Bloodborne: The Old Hunters’ Creepiest Area
Ben Sheene / Dec 4th, 2015 No Comments
As players climb the lengths of the Research Hall they will encounter one of Bloodborne: The Old Hunters‘ creepiest, most inspired zones. Throughout my deadly journey across the DLC’s monstrous bosses, frenzied beasts, and hazardous zones I had become fatigued with the intense difficulty. NG+ is a cruel mistress that amplified the often evil (but fair) nature of From Software’s games. In fact, it had become a theme during my time with The Old Hunters. The roadblock of tedium that is the Hunter’s Nightmare and first boss Ludwig was slowly giving way to intrigue and old-fashioned fun.
Moments into the Research Hall there is something obviously wrong. After entering the area, players will see a shallow pool where a pathetic humanoid creature is bent over, feeling around in the wet muck. He’s looking for his eyes. Except his head looks like a bloody bag that is pulsing. “Everything is pale, now…” he concludes. Despite his horrific, pathetic appearance, he’s one of the few things not trying to kill me. Nervous, I begin my ascent.
It appears as if the Research Hall is populated by many of these “patients” with deformed heads. And very few of them are actually nice. They give chase and swipe at players with their long arms and thrust their squishy, powerful heads. Even though they are fast and strong, handling these patients feels much different than anything encountered in the Hunter’s Nightmare. For me, they were still as aggressive but were much easier to encounter. The twisting stairs and long corridors of the Research Hall are cramped but allow players to funnel threats more appropriately. Patients still lurk around corners waiting to attack, another Bloodborne hallmark.
Then it hits me, I’m starting to enjoy Bloodborne and The Old Hunters again. The itching creepiness that floods these halls of research is pungent. What went wrong here? Was this where the Healing Church performed experiments on innocent citizens in an attempt to get closer to the Old Ones? Are these the failed attempts at mimicking the celestial beings encountered throughout the latter parts of Bloodborne? It’s these kind of questions that From Software invokes through the smart use of environmental detail and vague notes scattered throughout the world and in item descriptions.
Old Hunting Feels
Much of Blooborne is about hunting beasts, the odds rarely in your favor. Patience meets perseverance because a level head means enemies won’t get the jump on you. Mastering the art of combat in Bloodborne is about calculating risks; whether that means directing enemies away from each other or taking one swipe then dodging away. Fighting these patients reflected a lot of those tactics. Some were interested in rushing while others patiently waited to attack. A couple berserk versions of these patients existed. They were taller, screamed a lot more, and wielded a long weapon. I ran from them.
Unfortunately, these patients and some writhing, tadpole-like bodies in straight jackets are the only new enemies players will encounter in the Research Hall. It’s somewhat disappointing for players who enjoy the variety of monsters and creativity in Bloodborne. In fact, it’s a sentiment that is carried out across The Old Hunters. The Hunter’s Nightmare didn’t actually introduce any new enemy types, just a few remixed versions of them. The blood spiders are originally found in Cainhurst Castle; the furry beasts in Old Yharnam. Bloody dogs, sickly crows, and NPC hunters aren’t anything new either.
It isn’t that The Old Hunters doesn’t feel fresh, it’s just that at the halfway point through the expansion, one would expect more. I love how the Research Hall introduced some clever traps (bookshelves with exploding acid, anyone?) and amazing shortcuts. It also requires a mild bit of puzzle solving; something that is never a strong suit of the series but still works in context. If anything, the Research hall and the area right after Ludwig’s infamous boss fight felt normal. Well, at least as normal as a typical Bloodborne experience may feel.
Much of my issues with the opening part of the DLC stemmed from the brutal difficulty of NG+. The Research Hall and its poor patients still presented a challenge, but a fun challenge that was more representative of what I loved out of Bloodborne in the first place.
Not a Failure
The Research Hall culminates in a fight with The Old Hunters’ second boss, the Living Failures. Players climb the top of the Research Hall and enter a small courtyard covered in withering sunflowers. Next to a large pillar of sunflowers attempting to reach the heavens is a more alien version of the patients. But there’s more than one of them. These are more of the Healing Church’s failed experiments, yet are the closest they came to mimicking the Old Ones.
The Living Failures continue to spawn even when players fell one. They hit hard and can use magic to attack players from a distance. The key is to not get overwhelmed, to watch your back. Flee if necessary and cover by the sunflower pillar to let magic bolts hit it instead of you.
The first time I encountered the Living Failures I nearly bested them. I didn’t feel bad when I died, just a slight twinge of disappointment. Instead I decided to help a few players out with the boss. I went through the fight twice before going at it in my own world, bringing in one other player for help. The epic music coupled with multiple near-death instances and the assistance of another player is prime Bloodborne material. With what felt like no effort at all, we beat these sad beings and I moved on, straight into another boss.
tags: Blooborne: The Old Hunters , bloodborne , from software , opinion , The Old Hunters