While perusing the internet a little over a week ago, I came across an article from Forbes. While I never considered them video game enthusiasts, I read this interesting piece regarding Bloodborne, and how its high critical praise was “Gaming Journalism’s Failure.” I read through this article carefully and while I don’t disagree outright with his view, it is a somewhat flawed perspective, at least in my eyes. The idea that (rightfully) praising Bloodborne was some type of deception is pushing the envelope a tad too much. It begins with the argument we’ve been hearing since Demon’s Souls in 2009, “It’s not for everyone.” Right, it’s not for everyone. Bloodborne does require a certain level of skill, patience and fortitude to complete. Believe me, I know because I lacked those qualities for the Souls games. I played and repeatedly died in Demon’s Souls until I just gave up, then dabbled in Dark Souls, beat a boss, and quit while I was ahead. Yeah, the Souls games and I didn’t get along. They wasn’t for me, but as it turns out, Bloodborne was.
That leads me to another point mentioned, that the Souls games experts were always playing Bloodborne for review. Well, you know my history with the Souls games, and I went into Bloodborne expecting more of the same. Instead, I was treated to a game that I couldn’t stop playing into the late hours of the night, attempting my third “final attempt” at a boss. I’m no Souls game expert, but I still enjoyed Bloodborne. Bloodborne is a different game from the Souls series; it trades shields and defense for guns and aggression. While, to many, this sounds like a fairly minor change, it was enough to push me over the top.
Of course, it is entirely possible (and probable) that I am an isolated incident, and that 90% of publications did enlist their Souls expert for the review. The author states that their opinion would be meaningless to all but existing fans because they likely finished previous Souls games. However, as I have pointed it, that should not matter. Bloodborne is a different enough game that even a Souls expert would have to acknowledge and respect the differences between the two games. Furthermore, how would someone who heavily criticizes the game because they were turned off by the difficulty be any more justified in their opinion, as this train of thought implies? They would not.
What is so wrong with a game receiving deserving praise anyway? The author writes,
“It isn’t any one reviewers fault — everyone should say what they think and be fine with it — it’s the universality of the praise that’s so troubling. There should be some tempering voices in there, probably a lot of them. The failure to provide that perspective throughout the ecosystem of games writing is just a bit embarrassing.”
Perhaps the universal praise is a sign of quality, rather than the unlikely alternative of blind fanboyism. When games like Mass Effect, Halo and The Last of Us receive universal praise, do we call it a flaw in the system? Do we ask for tempering voices and cite our failure to do so embarrassing? No, we do not, because those games are built for the masses. They are games meant to push millions and millions of units and be played by the most common denominator; Bloodborne is not. Bloodborne is a bully in the eyes of many, the monster hiding in the console just waiting to strike. When Bloodborne, or the Souls games for that matter, receive universal praise, it has to come with an asterisk because it could be too hard. When did we become so pathetic that well designed difficulty (not that difficult for the sake of difficulty nonsense) must be a negative rather than a challenge? Little about Bloodborne is unfair, and the few instances that are can be overcome on a second attempt. We need to stop confusing a game punishing carelessness for a game being punishment.
The praise of Bloodborne is no failure of the system, nor should it be faulted for not appealing to everyone. Bloodborne should not be punished for being what it is, a highly polished game that is appropriately difficult if you do not respect it. The game is fun, though your fun may vary depending on your patience. That is a fault of the player, not the game. To say, as this author does, that Bloodborne has no appeal outside of the industry, is a grave injustice. See for yourself.
“Come to think about it, I don’t think I personally know a single person outside the games industry/press that would enjoy this game — we’re falling down on our duty to make sure they know that.”
Of course, this is his opinion, flawed as it may be by implying only those in the industry would enjoy the game. Bloodborne requires time and patience. These are two facets of playing that many players nowadays lack or would rather apply to other games. You know what? That’s fine, and no one should be faulted for that, but I assure you there are plenty of people who will take the time and be patient who will absolutely love it. Spoiler alert, 99% of those people won’t be industry or press.
Bloodborne doesn’t have to be a game, “just for we that can appreciate it,” as this author implies. It isn’t an elitist club; it’s a game. Like all other games, some people will finish it, others will not (or most, as that seems to be the trend these days). To hold Bloodborne accountable for the problems with gaming journalism is laughable. There are much greater issues than alienating players who are already disinterested in Bloodborne. So Forbes, no hard feelings, but Bloodborne is only “off limits” if you choose to make it so.