Game: Bloodborne
Platform: PS4
Genre: action RPG, Souls-like
Style: heavy Lovecraftian influences
Verdict: Highly Recommended
Buy: Amazon | PSN

This review is long overdue, because Bloodborne is one of the best Lovecraftian games out there – even though it starts out looking like a different sort of horror entirely.

Bloodborne is an action RPG developed by FromSoftware, and while it shares many similarities with the Souls games, it favors faster-paced combat that encourages you to fight aggressively. You will die often as you prowl the dark streets of Yharnam, but patience will lead you to victory as you learn enemies’ attacks and respond accordingly.

At the start, it makes heavy use of gothic horror. This is most evident in the beautiful architecture of the city, but also in the werewolf-like beasts you encounter.

Yet as you progress through the game, things begin to change. It’s subtle at first, but the enemies gradually become… different. Stranger. Bizarre creatures rooted not in gothic horror, but in cosmic horror. Because behind the dark events sweeping through Yharnam lurks a deadly pursuit of knowledge through contact with powerful entities known as the Great Ones.

The story is rarely explained in clear detail, so there are probably pieces of it I’ve missed or misinterpreted. However, the lore and backstory are full of themes common to Lovecraft’s work.

Watching the themes and scope of Bloodborne slowly shift from gothic horror to cosmic horror was one of the best parts of the experience for me, and it really gives the game a memorable tone. Whether you’re a fan of gothic horror, cosmic horror, or best of all, both, you will probably love the atmosphere of this game.

Of course, it’s not a game for everyone, because it’s pretty difficult. You need to have the patience to keep moving forward in the face of repeated deaths and sometimes fighting the same bosses over and over again.

(One might start to think you’ve become obsessed with your own pursuit of knowledge…)

The difficulty also has another added benefit, and that’s in how it contributes to the atmosphere. Any cosmic horror game with combat suffers from the question of how to make you feel that true sense of insignificance compared to these eldritch entities, but due to the constant danger Bloodborne places you in, it maintains its tension and unease throughout the game and uses some other interesting choices to hold true to the idea that no matter how strong you get, you’re still playing with forces far beyond your control.

Bloodborne is a fantastic game and a beautiful cosmic horror experience. If you’re interested in it at all, I definitely recommend you pick it up.

Buy: Amazon | PSN