Something has changed. Games have changed over the past couple of decades and I have changed along with them. Gone is my naiveté, the unshakable belief I would outgrow those bouncy characters and stories that were labeled childish by those closest to me.
I no longer care. I am and always will be obsessed with videogames, as if the very notion of interactive storytelling renders every cell in my body effervescent. The director and helmsman of one of the most valuable pieces of gaming lore, Hidetaka Miyazaki, taught me that.
Bloodborne is an absolute, undisputed milestone, one that is set to be rediscovered endlessly by the generations to come. Much like its ludo narrative structure, From Software’s masterpiece promotes a certain cycle, an order, a gameplay loop that is structured so you are seldom wandering around its world lacking purpose. Moreover, Bloodborne is never boring. Really. Everyone and everything in Yharnam is interesting, beautifully decayed yet elegant in its design and thematically inspiring. Bloodborne is not meant to transpire sadness, but to aid traveling hunters understand that actions will always carry both meaning and weight, despite their decisively doomed fate.
So, to put it lightly, Bloodborne encourages us not only to enjoy but to seek out whichever path is before us. Nothing is final, death is but a stage in our journey. Yes, ‘our’ journey. We are in this together. From Software’s game prompts players to collaborate, endure all hardships woven into the game’s code in a joint effort. The nightmare is real, relentless, often overwhelming, but there is always a fellow traveler readily available to lend us a hand.
What does it all mean, then? Why would you spend dozens of hours potentially dying over and over again if there is no gold pot at the end of the rainbow, no happy endings in sight? Well, Bloodborne is a study in acceptance. That rush of fear and unfiltered excitement you feel when you first trade blows with a boss character is the game’s mechanical finality. Bloodborne should not be praised only as a challenging game, but as an experience that rewards you with constant shots of adrenaline and much deserved conquests. When you finally achieve victory, you feel indestructible, fearless. You eventually accept Bloodborne’s steep difficultly curve as a mere path to peerless gaming glory.
The aforementioned struggles and championing of my own anxiety and the lack of confidence in almost everything I set out to do translated perfectly to Miyazaki’s piece. But I won. I beat it. Of course I was eventually able to beat that Hell Hound with only half of my HP bar. My character is stronger as a result, her efforts echoed my real life persona. This is one of the very few titles that has helped me grow beyond gaming’s ecosystem.
Perhaps more importantly though, I no longer dread having to explain to most non-gamers why spending 100 hours with any given JRPG may be a good use of my time. It’s my time, my journeys, my battles, my very own boss fights. And they are wonderful. Being a gamer in 2016 is a privilege, a thrill.
With the Pale Moon’s blessing, I am doing OK.