Bloodborne - Demon's Souls Spiritual Successor's Spiritual Successor

Thinking back it’s funny how incredibly annoyed and over it I was with Logarius at the time, because man, that cutscene, that backdrop, that snowfall, that music! In retrospect it was definitely one of the Climax Moments of the game for me, maybe because I spent so much time bashing my head against it.

That’s an interesting opinion! How so, if you can articulate?

Well, like you said, there’s a lot of unknowns and wishy-washiness to the whole thing. It feels like an abstract painting when you’re playing through it, so you can only see your part of the painting and it’s opaque and blurry and you kind of muddle through it, and you imagine that if you could see the big picture, you imagine that what you could see were a few dots, and if you pulled back enough and put the pieces together in your head, you would see this giant impressionist painting.

But instead, it turns out the big picture is also an abstract picture too.

Yes, I think BB is much more of a thematically-organized game than a plot-organized game. In that respect it resembles, say, Dahlgren more than it does the Amber Chronicles (maybe I’m reaching for an analogy, here). Lovecraftian (and dare I say Lem-ian) unknowability and cosmic bafflement is one of those themes, along with the gothic horror theme of man’s (specifically, man’s science’s) overreach, which of course was a preoccupation of Lovecraft’s as well. Motherhood (and through it menstruation and pregnancy) forms another very strong theme. This is where Kos and the vilebloods really come into their own, which is why I can’t resent them too much, even if they don’t fit “puzzle like” into the plot-organization. Blood (and its many mythic/folkloric resonances), fear of contamination, of the “other,” that excellent breakdown I linked above of Bloodborne as a parable of immune response…sin (especially incurred in the pursuit of ostensibly “good” ends) and its consequences. All present, all important, all potentially providing a new lens through which to view all of the “happenings” in the game.

Really, whatever happens…you may think it all a mere bad dream.

The whole game, thinking about it a bit further, is a litany of catastrophic births, both literal and figurative. Yarnham attempts to birth Mergo and fails (more or less), Willem attempts to birth his own ascended form (and that of his students) and fails, Laurence attempts to birth a “healing” church and fails, that church attempts to birth its own saints and great ones and fails (over and over again), the School of Mensis attempts to birth a great one in the form of the Brain of Mensis and fails, Arianna’s birth is an apparent failure (and at least to her, a catastrophe), Gehrman’s “birth” of the doll in apparent memory of Maria is a failure, since it results in a creation that he appears to be afraid of (“even the doll…should it please you”), Annalise’s attempt to birth the Child of Blood is a failure, Kos’s birth is a failure, even the Moon Presence’s attempt at your adoption is a failure, should you have obtained and used the cords. I am sure there is an essay to be written on these various failures of birth as an allegory for the perils of the creative process.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that another place the Vilebloods may come into play is revealing again the action of the “old blood” on humankind. Whereas the normal people of Yarnham turn into virile-looking beasts (and the clerics of the church into quite deformed ones), the nobles of Cainhurst become spindly, gross-looking bloodsuckers…also what’s the deal with blood dregs and vermin…

I think, like most Souls games, BB is more interested in themes than plot, for sure, but that said I do think there is a pretty interesting plot going on. One that’s a bit easier to follow than any of the other games (save Sekiro). A plot that has me waaay more invested in this world than any of the Dark Souls games.

The way I’ve come to approach the goings-on is to focus on the main characters (the original scholars of Byrgenwerth) and their divergent paths.

The mission of the scholars was to further human understanding of the “truth” in order to push humanity to its next evolution.

Willem feared the blood of the great ones, and chose the path of insight “lining his brain with eyes,” instead.

Laurence broke with Willem over the use of blood, and founded the Healing Church, breaking it up into three branches: The Choir, The Workshop, and The School of Mensis.

