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Found 16 results

  1. Rumors of a game collaboration between Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin and developers FromSoftware and Bandai Namco circulated before it officially revealed during the E3 Microsoft press conference on June 9. The only information available at that time though was the name Elden Ring and some imagery. Leaks revealed themselves via a security issue with the Bandai Namco site where information on Elden Ring, a Ni no Kuni remaster, and new Tales game existed. A leak almost seemed predestined due to the game’s progress, “Development for Elden Ring started just after development for the Dark Souls 3 DLC had ended,” said Hidetaka Miyazaki. During the press conference, the official reveal trailer made its debut. From the trailer, we gather that Elden Ring is a new intellectual property and takes place in a universe created by both Martin and president of FromSoftware Hidetaka Miyazaki. Miyazaki, before becoming the head of the Japanese game dev company joined FromSoftware as a game designer and headed the creation of the Dark Souls series. The trailer itself starts with dramatic footage (complete with eerie sound design) of a figure seemingly presenting a dismembered arm to a whole host of grasping arms with unknown origins. As the camera pans out, it looks like these arms could even belong to the figure, but just as soon as we may be able to piece anything together, we move on to the next scene. “I doubt you could even imagine it,” the looming narrative voice says over this imagery in a moment of metacommentary. The rest of the trailer showcases imagery of what we can presume is a blacksmith forming armor as depictions of battle flash in and out. The blacksmith appears to break in both a literal and physical means as their body begins to crack. Then the trailer cuts out. Further details were released via Microsoft however. Via the game’s page description on the Xbox website we learned that Elden Ring is a fantasy action-RPG adventure. “Danger and discovery lurk around every corner in FromSoftware’s largest game to-date,” says the game page. No release window surfaced with the reveal trailer but we did learn that the game releases to Xbox One and PC. Elden Ring is set to publish via Bandai Namco with FromSoftware heading the development. What do you think Elden Ring will look like? When will we get to play it? Let us know your predictions in the comments and on social! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. Rumors of a game collaboration between Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin and developers FromSoftware and Bandai Namco circulated before it officially revealed during the E3 Microsoft press conference on June 9. The only information available at that time though was the name Elden Ring and some imagery. Leaks revealed themselves via a security issue with the Bandai Namco site where information on Elden Ring, a Ni no Kuni remaster, and new Tales game existed. A leak almost seemed predestined due to the game’s progress, “Development for Elden Ring started just after development for the Dark Souls 3 DLC had ended,” said Hidetaka Miyazaki. During the press conference, the official reveal trailer made its debut. From the trailer, we gather that Elden Ring is a new intellectual property and takes place in a universe created by both Martin and president of FromSoftware Hidetaka Miyazaki. Miyazaki, before becoming the head of the Japanese game dev company joined FromSoftware as a game designer and headed the creation of the Dark Souls series. The trailer itself starts with dramatic footage (complete with eerie sound design) of a figure seemingly presenting a dismembered arm to a whole host of grasping arms with unknown origins. As the camera pans out, it looks like these arms could even belong to the figure, but just as soon as we may be able to piece anything together, we move on to the next scene. “I doubt you could even imagine it,” the looming narrative voice says over this imagery in a moment of metacommentary. The rest of the trailer showcases imagery of what we can presume is a blacksmith forming armor as depictions of battle flash in and out. The blacksmith appears to break in both a literal and physical means as their body begins to crack. Then the trailer cuts out. Further details were released via Microsoft however. Via the game’s page description on the Xbox website we learned that Elden Ring is a fantasy action-RPG adventure. “Danger and discovery lurk around every corner in FromSoftware’s largest game to-date,” says the game page. No release window surfaced with the reveal trailer but we did learn that the game releases to Xbox One and PC. Elden Ring is set to publish via Bandai Namco with FromSoftware heading the development. What do you think Elden Ring will look like? When will we get to play it? Let us know your predictions in the comments and on social! Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. The crowdfunding for Bloodborne's tabletop board game adaptation is in full swing over on Kickstarter with the total nearing $1.7 million with weeks to go until the campaign wraps up. you might be thinking to yourself, "But wait! Wasn't there already a Bloodborne tabletop game?" And you would be correct! In a way. Eric M. Lang designed the Bloodborne card game that released in 2016 bringing the popular action-RPG of the same name to the table for the first time. Now, Eric M. Lang has returned along with veteran designer Michale Shinall to fully realize the potential of a Bloodborne tabletop experience. Bloodborne is a 2015 action-RPG from Dark Souls developer FromSoftware. It released exclusively for the PlayStation 4 and featured the return of Dark Souls' director Hidetaka Miyazaki. The game follows the adventures of a foreigner who comes to the city of Yharnam in search of the legendary healing offered by the church and its blood. Soon, the player is wrapped up in an eldritch conspiracy constructed by powers and beings far beyond mortal comprehension. On top of the core campaign, players could discover chalices that brought them into a sprawling dungeon beneath the city that goes deep down into the earth, snaking toward an ancient being at the heart of the strange corruption that has seeped into the land. That brings us to the Kickstarter from CMON, a company that has a growing relationship with Sony that allowed them to make the 2016 Bloodborne card game, the Bloodborne board game, and God of War: The Card Game. The latest crowdfunding effort offers an amazing array of miniatures and a beautiful collection of board pieces. As a draw for the game, those who back the Kickstarter get access to a large number of exclusive figures that represent players, items, enemies, and bosses. If you think that Bloodborne: The Board Game is releasing without lore or a story, you would be dead wrong. In fact, it has four different stories that come in the form of campaigns. Each campaign takes place over the course of three chapters that each drastically change the way enemies appear and behave along with new content. Each chapter features a number of decisions players need to make in order to proceed and those choices create a branching narrative with possible consequences farther along in the campaign. Each of these campaigns take place in familiar settings like Yharnam's Cathedral Ward or the Tomb of Oedeon, each created in a way you've never seen before. Instead of relying on the luck of dice, Bloodborne: The Board Game makes use of cards. Players choose from a selection of trick weapons that determine their basic abilities before beginning their adventure. While slaying monsters, players can procure a number of permanent items, upgrade cards, and consumables. How players use those upgrades and items on top of their weapons will determine if they are able to survive the long hunt. Those enemies that stand in the way of survival fill out a roster of over twenty unique enemy types armed with almost thirty AI cards. You can look over the work-in-progress rule book to get a more in-depth idea of what the final game will play like. The Kickstarter campaign initially asked for $200,000 to get the basic version of the game released. However, with over 8x more than their goal raised, the campaign has rolled out a crazy amount of extras. By far the most important unlocked at $230,000: Chalice Dungeon Rules. Players will be able to augment their games with a series of special rules and Chalice Dungeon tiles. Twelve additional tiles and forty-five additional miniatures have been unlocked so far. At the moment, the campaign appears to be on track to hit $1.75 million and unlock another four miniatures. If the project receieves even more backing, which seems incredibly likely, even more will be added to the game package. If you are a fan of multiple backing tiers, you might be disappointed by this campaign. There's only one backing tier left at $100 for the base game and all the Kickstarter exclusive figures. Bloodborne: The Board Game, thankfully, comes with a clear release window. Backers can expect the big box tabletop to release in May of 2020. One thing backers should be aware of, however, is shipping. The backing pledge does not include shipping, so in order to actually receive the board game, backers will need to pay for shipping after the Kickstarter ends. This will all be handled through a service called Pledge Manager launching shortly after the end of the Kickstarter. