Is Bloodborne a Perfect Game?

People are always going on about the "perfect game." They say that this game is perfect because of that and another game is perfect because of this, all while ignoring very real issues with the title in question. If a game manages to nail one or two of the dozen aspects it needs to nail but nails those two things extraordinarily well, it must be, to one extent or another, a "masterpiece." Some people find something masterful in plenty of titles and others are incredibly harsh towards the most stand out successes if only by virtue of their uncanny ability to never be happy with anything they've got. For me, most games simply don't have the level of polish required for such a feat or come so damn close to perfection but are brick walled by a few phenomenally irksome kinks. 

The Last of Us, for example, is considered by many (including myself) to be a masterpiece, though it is FAR from being perfect. The sight of Ellie jogging face first into a clicker while proclaiming that we "have to keep quiet" is hilariously immersion shattering; as is Bill opening a loud, rusted iron gate while declaring that we need to move quietly with three clickers no more than a short stones throw away. These moments may be few and far in-between and they may not even be an issue in another title, but in a story-driven experience they pull you right out of that story. They're enough to keep a game which made me cry on two occasions from becoming a hands-down masterpiece.

That's where Bloodborne is different. It is, in my humble opinion, about as close as a game could possibly get to achieving perfection. Now, that's a bold claim for anybody to make about anything, especially when you're talking about something so mind-blowingly subjective as a video game. An opinion of anything is ultimately going to be formed based on one's own taste, so the very idea of a game even nearing perfection is, to me, complete bullshit. Nonetheless, Bloodborne has made me question that belief and I'd like to at least try and explain why I feel that way, which would probably be much simpler if I just explained what Bloodborne does wrong rather than what it does right (spoiler alert: that's a hell of a lot.) 

First and foremost, the one problem which people can almost universally agree with, is that the loading times are too damn long. It could, before the recent 1.03 patch, take anywhere from 10 to 45 seconds to load an area of the game depending on where you were going and how you were getting there (via a headstone, hunter's mark or death.) Even after the patch, the load times can still take somewhere around 5 to 20 seconds which, to me, is still a tad bit longer than it should.

There's an argument to be made that since the problem is now fixed (a whole month after release) that it should no longer be held against the game, which I outright disagree with. It's an attitude which I feel would only be exploited by developers who think it's okay to ship an unfinished or broken title so long as you fix it a few weeks down the line. Those who bought the game in its first month, which is when it will comparatively sell the most, had to deal with loading times which simply shouldn't exist in this day and age. Though that being said, this brings me to a major point I have to make about what few flaws I could find in Bloodborne: most come down to the players own subjective tolerances. 

Sure, most people will probably agree that up to 45 seconds per loading screen is ridiculous, but would a particularly patient person even care? I've seen more than a few people defend the loading times based on the fact that they ultimately have zero impact on the gameplay, which is the most important part. I don't think that forgives it, especially in a game where you're going to be dying a lot, but it's an interesting argument. Should we think less of a game due to an issue which doesn't have any impact on the gameplay nor keeps us from playing it (i.e. crashing or game breaking bugs), or should that be considered every bit as important to the overall whole? I couldn't give you a solid answer on the subject, though I do think a problem of note is worth noting. Personally, the loading times ever became an issue for me on those few occasions I ran into a boss which enjoyed slaughtering me over and over again (I'm looking at you, Logarius). Again, I think it's just a very subjective thing.

I find it rather irksome that you can't teleport from one area to another without first going back to the Hunter's Dream, sitting through an extra loading screen than is needed; a more patient person or someone who excuses the loading times might not care. It's annoying whenever I run out of blood vials or quicksilver bullets while trying to kill a boss and need to spend 10 minutes farming for more, but if you wanted to be cheeky about it then you could just tell me to "git gud"; and, frankly, you wouldn't really be wrong. Bloodborne is an unforgiving game and whether or not any of these issues are, in fact, an issue will come down to a case by case basis. Does that excuse the loading times or need to farm during early encounters? Of course not; but I do feel that since none of these have a direct impact on the gameplay, especially with more experienced players, they can safely be cautiously overlooked when taking in the big picture.

From here what problems I can find are, arguably, not even worth mentioning. I could go on about the textures in one area when being viewed from another, even if it's just from the other side of a large building, are horribly downgraded (though certainly identifiable); or I could tell you about the animations switching from one to another instantaneously when interacting with an object, but what does that achieve? One notably only comes into play on two or three occasions and the other requires you to be rolling around like an idiot (as I am apt to do) to even notice. I think that holding things like this, or even the possibly intentional ragdolls, against Bloodborne would be unfair. Furthermore, they once again have zero bearing on the gameplay itself, which is an incredibly important point, and do nothing to shatter my immersion. 

As I said before, the idea of anything being "perfect" or "near perfect" is crap, but we can all relate to the idea that some things are going to be perfect for us which might just be shit for everyone else. I feel that the problem arises whenever people apply some degree of objectivity to it, at least to a degree beyond what virtually anyone can agree with (i.e. a game actually working, a certain genre having certain elements, etc.) I'd imagine that someone who isn't a fan of the Souls series on a base level would find some flaws with it which I simply miss because it's not something which meshes with their taste. It's always going to be trickier to find flaws with something that you love, after all. Though that being said, I've played through Bloodborne four times now, each to roughly 90-100% completion, and I just can't find anything wrong with the actual gameplay. It's actually a bit irritating that I can't find any problems beyond what I've already mentioned, as funny as that sounds.

The combat flows beautifully and has a fantastic weight to it, the hitboxes are rarely, if ever, an issue and despite being locked at a near solid 30 fps it manages to look breathtakingly beautiful throughout all of the fast-paced slaughter. Some people are unhappy with the fact that there are fewer weapons this time around but I think it's a great change since the vast majority feel truly unique to one another, especially when you take into account that each "trick weapon" has two forms. Every boss I've come across is instantly memorable, whether it be due to their particularly difficult move-set, a stage change which leaves you in awe or forces you to spend 8 minutes fighting without making a single mistake. It's not often that a game's story has a direct impact on the feel of the gameplay itself but that has always been the case with the Souls series, and Bloodborne is no different; Hidetaka Miyazaki somehow managed to craft a world which was every bit as fascinating as Lordran while taking it a step further into the esoteric, even adding a thick layer of Lovecraftian horror to the proceedings to make the overall experience that much more surreal. Indeed, it's pretty damn surreal just how close Bloodborne comes to reaching a level nearing perfection. Upon completing it for the first time, I was almost at a loss for words to describe just how mind-blowingly fantastic this game really is. 

I couldn't tell you what it would take for a modern game to reach the sheer level of polish found within Bloodborne on day one because I just don't know. Bloodborne is a masterpiece of the highest caliber, but more than that I think it's one of the greatest AAA titles in recent memory, perhaps even THE greatest and is easily the best seen thus far in the current console generation. Sure, plenty of people will outright disagree with that sentiment but it's from that difference of opinion in which ideas are spawned, something which Miyazaki has always tried to encourage. The team over at From Software have truly outdone themselves and I can only hope that the young, aspiring game developers out there take the time to not only examine what makes this game so good but to really learn from it, to further spawn ideas based in the principles of design put forth by this title. Why? Because Bloodborne is everything that a video game should strive to be.