Souls games are narratively very different from many other games. It's very easy to miss entire areas of the game or substantial tranches of the plot. I missed three or so large areas my first time through Bloodborne. Most games are terrified that you'll miss their content, so they lead you by the hand. Not having the game direct me that firmly left me feeling unmoored.

In spite of all that, I actually recommend playing Souls games blind, at least the first time through. The main thing that makes them satisfying is the sense of progress as you master the systems, learn the world, and piece together their stories and themes.

Unlike most AAA games that are set up so players basically can't fail, Souls games believe in you. They believe you'll learn from your mistakes, learn the rhythms and moves of the other actors in the world, piece together the stories strewn around in bits and drabs. I wouldn't call them relaxing experiences: they are devoted to doing things their way, and you'll either like it or you won't. If you like it at all, though, you'll probably find the games pretty engrossing.
posted by amery at 7:31 PM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Will you people PLEASE stop making me wish I had a console? How about describing texture pop or loading times or floaty controls?
posted by Samizdata at 8:12 PM on July 7, 2015

posted by Samizdata at 8:13 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ask and ye shall receive!
The loading times were RIDICULOUS on launch. They've improved them since, via patches, and even added "stuff to look at" artwork instead of just a black screen, but you're pretty much reloading the entire level and all assets every time you die or change location, it doesn't seem like they cache anything, and it ends up becoming a sort of serious penalty for failure or fast-travel. I considered tricking out my PS4 with an SSD, but apparently the difference is like 1 or 2 seconds, not really worth the hassle.

If you complain about the load times on forums, of course, you can expect the response to be "WELL, YOU KNOW, I NEVER DIE BECAUSE I'M SUCH A BADASS, SO I DON'T EVEN NOTICE..... MAYBE YOU SHOULD TRY DYING LESS, SCRUB NUB, THEN THE LOADING TIMES WON'T BOTHER YA. HAPPY TO HELP!" Gamers are assholes, I swear.
posted by jake at 8:48 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

BB's controls are tight and the god awful loading times were much improved a couple patches after release. (they are still not great). NO MERCY FOR YOU HERE.

Whoever it was early int the read mentioning a PC release: Don't hold your breath. Demon's Souls never got ported and Sony's got a similar level of ownership over this one. They paid for their exclusive and they're gonna keep it. If it helps any, From is more in control of the Dark Souls games and there's every reason to believe DS3 will be on PC and the newer consoles.

The "true" ending of Bloodborne is possibly my favorite thing about it, but rather than dig into that, I feel like this video essay about relatively early boss demonstrates perfectly how this game does story telling. Little of what Vaati sets out about Papa Guac is explicitly explained, but it's all there, and it's tragic once you put it together (or have it laid out for you).
posted by sparkletone at 8:54 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

PSPlus is a recurring fee just to hook your system up to the Internet and get what is, inarguably, the full Souls game experience. That's definitely a downside. the upside to that is that you get 2 or 3 great games a month for free for being a subscriber, but i shouldn't mention that part of it
posted by codacorolla at 8:54 PM on July 7, 2015

It's too bad the game costs $400 and then you have to play it with a dual analog stick. I'll just watch it on twitch. :-)
posted by smidgen at 11:20 PM on July 7, 2015

I just wanted to say thanks for the major spoiler warning. I really need to get around to finishing my first playthrough of this lovely monstrosity.

hee hee I can't wait.
posted by egypturnash at 11:48 PM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

I want to love Bloodborne. I want to so much. I love everything about the plot and setting. I played the absolute shit out of Dark Souls 2 (platinum trophy). But it's more difficult than DS2 (and not just because of the lack of shield -- I played DS2 shieldless), and apparently that bump in difficulty takes it just over my frustration threshold.