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  4. The crowdfunding for Bloodborne's tabletop board game adaptation is in full swing over on Kickstarter with the total nearing $1.7 million with weeks to go until the campaign wraps up. you might be thinking to yourself, "But wait! Wasn't there already a Bloodborne tabletop game?" And you would be correct! In a way. Eric M. Lang designed the Bloodborne card game that released in 2016 bringing the popular action-RPG of the same name to the table for the first time. Now, Eric M. Lang has returned along with veteran designer Michale Shinall to fully realize the potential of a Bloodborne tabletop experience. Bloodborne is a 2015 action-RPG from Dark Souls developer FromSoftware. It released exclusively for the PlayStation 4 and featured the return of Dark Souls' director Hidetaka Miyazaki. The game follows the adventures of a foreigner who comes to the city of Yharnam in search of the legendary healing offered by the church and its blood. Soon, the player is wrapped up in an eldritch conspiracy constructed by powers and beings far beyond mortal comprehension. On top of the core campaign, players could discover chalices that brought them into a sprawling dungeon beneath the city that goes deep down into the earth, snaking toward an ancient being at the heart of the strange corruption that has seeped into the land. That brings us to the Kickstarter from CMON, a company that has a growing relationship with Sony that allowed them to make the 2016 Bloodborne card game, the Bloodborne board game, and God of War: The Card Game. The latest crowdfunding effort offers an amazing array of miniatures and a beautiful collection of board pieces. As a draw for the game, those who back the Kickstarter get access to a large number of exclusive figures that represent players, items, enemies, and bosses. If you think that Bloodborne: The Board Game is releasing without lore or a story, you would be dead wrong. In fact, it has four different stories that come in the form of campaigns. Each campaign takes place over the course of three chapters that each drastically change the way enemies appear and behave along with new content. Each chapter features a number of decisions players need to make in order to proceed and those choices create a branching narrative with possible consequences farther along in the campaign. Each of these campaigns take place in familiar settings like Yharnam's Cathedral Ward or the Tomb of Oedeon, each created in a way you've never seen before. Instead of relying on the luck of dice, Bloodborne: The Board Game makes use of cards. Players choose from a selection of trick weapons that determine their basic abilities before beginning their adventure. While slaying monsters, players can procure a number of permanent items, upgrade cards, and consumables. How players use those upgrades and items on top of their weapons will determine if they are able to survive the long hunt. Those enemies that stand in the way of survival fill out a roster of over twenty unique enemy types armed with almost thirty AI cards. You can look over the work-in-progress rule book to get a more in-depth idea of what the final game will play like. The Kickstarter campaign initially asked for $200,000 to get the basic version of the game released. However, with over 8x more than their goal raised, the campaign has rolled out a crazy amount of extras. By far the most important unlocked at $230,000: Chalice Dungeon Rules. Players will be able to augment their games with a series of special rules and Chalice Dungeon tiles. Twelve additional tiles and forty-five additional miniatures have been unlocked so far. At the moment, the campaign appears to be on track to hit $1.75 million and unlock another four miniatures. If the project receieves even more backing, which seems incredibly likely, even more will be added to the game package. If you are a fan of multiple backing tiers, you might be disappointed by this campaign. There's only one backing tier left at $100 for the base game and all the Kickstarter exclusive figures. Bloodborne: The Board Game, thankfully, comes with a clear release window. Backers can expect the big box tabletop to release in May of 2020. One thing backers should be aware of, however, is shipping. The backing pledge does not include shipping, so in order to actually receive the board game, backers will need to pay for shipping after the Kickstarter ends. This will all be handled through a service called Pledge Manager launching shortly after the end of the Kickstarter. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice exists as a fundamentally different beast than what many players might expect from the developers who brought them Dark Souls and Bloodborne. FromSoftware manages to infuse the stealth-action game with a lot of the same trimmings and style as their previous action-RPGs, but take Sekiro in an almost entirely different direction. Diverging from their incredibly successful formula to try something new represented a substantial risk. However, Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team pulled off the impossible and created an experience that will surely stick with players for years to come - provided they can adapt to Sekiro's punishing gameplay mechanics. Sekiro tells the story of an honorable (or perhaps dishonorable, depending on your choices) shinobi, a ninja in service to a young boy named Lord Kuro. Of course, a FromSoftware game these days needs an element of the mystic and Lord Kuro also happens to be the Divine Heir, someone blessed with blood that prevents him from ever dying. Of course, that blood makes him the target of every power-hungry figure who yearns for immortality. The lands of Ashina in feudal Japan find themselves overrun with hostile forces and Lord Kuro captured shortly after the game begins. Our titular hero, Sekiro, must use all of his cunning and swordsmanship to rescue his master and follow the Iron Code of the shinobi. In his quest to secure Lord Kuro and follow the boy's orders, Sekiro contends with far more than human adversaries. Ghosts, gods, demons, and creatures straight out of Japanese folklore rise to stop him and spread chaos throughout the land. Learning how to deal with all of these threats, both mundane and supernatural, as just one man armed with a sword and a handful of shinobi tools would be quite the challenge under a Dark Souls-like system of death. You will die. That's an inescapable fact about Sekiro. However, Lord Kuro gave his loyal shinobi the gift of his blood, bestowing the ability to resurrect from the point of death to give another chance at emerging victorious from battle. And what battles you will have to endure and survive. