Friday, May 1, 2015

Bloodborne. You have earned a trophy!


I’ve never felt the need or desire to platinum a Souls game. In my book, merely finishing Demons Souls or Dark Souls are feathers in a gamer’s cap, and to challenge one’s self against the most extreme echelons of that already pronounced accomplishment is lunacy. I had a friend who platinum’d them – but he didn’t work, so it didn’t feel like a genuine strike against my gamer card. I’d have a zillion platinums too, if a full half of my waking life wasn’t occupied with, y’know, a job

Bloodborne is different.

Much as I’ve loved every game in the series – and I do – I was never compelled to roll that over into New Game+ and challenge myself anew. I know I can kill Ornstein and Smough – I don’t need to prove that again – but with Bloodborne...

I don’t know. I once said that the Souls titles are “deeply sexy, romantic games, in all but the literal sense,” and perhaps Bloodborne has simply seduced me more effectively than any of From’s past efforts. Maybe it’s that gorgeous architecture, obscured here and there by billowing incense haze. Or the way the moon always hangs so low and huge against the world. Or maybe it’s just the top hats.

I had a conversation with my friend Kris about it. He wears some other hat – a helmet, even - because it has “higher defense” or some such nonsense. He couldn’t understand why I stuck with the top hat, and I looked at him like he was loony-bin-caliber crazy.

“Because it’s fancy!”

It is.  It is fancy.

Either way – be it the world or the art or the sharper combat or the dapper fashion sense – I immediately started up a fresh save in Bloodborne upon beating it. Never did that before, with a Souls and I don’t even have the excuse of nothing else to play. MKX and Dying Light and a swath of Vita games are jostling for attention. Even so, I tore my way through the game again, jamming my snout into every nook and cranny, discovering whole, huge areas I’d never even seen on my first playthrough. I brawled my way to the top of Mergo’s tower, slaughtered that nightmare and stopped.

I turned around. Went back to the Hunter’s Dream and, finally, dropped a chalice in front of a headstone.

I spent the next week plumbing those labyrinthine depths, fighting creatures I’d never seen and bosses you never encounter in or around Yharnam. It was like a whole second game. After facing the cruelest foes Bloodborne has to offer, I murdered the twisted origins of the game’s nightmare and emerged at around level one-forty. I’d beaten the game, on my first run, at about seventy. Seventy-five, maybe.
My Holy Blade dripped with the finest blood gems. My stamina meter could go no higher. My strength and skill levels had hit the soft cap, and my life bar was gargantuan. 

But I wasn’t done yet.

I have the strangest feeling that I've been here before...

Maybe it’s the top hats, but I got the “true” ending for the second time and rolled it over into NG+ on my new save. I dashed up to the first citizen of Yharnam I came across and, in a running slash, drew my blade across his chest... and he survived it.

“Well. That hasn’t happened in a while,” I thought. I had all my skills and tactics available, but Bloodborne had risen to meet me. It didn’t want to stop being challenging. Didn’t want to stop being fun.

At this point, I opened up my trophy collection to see. Just curious.

I needed four more to earn the platinum. Two weapons, because on this save I’d never killed the chaingun hunter in Old Yharnam (protip: beast roar). One tool, because when I wandered the swamp in the Nightmare Frontier, I did a one-eighty as soon as I saw the Winter Lantern at the end of the cave (protip: nut up and kill it). 

And two endings, because I’d picked the same one, twice, on my first two playthroughs. 

I’d have to play through the entire game, two more times, to get the platinum. ...how long would that take me?

Not long, as it turns out.

One of my few detours on NG++ was to nab the Music Box from Gascoigne's daughter.
S'not like she needed it.

I lazily backstroked through my NG+ run, grabbing the weapons and the tool I needed, slaughtering the bosses without much difficulty, hitting all the optional ones. I mean, an enemy could still obliterate me with a good combo, a boss with a few good hits, but between my obscene sword and wealth of Bloodborny experience, it was a pleasure. I cleansed that city, taking the time to show Kayla environments, enemies and optional bosses she hadn’t seen before. Sightseeing. Bucket listing. I played around with the threaded cane.

My NG++ run was all about speed. It’s kind of amazing how many bosses you dont have to fight, in Bloodborne. Literally half of them (or three quarters, if you’re counting the chalice bosses). I never set foot in Old Yharnam, never crossed into Hemwick Charnel Lane, Forbidden Castle Cainhurst or the Upper Cathedral Ward.

I dashed through whole levels, zipping past screaming monsters, snapping open shortcuts left and right. Leveling up no longer mattered. If I earned a quarter-million echoes, it would only buy me another eight health points on top of my current 1,500. Zip zip zip zip. The Shadow of Yharnam fight was, on NG++, really bloody hard again, but other than that it was smooth sailin’.

Then, I knelt before Gherman, and for the first time in Bloodborne, saw the sun again.

Pop.
 

The platinum trophy is more meaningful, I think, when you dont earn it for every damn game you own. It’s a little badge of honor – not for you, but for the game. You give a game that really captured you a sweet, honest kiss on the cheek, tell it “this is how much I adore you,” and pin the platinum trophy to its lapel. (The game, then, struts about your library, its chin high, its chest puffed out to show it off. All the other games get jealous,‘cause it kind of rubs their noses in it.)

I think Bloodborne’s is the first I’ve nabbed since a little game called Dragons Crown.

I just love top hats so much.



2 comments:

  1. I had no idea I was in the presence of a master... I don't think I've EVER beaten a DS on new game+. Look at your trophy case, all fancy.

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    1. The hard part was the defiled chalice dungeon - pretty smooth, aside from that.

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