I know I should give it another try, but I can always think of something to do that would be more fun than getting crushed and having to fight the same dozen guys again and again and again. Guess I went hollow.
posted by rifflesby at 12:08 AM on July 8, 2015

(All this being the case...anybody able to recommend a particularly good playthough? It's how I experienced The Last of Us, after all!)
posted by turbid dahlia at 12:38 AM on July 8, 2015

Who/what I'd recommend kinda depends on what sort of thing you're looking for. Any preference for how blind the person at the wheel is going in, or what their previous level of skill is with Souls games? I'd guess you're looking for something relatively blind as opposed to a ridiculous challenge run, but don't want to assume.
posted by sparkletone at 12:53 AM on July 8, 2015

Oh man don't give me options. I think I'd mainly prefer somebody halfway competent, with minimal commentary.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:02 AM on July 8, 2015

This just in: The EpicNameBro playthrough doesn't seem too bad. He talks a lot but it's mostly informative and interesting stuff. Pretty good so far.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:20 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hehe. Actually, I think just from that I feel pretty safe recommending this playlist. It's the first playthrough by LobosJR, one of my favorite streamers. He does a lot of Souls stuff, in particular some pretty wonky challenge runs (he's currently working on playing Dark Souls....... But with the video flip turned upside down, as the kids say). However, this link is his first Bloodborne playthrough. It's absolutely and completely blind (like literally he started playing the second the game was available, and hadn't watched much trailer stuff), so it doesn't show off some of the deeper lore stuff or anything, but you can pick that up elsewhere. He talks while he's playing but he's not doing, like, joke-y GameGrumps style commentary or anything. As blind plays go, you could do a lot worse.

Lobos has also done stuff like gun only and fist only runs of Bloodborne. He doesn't speedrun the Souls games though (he casually speedruns some other stuff). It's a pity From is as hostile to speedrunning glitches as they are. Even if it's something that normal play would never encounter, they're quite aggressive about patching stuff out. The speedrun of unpatched Bloodborne is hilarious, but most of the really neat stuff has been gone for some time.

On preview: EpicNameBro is also a suggestion I'd considered. I think his is more of a with-foreknowledge guided walkthrough thing lately? I vaguely recall him and Vaati both having early access to the game because they were involved in some strategy guide stuff. The Lobos first playthrough is as blind as it gets albeit informed by a slightly unnerving amount of time spent with previous Souls games.
posted by sparkletone at 1:27 AM on July 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

Side note: this thread has me regretting trashing my folder of hilarious monstrosities created in the BB character creator. From's are always great and this game's no exception. If I can find a copy lurking in my backups, I might throw up an image gallery.
posted by sparkletone at 2:03 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Man, this game does look pretty great, but no way would I have the constitution for it. I get frustrated and grumpy way too easy.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:39 AM on July 8, 2015

The partisans (and I'm definitely one) would suggest that: 1) The games aren't unfairly difficult, they just expect you to scale one hell of a learning curve both in general and for each boss and more over that 2) the feeling of accomplishment when you finally put down that fucking monstrosity that's killed you half a dozen times or more is something not a lot of games traffick in these days. And it's not necessarily that you want too much of that, or want it done the wrong way, but god damn does it scratch an itch for those so inclined.

For me, and I'd guess I'm not alone, the puzzle-y nature of the story and setting is a nice bonus.

For this game in particular like... Miyazaki can do as he pleases at this point, but I'm sorta over DARK FANTASY bullshit as a setting. Dark Souls gets a bit of a pass because of the high level of execution, but damn if Bloodborne isn't all the more compelling for getting away from that some.
posted by sparkletone at 3:02 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love Bloodborne (currently my BL 64 Blades of Mercy/Threaded Cane PvP character is stuck on the Watchdog of the Old Lords in the Cursed Pthumerian Defilement, which is at least as awful as it sounds) but despite all the Lovecraft stuff I don't think it really works as horror, for a couple of reasons.

First, you never get to see what Yharnam was like before it went crazy. You just get thrown into it on a night of the hunt; there's nothing like the awesome intro to Dark Souls which gives you a summary (although a slightly simplified summary) of the history of the world and the events that lead to you sitting there in your cell in the asylum, waiting for the end of the world. The first part of Bloodborne, at least, would have had far more impact if you had something to contrast the nightmare of beasts against.

Second, it's too easy to get out of any kind of trouble you get into. As long as you can get back to a lantern (which you almost always can, even if it means dying) you can just warp back to the dream, have a chat to the doll then jump back somewhere else. Imagine ending up in the Nightmare Frontier, wandering around for a while, meeting the inhabitants, enjoying the strange light and the bizarre, twisted landscape and then realising that you were trapped and the only way out was through. That would be horrific.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:57 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

It does have the best music in a From Software game, though.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:00 AM on July 8, 2015

Another good blind playthrough is Christopher Odd. Very chill, very thoughtful about the way he plays.