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice focuses on the back and forth of clashing swords. You won't be able to dodge roll around most attacks or play it safe. Instead the highly lethal combat encourages players to stand toe to toe with adversaries, timing blocks and counters to overcome enemies in a way that would feel right at home in the life or death struggles that play such an important role in Akira Kurosawa's films. In this way, combat becomes more of a dance, blades singing through the air as they strike against flesh and steel. Players who can pick up on the pattern of attacks, the pacing of the dance, will find that Sekiro takes on an almost rhythm game-like feel. Sekiro rewards players for timing blocks and dodges right by turning them into deflections or counters, moves that help open enemies up for attacks. This makes the ability to time moves properly incredibly important. It also often means that running around and avoiding attacks while waiting for an opening is just not enough to make much progress. In fact, most of the boss encounters early on are specifically designed to crush that approach to combat out of players. Clever use of shinobi tools, knowing when to disengage, and recognizing when the time has come to stand your ground and fight head-on all prove integral to standing in triumph over foes. Always remember that Sekiro was built with more verticality in mind than Dark Souls or Bloodborne, so keep an eye out for grappling locations, especially in boss fights. They could open the door for a quick escape or a devastating counterattack. Of course, mastering the basic combat only prepares players for the unexpected challenges that are to come. The world of Sekiro is one where a human with a sharp mind and skilled with a blade can fight on equal terms with gods and demons. The mechanics introduced in the early game apply when fighting colossal beasts and otherworldly threats, though adapting to those animations and rhythms can prove to be a true challenge. Contending with magic and restless undead might seem to put Sekiro on uneven footing, but as players progress, they can use skill points to unlock new combos and techniques to help them compete against even immortal adversaries. Beyond combat, Sekiro has much to offer in terms of narrative. For the past several games, FromSoftware has told stories heavy on lore and world-building without much of a focus on the main protagonist outside of the role they fill within that detailed world. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice takes a different approach, opting to have a named protagonist with clearly articulated wants and desires, and supporting characters who all relate to him. This, more than anything else, helps Sekiro to feel more grounded than any of Hidetaka Miyazaki's other projects over the last several years. The grounded experience is further reinforced by the fact that the setting is one in which humans not only survive but thrive. Some of the most interesting enemies and encounters aren't big in scope, just two highly competent humans fighting one another in a life or death struggle. Since the narrative frames those human struggles in a more intimate and personal way, the player gets pulled into that fight, too. It simply feels more "real." We are continually reminded throughout the game that dragons, gods, demons, and ghosts are all aberrations; creatures and creations that pervert the natural cycle of the world - or exist outside of it. That brings us to one of the more interesting elements of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice: Religion. Whereas Dark Souls had bonfires and Bloodborne had lanterns, Sekiro has carvings of Buddha. In fact, Buddha and Buddhist imagery appear numerous times throughout Sekiro and understanding Buddhist philosophy can deepen the understanding of the narrative. For example, a major part of the central conflict raging at the heart of most FromSoftware games has been that holding onto something that will inevitably be lost can only cause suffering; it cannot actually satisfy. In Dark Souls, that something is Gwyn's Age of Fire and the curse placed upon humanity to force them into continuing the cycle over and over again. In Sekiro, the human pursuit of immortality represents a complete abandonment of the natural cycle of death and reincarnation. Sekiro's ability to die and resurrect is shown as useful but also something that spreads disease and suffering onto others. Those who have allowed themselves to become infested with immortal worms become undying and monstrous. The mission to create a god who could bestow eternal life sacrifices untold numbers of children to form one imperfect idol. In Buddhist terms, the dissatisfaction that these characters feel with their impending deaths are part of what is known as dukkha, the suffering and unsatisfying nature of a temporary existence. The way that they deal with that, however, is to wander far in search of an escape, a way to make their temporary state permanent rather than to pursue the eight-fold path and exit the cycle of reincarnation. Sekiro depicts the folly of such a wrong-headed approach to dealing with dukkha and the pain that can be inflicted on others by such an attempt. What interests me the most about Sekiro's depiction of Buddhism comes down to how its included so boldly in the game itself. Not many games are willing to show anything more than a fictional religion for fear that it might alienate some of the consumer base. In Sekiro, however, players pray at Buddha statues to fast-travel, level up, and more. The imagery is carved into the environments. Characters talk about Buddha, too. In fact, one of the main characters can't seem to stop carving Buddhas. One of the most important items players collect over their time spent in Sekiro are Buddhist prayer beads. There are even several cutscenes depicting the earnest prayers of our protagonist. That's bold and fascinating. How often have you seen a Muslim in prayer in a video game? Or a Christian? I honestly don't know that I have ever seen a protagonist in a video game pray in relation to a religion that exists in the real world. Video games are art and religion seems to be one of those areas that video games haven't yet gone in-depth, so this could be a sign of things to come. Conclusion: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice stands apart from the Soulsborne games. The highly lethal approach to combat seems suited for the mechanics and message the developers were going for. Encounters with enemies feel fair, with tight controls responding well to the rhythm of battle; even normal enemies sometimes achieve the satisfying back-and-forth trading of blows often reserved for mini-bosses. The world doesn't stop surprising right up until the end, especially if you aren't familiar with Japanese folklore. The main complaint about Sekiro's gameplay would be the functional but shoddy stealth system. A sequel seems almost inevitable at this point and further refinements to sneaking and related abilities would go a long way toward making it feel more robust. Perhaps sneaking through an enemy city and avoiding the non-violent civilians? Experiencing Sekiro's visuals feels like a treat for the eyes. The lighting and level design often lead to moments that feel cinematic and the day-night cycle that progresses as main story objectives are achieved lends each location a new experience when you begin backtracking looking for secrets (something you should definitely do). The music in Sekiro failed to live up to the standards of the visuals, but it doesn't actively detract from the game in any major way. It just doesn't stand out. However, the sound design almost completely makes up for the lackluster score. Blades clashing, otherworldly howls, the melancholy notes of ethereal instruments floating through the air, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice knows how to characterize its enemies and struggles by sound alone. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice should absolutely be on your gaming wishlist if you have any love for FromSoftware titles or action games in general. It doesn't get much better than this. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was reviewed on PC and is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  6. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice exists as a fundamentally different beast than what many players might expect from the developers who brought them Dark Souls and Bloodborne. FromSoftware manages to infuse the stealth-action game with a lot of the same trimmings and style as their previous action-RPGs, but take Sekiro in an almost entirely different direction. Diverging from their incredibly successful formula to try something new represented a substantial risk. However, Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team pulled off the impossible and created an experience that will surely stick with players for years to come - provided they can adapt to Sekiro's punishing gameplay mechanics. Sekiro tells the story of an honorable (or perhaps dishonorable, depending on your choices) shinobi, a ninja in service to a young boy named Lord Kuro. Of course, a FromSoftware game these days needs an element of the mystic and Lord Kuro also happens to be the Divine Heir, someone blessed with blood that prevents him from ever dying. Of course, that blood makes him the target of every power-hungry figure who yearns for immortality. The lands of Ashina in feudal Japan find themselves overrun with hostile forces and Lord Kuro captured shortly after the game begins. Our titular hero, Sekiro, must use all of his cunning and swordsmanship to rescue his master and follow the Iron Code of the shinobi. In his quest to secure Lord Kuro and follow the boy's orders, Sekiro contends with far more than human adversaries. Ghosts, gods, demons, and creatures straight out of Japanese folklore rise to stop him and spread chaos throughout the land. Learning how to deal with all of these threats, both mundane and supernatural, as just one man armed with a sword and a handful of shinobi tools would be quite the challenge under a Dark Souls-like system of death. You will die. That's an inescapable fact about Sekiro. However, Lord Kuro gave his loyal shinobi the gift of his blood, bestowing the ability to resurrect from the point of death to give another chance at emerging victorious from battle. And what battles you will have to endure and survive. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice focuses on the back and forth of clashing swords. You won't be able to dodge roll around most attacks or play it safe. Instead the highly lethal combat encourages players to stand toe to toe with adversaries, timing blocks and counters to overcome enemies in a way that would feel right at home in the life or death struggles that play such an important role in Akira Kurosawa's films. In this way, combat becomes more of a dance, blades singing through the air as they strike against flesh and steel. Players who can pick up on the pattern of attacks, the pacing of the dance, will find that Sekiro takes on an almost rhythm game-like feel. Sekiro rewards players for timing blocks and dodges right by turning them into deflections or counters, moves that help open enemies up for attacks. This makes the ability to time moves properly incredibly important. It also often means that running around and avoiding attacks while waiting for an opening is just not enough to make much progress. In fact, most of the boss encounters early on are specifically designed to crush that approach to combat out of players. Clever use of shinobi tools, knowing when to disengage, and recognizing when the time has come to stand your ground and fight head-on all prove integral to standing in triumph over foes. Always remember that Sekiro was built with more verticality in mind than Dark Souls or Bloodborne, so keep an eye out for grappling locations, especially in boss fights. They could open the door for a quick escape or a devastating counterattack. Of course, mastering the basic combat only prepares players for the unexpected challenges that are to come. The world of Sekiro is one where a human with a sharp mind and skilled with a blade can fight on equal terms with gods and demons. The mechanics introduced in the early game apply when fighting colossal beasts and otherworldly threats, though adapting to those animations and rhythms can prove to be a true challenge. Contending with magic and restless undead might seem to put Sekiro on uneven footing, but as players progress, they can use skill points to unlock new combos and techniques to help them compete against even immortal adversaries. Beyond combat, Sekiro has much to offer in terms of narrative. For the past several games, FromSoftware has told stories heavy on lore and world-building without much of a focus on the main protagonist outside of the role they fill within that detailed world. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice takes a different approach, opting to have a named protagonist with clearly articulated wants and desires, and supporting characters who all relate to him. This, more than anything else, helps Sekiro to feel more grounded than any of Hidetaka Miyazaki's other projects over the last several years. The grounded experience is further reinforced by the fact that the setting is one in which humans not only survive but thrive. Some of the most interesting enemies and encounters aren't big in scope, just two highly competent humans fighting one another in a life or death struggle. Since the narrative frames those human struggles in a more intimate and personal way, the player gets pulled into that fight, too. It simply feels more "real." We are continually reminded throughout the game that dragons, gods, demons, and ghosts are all aberrations; creatures and creations that pervert the natural cycle of the world - or exist outside of it. That brings us to one of the more interesting elements of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice: Religion. Whereas Dark Souls had bonfires and Bloodborne had lanterns, Sekiro has carvings of Buddha. In fact, Buddha and Buddhist imagery appear numerous times throughout Sekiro and understanding Buddhist philosophy can deepen the understanding of the narrative. For example, a major part of the central conflict raging at the heart of most FromSoftware games has been that holding onto something that will inevitably be lost can only cause suffering; it cannot actually satisfy. In Dark Souls, that something is Gwyn's Age of Fire and the curse placed upon humanity to force them into continuing the cycle over and over again. In Sekiro, the human pursuit of immortality represents a complete abandonment of the natural cycle of death and reincarnation. Sekiro's ability to die and resurrect is shown as useful but also something that spreads disease and suffering onto others. Those who have allowed themselves to become infested with immortal worms become undying and monstrous. The mission to create a god who could bestow eternal life sacrifices untold numbers of children to form one imperfect idol. In Buddhist terms, the dissatisfaction that these characters feel with their impending deaths are part of what is known as dukkha, the suffering and unsatisfying nature of a temporary existence. The way that they deal with that, however, is to wander far in search of an escape, a way to make their temporary state permanent rather than to pursue the eight-fold path and exit the cycle of reincarnation. Sekiro depicts the folly of such a wrong-headed approach to dealing with dukkha and the pain that can be inflicted on others by such an attempt. What interests me the most about Sekiro's depiction of Buddhism comes down to how its included so boldly in the game itself. Not many games are willing to show anything more than a fictional religion for fear that it might alienate some of the consumer base. In Sekiro, however, players pray at Buddha statues to fast-travel, level up, and more. The imagery is carved into the environments. Characters talk about Buddha, too. In fact, one of the main characters can't seem to stop carving Buddhas. One of the most important items players collect over their time spent in Sekiro are Buddhist prayer beads. There are even several cutscenes depicting the earnest prayers of our protagonist. That's bold and fascinating. How often have you seen a Muslim in prayer in a video game? Or a Christian? I honestly don't know that I have ever seen a protagonist in a video game pray in relation to a religion that exists in the real world. Video games are art and religion seems to be one of those areas that video games haven't yet gone in-depth, so this could be a sign of things to come. Conclusion: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice stands apart from the Soulsborne games. The highly lethal approach to combat seems suited for the mechanics and message the developers were going for. Encounters with enemies feel fair, with tight controls responding