Why Bloodborne is my game of the year 2015
2015 has been a great year in terms of videogames. I take a look at what was released this year and I see franchises like Fallout, Metal Gear Solid, Batman, Tomb Raider and Halo getting new releases alongside The Witcher 3, Assassins Creed Syndicate, Ori and the Blind Forest, Fast Racing Neo, Rocket League and Splatoon. We got updates for games like DriveClub and Destiny who became pretty entertaining packages, the first addon for GuildWars 2, pretty great remasters like Uncharted and Gears of War and let’s not forget the “E3 of dreams” that didn’t just get us excited for The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Shenmue 3 but also gave us a glimpse into the future of VR and AR from both Sony and Microsoft.
Bloodborne however was the best gamy thing that happened to me not only this year. Everyone of us has that Hall of Fame where only the very best games reside, taking precious brain space for reserved memories. For me, there’s a level above that. A level that, before 2015, was only reached by two games. It seems that every decade, there will be a game for me that changes my perception of videogames or at least a certain aspect of it. The first one has been Secret of Mana which got me into game creation in the first place. Before this game I always wanted to dig up Dinosaur bones thanks to Jurassic Park.
Secret of Mana just showed me a world, a story and characters in a video game that, for the first time ever, made me care. It also showed me how great of an effect music in a game can have and to this day the opening song by Hiroki Kikuta gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. It was also one of the games I played with my father and I will always remember how we roamed this game, fighting bosses and beating the game.
The second game was Metal Gear Solid 2. When I went to school I always only had money for one console at a time and each time I wanted a new one I had to sell my old one. I went from SNES to N64 to Dreamcast to GameCube. When I finished school and had my year of alternative civilian service I finally got the money to get myself a PlayStation 2 which, by that time, had already changed to the slim model. Along with the PS2 I got two games to start out: Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2. And as much as I’d enjoyed Final Fantasy X, it was Metal Gear Solid 2 that completely blew my mind. To me this mixture of presentation, gameplay ideas, story and characters was unprecedented and its ending left me with shaking hands and, again, a changed perception of videogames.
This year finally saw the third game to join the ranks of Secret of Mana and Metal Gear Solid 2: Bloodborne. Now Bloodborne is by no means my first From Software game. I tried Demon’s Souls when it became available via PS Plus and I actually bought Dark Souls the day it came out. But in my opinion, no souls game comes even close to what Bloodborne manages to represent.
Its Lovecraft-inspired world of Gothic style and gruesome monsters sets the most atmospheric foundation I have seen in a long time, if not ever in a video game. But the way Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team exploit this foundation is what really turns the world into something that will keep your mind busy long after playing the game. Many modern games and movies rely on exposition. It’s the most basic and, in my opinion, the most weak way to to tell a story visually because you basically ignore the possibilities that a visual approach gives you. Bloodborne trades exposition for lore exploration which is much more difficult to pull off but when done good gives astounding results and Bloodborne does this beautifully (two movies this year who also use this method to varying degrees are Mad Max Fury Road and Star Wars Ep. 7 — both of which I’d also consider to be great movies).
Bloodborne’s a game however and thus its gameplay needs to hold up. And boy, does it hold up! I have never seen gameplay that brings pacing and spacing together as excellent as Bloodborne does it regardless of which weapon set you chose or which enemy you’re facing. Bloodborne needs you to find your own rythm with your instrument of choice, then try to learn the rythm of your enemy and then make a harmony out of it. This process is not easy and Bloodborne is not a game you will want to play after a stressful day or for half an hour between other activities. This game will try to destroy you every time you start it up and you will have to push back, observe, get creative and get better to overcome it.
Bloodborne is the proof that you don’t need to hold the player’s hand all the time, you don’t have to explain everything and show a story sequence every 30 minutes, you don’t need to make an achievement out of everything and make it easy to accomplish all that the game has to offer. AAA gaming has focused too much on stacks upon stacks of mediocre content that is easy to digest rather than one juicy piece of meat that’s spiced up excellently and has just the right amount of tasty supplement to make a filling meal.
All this makes Bloodborne one of the three best games I have ever played which of course means it has to be my game of the year. It is the game that, for me, sells the PlayStation 4 so far. It’s a game I think anyone should at least try out, unafraid of the challenges it may promise. Because as you will be told a lot by the game’s messaging system: Don’t give up! You can do it!
But before I close out, I want to point out 3 other games that have really managed to impress me: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Ori and the Blind Forest and Rocket League. If Bloodborne wouldn’t exist, those three would be my top 3 candidates for game of the year and I think each one of them is also well worth your money and time. They are kings of videogames that just happen to meet one of the gods of videogames.