By all accounts, Laurence was the head of The Choir (the highest ranking church officials) and spread the use of blood healing, or blood ministration, to both grow the power of the church (which worked) and to use the spread of the old blood, as well as experiments on willing parties, as a method of contacting the great ones.

The Workshop, founded by Gehrman, acted as a clandestine force charged with eliminating, and covering up, the existence of the scourge of the beast.

The School of Mensis, lead by Micolash, was the Byrgenwerth alternative, a place of study and experimentation working along a parallel path to The Choir, but hidden from public view, operating out of the unseen village, increasingly relying on kidnappings and forced experimentation.

After the burning of Old Yharnam, an operation undertaken by The Workshop Hunters, the scourge became public knowledge, and both the Healing Church and the Workshop became discredited institutions. To maintain the power of the Healing Church, Laurence appears to have disbanded the workshop hunters, enlisting Ludwig in the establishment of the Church Hunters: a more forthright organization that armed the populace of Yharman, organized mass hunts, and operated in the open to both eliminate beasts and anyone suspected of being a beast.

At some point Laurence himself succumbed to the scourge, his beastly skull can be seen on an altar in the grand cathedral.

Gehrman became trapped in the Hunter’s Dream.

Micolash unsuccessfully summoned a great one in the form of the one reborn and then somehow had the entire school of mensis ripped into the nightmare realm.

And poor old Willem sits in his rocking chair overlooking the moonlit lake, all of his former students having long since abandoned him, his head filled with eyes, while Rom (not quite a great one) hides the existence of the blood moon, the rituals of the school of mensis, and the true nature of wtf is going on in Yharnam.

That’s the world we’re thrown into. What starts as a simple directive to “go hunt some beasts,” morphs into a full on drama between these competing characters, the horrors they have created/become, and the true nature of what lurks behind the waking world, prowling about in the cosmos.

Finally got Logarius down. Both in my game and in my friend’s. After we learned what to expect, it turned into a pretty fun fight. Got him first attempt in my friend’s game, second in mine.

We’ve been getting a lot of vermin, since we both pledged the oath to the confederates, and I when I went back to check in with BucketHead, he gave me a pretty solid emote, and then later, I got his bucket!

I wish I could get that whole outfit, but i’ll settle for the bucket.

We spent most of the night doing chalice dungeons. I can see how maybe they’d be boring solo, but in co-op they’re cool. Kinda feels like diablo. We fought some cool bosses. Unlocked some cooler armor. And we looted an uncanny saw blade and hunter axe.

Good stuff. I hope (fingers crossed) that we finish up this weekend. This play through has been too disjointed. Going to have to sit down and play through it later after Demon’s Souls to get more of a unified experience.

Oh, ho ho.

Finally got Ebrietas down. It felt very slow and plodding after Logarius. Still quite savage. It didn’t hurt that I gained a dozen or so levels since last we fought. I loved this whole set up: a cosmic horror just hanging out underneath the Grand Cathedral in a place called the ALTAR OF DESPAIR. I wonder where the church has been getting all that good healing blood from……hmmmmm.

Fresh off destroying this monstrosity, it was off to the Nightmare Frontier. Fun place. Side mouth werewolves. Corrupted dolphin-octopus monsters. Rock tossing giants (that can one shot you). Poison, cuz why not. An oh, down there in the muck surrounded by little flashes of light, what could that……FUCKING PATCHES you POS. I have no love for Patches, ever since he pulled this same trick on me in the Tomb of Giants. Fucker.

It took me longer than I’d like to admit to discover that the blue lanterns were leading the way through this maze of a level. Once I got the feel for it, it didn’t seem quite so big and intimidating. And just when I thought I’d seen all the nightmares I could handle for one day……OH MY GOD WTF IS THAT THING AND WHY IS IT SINGING AND NOW IM DEAD AND YEAH OF COURSE FRENZY HOLY SHIT IS IT WEARING THE DOLLS CLOTHES?

Amy was a relief after seeing (and dying) to that thing a few times.

