Five Souls One Fox: A Souls Series Playthrough (Bloodborne spoliers abound!)


#161

Context warning for self harm and suicide on this one along with talk about stalker adjacent behavior and typical horror media depictions of metal health and madness and the like

And if you think this post or any other warrant more warnings than I have given please feel free to DM or post and let me know, I am happy to add more

Summary

After the fight with Ludwig you find yourself wondering what you’re doing with your life and also with the only path ahead up the stairs. There you find a jail of sorts (or Gaol I guess) with the first thing you encounter being a man banging his head against a brick wall talking about the nightmare and blood as his own blood drips down the wall. Fun times! You’ll then find the two dudes roaming this hall one of the tall pale church dudes with a stick and a wheelchair gunner who for once might actually hit you thanks to how tight this hall way is, these two actually nailed me a few times before I remembered to just parry the big dude and use the invincibility frames built in to the parry animation to dodge the bullet the wheelchair guy shoots. Around where they are you can also take a flight of stairs down to see a man in Beast hides (Which to remind you are actually people turned into monsters and thus he is in fact wearing skinned humans. The game even says that the one he wears is the hide of an old compatriot) siting in the back of a large jail cell who tells you to leave because clearly the only reason you haven’t yet is only half a dozen other people have told you to do that and you just needed one more person to suggest it. This fellow is named Brador and is a church assassin who’s job is to hunt down anyone who gets too close to the truth of the hunter’s nightmare. He’ll continually invade in the next level of the DLC though if you find the key to this cell you can instead kill him here and prevent that from ever happening but that’s no fun so for now I have left him. Also in here if you have that key is a Yharghoul (I was going to look up that is really spelled but that spelling amuses me) hunter who drops a weapon called the Church Pick that is basically a word that transforms into a big pickaxe. It’s a cool dex weapon but my dex is shit as you know. Then you find the corpse of a large women that has on it a left hand weapon called the Fist Of Gratia which I assume means this is Gratia. The weapon describes her as a women known as “Simple” Gratia (I added the quotes there) who was hopeless with firearms and instead preferred to just beat the shit out of beasts with this big hunk of iron. This is probably the time the game most directly devolves into straight up shitty ableism, most of the rest of the time it sort of talks around it which is not always better but leaves some room for nuance at least. It’s also maybe worth noting that the item description just says she was known as “simple” and that she was also known as seeming oddly heroic when beating the shit out of things with with the fist but without more details about her I can’t really give the game the benefit of the doubt on this one and will be putting it in the Things That Are Kinda Shit About The Game pile. From here I remembered that I needed to grab something back in the Grand Cathedral in the Hunters Nightmare to actually do anything past this and went back to grab it but I already touched on that. Past this jail area you find yourself back in the Grand Cathedral somehow but a version of it that you enter via a stairway like the one in the tomb of Oedon under the coffin. This is actually where the DLCs secret starts to reveal itself, you’re not exploring a linear area (though you are also doing that) you’re going backwards in time towards what started this whole mess and this is an earlier version of the church from when it was as much more a place of cruel experimentation than a place of worship. In here you’ll find a series of medical beds and some rats with brightly glowing eyes in the back where the stairway out normally is and on the opposite end two church members (both women I think)one with a sword and one with a cane and a new spell called Blacksky Eye that shoots a somewhat fast moving projectile that she spams as though she’ll never run out of bullets. She won’t. At this point this fight while not easy isn’t that hard to get through. The women with the sword will keep attacking you but her attacks are slow and she’s easy to stagger so as long as you can keep the women with the cane on the other side of a bed or pillar so she can’t hit you it’s all pretty manageable. Plus they don’t respawn even if you only kill one which is nice. Once you’ve taken them out you can head up the the alter and assuming you have the pendent from the other Grand Cathedral you’ll get a cutscene where you place it inside the skull of the corpse laying on the alter and you’ll ride the altar up into the actual Research Hall. But as we all know From can’t resist a good elevator secret. These games don’t have a lot of waterfalls so they have to hide things somewhere after all. If you go back down the elevalter you can find the skull of Laurence which you can use to ace’s the secret boss fight of this DLC which I will o later after I get the blood rock I need to fully upgrade my Moonlight Greatsword, AND if you then activate the elevalter one more time you can ride it down into a secret area that really doesn’t make any real sense that hides a church cannon which is a giant cannon you can fire for something like 8 bullets. I never said the thing you would find in this double elevalter secret would be good, though I guess with he right build it would be. Anyways The Research Hall is the second major area of the DLC and as you may have guessed from the title of this write up shares a lot in common with The Tower Of Latria from Demon’s Souls, but here you start from the bottom and make you’re way up which pays off quite well. The thing about this area is that it is extremely well designed in a way that makes it very hard to do a linear walkthrough so instead I’ll just sort of go over a few things. First the main enemies are people (of both genders! Which I guess is a good thing? That feels weird to say) in hospital gowns with enlarged heads with not mouths ears or eyes. They attack hard and fast but are easy to stun. They mostly pose a threat in large groups which is how you’ll most often face them. There’s also quite a few variations on on them with some being naked and faster (there are no bits to see if you are wondering) and others walking around on all fours or headless. With the heads still alive and begging for death or talking about they sticky wet sound they hear and singing plip, plop, plip, plop. It’s creepy as hell, which is weird as I have more or less described a pleasant walk in the park by most metrics but hey that’s just how that From Software magic works! A lot of these variations also suggest the various types of enemies you fight in the base game, withe the normal ones resembling the mushroom aliens, the ones on all fours the werewolves, and the ones with extended arms the dudes you fight a bunch in central Yharnam who I had a funny name for but have since forgotten. It’s a cool bit of world building and helps set this up as the place where blood ministration first started. While talking about this class of foe I should also touch on some of the mental institute themes that get delved into here, as it is delving into some of those tropes for sure. I’m much less bothered by it here than I am in something like and actual Lovecraft story or your average horror film set in such a location as it’s made clear that the people here are victims of some sort of experimentation and are meant to seen with sympathy and it’s not really trying to hammer home anything about mental illness as an innate character fault and is instead about the things inflicted here in the hall. As such I am not super bothered by it in this context to be honest. Granted that may well change at some point but that’s where I am with it now, though as always your mileage may very and that’s fine and you are welcome to bring it up! I’ve actually not seen a lot of critique of the way this games handles things like mental health and the pregnancy themes which is a little surprising and worries me a bit about how game critics who claim to be better than the mainstream press tend to ignore such topics especially in regards to big budget Japanese games. But that’s a whole other rant that just makes me very sad so I’ll just skip that for now. Second (that first one sure took a while huh) is that much like Latria the whole level is maze like in how it uses the repetitive nature of the level both to help cement the laboratory/hospital feel and always keep you unsure of where you are. It’s both concrete if you know how to navigate it and always disorienting. And with something always nearby making some sort of noise that is never good. You’ll know the Souls games have truly peaked when the last third of one is just a perfectly pleasant party that you hang out at and have a very nice time as you freak the fuck out for hours on end just waiting for it all to go wrong because you know it will. You just know it. And then the game ends and it’s all fine but you write a small novel over the better part of a year about how it’s all a metaphor for like, nuclear war or something. About half-ish way through the level you’ll get to a room with two elevators and a bunch of wheel chair dudes in bird masks which ties into the consistent theme in the game of bird masks being creepy. Now in this room is actually a ladder down into a room right below it that I think is the only room you can’t get to via the stairway that occupies the middle of the tower that has the only enlarged head patents to walk around on all fours in it and some nice hunter gear in it. This set of rooms also acts as the shortcut to the boss once you get the stairway moved. Via the elevator that takes you down to the first level is Saint Adeline, an NPC enlarged head patient strapped to a chair with a blood drawing device still stuck in her arm unable to move, and unable to see. She asks you to help her out by finding brain fluid, which you get by finding various heads sans bodies that talk do that sing song plip plop thing and trying to kill them. It doesn’t kill them however, when you strike them their health doesn’t even actually go down they just briefly deflate and you get the fluid. In a game like this one of the must unnerving things that can happen is the have something not react when you try to kill it. It’s so deep. Hand it to Saint Adeline and she gives you a vial of her blood, the description for which tells you she is one of the blood saints who received “treatments” from the church to cultivate healing blood (side note are blood types a thing here? Is there like a one in 7 chance that whenever you heal yourself it will be the wrong blood type and you’re just fucked? Is everyone who gives blood for these things just a universal donor?) and uh, you can see how that worked out for her. She seems to be proud of what she has achieved in her state though and as you give her enough fluid she eventually separates her head from her body in the chair and asks for brain fluid one more time, but there’s no more heads to be found in the level from which to get it. Except you remember that when you struck to other misshapen heads they didn’t die, you just got the fluid. So you strike Saint Adeline, you get brain fluid from her, and give it to her. Upon which she thanks you, has a revelation and gives you the milkweed caryll rune, which turns you into a strange blue alien thing like the mushroom people and unlocks the full moveset of a certain weapon. Having given you this she unlike the others dies as she thanks you and tells you how she used to be nothing. This game gets dark sometimes. At some point in all that she also gives you the key to the balcony that lets you unlock the door on the first floor of the hall that takes you to where in the base game you fight the Celestial Emissary but here just has more of the patients tending to a garden of creepy white flowers that only get creepier in a moment and find a corpse strapped into a chair which at this point doesn’t even register as strange and find on them the Blacksky Eye which I already touched on, and can make you’re way back into the Grand Cathedral much like in the base games version. Now in the course of doing all this you’ll also move the stairway in the center of the hall by climbing to the top of the hall and moving a lever raising the stairway which both makes new areas available and drops new enemies on the first floor, patients in restraints that attack with tendrils that suddenly spike out of their heads. They aren’t though to fight as they don’t move too well but I hate them none the less. Now with the stairway moved you can get to the boss and via going all the way to the bottom of the stairs find the Shield of Loch, the only good shield in the game that blocks most blood and magic damage and I imagine would come in handy for the next few fights if I was so inclined. Now with the boss available to us we can go do that but first I will note the patient in front of it begging Lady Maria for help

