We’ve sent our Games Editor Jake Muncy into the dark, unwelcoming world of From Software’s newest title, Bloodborne. Today: setbacks and a quest to get ready for whatever’s to come. As Jake journeys on, spoilers will be inevitable, so keep that in mind.
Check out the previous installments:
- Bloodborne Logs #1: Being Hunted With Religious Fervor
- Bloodborne Logs #2: Over My Dead Body
- Bloodborne Logs #3: The Cathedral and the Prison
There’s a woman crying in the basement of the prison. From her dress, I’d guess that she was a nun. When I speak to her, she’s inconsolable, not even seeming to notice that I’m there. She was taken, too, by the same otherworldly jailers that took me. She doesn’t know how to get out. When I begin my ascent, up a winding, shadow-drenched staircase, I’m looking for the both of us.
Not having an active lamp that I can retreat to is uniquely unsettling. Bloodborne creates a rhythm of control and calculated risk, based on your ability, resources, and the surroundings. Lamps are small centers of control, safe bases that you expand, based on exploring and mastering the world, opening up the hidden paths, building a map in your mind. Eventually, I’ve been able to achieve a feeling of safety and ownership in my surroundings through this process, learning where all the threats are and how to cut them down one by one.
Being wrenched away from the safety of an active lamp short-circuits that entirely. I have no means to imbue myself with the power of new blood echoes, no way to travel to other areas, nowhere to begin to stake out my control. The jail is like an indifferent ocean, the water filling the space behind me as I swim ahead. The only thing I have to cling to to stay afloat is my weapon. I hold on tight.
There are statues here, shrine-like edifices like the ones around Yharnam. Where the ones in Yharnam feature beatific or mourning women, however, the ones I find here feature monsters. Strange things I haven’t seen before, with claws and tentacles and bug-like compound eyes. It makes the prison feel like an ugly nightmare version of the world I was in before.
After ascending far enough, and dying repeatedly at the hands of the patrolling bag men watching over this place, I find a lamp, an escape route. I feel obligated to keep exploring. I want to know who decided to bring me here, and if there’s a way to save the wailing nun. I’m not nearly strong enough to face the watchmen head on, though. Their very presence is making me sweat. So I slink away, out of the nightmare and back to my dream. One bloody hallucination after another.
The safety net of the Hunter’s Dream and my own immortality gives a certain fungibility to failure. I’m safe to fail, knowing that I’ll have a chance to try again. While I’m exploring an infinitely hostile world, Bloodborne has given me the tools to make sure that I’m essentially safe. Or that’s how I felt before my encounter with the gaol. That wasn’t a punishment, exactly, but it was a new sort of danger, a threat that I didn’t even realize was lurking out there. There’s more going on in Yharnam than I even understand that I don’t know.
So I go looking for strength. My only power here is the power to hunt, so I better get as good at it as I can get. I comb back through some places I’ve already been, gathering blood, picking up any items I missed the first go around. I’m going to need any help I can get.
I end up with a new weapon, called Ludwig’s Holy Blade. It’s a sword with a giant sheath that can be attached to the weapon, turning it into a massive greatsword, a blade and a bludgeon both. Ludwig was one of the first hunters, and was a revered clergyman. I’m not sure what god the Healing Church prays to, but maybe he’ll say a blessing for me. If he’s not a beast.
I return to the Tomb of Oedon, where I fought Father Gascoigne. I don’t know who Oedon is, but his tomb is a huge, sunken artifice in a walled-in graveyard. It’s crooked, like he wasn’t buried quite right, or like an earthquake had halfway demolished it.
A lamp appeared here after I killed the Father, and walk toward it, my guard down. A clash of metal against metal rings like cymbals in my ear, and suddenly I’m in a fight, straddling Oedon’s resting place. Two hunters whirl and strike around me. One is wearing a trenchcoat like mine, only in white and brown. The other is dressed in a feathery cape, a Reinassance-era plague mask on her face, striking like a vicious bird of prey. She has two daggers, and she strikes like a whirling dervish, a blur of steel.
I’ve seen the bird hunter before, in Central Yharnam. She was kind to me, which is unusual in this place. (The traditional Yharnam greeting is murder.) Her name is Eileen. So I go for the other hunter’s neck with everything I have. I can’t die permanently. But she might. And it would be nice to make at least one friend in this hellhole.
This hunter is too much for me, though. He has more health than most bosses I’ve fought thus far; my greatsword barely dents him. He uses the same cleaver I used to use, only he’s better, and his gunplay is devastating. Eileen is faring better than I am, but even together we barely hold our own. He pushes us around the graveyard, separating us on opposite sides of the tomb, keeping us both at bay.
I do the best I can, but it’s not enough. Eileen and I die at the same time. After respawning at the last lamp I was at, not far away, I rush back, fear and rage gnawing at my neck, hoping against hope that she’s not beyond saving. Her death, however, was permanent. I pick up a badge from her corpse and run away, vowing to return to deal with the triumphant hunter when I have the strength to beat him.
Her badge tells me that she was a hunter of hunters, assassinating the hunters gone mad with bloodlust or beasthood. It’s framed as an act of absolution, a redemption for fallen warriors. She gives them one last fight and then sends them away. Eileen’s job is funereal, in a way, which makes her last stand in a graveyard cruelly appropriate.
Her crow-like outfit is supposed to evoke the burial rites of a foreign land, where heroes are buried in the sky. Her weapon is another trick weapon, a short sword that splits into those two daggers she wielded. It’s called the Blades of Mercy.
Her badge lets me buy her gear and her weapon from the messengers in the Hunter’s Dream. I don her feather coat and equip her Blades and start training myself in their use. It seems like the least I can do.
Jake Muncy is a freelance writer, editor, and poet living in Austin, TX. In addition to functioning as Loser City’s Games Editor, his writing appears on The AV Club, Ovrld, Vice, and anywhere else he can convince people to post it. You can contact him by email or twitter, where he tweets regularly about video games, the Mountain Goats, and sandwiches. He has very strong feelings about Kanye West.