well to the rhythm of battle; even normal enemies sometimes achieve the satisfying back-and-forth trading of blows often reserved for mini-bosses. The world doesn't stop surprising right up until the end, especially if you aren't familiar with Japanese folklore. The main complaint about Sekiro's gameplay would be the functional but shoddy stealth system. A sequel seems almost inevitable at this point and further refinements to sneaking and related abilities would go a long way toward making it feel more robust. Perhaps sneaking through an enemy city and avoiding the non-violent civilians? Experiencing Sekiro's visuals feels like a treat for the eyes. The lighting and level design often lead to moments that feel cinematic and the day-night cycle that progresses as main story objectives are achieved lends each location a new experience when you begin backtracking looking for secrets (something you should definitely do). The music in Sekiro failed to live up to the standards of the visuals, but it doesn't actively detract from the game in any major way. It just doesn't stand out. However, the sound design almost completely makes up for the lackluster score. Blades clashing, otherworldly howls, the melancholy notes of ethereal instruments floating through the air, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice knows how to characterize its enemies and struggles by sound alone. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice should absolutely be on your gaming wishlist if you have any love for FromSoftware titles or action games in general. It doesn't get much better than this. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was reviewed on PC and is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  7. FromSoftware dropped a new cinematic trailer for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice showing off a bit of narrative as opposed to flashy combat. The beautiful flashback provides a glimpse at how protagonist Sekiro came under the tutelage of his grizzled mentor, the Owl. We see the Owl adopting an adolescent Sekiro in the aftermath of a bloody battle. Though brief, the scene highlights Sekiro’s more straightforward approach to storytelling as opposed to the vague narratives of the Souls series. First teased at the 2017 Game Awards, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice made its full unveiling during E3 2018. Taking place during the war-ridden Sengoku period of Japan, players control Sekiro, a one-armed shinobi who wields multi-functional prosthetic limb. After enemies leave Sekiro for dead and abduct a young lord he’s sworn to protect, the warrior must hunt down those responsible. Though it shares similar DNA to Dark Souls and Bloodborne, Sekiro's gameplay emphasizes speed, stealth, and verticality via a grappling hook used to scale structures Look for Sekiro: Shadows Die twice when it launches March 22 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  8. FromSoftware dropped a new cinematic trailer for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice showing off a bit of narrative as opposed to flashy combat. The beautiful flashback provides a glimpse at how protagonist Sekiro came under the tutelage of his grizzled mentor, the Owl. We see the Owl adopting an adolescent Sekiro in the aftermath of a bloody battle. Though brief, the scene highlights Sekiro’s more straightforward approach to storytelling as opposed to the vague narratives of the Souls series. First teased at the 2017 Game Awards, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice made its full unveiling during E3 2018. Taking place during the war-ridden Sengoku period of Japan, players control Sekiro, a one-armed shinobi who wields multi-functional prosthetic limb. After enemies leave Sekiro for dead and abduct a young lord he’s sworn to protect, the warrior must hunt down those responsible. Though it shares similar DNA to Dark Souls and Bloodborne, Sekiro's gameplay emphasizes speed, stealth, and verticality via a grappling hook used to scale structures Look for Sekiro: Shadows Die twice when it launches March 22 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  9. During last year's Game Awards, Dark Souls/Bloodborne developer FromSoftware gave us a tantalizing glimpse at the next project. They pulled back that curtain entirely to reveal their next action title, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The game takes place in Japan and swaps medieval knights and Lovecraftian horrors for ninjas. Don't be fooled; there's still plenty of supernatural threats, including a massive serpent. The mysterious bone tool from the teaser is actually an artificial arm for the protagonist. This multipurpose limb can fire a grappling hook used quickly zip around or turn into an umbrella-like shield. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice launches in 2019. It will arrive on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  10. During last year's Game Awards, Dark Souls/Bloodborne developer FromSoftware gave us a tantalizing glimpse at the next project. They pulled back that curtain entirely to reveal their next action title, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The game takes place in Japan and swaps medieval knights and Lovecraftian horrors for ninjas. Don't be fooled; there's still plenty of supernatural threats, including a massive serpent. The mysterious bone tool from the teaser is actually an artificial arm for the protagonist. This multipurpose limb can fire a grappling hook used quickly zip around or turn into an umbrella-like shield. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice launches in 2019. It will arrive on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  11. Interesting dynamics and history are at play with Bandai Namco's creation of Project Vein. You see, Bandai Namco basically lucked into the gravy train that has been the Dark Souls series for the past five years. FromSoftware worked with Sony to publish the first Souls game, Demon's Souls. However, due to its initially lackluster sales performance Sony wasn't particularly interested in going through the trouble of bringing Demon's Souls to the wider world. Niche game publisher Atlus saw potential and stepped in to bring the game to North America where it became a cult classic. Unfortunately, sales still weren't huge and no publisher seemed overly eager to publish Demon's Souls for the European market. Even traditional FromSoftware partners like Tecmo Koei and Ubisoft turned their noses up when approached. That's when Bandai Namco stepped in to publish Demon's Souls in Europe, laying the groundwork for their future partnership with FromSoftware a year later. When it came time to release Dark Souls, FromSoftware self-published the game in Japan, but worked with Bandai Namco for a wider release in non-Japanese markets. That deal turned out to be huge for Bandai Namco. Dark Souls started printing money and Bandai Namco got a nice chunk of that profit. From was so satisfied with how Bandai Namco handled their end of the publishing deal that Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III were entirely published by Bandai Namco. However, FromSoftware is an independent developer. That meant they were free to have their games published by whatever company they chose. That freedom allowed them to work with Sony to publish Bloodborne, a new IP that similarly sold incredibly well - but it sold incredibly well for From and Sony, Bandai Namco could only watch from the sidelines. Project Vein looks very, very heavily inspired by Bloodborne. The promotional hashtag teased at the end of the trailer #PrepareToDine is even a slight variation on the original Dark Souls' catch phrase, "Prepare to die." I don't think that's a bad thing at all - some of the greatest works of art draw heavily from other works of art. However, I do think that at least some part of this Bandai Namco's decision to develop and self-publish Project Vein has to do with chasing after that sweet, sweet Bloodborne money - without having to rely on an independent developer like FromSoftware that could cut them out of future ventures. Not only that, but Bandai Namco would actually own the Project Vein IP if it became successful. They would be free to adapt it to other mediums, much like what they did with their God Eater franchise. Interestingly, the same team that developed God Eater has now been shifted over to work on Project Vein. If you look at God Eater, there is a franchise that spans several games, several light novels, an anime series, and a trading card game, all of which have done relatively well. If Project Vein proves to be even half as popular as Bloodborne, it could be similarly adapted and serialized. There's a lot of money on the line if Project Vein succeeds. Bandai Namco has tasted the success of Dark Souls and watched on as FromSoftware, the goose that was laying golden eggs for them, created another smashing success for Sony. A lot of this is speculation on my part, but Project Vein seems like Bandai Namco's attempt to cash in on the popularity of FromSoftware's mechanics and dark style. Here's hoping that this results in a great game that can live up to or surpass what inspired it and not a retaliatory cash grab. View full article
