Video Games

Dark Souls 3 first impression

Well, not really my first impression as I’m about 85 hours into it, but anyway, I like it. I like it a lot. But I’m not blown away. I think it looks great, to the extent that a depressing, monochrome game can, and it has the best melee gameplay of any From Software title not named Bloodborne. In all other respects, Dark Souls 3 falls a bit flat for me. In fact, the more I play it, the more I appreciate how good the oft maligned Dark Souls 2 was.

It’s not that DS3 is bad in any way. It just doesn’t live up to the legacy of its predecessors. The NPCs aren’t that interesting; the environments are lacking in variety and creativity; and the boss battles haven’t been particularly memorable. The Souls games are known for their difficulty, but equally important to me is the perpetual sense of wonder punctuated with truly awe-inspiring moments they provide. And in that regard, Dark Souls 3 has thus far failed to consistently deliver.

Video Games

Bloodborne game review

I finally earned the the Platinum Trophy for Bloodborne. It took me 144 hours and I ended up at level 198. I think it’s the hardest Platinum I’ve earned to date. It didn’t take the longest, and it wasn’t the most complex or grindiest. But in terms of gameplay difficulty, man, the path to the last trophy is beyond merciless. Thank you FromSoftware. Thank you for doing what most companies are unwilling to do; thank you for pushing your players to their limits.

Bloodborne is very much a Souls game, but it’s presented in a much more refined and focused package. It’s more holistic is the best way I can describe it. The lore, aesthetic, and gameplay mechanics all complement each other wonderfully. It’s Victorian England meets H.P. Lovecraft, with a sprinkle of steampunk.

This consistency of style is one of the things that sets it apart from the more sprawling and diverse Souls games. Another major difference is the lack of shields and encumbrance, which promotes a much faster and more aggressive style of gameplay. There is no turtling behind a heavy shield and steel plate. You dodge your enemies’ attacks, you stagger them with your firearm, or you die. It’s beautiful, and I’ll try to take what I learned and apply it to Dark Souls 3 when I ever get around to playing it.

Every weapon and every piece of armor in Bloodborne is stylish and usable. Each weapon also has a unique and extensive moveset. There may not be a ton of weapons to choose from, but each has a distinct personality and will serve well any hunter who decides to master its intricacies. The same cannot be said for Souls games, which have more equipment to choose from, but less equipment you’d want to choose.

The gameplay is very solid. A few of the larger bosses have issues with the camera clipping into their bodies, but in general, playing the game is a very satisfying experience. The controls feel tight and responsive; framerates are steady; and I found hit registration to be very consistent. Graphically the game is amazing, and it’s complimented by an excellent, though understated soundtrack.

The story, as with Souls games, lacks a traditional narrative arc and is more about uncovering the lore. In that regard, I found Bloodborne slightly less cryptic and more enjoyable than other FromSoftware titles. There are several NPCs you meet along the way who breathe some life into the world and provide a sense of consequence for your actions. The voice acting and writing are by no means stellar, but certainly more than adequate.

If there is one thing Souls games are known for, it is the challenge, and Bloodborne does not disappoint. During the main campaign you will be tested, but rarely, if ever, stymied for a prolonged period. Should you want an extra challenge however, the Chalice Dungeons await. There is a predefined path through the Chalice Dungeons that leads to Yharnam, The Pthumerian Queen—final, final, final boss of Bloodborne. You will encounter challenges along this path that far exceed anything in the game proper. In addition to this predefined path, you can use Root chalices to create procedurally generated, unique dungeons to explore. The harder the dungeon, the better will be the loot—just as the gods of old decreed.

If you like Souls games, you will like Bloodborne; of that, I have little doubt. It doesn’t have quite the variety or grandeur, but it offers a different playstyle in a setting that is a fully realized stylistic masterpiece.

Video Games

Bloodborne: Yharnam Sunrise Ending

This is the ending you get if you submit your life to Gehrman. I guess it’s the good one? I’m not all that clear on what the story really is. It’s something I need to read up on because I’m sure as hell not going to figure it out by playing the game. As From Software endings go, I find this one pretty satisfying. There’s a certain romantic quality to it and it’s visually captivating.

Kneeling beneath the great tree, on a hill of white flowers, the Nightmare ended as Gehrman raised the Burial Blade and brought it down with grace and mercy. Through it all, the Moon bore silent, loving witness.

Of the three endings, this is the one that feels the most right to me. Perhaps that’s because it’s the only one that offers some semblance of hope for a normal life.

