Those That Hunt For New Hunters: BloodborneSeptember 14, 2018
Bloodborne touched the mind of the PS4 back in March 2015. A spiritual successor to FromSoftware’s Dark Souls series, Bloodborne is an action RPG where a person with an unspecified affliction goes to the town of Yharnam to find a cure. Once there, they fall into a nightmare world where they become a Hunter of monsters and grotesqueries to obtain the “paleblood” cure and escape the nightmare.
As they delve into Yharnam, they discover the paleblood is the source of the plague turning the town’s citizens into beasts and is the product of dark research on eldritch beings that inhabited the civilization Yharnam was built upon. After slaying twisted creatures and cosmic terrors, the Hunter wakes from the dream, becomes a part of it, or is reborn as something else entirely, depending on their actions.
“Kos, or some say Kosm.”
The story of Bloodborne is not as straightforward as the vague explanation above. Like the Souls games, Bloodborne has little traditional storytelling. Instead, bits of lore are told through item descriptions and environmental clues, and their significance and connection are left to the player. The game itself is seemingly uninterested in providing that context, and it’s up to the player to see through the game’s obfuscation and misdirection.
Combat and exploration through nightmarish environments are the game’s main draw. The Hunter carves through Yharnam with transforming weapons and guns firing bullets of their own blood, facing off against terrifying monstrosities that are at once pathetic and all too lethal. Retaliating shortly after taking damage heals you and healing items are limited, so pressing forward and risking death or falling back to heal is its own risk/reward system. Win the fight and obtain blood echoes to improve your equipment or abilities; fail, and accumulated blood echoes are either absorbed by a nearby enemy or lost to the ether should you fail again.
“A hunter is a hunter…”
Erik Lang is the director of game design for CMON. He’s worked with FASA, Fantasy Flight, and WizKids, and has designed original games as well as games for franchises like Star Wars, Game of Thrones, X-COM, Warhammer, even Dilbert. His attention turned to Bloodborne, and CMON published Bloodborne: The Card Game in 2016.
Players accumulate blood echoes by damaging monsters and lose any unbanked blood echoes should they fall to those monsters. Play revolves around returning to the Hunter’s Dream to restock their hands and banking blood echoes for victory points. Hunters must cooperate to take down their enemies, but there’s a competitive element in making sure your Hunter is the one to survive these encounters.
“…even in a dream.”
This past GenCon, Lang announced Bloodborne: The Board Game. Unlike the Card Game, the Board Game is intended for longer campaigns with its own spin on the dungeon crawl. What’s interesting about the game is the focus on story. Bloodborne‘s six covenants, or factions, come to the fore, and each one has their own unique story, as well as a personal one for your Hunter. The actual mechanics of the game are unknown, beyond a quick teach and setup, a 60-90 minute playtime, and a nearly complete divorce from the card game’s mechanics.
And, like a rite of passage for every tabletop game, Bloodborne: The Board Game will have a Kickstarter campaign coming sometime in 2019. Details are scarce, yet between this and my previous article about an action RPG video game going to tabletop via crowd funding, one starts to wonder if these points do, in fact, form a line.