In terms of the way we discuss it, playing From Software games is kinda like fishing. You once caught a fish this big. You beat this boss first time. You were wandering around Anor Londo with 500,000 souls in New Game+ and got skewered by archers 500 metres away.
The stories are part of what makes these games so compelling, so I thought I might share one…
Warning: Mild early game spoilers ahead.
Coming straight from Dark Souls II to Bloodborne has been an interesting experience. Not just in the combat or the structure of the game, but in terms of the frequency of its bonfires/lanterns.
Simply put: Dark Souls II probably had too many Bonfires. Too many to ever really put that dread in your heart. In the original Dark Souls a Bonfire was like a beacon in the fog. When you finally found one you'd punch the air in delight. LAND AHOY. In Dark Souls II it was more like a 7-11 in the CBD when you're after a Slurpie: "no big deal, I'll pick one up at the next shop".
Anyway, I was in the deepest depths of Yarnham. A bit lost if I'm being honest. Lost in that Dark Souls way: you've totally killed every last bastard in every area and, as a result, just so happen to be carrying a massive payload of Souls/Blood Echoes.
It's a massive bloody weight on your shoulders. A massive bounty for any random enemy that gets the jump on you. No-one wants to lose all those souls.
Point being I was desperate to find a Lantern. Desperate. I didn't want to go back to the previous Lantern because — as you all know — using that checkpoint would cause all the enemies to respawn and I needed the freedom to explore, because I was lost!
So I kept on keeping on. Eventually I find a route I somehow missed. The kind of route that seems super obvious in hindsight. I walk down a hill, in the distance an ominous looking church/cathedral type thing. The kind of building that might house a tasty little Lantern.
Or, if I'm less lucky, a boss.
So I'm clearly in a risk/reward situation, but I'm already all-in. I'm going to walk down to this cathedral and see what the situation is. As I walk up the stairs of the cathedral it's pretty clear — this is a major space where a Lantern might reside.
Or a boss
At the far end of the cathedral: some sort of enemy. At this distance it's pretty difficult to make out. It looks like one of the wolf-type-creatures that populate this area, so I slowly step forward. As I get closer it looks like this creature is playing a church organ like god-damn Nosferatu but, again, I can't be sure. I'm so desperate for a Lantern that I keep on walking forward, like I'm sleep walking, or hypnotised.
And of course, a cut-scene triggers. Bollocks. The Blood-Starved Beast. He's a boss. Fuck. Shit. Fuck.
Imagine the situation. The beast moves slowly. His movements are akin to a creepy stop-motion animated skeleton from Jason and the Argonauts… in dog form. The impending dread of his momentum pushes in on my eyeballs from the insides. I'm a kettle waiting to boil. I'm screwed. He knows it. I know it. We all know it.
I'm just slowly stepping backwards like a librarian in a burgeoning bar fight. "Mr Blood-Starved Beast, I don't want no trouble mister."
Well, trouble just found me. There's no escape. Fight or flight instinct kicks in and I decide to fight — about as conservatively as I can in this circumstance.
Your mileage may vary, but to begin with I found myself pleasantly surprised. "This guy is pretty slow," I say to myself. "He telegraphs his attacks. He's finding it difficult to hit me."
This is my inner monologue as I dart in and out of range, carefully striking him once, twice if I'm feeling frisky. I might do this! I might beat him first time. The adrenaline starts pumping through my bones and — in hindsight — that was my downfall: the acquisition of confidence. I didn't know it just yet, but I was already dead.
At about half-health the Blood-Starved Beast evolves like a Pokemon from the deepest ravages of your worst nightmare. He is leaking poison like an out-of-date teabag. In dog form. His movements speed up. His attacks become less predictable and here I am like a dummy using the same tactics, the same techniques on a boss that now feels completely different.
I'm out of my depth. He beats the utter shit out me. He literally grabs me, starts munching on my head like a sweaty lollipop.
I am dead.
Of course I'm dead. I was dead from the second I walked in there.
No big deal, I tell myself. I know the way now. I'll just wander down, pick up my souls/blood echoes, beat this boss and everything will be right with the world.
And, of course, I get super cocky en route and fall off a ledge whilst fighting one of the most harmless, shitty little minions.
I am dead.
This goddamn game.