The Living Failures

This is basically the Four Kings fight but a little better. Moving on!

Okay not yet I’ve come too far to half ass this now. This fight is hard but mostly due to the things you must keep track of much like the Rom fight. As with the Four Kings it starts off with just the one and more spawn in but unlike that fight they spawn in much faster and due to the failures not being huge they are much better equipped to take you one themselves with fast bashing attacks with their heads being the hardest to dodge. And also some of them shoot magic at you. They have both a slow-ish moving orb they can fire and a field of stars they can summon that fires a large number of homing missiles that don’t move too fast but will kill you if you get hit by more than one. So for this first phase (you knew there was going to be more than one don’t act like you didn’t) the trick is trying to beat them down one by one without getting overwhelmed with a few tactics to take as to how available to you. The most consistent method being to simply hit them with an uncharged R2 attack from a hard hitting weapon to stun them before dodging out of the way of the soon to come retaliation, but you can also focus on trying to take out the ones with magic attacks as they charge a spell or trying to take them all out in large groups as they can only spawn in one at a time, or get real good at dodging their attacks and just beat the ever loving shit out of them. I assume I always just go with the first method. Also the L2 on the Pizza Cutter Of Doom just chews through them with some luck but if you get snuck up on it’s hard to dodge out of that attack. The second phase is more or less the first but they can all group up and summon a much larger field of stars (some how they can do all this and still be called failures I think they might be stand ins for millennials treatment in the modern workplace) that calls in full ice meteors that if you panic will kill you in a heart beat. Luckily you can avoid the entire attack by heading behind the Sunflower With Teeth (coming this Fall to a record store near you!) that makes up the garden portion of this garden and I should have mentioned this was a garden already shouldn’t I? Well anyways this attack is a great example of how the Souls games true innovation in difficulty is really tricking you into fucking yourself over by making you panic. If you know what you’re doing there’s not a ton to worry about but the game is very good at making sure you learn what you’re doing the hard way

