Why do we put ourselves through this?

bloodborne

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“it’s important to have that sense of fear and terror because it directly ties into the player overcoming that and enhancing their sense of achievement.” – Hidetaka Miyazaki, creator of Bloodborne

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Well, I did it. I beat the final boss in Bloodborne, the intense ps4 exclusive game by From Software.

It’s a game. So it’s supposed to be fun. Right? At times sure, the most fun I’ve ever had with my clothes on. But at other times it was not fun. It was gruelling, it was frustrating, it was a nightmare and I rage quit more times than I care to mention. The game reminded me of Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox from many years ago. Also a nails hard game and also one you had to work at to progress but ultimately rewarding.

So why do we put ourselves through this when we could just as easily play Mario Kart or some other twee game that is easy to learn and fun to play? The reward of beating the game. That’s it really. Knowing you beat something that was designed specifically to beat you. There were times, especially in the first level of Bloodborne, where I thought I could never beat it. Dying yet again, only to lose all my blood echoes and wind up all the way back at the start with all the beasts I had killed respawned, trapped in a constant loop of violent death and rebirth like some dark-karma re-incarnation nightmare bullshit. A fresh Hell of my own making and I say my own making because Bloodborne rarely kills you due to a fault in the game mechanics. It kills you because you made a mistake and you know if you just did this differently or that better, if you had just dodged quicker or used a health potion earlier you would have survived and so you begin again, fortified with the knowledge that you won’t make the same mistake again. And that is how, inch by inch, you make your way through the game and the satisfaction of finally defeating that first boss and opening up the ability to level up is its own reward. Knowing that the level designers deliberately make you play through that first section with no ability to level up and yet still beating it is deeply satisfying. Punch the air and scream with relief satisfying. And that is it. The answer to the question. As game creator Hidetaka Miyazaki said, it’s all about that sense of achievement.

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Oh and let’s not forget how beautiful it looks. You want to get to that next section, open up that next gate, climb that next ladder because you desperately want to soak in the stunning gothic atmosphere of the game. The game design is truly awe-inspiring. The sections are all ingeniously joined so you battle through a sewer, climb a ladder, open a gate that was unopenable from the other side and find yourself back at the start, but now with a shortcut to get you quickly to your next goal. The game runs smoothly at 60fps even when you are surrounded by violently hacking, flame dousing, hammer swinging, blood craving beasts all attacking you at the same time. It’s a game that makes you understand the beauty of next-gen graphics, the step forward in bringing console gaming to the level of pc gaming.

We play video games for many reasons. Escape from reality, to pass the time, to have a laugh and to relax and wind down after a rough day. If any of those are the reasons you play games, do not play Bloodborne. If on the other hand, you play games to challenge yourself, to push yourself to the limits of patience and strive to beat something that seems impossible. If you don’t give up, don’t mind dying 20 times in the first half hour and getting back up and starting again from scratch, well then Bloodborne is right up your dark, beast infested, Steampunk inspired, Victorian London alley.

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In-game screenshots courtesy of playstation.com

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