Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bloodborne and Learning to Improve

She just wants whats best for you, good hunter.
This week's PopMatters article, I sort of talk about how Bloodborne is ruining other games for me.

Right before fighting Gehrman for the final push, I went over everything I had experience in my head. I did one more blood echoes run to level some vitality, checked all my runes to make sure the right ones were equipped, figured out which bosses I had not yet beaten and weighed whether or now I should venture out to take on those challenges or not. I stocked up on blood vials and bullets and rang that beckoning bell for the last time. I felt ready. I was ready.

Of course he proceeded to murder me again and again, but each time I grew wiser, adapted better. The fight was one last check in, like a comforting visit from an instructor, one final exam. I never felt like Bloodborne wanted me to fail, in that fight or any fight. I never once felt like the game was unfair or unkind. Everything was clear and I knew exactly what I had to do to improve.

This is why I just don't understand why someone would call Bloodborne too difficult for gamers without first asking them to try. I am not one to judge a person for not finishing a game, so even if I firmly believe you will never beat Father Gasciogne, I still think playing Bloodborne is an incredibly valuable experience. If you walk away, with neither the time or patience to improve, so be it. But if that happens, and you decide the game is not for you, you do so fully aware of what it offered, what it can offer with some persistence. That sense of clarity and awareness is so very rare in games.

And if you persevere, despite your expectations, if you forge on, improve, and learn, completing Bloodborne can be one of the most satisfying and self-validating experiences games can offer.


  1. So, on difficulty, I run into this attitude from some of my friends, when discussing this game, as well as the rest of the Soul's series.

    The Souls series, Bloodborne included, wants the player to bend and learn and adjust to the game. I'm having to unlearn a lot of my Dark Souls behaviors to play this game, for example. It's been a while since I've been challenged so much, and it feels really rewarding.

    But many modern gamers seem to feel that the game should adapt to them, that the AI should pick up that the player is having a hard time, and give to the player. You see examples of this in LA Noir, where the game will prompt the player to lower the difficulty as they play, or how some Mario games will now play themselves, if you die too many times.

    That's part of what made Demon's Souls so remarkable when it came out, I think. It's the tide the series is still swimming against, a console generation later.

  2. I've said this before, but I feel like the Souls games are from some alternate universe where the difficulty/challenge mindset of the 8-bit era remained dominant. In this universe, games exist to force you to learn and master their mechanics rather than to enable the way you prefer to play.