After that fight You remember that Simon from earlier in the DLC shows up as soon as the stairway is moved and that in your write up you should have mentioned that fact and so do it between boss fights as filler to have something in between the back to back boss fight paragraphs and make your way into the clock tower (this also makes Bloodborne the only good Castlevania game don’t @ me [Castlevania is fine it’s just not what I would call high art and Symphony is a game I find wildly overshadowed in what it does well by the Souls games {that’s a topic for another time though}]) to fight:

Lady Maria

Don’t spit on the floor! Use the cuspidor! That’s what it’s for! Ahem with that out of my system, when you walk into the room you’ll see her sitting in a chair blood dripping from her wrists (hence the self harm context warning on this post that I need to remember to put up before I copy paste this into the forums) appearing quite dead, and maybe she is but if that’s the case she doesn’t seem to mind much as as soon as you approach your character reaches out to touch her (presumably to check for a pulse or something you don’t really get a sense of what you’re reaching for so I will be kind and assume it’s one of the not creepy options) and she springs to life to grab your hand, and tell you a corpse should be left well enough alone and I am inclined to agree! From here she tells you not to go chasing secrets but knows full well that at this point you aren’t going to stop but tells you that an honest death should stop you all the same and the fight begins. This fight is in the Artorias mold though not a one to one. Most of her strikes are as you would expect quick attacks with varying degrees of windup. The best avenue for taking her out is to parry like there’s no tomorrow as all of her attacks save a few charge moves can be parried. This gets harder in her second phase though when she stabs herself and extends her blades with crystallized blood. I guess I should mention she is a cousin of the vileblood queen. At this point she gets more ranged attacks and all her melee moves do more damage and are faster but the way you deal with it all is the same just parry till the cows come home. She also has a third phase when her health is almost gone that adds fire to her attacks that comes in waves a half a second after the attack ends so good luck with that. With a DEX build that ups the damage of visceral attacks this fight is really fairly easy if you can parry but with a STR build that’s not so good at that, well, it could have gone better. It wasn’t terrible by any means but I did somehow run out of blood vials while doing it which sucks a lot as now I have to go grind for those again. Now on to the lore component of this fight. Lady Maria as you can guess by the way people talk about her is some kind of caretaker or guardian of this place. Her backstory as I know it is that she was also one of the first hunters who worked under Gehrman or however that’s spelled and originally was one of the Vilebloods though I can’t say if they were called that at the time. She left having been disgusted with the whole blood thing they were doing and forsake the blood magic they used and switched to using two blades instead of the blood infused swords of the Vilebloods that she would later toss in a well with two shark monsters that I will talk about later. She then joined the first hunters to kill the beasts. I guess the thing that happened next is the events of the end of this DLC and she quit the hunters finding it no better than the Vilebloods and instead joined up with the church or the choir or whatever and well that didn’t seem to turn out much better. So now she guards the secret of this nightmare either to protect the people within or to stop people from acquiring the knowledge out of a sense of guilt and does so with all the tricks she learned as a vileblood. Also she has tried to kill herself and end her torment a few times hence the whole corpse thing, though she seems to be unable to do herself in likely due to one of the great old ones. She’s also the modal for the Doll in the hunters dream, Gehrman having been so obsessed with her that he made the doll in her image even though by all indications she wanted less than nothing to do with the old creep. After you kill Maria the Doll says she has sensed a liberations from heavy shackles, implying that the doll and Maria are connected somehow. There’s sort of two readings to this, in one Gehrman is an old creep Maria wanted nothing to do with by the end of things who made a doll he implies you can have sex with if it pleases you out of a nightmarish obsession that the game certainly seems to think is creepy to some degree based on how the line is delivered. This is largely the version I buy into. The second is that they are lovers of some sort and when Maria died he then made the doll to try and keep her alive in some way and brought it to life via some dark magic and this is some grand tale of romance which is another theory on the Internet which is not not supported by the game. Which is kind of one of the issues of the ways Souls games do story. One of these version is somewhat thoughtful examination of obsession that no doubt misses the mark in some ways and one is just kinda bullshit but there’s no real way to prove one or the other so you’re just sorta stuck in a loop of questions with no way out which is fine most of the time but more than a bit of a problem here. I lean towards the first interpretation, the game refers to Gehrman obsession as a mania that Maria was unaware of which rather implies to me that it was less than healthy and the game knows it and at a few points the doll herself talks about how she loves the hunter and her creator and asks how she could feel any differently given the fact that she was made to do so. Which pretty directly compares Gehrman to a god and I don’t mean to alarm you but this s not a game with a high opinion of gods. And as such in this case I am inclined to give it some benefit of the doubt though I find it messy to say the least. On the whole though I like the character of Maria, I find her motivations to be interestingly complex in a way you rarely see for women in videos games. Well in the AAA space. And her arc I think works quite well in the contest of how the souls games tell stories and works as a parallel of Maiden Astraea from Demon’s Souls and of all things Mother Teressa (I’m not getting into that whole thing just go read this if you want to know more I’m sure it will at least get the basic idea of how she was perhaps not the best person in the world across: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Mother_Teresa). As with a lot of Bloodborne’s depiction of women I have some issues with all of this, and would like to read some critique of it somewhere by someone, but for now I like most of her story even as I wish it was handled better in some cases and I think I know and like what they were going for

