Let me just start off by saying this: Bloodborne, one of the best PS4 games available, is on sale now until September 5th for $7.99 on the Playstation Store. Normally priced at $20, the three-year-old game is already a great value, but at eight bucks, if you don’t already own Bloodborne, strongly consider picking it up now. If a challenging, fast-paced combat system, steampunk gadgets, and Victorian inspired outfits sounds even remotely cool, this is a game you should try.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve stepped back into the grim world of Yharnam, and am now close to completing my second full playthrough. I can confidently say that I have enjoyed this most recent romp through Bloodborne significantly more than my first. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Bloodborne when I first played it. The settings were spookily stunning, the badass weaponry felt unique and responsive, and a similar combat system couldn’t be found anywhere else. If someone had asked me about Bloodborne, I would have reccomended it for the above reasons, yet it didn’t feel like the complete game that hardcore fans were touting.
What triggered my second run through Bloodborne was a series by popular Soulsborne YouTuber, PvPSkillz. Although I typically prefer Twitch to YouTube for watching video game content, I had discovered PvPSkillz while playing Dark Souls III. Since I didn’t have time to grind multiple characters up to the appropriate level for pvp matches, I would vicariously watch youtubers showcase different weapons that my Strength-heavy, Jon Snow inspired build was incapable of wielding.
PvPSkillz had been gradually uploading his own new playthrough of Bloodborne over the course of several months, in which he built an arcane focused character (one of the more difficult builds to master). Intrigued by all the options that I had wisely forgone as a newbie, I decided to watch the video and play along. I knew going in, that by following PvPSkillz’s build, I’d have a cool new character that would offer a very different play experience than my other character. What I didn’t expect, was to be learning about the lore of the game as I went.
The lore opened up a whole new aspect of the game that I always knew existed, but felt too overwhelmed to try and enjoy. Dark Souls and Bloodborne creators, From Software, are well-known for ambiguous story-telling and hidden narratives within their games. Although I picked up a little bit here and there about a scourge of irreversible lycanthropy, I never really understood the point of the game, and had very little connection to any of the NPC characters. What made PvPSkillz’s series so unique, was that in addition to explaining combat strategies, he would stop to read item descriptions and talk to NPCs, piecing together the story of Yharnam’s transformation into a blood-soaked nightmare!
With a newfound hunger for lore, I returned to the YouTube search bar in hopes of finding out more about this haunting worldscape. I discovered VaatiVidya whose Dark Souls and Bloodborne video series, Prepare to Cry, breaks down the tragic stories of NPCs. VaatiVidya’s soothing voice acting and excellent video supplementation makes each of these ten-minute videos a joy to watch despite their depressing content. More importantly, for those who have already completed the game and still don’t understand what happened, he has an incredible 30-minute episode entitled: “Bloodborne’s Story Explained!”, as well as a more generalized 11-minute adaptation.
Although many Soulsborne purists insist on new players going into a game blind, I would encourage new and old players alike, to supplement their next playthrough with the videos of some of these excellent lore masters. Bloodborne can be an overwhelming game, but amidst the tense exploration, horrifying bosses, and exotic gear, there is a phenomenal story just waiting to told.