Bloodborne has almost convinced me that I suck at video games entirely.

What I've actually come to learn is that I just suck at this particular type of video game–thanks largely to being conditioned by AAA releases hand-holding me the entire time–and I'm surprisingly ok with this. Dying (and dying and dying again) has only rankled my pride and made me redouble my efforts. Bloodborne, is the successor to From Software's Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, and like those previous titles, Bloodborne is just as brutally challenging and intentionally opaque.


Bloodborne, like Demon and Dark Souls before it, eschews hand-holding and leading you by the nose from point A-to-point-B in any helpful way. And if you're willing to accept that frequent and frustrating death is the essential DNA of the game, like both Souls titles before it, then you'll be in a much better place to enjoy the title.  Directed by Souls series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, Bloodborne blends concepts from previous Souls games while managing to construct its own identity. For the past week, I've been playing the title solo until the game's multiplayer servers go live after launch. Which is a bummer, because like From Software's previous titles, the community surrounding the Souls titles is such an instrumental part of success.

Yes, Bloodborne is tough, but, as much as I'm loathe to say it, it's fair in its toughness. One of the most dramatic changes form previous Souls titles is the combat dynamics. Gone are shields and magic and in their place are an emphasis on offensive attacks that rely more on agility than anything else. Basically, if you were any good at parrying and riposting in the Souls games, you're going to be at an advantage immediately in Bloodborne. Instead of classes you choose your character’s upbringing. This selection determines your stats and skills. It's fairly easy to understand, but like Souls titles before it there’s still a bit of 'go figure it out' about how each upbringing influences the style of play for your character. ​

Combat is primarily focused on hand-to-hand combat. Your starting loadout is a gun in your character's left hand and a melee weapon — transforming weapons are called Trick Weapons — in your right. Guns don't do much in the way of damage and are really meant to be used as a means of crowd control when dealing with groups of enemies or interrupting an enemy's attack in mid-assault. Just think of guns as a combination shield/ranged weapon and not a cure all firearm and you'll be fine. You'll start by choosing one of three melee weapons and one of two firearms which can be upgraded and modified with elemental damage as the game progresses.

Bloodborne's central hub, the Hunter's Dream, functions a lot like the Nexus from Demon's Souls. You use the Hunter's Dream to upgrade stats and weapons, purchase new equipment and consumable, and travel to other areas of the game. Gone are the bonfire-to-bonfire fast travel of Dark Souls.

The best piece of advice I can give is to just jump in and start exploring Yharnam and become fast friends with the 'You Died' screen. Bloodborne launches today on the PS4 and is definitely a must own title if you're a fan of the Souls series particular brand of brutality.