by Harold Goldberg
Playing Bloodborne, the brutal-on-the-player game from From Software in which a horrible epidemic strikes a gothic town, is either a staggering exercise in effete masochism or a grueling, never rollicking, ascent to the laddertop of success. Either way, you need to play smart, and here are some suggestions for the first few hours.
1) Dying constantly is an essential part of Bloodborne. I can’t count the number of times I perished. That’s how you learn.
2) Game saves are few and far between. How few and far between? Imagine being stranded in a desert. Not only do you crave water. Not only do you need water. It doesn’t matter. You don’t actually find water until you are parched and about to die from thirst. Along the way, you will feel terror.
3) Watch out for the creeps with pitchforks. They move about slowly and sadly as if they carry the weight of the netherworld on their shoulders. When you alert them by trying to kill them, and they move in a flash toward you.
4) Torches kill. Once burned, you die within seconds and are fated to start from the beginning. Counter by shooting with a bullet which throws them back. Then, slash with your weapon from side to side, not up and down. Move back and watch their rhythm. But don’t look googly-eyed too long. You’ll die.
5) Try luring the rotten-faced uglies by fighting behind one of those burning werewolf effigies and then slashing them into the flames.
6) Roll away, frequently, by using the circle button.
7) Don’t put baby in a corner. Truly. Don’t get caught in the corners. The camera can be wonky in corners, so you often can’t see straight. How wonky? Imagine being too drunk. Then, imagine having taken a psychedelic. The paranoia that ensues is imbued with panic. Those few moments before your doom aren’t pleasant. You’ll yell aloud: Really? Again? Yes. Really. Again.
8) The second most important suggestion: Arm yourself. I learned the hard way. First, make sure you have a gun and a sword in each of the four assigned spots in your inventory. Using only two spots isn’t enough. If you accidentally press the D-pad without these in place, you’ll find yourself fighting with only your fists. In Bloodborne, even Floyd Meriwether would die using just his fists.
9) Bulk up. I don’t attack the most monolithic cretins or try to move through the full level unless I have 20 vials of blood and 20 bullets at the ready in my arsenal. That means attacking the easier to conquer undead wolven folk like the guys with wooden shields, amassing 500 – 1500 blood echoes and then going back to the Hunter’s Dream to bulk up.
10) Also, get the Yharnam Hunter Cap and Garb 1,500 Blood Echoes. They’ll make you a little stronger, and you need all the strength you can muster.
11) Be careful. You may feel you know how to move through a level. You may even think you can take on the gang of savage fiends. Never try to engage them all at once. That way lies madness. Lure them away one by one. At most, don’t take on more than three at a time.
12) When you find a torch along the way, use it when moving into those dark places. The things that go bump in the night aren’t kind. You’ll die the moment you dare to open a door and move into a blackened room.
13) I wish you good luck. And good destiny. As Joseph Heller wrote, “Destiny is a good thing to accept when it’s going your way. When it isn’t don’t call it destiny. Call it injustice, treachery or simple bad luck.” And if you don’t know who Joseph Heller is, look him up when you can’t take any more death in Bloodborne.