Okay that’s that hopefully this will be the last super long one of these as the rest of the DLC and game are a bit more subdued in terms of things I want to do deep dives on. Hopefully I’ll have the next one of these posts up next weekend that will cover the last of the DLC and then that just leaves the last of the main game which isn’t a whole ton to be honest. Oh and the Chalice dungeons but I think I’ll do the wrap up on the game before I bother with that and cover it in a between Bloodborne and Dark Souls III bonus section as there’s really only one boss to cover and it doesn’t have a huge effect on the main game anyways though I will cover it. Oh and those cut bosses people found a while back that’ll be fun! I’ve never really dived into cut content like that before

Stray thoughts

I can’t believe I ran out of Blood Vials. I had 400 after the Ludwig fight and I ran out. I have no idea how I used so many

I hate looking up lore theories for these games as none of them seem to actually understand anything other than Lost style detail obsession and often ignores context like delivery and implications like how Gehrman is compared to the Old Ones in making the doll in favor of finding the most boring and literal version of the story about dream logic and nightmares that they can

To be sort of fair to the Gehrman is not a mega creep theory he has been trapped in a dream by a horrifying squid monster as a prop to use people for decades if not centuries and I guess I to would be a mega creep by then but that doesn’t make the text of the work any better and is still pretty shitty

There’s a book in the Hunters Dream with a title you can make out called “How To Pick Up Fair Maidens” which is a rather juvenile joke that does not speak well to whoever got it in or to how the game views women and I am just going to chalk it up to being the product of the same dude who designed Gwynevere that got snuck in at some point

Elevalter is fun to say. Also it should be spelled Elevaltor but I don’t want to go back and fix it so I won’t


#162

To give you an idea of how the fight with Orphan Of Kos is going I am now keenly aware of the travel time on bullets in this game


#163

I took this more as the game roasting Gerhman, like of course the guy who made a living doll in the image of the woman who rejected him has a book on how to be a pickup artist. It’s meant to be a dumb joke but also to be solid reinforcement that he’s a mega creep dweeb-lord.

Good luck with Orphan! That fight is just absolutely brutal. I love it but holy shit is it an ordeal.


#164

Maybe? In my experience stuff like that is as often used to indicate a sort of jokey “Women am I right?!?” as anything else and the game doesn’t go far enough in stating anything about Gehrman for it to come off as a critique concretely enough for me. And that’s kind of the big issue with the style of story telling in these games is that when it works it really does work but sometimes you just need to make a statement outright less it come off the wrong way and these games are very poor at it


#165

Yeah I definitely see where you are coming from with that and agree about how the vagueness in storytelling and lore sometimes works against the games by obfuscating the writers’ intentions a bit too much, thereby robbing them of the weight a more direct approach could have had. At the same time I feel like the direct approach, if not handled right could feel unnatural and harm the stronger aspects of vagueness that other parts of the game use well. It’ll be interesting to see how Fromsoft handles similar things in whatever they make next.


#166

“What if the new Souls game that I assume will be announced at either Sony’s or Microsoft’s press conference is called Bonedead?” I think to myself late at night after waking up due to rain hitting my roof


#167

It’s hard to play Bloodborne with a head cold and a long week of work ahead


#168

Fishing Hamlet

Okay after the whole Maria fight thing you get a big clock face/dial thingy and for some reason if you stand in the exact right spot let’s you use this to have the clock spin around and unlock a door into the uh, shit I didn’t pay attention when the game flashed the name on the screen hold on, Fishing Hamlet! Oh I need to set that up as the title for this as well glad I remembered. Once the whole clock opening animation ends you can finally run into the Hamlet Of Fish. Now this level is one I find slightly underwhelming at least in comparison to the last one but I really dig this opening. You find yourself on a sandy walk up to the village proper and in one of the games more striking visual moments you can see ships sunken in the water around you and if you look down you see the city of Yharnam below them under the water. You may remember that I talked about ships being off in the distance in the Nightmare Frontier assuming I remembered to talk about that back then which I may not have who knows anymore. It’s super cool if you notice it and implies some really neat things about how the world of Bloodborne works. Also right here is a fish person walking back and forth talking about some great tragedy involving a wizened child. If you have the milkweed rune and equip it to turn yourself into a nightmarish broccoli person they also give you a skull that works as a fireball spell called the Accursed Brew. Also I should mention that this section is perhaps the one most directly based on an actual Lovecraft story in this case The Shadow over Innsmouth a horrifying tale of interracial marriage. Lovecraft was a piece of shit but this section of the game is largely about inflicting great horrors on other cultures for personal gain so while that doesn’t mean there aren’t some less than great implications behind that stories influence, I’m going to say they were aware of what they were drawing from and leave any criticisms (and to be clear there are legit criticisms here as while the game does imply the guilt felt over what was done here the whole their were turned into fish monster things bit happened before anyone from Yharnam showed up and they are presented as quite monstrous) about how they do so to other more informed people as my read on it is that it’s not an especially problematic use of the surface level details from the book. Anyways after him you find a lamp and the first of the like, 90 shortcuts in this level in the form of a ladder you can unlock later. Then from here you get to he first of the three sections, the village segment. Here you meet the fishpeople who make up the grunts of the level. The first one you see will be walking through a window just a bit out of view and then the first one you fight crawls out from under a house to try and stab you. He will fail though as they really only pose a threat in groups as you see next when at least two of them attack at once followed by the area in the center of town where the first of the fishpeople mages pops up and starts spamming skulls at you forcing you to run into the middle of town and take them out (which happens in one hit) and get mauled by a large number of fishpeople. And also one of the giant shark people that can crush you with a giant anchor they use as maces and also swallow you whole which will kill you most of the time but if you get lucky will just end in you getting barfed back up. You can also just go around all of this if you want to try and run past all of it but the next area has some fish doggos that are meant to prevent that as best they can though you can also take a side path to take out some of the grunts so there’s less to gang up on you. Assuming you kill every thing here though you might find that you can go down the well and think oh there must be something good down there! And there is! But it’s a trap and there’s not one but two shark giants down there to keep you from getting Lady Maria’s cool sword! Damage the first one enough and a second one drops from the ceiling to also take you on and it’s absurdly hard and I did not bother doing it this time around as the Rakuyo is a skill weapon and I am not a skill build so fuck all of this you all can do it yourself this so not a boss fight so I don’t have to do it! Not in the well you can also find the path to toss down that ladder you just saw and Simon’s armor hidden in an attic. From here you can skip the well section by going around it and get a bit closer to the lighthouse you see in the distance by going past the town center and dealing with the fish doggos and some spear throwing fish people. And also another skull mage and shark giant. I hate the charge attack the sharks do it’s like the pigs charge but faster, they’re real jerks. After that you get to the last lamp for this area and find old Simon dying in the doorway (he also hates the shark giants I guess) and tells you that Brador the dude and the bottom of the prison just after the Ludwig fight has been hunting him to keep the secret of the nightmare safe. He gives you the key that lets you just go kill Brador if you like but I opted for the full get invaded a bunch experience, and you also get his bowblade the most absurdly over powered weapon in the game as it’s the only one that let’s you attack fully from range in a game designed specifically to not let you do that. Though I would not go so far as to call it over powered. Anyways Simon is sad he didn’t find the secret and asks you to find it for him. Now from this lamp you can see a closed off room with an elevator that works as the shortcut to the boss, and a way out back that works as a shortcut to the area right before the area that leads to the boss. I would say they could have got away with just the one shortcut but hey what do I know.

