With Halloween right around the corner, what better time to take a look back at arguably FromSoftware’s best game ever, Bloodborne? This is a PlayStation 4 exclusive action RPG that takes the fundamental gameplay philosophies of the Souls games but adds a Lovecraftian horror twist. While not technically classified as a horror game, Bloodborne is one of the scariest games of all time, due in large part to the way its gameplay works alongside its grotesque world-building and creature design. But what makes Bloodborne such a horrifying experience?
Descent into madness
While all the Souls games feature some horror elements, Bloodborne doubles down on fear and dread right from the start. The opening cinematic takes place from a first-person perspective, as a menacing, bearded figure performs a blood transfusion on you. Then, a foreboding werewolf emerges from a pool of blood before catching on fire right before your eyes.
But that’s only the beginning.
Bloodborne somehow gets scarier and weirder as the story unfolds, somehow subverting all expectations. One of the game’s earliest examples of this is during the Cathedral Ward section (just after defeating the terrifying Father Gascoigne boss).
After clearing out a group of enemies, my co-op partner got wiped out, seemingly for no reason. He was shocked at what happened, telling me that he “levitated” into the air and “exploded.” After assuming this had to have been a glitch, we looked into it — only to discover that it wasn’t a glitch at all.
The invisible Amygdala grabs a player.
Instead, he had been grabbed by an invisible creature known as an Amygdala, hanging from the side of a building. Whether or not you can see the beast is determined by how much insight you have.
This creature shows up later on as a boss and has one of the most frightening designs in the entire game. It sort of resembles a massive spider from another universe. At this point, I had played Bloodborne countless times, so I was floored to discover something as literally alien as this.
Out of this world
We were shocked and enthralled by what had just happened. He expressed his excitement to continue playing.
“Just wait until the aliens come,” I said, fully expecting him to not believe me.
He didn’t know whether or not I was joking, but we continued onward. Then, towards the end of the game, you encounter a boss known as Celestial Emissary.
This fight throws a mob of creatures at you who all resemble aliens. They have large, bulbous brains, creepy, glowing fingertips, and eventually sprout tentacles from their heads. The way these enemies follow you around the arena is downright petrifying, once again pulling the rug out from under you.
While this creature isn’t technically from another planet, its consciousness has transcended reality, stemming from another dimension entirely. This is somehow even more unnerving than being from a different planet.
It’s moments like these that make Bloodborne so special and scary. There isn’t anything quite like it and there probably never will be.
Bloodborne is easily an all-timer, full of horrific imagery and ghastly surprises perfect for Halloweentime. Sadly, Sony has yet to remaster this game for new hardware, so it definitely feels a bit outdated in terms of visual fidelity and performance. It’s unclear if a remaster or sequel is in the works, but considering the way fans have clamored for more Bloodborne over the years, a follow-up would surely perform well.
You can play Bloodborne on PS4 and via backward compatibility on PS5. It’s also available through the PS Plus Extra subscription service.
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