I have watched ... an embarrassing amount of Bloodborne playthroughs, and I keep searching out new blind ones because I love people's reactions during their first timid explorations. I love watching them discover the little things (most people [ MINOR SPOILER ] miss Gilbert's window the first few times), put together the clues from NPC dialogue and item descriptions. And while whether something works as horror is highly dependent on your own personal reaction to it, I think where its horror works the best is in that exact medium, the process of discovery. I cannot COUNT the times blind playthrough players have accidentally wandered into an area with an unexpected monster, or immediately pick up on the environmental/architectural cues that they're heading into a boss fight, and they TURN THEIR CHARACTER AROUND AND RUN AWAY going "nope nope nope"! That right there is the horror working. They're laughing at themselves too, yes, but they know they're in over their head.

Even players who aren't paying any attention to the lore, like Game Grumps, have this reaction, they KNOW they don't know enough. And while I would guess most of them just aren't that interested in investigating all the lore, I think there's also an element of feeling overwhelmed by it (just like the character, an outsider with amnesia, would), and maybe even an element of "do I WANT to know" -- again, a pseudo-IC reaction that seems in line with Lovecraft, to keep one's eyes averted.
posted by automatic cabinet at 7:30 AM on July 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

As I explained to a friend recently, if you end up ecstatic at the fact that you unlocked an awesome shortcut in what seems like a labyrinthine level at first, these games are for you.

I could just as well lovingly call all of these games: "Shortcuts: The series".

I'm doing a full lore run of Dark Souls right now (my first go through was patchy at best, and I missed a lot of things). This means all NPC quests, all hidden items and areas etc. You can feel the work put into these games, and get an idea of how much they care.
posted by mysticreferee at 7:39 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Who else flipped the fuck out in Yahar'gul, Unseen Village? I mean, what other game can pay homage to its own enemies and environments, plus Bram Stoker, Hannibal Lecter, Alien, Dawn of the Dead, Lovecraft, and witches that look straight out of Baba Yaga folk tales, ALL IN ONE LEVEL?!
posted by mysticreferee at 8:01 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I LOVED "Yahar'gul, Unseen Village" ...just not at first. At first, I was just yelling " LASERS!? How the HELL do I beat that???!!!" and "Where the hell is that bell ringer!?!?!?!"

And speaking of 'where that bell ringer was'...i love that there are whole sections of this game (and the sous game) that you can completely miss, and the game will never really tell you.

I mean, the place where you access the bell ringer, and the key to another locked area is right in the middle of a huge area with regenerating witches, laser-shooting starry wisdom false gods, and general chaos. There was really nothing that would have told you where she was...unless you successfully built the map in your head (or pn paper i guess) figuring out that the way into that area had to be above the area you first see her, leave THAT room, and make your way up to teh chaos to start looking for an entrance. Not to mention the regenerating shotgun guy, and ogre running around in the room where you see the bell ringer first.

Then, when you make your way in, you find the key...and the only real clue as to what it unlocks (if you haven't found the area already) is the uniform the corpse has on....and the lore associated with other items you have found.

No big, shiny flashing arrows on a map saying " go here !!" Love it.
posted by das_2099 at 8:46 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have watched ... an embarrassing amount of Bloodborne playthroughs, and I keep searching out new blind ones because I love people's reactions during their first timid explorations.

I was a little sad when looking for recommendations for turbid to discover that my two most favorite recent blind plays I've watched aren't particularly well-preserved on youtube or anything. One of them has a couple chunks and some of her highlights here, but the other hasn't put her playthrough anywhere at all. Both of them are on more of the "loves Souls games but is a more casual player of them," and yeah. Blind plays of this game can be so much fun. My two favorite moments, among many, usually involve the first encounter with a particular hunter who hangs out on top of a tower with what Tony Montana would call his little friend and anyone who ends up getting got by Bagman (BAGMAN JUST WANTS TO GET YOU IN THE SACK). But in general they all have bits of that. The "NOPE NOPE NOPE" is never not funny to me.

Side note: The Game Grumps playthrough has come up a few times. They're pretty near to done with at least a first playthrough, which is kind of incredible given the number of games they start and then later on abandon. I understand that they/what they do aren't to everyone's taste, but I've enjoyed their Bloodborne videos. They've done it such that the one actually controlling things has usually played a bit ahead of where they are in the videos, but the other one watching hasn't seen shit. So you get the fun of unalloyed NOPE NOPE NOPE stuff but a bit less wandering than true blind runs will get you.

