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Games : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: March 24th, 2015 Movie Release Year: 2015

Bloodborne

Overview -

'Bloodborne' arrives on the PS4 as one of the biggest exclusives of the new generation, and with good cause. Though it seems like just yesterday that 'Dark Souls II' made its debut on the PS3 and 360, From Software made their most indelible mark back with the PS3 exclusive 'Demon's Souls,' which remains to this day a one platform title. The next 'Souls' game, 'Dark Souls,' had a much higher profile and availability that likely has attracted a significantly greater number of players. With 'Bloodborne,' the game's direction comes courtesy of famed developer Hidetaka Miyazaki, and once more, the game is exclusive to Sony's newest platform. But as with the many nuanced details that flavor these action RPGs, there's more to 'Bloodborne' the just being the newest game. The iconic shield and armor of the 'Souls' games is gone. The dark medieval world has been set aside, and its place a darker Victorian setting.

These games are famed for their challenge and depth, and at the same time, for being an acquired taste. Beyond that, 'Bloodborne' is the first such game to make its debut on one of the new consoles. With that mind, let us venture guardedly into Yharnam.

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
VIDEO
AUDIO
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p
Audio Formats:
7.1LPCM
Release Date:
March 24th, 2015

Video Review

Ranking:

In times past, the 'Souls' games have had to lean heavily on their excellent art style for a visual punch. With so many dark and muddy areas, the games can present an ugly atmosphere, but then the most remarkable appearance of a creature, or boss, or new set of armor would blow away all that murkiness. 'Bloodborne' takes the baseline to higher level. I was initially almost flustered by the amount of detail found littering Yharnam's streets. Shiny metal coffins seemingly wasted as mere path barriers. Eventually, I adjusted to this new shiny and dense world, which unfortunately, isn't as diverse as I would like. Reused towers and other bits of the environment have an odd impact on exploration. Notice a gap in railing on this tower, and it'll be there on the next use of that tower. It only leads to pit every other time.

Still, the game's environments are quite intricate and manage to capture that hidden path feeling while stepping up the presentation. Banners hang and bonfires blaze without ever sticking out. Smoke billows from the earth, obscuring waiting enemies. Strike a smoking urn, and it topples, with the smoke effect playing out without any sort artifact.

Bloodborne PS4 review screenshot

Light fall-off and shadow depth are executed deftly. Pulling out a torch casts an enjoyable light. A real first for the series. The cowering enemy animation, however, is all too familiar.

Normally, a Lovecraftian approach to boss and creature design would laudable, but I miss the more outlandish designs of past games. Hunter designs suffer from a certain uniformity and yet, the detail is exquisite. My first elevator descent elicited a Marilyn Monroe like exposure for my hunter, but changing to thicker gear, and the weight dulled the fly up effect.

Unfortunately, some areas are frequented by severe hitching. This isn't the typical, the game dropped a few frames complaint that is the norm these days. This is severe, though it never was an issue that effected combat, but rather an unsettling blip in exploration. Likewise, in such a dark game, aliasing can be as noticeable as a light leak. The rare moments of per object full brightness can be noticeable but nothing like the PS3/360 days.

Audio Review

Ranking:

The sound design seems much more restrained than the preceding games, which often had almost gimmicky moments of the loudest benign actions and objects. The normal disquiet is there, but this time around, there is a host of enemies and NPCs that speak. The chatter is well executed with everyone being more crazy than despondent.

While I enjoy the game's adherence to a normal state of quiet, it's all too easy to play for hours with little to no real exhibition of the narrative or even any side narratives, and that consuming part of my brain grew impatient after the second boss. Many levels/areas have interesting environmental contexts, but the subtlety can wane. Player stories about crazy things that happened with enemies are more fun. At any rate, I longed for something more to break up the minimalism of the sound. (These coincided with my growing comfort level, which in turn placed a lower premium on hearing enemies.)

To my surprise, certain areas have surprisingly loud music, and I felt like the game was trying a new trick on unsettle me.The technical issues that I mentioned before also affect the sound in an unpleasant way. A certain gun toting hunter inadvertently sent distortion my way repeatedly.

I should note here that I spent a half dozen hours using the special 'Bloodborne' sound profile with the Sony Gold Wireless Stereo Headset, and I recommend it for anyone that needs to confine their game-playing the wee hours.

Final Thoughts

'Bloodborne' is neither perfect nor is it a slam dunk to suit all kinds of players. It's still an acquired taste, but for those that take the plunge and survive that first crest of difficulty, the ensuing experience is as satisfying as anything on the market today. Furthermore, fans of H.P. Lovecraft have something wonderfully nebulous to enjoy on the PS4. On the Night of the Hunt, one of this generation's great exclusives has arrived. I expect it to withstand the test of years while sustaining the hardcore and newcomers alike.