Video Games

Bloodborne: Thoughts on weapons so far

Historically I’ve rocked heavy weapons, heavy shields, and light armor in Souls games. Demon’s Souls was the only one in which I invested heavily in magic use as well, though once I got the Dragon Bone Smasher, magic became an afterthought. So with Bloodborne, I deliberately set out to make a skill-based character, which meant starting off with the Threaded Cane. I have no complaints whatsoever, but last night I decided to dabble with some of the other options. I tried the Hunter Axe, Ludwig’s Holy Blade, Saw Spear, and Rifle Spear.

I know the Hunter Axe is a really popular weapon, and I can see why. It staggers enemies well if not outright smashing them to the ground. It can be used laterally for good AoE damage or swung vertically for a more focused attack. I just found it too slow for my liking.

Ludwigs Holy Blade I quite liked in its nimble form. Its heavy form however, was way too ponderous. The Saw Spear was okay when compact, but I found it extremely difficult to judge its range when extended. The Rifle Spear felt natural in use, but I was unimpressed with its moveset overall.

After experimenting with these other weapons, I went back to the Threaded Cane and immediately made some observations. The problem was not with those other weapons, but with me. I’m perfectly calibrated to the Threaded Cane. This was most evident in judging range when using it in whip form. I know exactly how far away I can hit an enemy when using R1, R2, or jumping R2 attacks. I’m synchronized with the timing of it and know when to switch to rigid mode for a high DPS flurry.

This is no revelation. It should come as no surprise that I’m most comfortable using the weapon I have the most experience with. The thing that struck me was just how fine the tuning was. Going back to the Threaded Cane it didn’t feel like I was judging distances in feet or inches, but in sixteenths (1.5-ish mm for my metric friends). Timing felt similarly precise. I’m not suggesting that I’m some kind of super precise player; I’m saying this strikes me as an incredible feat of game design.

I don’t know how to describe it except to say it feels as though the tolerances of combat are extremely tight and because of that, any deviation from what you’re accustomed to is incredibly awkward. That being said, I just finished Eileen the Crow’s questline and I’m really looking forward to trying out the Blades of Mercy.

 

Video Games

Dark Souls 2 game review

I finished Dark Souls 2 and didn’t really feel like starting a new game, so I says to myself “self, let’s get the Platinum Trophy.” I’ve been plugging away at it for a while now only to discover that I need to buy the DLC in order to get the Platinum Trophy. That is bullshit of the highest order. I’ve never encountered another game that required DLC for Platinum and that includes: The Last of Us, The Force Unleashed, Witcher 3, Mass Effect 2, and Fallout 3. All of those games had major DLC releases, none of them required the DLC for Platinum. None of them moved the goal post so to speak.

Secondly, the DLC costs more than the game FFS. I got the game on a PSN flash sale for $5, but even at full price it’s only $20. The DLC bundle is $25. For a game that’s how old? grtfo

Now that that’s out of the way. The main game was decent. Dark Souls 2 could easily be a DLC expansion for Dark Souls 1. There’s nothing new here. Some mechanics are a bit different, but overall, they’re really similar. Dark Souls 2 however is far less interesting in terms of its enemies and environments. Dark Souls 1 was more creative, offered more variety and had many more wow moments—as did Demon’s Souls for that matter. So Dark Souls 2 is basically Dark Souls 1 but not as good.

That’s not to say it’s bad, just not as a good as a game that is magnificent. Which is weird for me to say, because Souls games are pretty much the opposite of everything I want in a video game. There is no story aside from cryptic, incomprehensible lore. The writing sucks. What little voice acting there is was probably done by whichever interns were at hand. The graphics are shitty and dismal. The world is dark, drab, and depressing. The music, if you want to call it that, is unremarkable in every way. It sucks, Dark Souls sucks, and on top of that it is mercilessly, punishingly difficult.

I hate it. Except… I love it. The feeling of satisfaction from defeating a boss is at least as good as whatever shit Ozzy was on in the eighties. Finding new gear, mastering a new weapon, going back to previous areas and flexing your muscles, it’s all so god damn satisfying. Nothing else to say really. This is the kind of game you need to try for yourself. I don’t think reading reviews works for a game like this, where the enjoyment comes from within the player and not from the game. Or something. idk

Additional fun facts:
I played the game hollow, completely offline, never summoned aid, and never cast a spell.
Favorite weapon: Mace +10
Time played: 106h 19m 5s