  12. Interesting dynamics and history are at play with Bandai Namco's creation of Project Vein. You see, Bandai Namco basically lucked into the gravy train that has been the Dark Souls series for the past five years. FromSoftware worked with Sony to publish the first Souls game, Demon's Souls. However, due to its initially lackluster sales performance Sony wasn't particularly interested in going through the trouble of bringing Demon's Souls to the wider world. Niche game publisher Atlus saw potential and stepped in to bring the game to North America where it became a cult classic. Unfortunately, sales still weren't huge and no publisher seemed overly eager to publish Demon's Souls for the European market. Even traditional FromSoftware partners like Tecmo Koei and Ubisoft turned their noses up when approached. That's when Bandai Namco stepped in to publish Demon's Souls in Europe, laying the groundwork for their future partnership with FromSoftware a year later. When it came time to release Dark Souls, FromSoftware self-published the game in Japan, but worked with Bandai Namco for a wider release in non-Japanese markets. That deal turned out to be huge for Bandai Namco. Dark Souls started printing money and Bandai Namco got a nice chunk of that profit. From was so satisfied with how Bandai Namco handled their end of the publishing deal that Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III were entirely published by Bandai Namco. However, FromSoftware is an independent developer. That meant they were free to have their games published by whatever company they chose. That freedom allowed them to work with Sony to publish Bloodborne, a new IP that similarly sold incredibly well - but it sold incredibly well for From and Sony, Bandai Namco could only watch from the sidelines. Project Vein looks very, very heavily inspired by Bloodborne. The promotional hashtag teased at the end of the trailer #PrepareToDine is even a slight variation on the original Dark Souls' catch phrase, "Prepare to die." I don't think that's a bad thing at all - some of the greatest works of art draw heavily from other works of art. However, I do think that at least some part of this Bandai Namco's decision to develop and self-publish Project Vein has to do with chasing after that sweet, sweet Bloodborne money - without having to rely on an independent developer like FromSoftware that could cut them out of future ventures. Not only that, but Bandai Namco would actually own the Project Vein IP if it became successful. They would be free to adapt it to other mediums, much like what they did with their God Eater franchise. Interestingly, the same team that developed God Eater has now been shifted over to work on Project Vein. If you look at God Eater, there is a franchise that spans several games, several light novels, an anime series, and a trading card game, all of which have done relatively well. If Project Vein proves to be even half as popular as Bloodborne, it could be similarly adapted and serialized. There's a lot of money on the line if Project Vein succeeds. Bandai Namco has tasted the success of Dark Souls and watched on as FromSoftware, the goose that was laying golden eggs for them, created another smashing success for Sony. A lot of this is speculation on my part, but Project Vein seems like Bandai Namco's attempt to cash in on the popularity of FromSoftware's mechanics and dark style. Here's hoping that this results in a great game that can live up to or surpass what inspired it and not a retaliatory cash grab.
  13. The Best Games Period returns with our second episode! This week join myself, Jeremy Brown, and Daniel Jones as we discuss the grim fantasy world of Dark Souls. Released by FromSoftware in 2011, Dark Souls ripped and roared across the gaming landscape to immense popularity and went on to shape games in development studios across the globe. Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of Dark Souls, became on of the most influential figures in the game industry. What makes Dark Souls one of the best games period? Listen to the show and find out for yourself. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and (soon) iTunes. A YouTube version is also available; can we defeat the Taurus Demon before the end of the podcast? You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod The outro music this week: Dark Souls 'I Had a Name' by RoeTaKa (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03101) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday.
  14. The Best Games Period returns with our second episode! This week join myself, Jeremy Brown, and Daniel Jones as we discuss the grim fantasy world of Dark Souls. Released by FromSoftware in 2011, Dark Souls ripped and roared across the gaming landscape to immense popularity and went on to shape games in development studios across the globe. Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of Dark Souls, became on of the most influential figures in the game industry. What makes Dark Souls one of the best games period? Listen to the show and find out for yourself. Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and (soon) iTunes. A YouTube version is also available; can we defeat the Taurus Demon before the end of the podcast? You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod The outro music this week: Dark Souls 'I Had a Name' by RoeTaKa (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03101) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday. View full article
  15. Since the release of Demon’s Souls in 2009, From Software has made a name for itself creating dense worlds of macabre horror and adventure. Bloodborne follows in the footsteps of Dark Souls and Dark Souls II in tone and difficulty, while the gameplay has evolved considerably along with a slight departure from what has become From Software’s signature medieval aesthetic. It is a hard journey that opposes insane gods, raving demons, and everything in between. Bloodborne was reviewed on PlayStation 4. For those who can properly gird themselves for the difficulties that lie ahead, Bloodborne will prove to be a satisfying gameplay experience. From Software decided to almost entirely remove blocking from their combat formula, retooling encounters to revolve around precise dodging and regenerating health by attacking. This system works very well and encourages a more aggressive attitude toward fighting that many who were shield-reliant in previous From Software titles might find difficult to embrace. Firearms replace shields as the dominant off-hand piece of equipment. While the implementation of guns might seem like it would break combat, it does just the opposite. A limited quantity of ammo means that players need to use their shots carefully. Timing shots perfectly can stun enemies and open them up to powerful visceral attacks, which both look cool and do immense amounts of damage. Each main weapon can be altered on the fly to become a two-handed tool of destruction. On top of that, players can equip an additional weapon on each hand to switch to in the midst of combat. All of this contributes to a very fluid experience that scales depending on the player’s skill. At its worst fighting feels like ineffectual flailing, but at its best it can feel like a surgical dance, floating just outside of enemy’s reach before going in for the kill at the perfect moment. Tied