I was surprised that my cohort went in for something like Bloodborne - he’s never accompanied me on any previous journeys into “From Software Bullshit,” except in one instance, which I will detail later. The main thing that distinguishes the new one from the old cadre is that it allows (in a way) for a more traditional co-operative multiplayer, which is almost certainly what sold him a copy.
“Traditional” may be a misnomer, come to think of it, because while their work in this vein is traditional in its own context it doesn’t share a lot with other games. They have their own bizarre width and breadth that maps primarily to themselves. There aren’t many reviews of a “traditional” sort out there - a lot of previews, but nobody is rushing to affix a number. I would say that the pressure to like Bloodborne, and to be named among the faithful, is very strong and I’m lucky that I do like it. Because if you didn’t like it, this would be the worst way to spend your time that I can possibly imagine.
Oh, but review wise. This review of “Day One” with the game over at Forbes communicates it with precision. That’s about as real as a review of this game is gonna get. When you describe what it’s like to play it to someone - let’s say, my wife Brenna - it doesn’t sound good. It doesn’t sound like something you would do on purpose. I would say that equipment is important in these games generally, it seems like it may be less so in Bloodborne, but the chief thing you need to succeed is a different, more perfect self. So, if in a Metroidvania you amass at each juncture a revelatory device which reinterprets the space, here you are becoming something that can withstand the intense heat and pressure. It’s like those game shows where you have to contort yourself to fit through the shapes in a moving wall. Or, it is, until you begin walking confidently through wall after wall, in a ballet of flawless keyframes, leave the set through the back door, and squint at the sphere of hot light whose name you cannot entirely recall.
Bloodborne is a Sony Exclusive, which is sort of funny when you think about the history of From’s relatively recent excursions into brutality. Demon’s Souls, the game that got this ball rolling, was published by Sony in Japan - we wouldn’t have gotten it at all if it weren’t for Atlus, who must have been startled to watch this thing grow. Dark Souls and Dark Souls II went everywhere - anywhere that could handle it - there was even a weird PC version. But Bloodborne is back at Sony, and the title screen seems to imply it’s theirs altogether, so this isn’t the illusory “timed exclusive” thing, it’s legit. Functionally speaking, they have put a ring on it.
But Microsoft… you know, From Software did something special for you, also. Chromehounds. Remember? A game where people construct their own robots from parts could “activate social,” by which people in your line of work generally mean Social Media, and a persistent, multi-faction online campaign seems ready-made for a cloud-first company. So, what do you say? I can guarantee that you’ll sell three, maybe four copies, which I think is better than last time around.