Bloodborne is coming out soon, and holy crap it is hard. No, you really don’t understand how hard it is. It’s ludicrously punishing, far more than any Souls game has been before. Remember, you don’t have a shield this time around, so you have to be spot on with your dodges and movement. Otherwise, you can easily get stabbed in the back and be taken out in just a few attacks. Think about that for a second. Gamers looked at Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls and said, “Eh, this is hard, but you know what would REALLY make this fun? If I couldn’t block at all!”
Why do gamers enjoy this? Well, there are a couple theories. The first is that gamers are a bit more masochistic than we normally show ourselves to be, but we aren’t getting our masochistic fix from most of the titles out there. Current games seem to be designed to allow you to beat them. Several, like Kirby’s Epic Yarn , don’t even have death conditions. Some, like adventure games by Telltale, have “death conditions” that only come into play when you are too distracted to even be paying attention, and even then, failure takes you back a mere few seconds.
Compare Kirby’s Epic Yarn to older platformers like Ninja Gaiden , or Telltale games to crazy-hard adventure games like the early Space Quest s. While people might say these modern day games are more “artistic” or narrative focused, there is nothing there to challenge the player. The player may have a lot of input in the game, but it certainly doesn’t scratch that itch of overcoming a difficult obstacle using only your wits and perseverance.
Bloodborne and the Souls games, however, do give you this feeling. With their unrelenting difficulty, they make sure that you die several times for each victory you obtain. Much like the older “Nintendo Hard” era of games, many of your enemies are guaranteed to kill you on your first encounter, and only after a ton of trial and error are you likely to ever triumph – but when you do, it’s awesome. Trust me, you are going to die a lot in this game.
There is another theory, though, that is a little bit less optimistic. Many have said that Bloodborne is selling itself as a brand rather than an experience. At this point, ultra-hard gameplay is known for being a staple of the Souls series, and as a Souls game, Bloodborne can get away with it. However, it’s possible that if Bloodborne didn’t have the Souls name behind it, we wouldn’t nearly be so forgiving of a game that so deeply punishes its players for the slightest mistake.
What do you think? Is Bloodborne just filling a niche that hasn’t been filled since the old era of NES games, or is it exploiting the Souls brand in order to make excessively hard games that we forgive for being overly punishing just because they’re part of the franchise? Let us know what you think in the comments.