in with combat is the leveling system, which uses blood echoes collected from killing enemies to advance a player’s stats. In a major shift for the series, all of these stats are actually understandable and it is easy to see how they affect combat. This avoids problems from previous From Software games where players had to puzzle over what Poise, Attunement, or Resistance actually meant within the context of gameplay. That isn’t to say that the combat system is perfect. There are times when hit detection can be confusing, why can my two-handed weapon go through some parts of walls, but not others? Why did that attack hit me, despite not visually touching me? I could rarely use my gun effectively, though I’m pretty sure that was due to my lack of skill rather than any problem with Bloodborne. Additionally, most enemies that are appropriate to the player’s level can easily kill in two to four hits, which can make it tricky to navigate through areas with a large number of enemies. The reliance on timing works against players during these long stretches as one poorly timed move can mean death or serious injury. In Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, players would receive a certain amount of health-regenerating Estus Flasks each time they revived. Bloodborne takes a different approach. As players kill enemies, they obtain blood vials which can be used to heal injuries. Players can only carry twenty at any one time, though excess blood vials will be stored for use when the player next revives. This works rather well during the early stages of Bloodborne, when blood vials are given out by almost every enemy. However, later on, blood vials become scarce, which can be particularly bothersome when attempting to take on a particularly ferocious boss. I’m a bit torn on blood vials. On the one hand, I like that the design encourages players who have been defeated so many times that they’ve run out of blood vials to grind for more, which also allows players to build up more blood echoes and level up. I think that’s some pretty solid, subtle game design. On the other hand, grinding blood vials seems to be the most efficient in earlier areas. So, if you become stuck on a late-game boss, backtracking to those early areas won’t help you level. It’ll just feel like a chore with the only payoff being another attempt at the ‘roided up monstrosity that has already utterly wrecked you a dozen times. A bit more consistency with the doling out of blood vials might have smoothed the overall gameplay experience. The lack of a decent way to obtain blood vials later on in the game just seems like a way to artificially inflate the difficulty (rest assured, I can already hear the chorus of you all saying “git gud, son”). Bloodborne is a blast, one of the few truly “next-gen” feeling exclusives on the PlayStation 4. Completing it gave me a genuine sense of accomplishment. That being said, I think it is time to have a discussion about the philosophy behind Bloodborne, something that comes out in both the gameplay and story. While I thoroughly enjoyed Bloodborne, I developed a growing feeling of unease about my actions and the underlying themes of what I was playing. Bloodborne is, at heart, a game of Darwinian Nihilism. There are no moral questions regarding the inhabitants of Bloodborne’s world, almost everything is out to kill the player and the player fights back in order to survive. This plays into the core gameplay loop of killing and becoming more powerful. Through a cosmic loophole, the player is able to bypass the natural law of “survival of the fittest” in order to accumulate enough power to become the fittest in any given scenario. Ultimately, this escalation of power topples even entities that humans revere as gods. There is no real triumph here, only the momentary relief that comes with the knowledge that you have killed something that posed a considerable threat. The ending, whichever one you get, makes it clear that this has all happened before and it will happen again because that is the way this particular universe functions. The core struggle in Bloodborne is just trying to get by in a world your character is unwillingly thrust into; a world that neither knows who you are nor cares; a world where there is always a bigger fish. Rest is an illusion that lowers your guard, there is only the struggle to continue on for as long as possible. One might be tricked into thinking that the gods in Bloodborne serve as some kind of metaphor for religion in the real world, but I think it is less a commentary about that than it is an extension of the broader nihilistic concepts at play in the rest of the game. The deities are completely self-interested and their interest seems wholly detrimental to humans, but they are also not truly divine. Though hard to kill, they are wholly mortal creatures that simply exist either entirely or in part on different planes of existence. Given Hidetaka Miyazaki’s role as the director of Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne (he oversaw the development of Dark Souls II, but did not direct), perhaps Miyazaki has taken on the role of an auteur at the company where he is currently president. Maybe the games he has directed have been his message to the world, a cry that all of our ideologies, morality, and beliefs are all just noise, the ravings of madmen behind closed doors. We’re each the protagonist in our own Bloodborne story, just trying to survive, but constantly encountering new challenges and problems. And those problems, like the enemies in Bloodborne, can sometimes be seen from a long way off, both other times they leap out from the unseen darkness with murderous intent. Bloodborne is a power fantasy. Lately that term seems to have taken on a not-so-great meaning, but against the background of From Software’s larger point, that fantasy shines. It stands out because Yahrnam operates on that power fantasy. The “power” is simply that of survival and it is the only thing a character trapped in a world such as Bloodborne’s can do, even though everything in Bloodborne implies that survival is ultimately pointless. While I disagree with its outlook on life and the grand scheme of the universe, Bloodborne still manages to resonate with me. Art imitates life, and the world of Bloodborne imitates our own. Life can be unfair, beautiful, insane. Living means that travesty occurs unexpectedly and misjudged moments can mean the difference between success and failure. Of course, in life there are all kinds of different problems that we all have to deal with: broken bones, taxes, familial squabbles; but Bloodborne simplifies life into a gothic fantasy where those problems can be solved through combat and catastrophe only postpones victory. Conclusion: Arguably the finest From Software game to date, I like Bloodborne quite a bit. The world it holds is beautiful and ugly and weird. The gameplay is almost flawless in its execution. However, if one looks under the surface, I think the underlying message of Bloodborne is sad and, to me, rings hollow. However, I think the conveyance of that message and the way it is worked into every aspect of design makes Bloodborne a very thematically resonant piece of art. That’s something I can respect, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it. Bloodborne is now available exclusively for PlayStation 4