The next section is where you get invaded by Brador the first time and instead of talking about it each time he pops up (which I can’t do anyways as I am doing this write up well after having played this section proper) I’ll go over what he does now. He’s actually not an especially hard NPC invader to take out as his whole thing is that he uses a weapon that damages him called The Bloodletter. As soon as he turns it into it’s transformed state you can take him out like a much easier version of the Crow Of Cainhurst and just stun lock him as best you can. Plus since he invades multiple times through out the level they gave him less HP than many NPCs so for the most part as long as your careful he’s not too bad to have to deal with. BUT, he does invade in areas where there tend to be more enemies to fight or some kind of environmental effect he can use to his advantage like when he first invades you on the narrow bridge and if you fall off you get stuck in the middle of the second (and optional) area or when he invades near a bunch of fishpeople who can call down lightning on you. He doesn’t always put up much of a fight though he can nail you if you’re not careful, but he’s used interestingly and might well be my favorite of the NPC invaders in the series. Now for this optional second area there’s not really a ton to talk about as there’s not much here. It’s a cool area to explore but in terms of a write up like this its more or less the same as the last area. It does add fish people who grab you like the witches in the Goal and there’s some fun traps that play with that but as I said before it’s been awhile since I played and I don’t recall this area well enough to cover all that so on to the third area the mines, though I will make note of the great sound design that goes throughout this whole area with the creaking wood sounds and gross gurgling noises of the fshpeople always being nearby.

Here in the mines you start to see the lightning mages show up in bulk, though there was one in the last area it makes more sense to talk about them here where they bombard you from afar. The top part of this cave/mine is actually split in half much like the clifside area from Demons’ Souls with the reapers in it and the lightning mages like to hit you from the other side. It’s not far in you find the shortcut back to the lamp, and from here you go down into the bottom section of the mine where they seem to be mining fish (look I have no idea maybe this is a thing people do who am I too say) and find more of the snail ladies from waaaaaaaay back in the first area of the DLC that fell out of the sky. Here they like to hide in shells and jump out of them to get you in a grab attack. And there’s kind of a lot of them and you’ll want to get the stuff they’re blocking as well as it’s mostly bloodstone chunks and you always need more of those. Not too far in you get to the last bit of this section and get into another fight with Brador near a skull mage at the end of a hallway where it is very hard to dodge all the skulls. I still have no idea what was behind the mage as I just ran past her. I don’t need chunks that badly. Then finally you jump off a cliff to the area in front of the boss but first there’s a brief foray into a side area down a hall that has two more Winter Lanterns (There’s a theory that the Lanterns are connected to the Odd Doll in some way as they have the same hands and clothes and I do not know what to make of this but felt the need to bring it up in the form of another run on sentence)that a snail lady runs away from. Environmental story telling! This is actually kind of a great moment in that it shows that while there maybe horrors here they are nothing compared to what the church has dreamed up. To the right of this hallway you find another section of the fish mine that has a blood rock the highest tier of upgrade material in the game and to the left an area that let’s you get to the area under the well that has the two shark dudes. I guess with some knives and a bit of luck you can cheese the fight with them from here but good damn luck I’ve tried and gotten close but From clearly does not want to let you do this. Alright so assuming you unlocked the shortcut which I did not the first time I took on the boss and had to redo this whole area you can tackle the only boss thus far to give Ludwig a run for his money!:

Orphan Of Kos

This boss is so hard they left a bug in the game that let’s visceral attacks heal you to full with the right rune in the game. This boss is so hard it doesn’t even matter I ran out of blood vials as if you have to use a blood vial and can’t just wait to pull of a visceral attack you are quite likely fucked at least in the first place. Here’s a rough transcript of how the average fight goes “Okay so I just need to keep getting parries I can do this this will be fin~oh it was not fine shit okay next time though” and repeat this for about 60 attempts. This fight is like the Artorias fight dialed up to 11 and then after that plugged into an amp that is dialed up to 12 and it’s a great example of what I Was talking about with the Gascoine fight. That fight is too hard for where it is in the game. Starting off with that fight is like tossing people into a fire before they have learned what the concept of heat is. This fight is the end boss of a totally optional DLC and does not, in any way, have to be beatable by anyone. And they have presumably designed it around that. Even when you get to a point that you can parry every one of his attacks it only ever takes about two hits to take you out, maybe three if you put more points into HP than I did. And if you somehow manage to get to the second phase he just gets faster, hits harder (including one attack that will straight up kill you in one hit in the form of a ranged attack where he flows bits of his placenta axe at you that explode and do what I assume is a shit ton of blood damage. It’s kinda bullshit honestly) and screams even more than he already did. This fight took me like two damn months worth of weekends to finish off and when I finally did I almost didn’t believe that it was done. It was great I love this fight. I got to a point where I could all but snooze my way though the first phase and then would just get crushed in the second and only pulled it off by getting through 90% of the rest of the game and redoing all my blood gems in my sword. And lore wise it’s also great in how the cutscene that plays as you get here is the Orphan crawling out of his dead mother and screaming out in agony before he attacks you. And everytime he attacks you after that as you enter the arena he just stares off at the moon with the web of strange black marks over it. And the design is just killer. You hear the Orphan called the wizened child and he looks the part looking more like an old man stretched too thin than a child. But there’s a childlike tone to the way in which it cries that emphasizes the sort of innocence it represents. Whatever nightmare this thing may be it was a child none the less and seems to attack only out of fear and while the nature of this nightmare that makes up the DLC implies that the Orphan was killed long ago and this is only an echo or memory of it there’s something deeply uncomfortable about this whole thing. Even after killing it a sort of phantom of smoke appears of the corpse of Kos, a great manta way like thing with strangely human arms and the an upper torso that’s humanoid in nature that resembles the snail women and the slug creatures of the nightmare frontier, and this smoke continues to stare off at the moon mourning something lost. So much of Bloodborne is on some level the horror of the other and and madness this is as well but here it’s the horror of of the madness of know what the people before you have done and wondering about how much of what you’ve done is just repeating the sins of the past. It’s the horror of having to clean up a mess made by people long gone and wondering if trying to do so only makes it worse and if the only thing it can ever really do is make the people who feel the moist guilt for it feel better about themselves. After you kill the phantom staring at the sky you get the Nightmare Slain text across your screen and can head back to the hunters dream to have the Doll tell you the Gherman is sleeping soundly for the first time in ages. I imagine that he is

BONUS SECRET BOSS TIME:

Laurence, The First Vicar

So this fight is really just the Vicar Amelia with more fire effects and he hits harder. Also when you get him down to about one third health his legs detach and he drags himself around with his arms as he bleeds lava. It’s very metal but not very interesting to write about. Hit him a few times and dodge away and if you have a ranged option use it in the second phase. Lore wise it’s fun in how it emphasizes the weird time traveling nature of the nightmare in how in order to start this fight you have to bring his skull to him from the same church you fight him in but later on in the time line which makes him mad because why the fuck do you have his skull I would be mad to! It’s also interesting in that his being basically dead when you find him in the church guarded by a weird squid version of the pale church giants implies that he was one of the first to turn into a beast and yet somehow people thought following him was still a good idea. There’s no accounting for taste I guess

And that’s the DLC! It’s really great! I liked Bloodborne before this came out but was a little meh on it. Especially given how soon after Dark Souls II it was and how much of it I missed but after playing thorough the game for this DLC was when I really started to love it like I do now. It does a lot to really fill out the backstory of the world without over explaining the hell out of it. It’s very good. Whew that’s a bold statement to make I know but sometimes you have to take a stand anyways 10 out of 10 would commit heinous acts of horror again.

Stray Thoughts

My notes for this include the sentence Vore Me Fish Daddy. I am sorry for telling you this

I should note that for all the sympathy Kos and the Orphan may illicit that the Great Ones are still pretty notably shitty. If the whole thing going on is in some way punishment for what happened here than they are still powerful cosmic godbeings that are toying with humanity, a group of creatures incapable of understanding what the great ones are on a physical level, for doing something they could in now way understand, And on top of that most of the people effected had nothing to do with any of it and are as much victims as the Orphan. This has been my short rant on why comparing the greats to POC or queer people is a bad look akin to all that fan art of the clown form IT and The Babadook being a gay couple as though they aren’t both child predators and that art plays straight into the way people often see queer as much the same. Any ways thank you for reading my take down of the two or so people I saw make this comparison like two years ago

The fire effects in this are rad as fuck so I do sort of like this second Vicar fight even if I think having it be more of a fun easter egg was a good idea


#169

I think Kos and her child are where this game starts to really invite a material analysis that I’m not sure it can hold up to. As you point out, most of the victims of the blood plague, and even Hunters like the Player character are largely innocent of the crimes perpetrated by the old Hunters and the Church, yet Kos’ curse and the subsequent attention from the Great Ones doesn’t really discriminate. We’re all responsible, or benefited in some way from what happened down in the fishing hamlet, and that’s enough to condemn generations. I absolutely agree that saying the Nightmare and the blood plague are some sort of analogy for oppressed people’s revenge against colonisers, or homophobes is fucked up. However, there is an anger that runs through Bloodborne that’s made explicit in the Kos fight that immediately evokes a sense of injustice, so I can see how that led to a lot of bad analogies from people.