The Amy C’thulu temple/arena was awesome. Just everything about that fight (including the batshit second phase) was great. What was also great was how easy it was. Whew. Two cosmic horrors down, lord knows how many more to go. Gonna swing by a few NPCs and do some farming before heading into the Hunters Nightmare. I’ve been spending all my souls on fashion. Need to earn a few levels.

I hear good things about this DLC (despite the difficulty), so I’m greatly looking forward to it.

This DLC is pretty great, ain’t it?

Hard, but very cool. I like how FROM keeps coming up with inventive ways for us to revisit the past through the DLC. The whole concept of the Hunter’s Nightmare is fantastic.

My gosh, they do rain down the new weapons on you don’t they? I’m torn between which one I want to mess around with and upgrade. It’ll probably be whirliwig…as I’m cosplaying Valtr now anyway…

Ludwig was ROUGH. Holy hell. One of those fights where you’re not only battling the beast, but the sound as well. It was so frantic!

Slowly climbing the creepy stairs of the Research Hall now. Place feels like a silent hill level. I love it.

I loved Ludwig’s goofy as hell face when he sees the Moonlight great sword, transforming him from crazed beast to bi-pedal? beast-man…which is probably the most significant use of From’s trademark re-appearing signature weapon.

Yup yup. When he was full beast I noticed a sword on his back, and thought, well hell, phase two he’ll definitely use that. But when I saw what sword it was I was both shocked and delighted.

Too bad I don’t have to stats to use it : (

So many of these cool DLC weapons would require a full respec! I guess they’re for NG+.

Plip Plop–

My pal and I mopped up the rest of the Research Hall and took down the Living Failures. I didn’t think there was much to that fight besides the wild hit box on those swinging arms…that was until the sky turned into the cosmos and meteors started raining down!

Very cool.

I was a bit letdown that the Astral Clocktower wasn’t another level, just a boss arena, but that Maria fight was great.

We’ve taken our first tentative steps into the Fishing Hamlet…let’s see what drove Maria to suicide.

How did you beat Maria? Did you guys only fight her in coop so far, not solo? That’s where I stopped when I switched to Dark Souls 3.

The obvious way to beat her, I was thinking, was to get the timing down somehow to always get a gun counter. If I could do that 12 times in a row, I’d win. But doing it that often seems … unlikely. Especially in her last phase, when she’s splashing around what I assume is acid blood everywhere, blood from an alien perhaps, except that it’s red.

I got her to the second phase without the help of my co-op partner by managing to parry her three times. I took the advice of someone on the internet to use the blunderbuss (instead of the hunter’s pistol) for hunter encounters, as it’s more likely to hit a target that is jumping/dodging around a lot.

Since I was going in blind, the second phase was a total mess solo.

With my co-op partner it was much more manageable, since there was another person for her to target. Parrying her seemed impossible on the second phase, since she vanishes a lot.

We managed to take her down by not locking on (lock on was death due to the range of her attacks), rolling around a lot, and sprinting at her hit and run style.

Worked pretty well! We got her on our second attempt.

edit: oh, and lightning seemed to be pretty effective on her.

I just got gud and pwned her. Duh!

It is really the next boss you have to worry about. Maria is a cool fight but I didn’t have much difficulty at all beating her. Maybe because I was using the “Pizza Slicer” which is an absolutely viscous weapon. Especially its mechanized sustained spin action.

Obviously level also makes a big difference. Kolbex was level 145 when he reached her, I was level 78, so I bet our two experiences were quite different.

There are indeed a ton of great DLC weapons. It’s very satisfying to smack around the humanoid enemies at the beginning of NG+.

Blood Rocks. Need, can’t find. Assuming at least one is somewhere in the Nightmare of Mensis?

Weird way to gate the final weapon upgrade. Dark Souls isn’t super generous with slabs, but I had a fully upgraded weapon in every previous souls game way before I reached the last area.