  16. Since the release of Demon’s Souls in 2009, From Software has made a name for itself creating dense worlds of macabre horror and adventure. Bloodborne follows in the footsteps of Dark Souls and Dark Souls II in tone and difficulty, while the gameplay has evolved considerably along with a slight departure from what has become From Software’s signature medieval aesthetic. It is a hard journey that opposes insane gods, raving demons, and everything in between. Bloodborne was reviewed on PlayStation 4. For those who can properly gird themselves for the difficulties that lie ahead, Bloodborne will prove to be a satisfying gameplay experience. From Software decided to almost entirely remove blocking from their combat formula, retooling encounters to revolve around precise dodging and regenerating health by attacking. This system works very well and encourages a more aggressive attitude toward fighting that many who were shield-reliant in previous From Software titles might find difficult to embrace. Firearms replace shields as the dominant off-hand piece of equipment. While the implementation of guns might seem like it would break combat, it does just the opposite. A limited quantity of ammo means that players need to use their shots carefully. Timing shots perfectly can stun enemies and open them up to powerful visceral attacks, which both look cool and do immense amounts of damage. Each main weapon can be altered on the fly to become a two-handed tool of destruction. On top of that, players can equip an additional weapon on each hand to switch to in the midst of combat. All of this contributes to a very fluid experience that scales depending on the player’s skill. At its worst fighting feels like ineffectual flailing, but at its best it can feel like a surgical dance, floating just outside of enemy’s reach before going in for the kill at the perfect moment. Tied in with combat is the leveling system, which uses blood echoes collected from killing enemies to advance a player’s stats. In a major shift for the series, all of these stats are actually understandable and it is easy to see how they affect combat. This avoids problems from previous From Software games where players had to puzzle over what Poise, Attunement, or Resistance actually meant within the context of gameplay. That isn’t to say that the combat system is perfect. There are times when hit detection can be confusing, why can my two-handed weapon go through some parts of walls, but not others? Why did that attack hit me, despite not visually touching me? I could rarely use my gun effectively, though I’m pretty sure that was due to my lack of skill rather than any problem with Bloodborne. Additionally, most enemies that are appropriate to the player’s level can easily kill in two to four hits, which can make it tricky to navigate through areas with a large number of enemies. The reliance on timing works against players during these long stretches as one poorly timed move can mean death or serious injury. In Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, players would receive a certain amount of health-regenerating Estus Flasks each time they revived. Bloodborne takes a different approach. As players kill enemies, they obtain blood vials which can be used to heal injuries. Players can only carry twenty at any one time, though excess blood vials will be stored for use when the player next revives. This works rather well during the early stages of Bloodborne, when blood vials are given out by almost every enemy. However, later on, blood vials become scarce, which can be particularly bothersome when attempting to take on a particularly ferocious boss. I’m a bit torn on blood vials. On the one hand, I like that the design encourages players who have been defeated so many times that they’ve run out of blood vials to grind for more, which also allows players to build up more blood echoes and level up. I think that’s some pretty solid, subtle game design. On the other hand, grinding blood vials seems to be the most efficient in earlier areas. So, if you become stuck on a late-game boss, backtracking to those early areas won’t help you level. It’ll just feel like a chore with the only payoff being another attempt at the ‘roided up monstrosity that has already utterly wrecked you a dozen times. A bit more consistency with the doling out of blood vials might have smoothed the overall gameplay experience. The lack of a decent way to obtain blood vials later on in the game just seems like a way to artificially inflate the difficulty (rest assured, I can already hear the chorus of you all saying “git gud, son”). Bloodborne is a blast, one of the few truly “next-gen” feeling exclusives on the PlayStation 4. Completing it gave me a genuine sense of accomplishment. That being said, I think it is time to have a discussion about the philosophy behind Bloodborne, something that comes out in both the gameplay and story. While I thoroughly enjoyed Bloodborne, I developed a growing feeling of unease about my actions and the underlying themes of what I was playing. Bloodborne is, at heart, a game of Darwinian Nihilism. There are no moral questions regarding the inhabitants of Bloodborne’s world, almost everything is out to kill the player and the player fights back in order to survive. This plays into the core gameplay loop of killing and becoming more powerful. Through a cosmic loophole, the player is able to bypass the natural law of “survival of the fittest” in order to accumulate enough power to become the fittest in any given scenario. Ultimately, this escalation of power topples even entities that humans revere as gods. There is no real triumph here, only the momentary relief that comes with the knowledge that you have killed something that posed a considerable threat. The ending, whichever one you get, makes it clear that this has all happened before and it will happen again because that is the way this particular universe functions. The core struggle in Bloodborne is just trying to get by in a world your character is unwillingly thrust into; a world that neither knows who you are nor cares; a world where there is always a bigger fish. Rest is an illusion that lowers your guard, there is only the struggle to continue on for as long as possible. One might be tricked into thinking that the gods in Bloodborne serve as some kind of metaphor for religion in the real world, but I think it is less a commentary about that than it is an extension of the broader nihilistic concepts at play in the rest of the game. The deities are completely self-interested and their interest seems wholly detrimental to humans, but they are also not truly divine. Though hard to kill, they are wholly mortal creatures that simply exist either entirely or in part on different planes of existence. Given Hidetaka Miyazaki’s role as the director of Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne (he oversaw the development of Dark Souls II, but did not direct), perhaps Miyazaki has taken on the role of an auteur at the company where he is currently president. Maybe the games he has directed have been his message to the world, a cry that all of our ideologies, morality, and beliefs are all just noise, the ravings of madmen behind closed doors. We’re each the protagonist in our own Bloodborne story, just trying to survive, but constantly encountering new challenges and problems. And those problems, like the enemies in Bloodborne, can sometimes be seen from a long way off, both other times they leap out from the unseen darkness with murderous intent. Bloodborne is a power fantasy. Lately that term seems to have taken on a not-so-great meaning, but against the background of From Software’s larger point, that fantasy shines. It stands out because Yahrnam operates on that power fantasy. The “power” is simply that of survival and it is the only thing a character trapped in a world such as Bloodborne’s can do, even though everything in Bloodborne implies that survival is ultimately pointless. While I disagree with its outlook on life and the grand scheme of the universe, Bloodborne still manages to resonate with me. Art imitates life, and the world of Bloodborne imitates our own. Life can be unfair, beautiful, insane. Living means that travesty occurs unexpectedly and misjudged moments can mean the difference between success and failure. Of course, in life there are all kinds of different problems that we all have to deal with: broken bones, taxes, familial squabbles; but Bloodborne simplifies life into a gothic fantasy where those problems can be solved through combat and catastrophe only postpones victory. Conclusion: Arguably the finest From Software game to date, I like Bloodborne quite a bit. The world it holds is beautiful and ugly and weird. The gameplay is almost flawless in its execution. However, if one looks under the surface, I think the underlying message of Bloodborne is sad and, to me, rings hollow. However, I think the conveyance of that message and the way it is worked into every aspect of design makes Bloodborne a very thematically resonant piece of art. That’s something I can respect, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it. Bloodborne is now available exclusively for PlayStation 4 View full article
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