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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bloodborne is a wildly difficult and extremely violent role-playing game. Players control a hunter of monsters who uses a variety of bladed weapons and guns to brutally kill vicious creatures, some of which are humanoid in appearance. Dark red blood sprays with every hit, and players will hear moans and screams of pain -- including some from their own character, who dies frequently. This is an exceptionally challenging game but one that rewards patience and perseverance with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Online features are included, but communication is limited to selecting prewritten text messages.
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What's it about?
In BLOODBORNE, your hero wakes up after a mysterious blood transfusion to a world roaming with terrifying creatures, many of which appear to once have been human. Charged with hunting these beasts, he (or she) roams the streets with a gun and a bladed weapon, killing monsters before they can kill him (or her). There's not much of a story beyond this simple premise, which leaves players to focus on exploring the labyrinthine world and mastering combat. This game was made to tax players' gaming skills. Enemies -- even the weakest ones -- are exceptionally challenging and often can only be defeated through a combination of timing, reflexes, and tactical environment traversal. Players are intended to die frequently -- the very first battle is designed to be unwinnable -- forcing a mindset of caution and strategy going forward. You spend most of the game alone in your battle against the monsters but can request help in especially difficult battles by ringing an in-game bell and waiting for other players to answer your call.
Is it any good?
Bloodborne poses a daunting challenge. In addition to most enemies being terrifyingly tough, you lose all the Blood Echoes (currency/experience) you've collected since your last save point each time your hero dies, effectively negating any character-building progress you've made. There will be times when, after cautiously adventuring for an hour or more, your hero will be killed in a matter of seconds and all your work will seem for naught. But there's a point to the difficulty. The game's designers want players to have a stake in what's happening, to feel the stress of the situation. It makes for an incredibly tense experience, one that is undeniably frustrating at times but which also delivers an immense satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment when you succeed.
Plus, it's rarely unfair. Combat is finely tuned and feels absolutely terrific. The acts of strategically attacking and dodging are gratifying in and of themselves. When you fail, it won't be because the interface failed you but, rather, likely because you failed to properly read and react to the situation. Exploring the game's massive, maze-like, beautifully detailed world, which is filled with treasures, shortcuts, and hidden areas, is just gravy. It takes a while to get a proper feel for it, but older players who give Bloodborne a chance may be surprised to find they don't ever want to stop playing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Do you ever feel worked up after watching a violent show or playing a violent game? Can you play these games without them affecting you?
Discuss how you deal with challenges. How do you usually confront a difficult task? By buckling down and working through it? By putting it off and coming back later? How do you feel once you've successfully finished it?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: March 24, 2015
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.