And completely unrelated to any of that: Any speculation as to what DLC for this game will involve?
posted by sparkletone at 11:25 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't really know... in DS1 there were lots of hints at the legend of Artorias, in DS2 there were mysterious shrines all over the place and mentions of past kings. I'm not sure what leading ends there were in BB. Maybe a look into the past at the formation of the healing church? We also never get to see Laurence directly (although there's lots of hints that he's the Bloodletting Beast), so it might be finding him (or whatever's left of him).

It could be a more fully featured chalice dungeon centered expansion: like a lot more random tilesets, but also a series of pre-configured CDs to explore that revolve around a central storyline.

The past expansions haven't gone past the main game's ending, so I would expect anything else to do with the various end bosses.
posted by codacorolla at 1:04 PM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've enjoyed Game Grumps' playthrough as well, but more for what I usually enjoy their stuff for, Arin and Danny being Arin and Danny (and there are some cringe-y moments when they do accents, honestly -- I understand they're making fun of some bigoted video with that and the name they used for Arin's character but it does not come off well).

As for the expansion, I've seen some speculation about the trapdoor in Byrgenwerth. I'd like to see more things related to that area in general, as it turns out to be one of the smaller ones. I loved all the hostile NPC hunters (because I'm not the one playing the game having to deal with them ha ha) and want to know more about them. But I don't think that'll happen. I'm really contemplating buying the official guide, which is ridiculous of me, just read the wikis, but... but...
posted by automatic cabinet at 2:33 PM on July 8, 2015

Isn't there some big fancy art book for Bloodborne? Or maybe that's folded into the guide. I can never decide whether I want every last morsel of how the sausage was made with this set of games or to just let them be. For most things (movies, TV and games), I fall strongly on the TELL ME WHAT YOU WERE THINKING side, but something about these just makes me want to let them sit aside from a few of the standard chestnuts about Miyazaki's love for puzzle story telling being routed in trying to read English books as a kid, or him not wanting creatures to be gross for gross' sake but to have some reason for it, to be sad/fallen even.

As for my own DLC speculation, I feel weird saying I have no idea. I might be misremembering my own state before DS2 DLC was announced but I feel like I sorta knew where that would slot in, even if I didn't know what it would actually be like play wise. I feel much more blind about how Bloodborne's will go.
posted by sparkletone at 3:02 PM on July 8, 2015

There's the feeling of great huge swathes of mystery or just otherwise not explicitly addressed history to Bloodborne that is all the more interesting for the way it also feels like we should be able to find out. I haven't watched many playthroughs of the other Souls games but from what I've seen of the first Dark Souls game, I don't get that feeling, or it isn't as immediately compelling for me, personally. The DLC content could go anywhere in Bloodborne.

Though I assume, from what I've heard about Miyazaki, that even the guide isn't a real tour of the sausage factory. All I've heard secondhand coming out of it so far are official names for monsters, and names of the hostile hunters, stuff like that.
posted by automatic cabinet at 3:15 PM on July 8, 2015

Isn't there some big fancy art book for Bloodborne?

There are "Design Works" books for Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, but no news on a Bloodborne version yet. There is some concept art and an interview in the back of the massive (like 1.5" thick) hardcover strategy guide, though.
posted by rifflesby at 3:16 PM on July 8, 2015

Ah, yes, that strategy guide is what I was thinking of. That's the one EpicNameBro helped out on that I referenced earlier in the thread.
posted by sparkletone at 3:21 PM on July 8, 2015

My DLC wishes:

. I hope we finally get to know more about Runemaster Caryll, or "Irreverent Izzy" (who is referenced in the 'Beast Claw' and 'Beast Roar' items). Beasthood is one of the game's more frustratingly explained things even though it is pretty much the conceit of the game. That, and what the "Beast" rune actually tells us:
"Beast" is one of the early Caryll Runes. as well as one of the first to be deemed forbidden. The discovery of blood entailed the discovery of undesirable beasts."

The "discovery" of blood. I feel like the DLC should go more into that. My wish is that Caryll and/or Izzy turn out to be like Artorias in Dark Souls; though it is highly likely someone else from Byrgenwerth might take a central role. (Laurence?)

. The ability to do a Snatcher cosplay. I want to do a barefeet "bodybag" weapon run. Please FROM!
posted by mysticreferee at 3:52 PM on July 8, 2015

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