The Fishing Hamlet is really cool because there’s a lot of hints that this is the only place where the transformations people are experiencing are somewhat benign. The hanging body in the shape of the hunter’s mark; the church spies dressed as beggars who tried to infiltrate the village to learn more about Kos; the recited curses by villagers against the outsiders; the vibe I got from the place is these people were drawn to whatever eldritch shit turned them into fishpeople in order to protect their community from the outside. It’s why I also love Blighttown despite the weird negative portrayal of indigenous people that it evokes. It’s saying “Fuck off, this place is ours. You and people like you fucked it up but that doesn’t mean you get to come down here without a fight.” The Souls games, through their sheer hostility to player, evoke that really well.


#170

Yeah I get where people are coming from with that take but like, stop, please. And the big issue with that read for me is that the games messages are just too mixed. Like trying to make an anti war game that’s also a shooter the genre conventions of both horror and and third person action get in the way of the presumed message. And in the same way I don’t begrudge the attempt with those shooters (Not to say I have no issues with them but that’s a much lager topic outside the scope of this thread) I don’t think this game fucks it up bad enough to totally undermind the reading necessarily its just very haphazard at best. Which honestly is how I feel about a lot of the stuff around women in these games and this one in particular (less so Dark Souls II as that one’s just bad full stop but I’ve been over that). But your point about how the game uses difficulty is a really good point I should have made by now in that it forces you to have a certain amount of respect for anything you face in the game regardless of what or who it is which provides a sort of weird egalitarian hatred for the player that you just sorta have to respect regardless of how you or the plot feel about the character in question and this also accounts for why the most and least sympathetic characters tend be the ones that either break the rules to fuck with you like Patches and his cutscene hijinks or the characters that don’t fight back at all like the Saint from Demon’s Souls.

Also I totally meant to call out the way they tell you where the hunters mark first comes from but totally forgot to so thank you for pointing that out!


#171

There’s also something to be said for the uncomfortable nexus (!) where enemies that actually pose a threat and enemies that don’t fight back, meets. The non-aggressive Hollows in Dark Souls; Vendric; the caged dogs in Bloodborne etc always seem to convey a kind of fearful disgust for their subjects. Souls games train you to suspect everything and view anything vaguely sentient as a lethal, and so I’ve found myself butchering them in my first runs through areas just to be sure. Then they punish you with traps like the dogs that can break out of their cages in the Forbidden Woods for discounting them as a threat. Cainhurst even structures its early ambushes around the assumption that players just kill whatever they can lock on to, which has weird class implications because it means the ghosts in Cainhurst expect intruders to kill the servants too.

Non-aggressive enemies that aren’t NPCs are treated with a mix of disgust and disdain by these games, and the fact that they deliberately reinforce it doesn’t sit well with me.


#172

I see your point for sure and it’s one worth making, but I don’t entirely agree. For one the definition of enemy vs NPC is somewhat arbitrary in that it is really only down to rather you can talk to them or not there’s not really a hard line in the sand and most of the enemies you encounter will have some sort of full NPC associated with them like the dregs or the animal hybrids in Dark Souls II. And the ones that don’t tend to have a reason behind why the traps are set up that way. the dogs are all implied to be infected with some version of the scourge and in Cainhurst they have been invaded by a group that already tried to kill of them a few times hence why the traps are set up as such and why the people scrubbing the floors are armed. And a good chunk of the time the game also does indicate when you shouldn’t be killing something just by the number of Souls you get like the hollows down below Firelink which gives next to nothing. This obviously has it’s own problems in that it ties value of a living thing in the game to how much of a threat it poses to you for sure but it does establish after the first time through an area what is and is not a threat which at least gives some idea that not everything you see is going to murder you and sets up some a sense of loss in how some seem to just prefer to wait for fate to take them. And it does at times use this to set up traps for sure but the player is always going to assume that anything in the game they see is going to be a threat that’s just the nature of the type of game and I’d rather they try to do something with that than do nothing with it. And there’s ways to improve on this no doubt and criticisms need to be made for them to do so! I just don’t wholly agree


#173

After The One Reborn

Okay after good ol’ mister reborn is dead you go up the stairs past the boss arena and find yourself in a room filled to the brim with long dead people in those weird head cages. As you might guess this people are from the collage and if you were wondering where all of them went the answer is here. They died dreaming of:

The Lecture Building

So I’ve already covered this for the most part the main changes here are that you’re on the top level now and can access a few new rooms. Also there’s one of those giant pale church dudes with flaming fists for reasons I am sure make sense to someone. If you haven’t yet been here thanks to patches giving you a tonsil stone you can also do that whole section now. Oh and you can also get behind patches and talk to him and watch him flip out about how you must have killed Lord Amygdala if you did that. I assume there’s also dialog for if you came here and just skipped all that Nightmare Frontier stuff and I know there’s dialog for if you never even encountered all that. And as bonus now that you can get a good look at him you can see just how creepy it is that he’s just a spider with a human head because now you can see all the ways in which he is not just that. From decided that what the game needed was not just a spider man but a spider man straight from the uncanny spider valley with 12 legs and more body segments than a real spider and fur that just does not look right. I hate it. A Lot. Anyways after all that you can head through a doorway on the top floor to get to:

The Nightmare Of Mensis

So fun fact I assumed up until writing this that this area was named for menstruation what with the whole One Reborn thing going on right before this but it’s apparently a Latin word having to do with the phases of the moon. Which I Assume ties it to menstruation via being a root word for it so I wasn’t wrong per say but anyways you learn something new every day! So after you get in here you’ll be in a ravine of sorts that lined with those weird rocks that have faces in them and and you’ll see a tree that I don’t remember much about but that I assume is made of arms or something with one of those werewolf looking things called a Silverbeast with sideways heads hanging out nearby. Go up and kill it and you’re in for a bit of a surprise though in that they spawn those maggot things that are so hard to hit. You can skip this however by killing them with some kind of fire if that’s an option for you. A little further in and you get to see what is the main portion of this last part of the game in the form of a giant castle with a light house that seems to fling spears at you that increase your frenzy. Frenzy being a status effect that I think I have talked about before but that works like bleed in prior Souls games but faster and with with more dramatic effects than bleed tended to have. It’s also has a greater effect on you the more insight you have so that’s fun. The trick here is that the lighthouse thing can only harm you if it can see you and there’s plenty of pillars and the like to help you avoid them, it’s just hard to stay behind them and attack the Silverbeasts and stay behind them but on the plus side the spears still hit the Silver beasts so you have that ever so slight advantage in your favor. There’s actually two paths to the castle one to the right and one to the left but the rightmost one is a shortcut you unlock later so I’m just going to skip that and talk about the left side where you go over a clifside with more of those boulder hurling dudes and the entrance to the castle that has just way more spiders than any building should have and all of them are very big and I hate them have I said that yet I hate them. There’s a whole bunch of them and a legit giant one that hangs in the entryway like a cross in a cathedral. I assume these spiders are an attempt to recreate Rom that failed I don’t know I just hate them. It’s not even that I hate spiders that much it’s just that there’s something wrong about them and I hate them. Luckily they are weak to arcane damage and the big one can’t fit through the door so you can and should just cheese the hell out of it. After that there’s an NPC hunter armed with a word and glasses that can be hard but can also be parried so no worries there and then the shortcut down to that area I was talking about a second ago that still doesn’t really have anything worth talking about in it aside from the fact that it’s a bit weird that there’s like three shortcuts right here and why is that a thing they put in this castle is it like a dumbwaiter kinda deal? Who knows! Here you encounter the weird golem creatures that I thought was some full on racist pygmy stuff but isn’t actually quite that bad. It’s playing on some nasty caricatures of dwarfs but I think it’s mostly there to here to be stranger small seemingly created beings that appear to be here to take care of things. There’s also a bigger one that’s armed with a cleaver and chain whip that works a bit like the big knight dudes you see way back in central Yharnam. The section where you meet all these fun new foes is sort of a library with the bottom floor of it having giant holes in it that fall into an endless darkness. More on that later though when we bring that shadow to the fore. From the bottom and past all the golem things is an elevator that takes you to the worst part of the game. Yes, you get off the elevator and you see above you a crow in a cage and think oh okay more crows and then it comes down and attacks and it’s a crow WITH A GOD DAMN DOGS HEAD AND IT BARKS AT YOU AND I HATE IT MORE THAN THE DAMN SPIDERS I HATE IT AD THERE’S ALSO DOGS WITH CROW HEADS AND I HATE THEM EVEN MORE. So after a bit of therapy to recover from that (don’t worry they pop up again later so you’ll get your moneys worth out of it) you make your way to the, boss?

Micolash, Host of the Nightmare

Okay so this boss is kinda not good. Like he’s an NPC that runs around and you have to find him and then when you chase him enough he runs into a room and a door closes behind him and you have to find you way in to kill him. That’s it. He can barely put up a fight except for one attack where he uses that same field of stars attack you can which can sometimes kill you in one hit it sucks and it’s the worst boss in the game full stop. But it’s too slight to matter much in the grand scheme. Story wise it has more pay off with him being the host of the nightmare and presumably the dead corpse you use to enter this nightmare and he seems to think himself some grand grand mind who himself seems to be hosting this grand nightmare. As you kill him he says something about how he’s waking up and will soon forget everything which is maybe the last thing he should be worried about given the whole he’s already a corpse in the outside world thing. If I had a complaint to file with this it’s that without any build up to who this dude is it all feels a bi out of the blue but I like having a bit of mystery left in the game so to be fair I have not dug into it too deep.

Stray Thoughts

This game just looks so damn good. The density of the design of the castle and the way the nightmarish light plays off of it is just perfection with great use of color


#174

I reeaaaalllllyyy like the Micolash fight as one of the Souls’ tone-piece boss fights. It’s just so fucking weird. Disorienting, kinda unsatisfying, and I have no idea what he’s talking about. His arena is full of eyes n shit. It’s great.


#175

I kinda like it on that level as well but the fight is annoying to get through more than once and that does not mix well with the fact he has one instant kill attack in the form of A Call Beyond for me


#176

reading about your reaction to the spiders is interesting because i remember i found them super amusing when i first saw them because they reminded me of goofy anatomically incorrect halloween decorations. i made fun of them relentlessly but i can definitely see how the ways in which they are off could make them scary

horror is such a subjective thing


#177

I used to be more afraid of Spiders before the exposure therapy of every video game ever got to me so I think the slightly goofy looking 12 legged nightmares was just enough to be real unnerving


#178

I could have been done so much faster…


#179

The spears are actually your own blood coagulating into spikes and bursting out of you. I think it’s supposed to be that just being seen by the eye of the thing in the bridge/lighthouse is horrifying enough to cause your dream-body to tear itself apart, thus the frenzy infliction. It’s one of the most classically Eldritch Horror things in the game and I love it.

I also love the idea of the Micolash fight and the way it uses atmosphere, dialogue, and level-design within a boss-fight is a really cool throwback to Demon’s Souls style bosses that the other soulsborne games have largely avoided trying. It’s a cool inversion of the usual boss style while still fitting the hunter theme by being a literal hunt for this weird cackling madman. In practice though it kind of sucks because like you said he can one-shot you with his Call Beyond attack, and then you have to do it all over again which robs the fight of its novelty very, very quickly.


#180

I completely forgot that I never finished this Bloodborne write up

Whoops…