“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”– Friedrich Nietzsche
Father Gascoigne is defeated. It may have taken me a couple more attempts than I had hoped(somewhere between 5-10?), but I finally emerged victorious. The proficient hunter had become consumed by the blood, causing his transformation into a beast not unlike those he had spent so long hunting. This is one of the prominent themes throughout Bloodborne, which brings to mind the above Nietzsche quote. I’m inclined the believe that’s another of the many things that I love about the game: outside the obvious elements like core gameplay or its gorgeous Victorian-Gothic aesthetic, there’s the existential questioning of our own ambitions and desires – “why?” and “at what cost?”. But anyway…back to the beast hunting.
Once Gascoigne had been dealt with it was time to proceed to the Cathedral Ward – one of the most memorable areas of the game for me with its dismal cemeteries surrounding the ward’s namesake structures, which provide a brief respite for those seeking refuge on the night of the hunt.
After exploring the Cathedral Ward and meeting up with Alfred, hunter of Vilebloods, I made my way down to Old Yharnam. The aging district of Yharnam has been reduced to little more than rubble as you see the charred remnants of the Healing Church’s attempt to “purify” the area. As soon as you reach Old Yharnam, you receive a friendly warning by Djura, who sits atop the clock tower with a gatling gun that “Old Yharnam, burned and abandoned by men, is now home only to beasts.” So, of course I do what any reasonable person would do in this situation…grab my cane and torch and begin ridding the area of every foul beast in sight, with any aggression towards the dwellers of Old Yharnam causes Djura to promptly begin raining bullets upon hunter Dude. I’m still familiar enough with the area from my previous Bloodborne playthrough, so I didn’t have too tough of a time avoiding “Machine Gun Djura” and the hordes of enemies that remind me of the Big Bad Wolf disguised as Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother(blanket and everything) as I navigated my way to the next boss – the Blood-Starved Beast.
Vileblood Hunter Alfred was available as an NPC summon just outside the lair of the Blood-Starved Beast, he quickly came to my aid, Kirkhammer in hand as we fought the giant, über-agile beast….which I had to repeat roughly a dozen times, including a detour or two through Central Yharnam to farm some blood vials and level up twice. Once the beast had been slain, I headed back up the grand staircase of the Cathedral Ward to face off against Vicar Amelia, another of my favorite Bloodborne boss battles(amazing…alliteration).
The Vicar Amelia fight takes place inside the Grand Cathedral as we first meet Amelia in her human form before transforming into a menacing beast right before you. This fight is the first boss battle where the Threaded Cane felt like an advantage as its charge attack would have enough range to hit her in the head and would routinely stun her long enough to get some real damage in. After Amelia had met her end at the hands of Dude, Beast Slayer, I approached the altar and interacted with the elongated skull of Laurence, which prompts a cutscene in which we see a brief conversation between him and Provost Willem ending with one of the game’s taglines: “Fear the Old Blood”.
Ok…fear old blood, got it!
Shortly thereafter, I ventured from the Grand Cathedral and through Hemwick Charnel Lane which is always a lovely time. Surprisingly, I managed to make it through the entire area full of sickle-wielding witches and scary, pointy dogs without dying, only to take a cheap shot once I reached the Witch of Hemwick, usually the easiest boss in the game…provided you know the trick to it. Upon reaching the witch’s abode a second time, I promptly eliminated the Witch of Hemwick and was on my merry way…
It was now time to make my way through my favorite area of the game(sarcasm alert)…the fuckin’ Forbidden Woods. Not only is this place dark and scary with plenty of perilous hazards, but once you make it to the second half of the area, it becomes overrun by bundles of snakes…of course it has to be goddamn snakes. Fortunately, this was my fourth(?) time traversing the area and I’m familiar enough with this miserable viper maze to know to stay along the right side of the area as far as possible before making a quick left, and then another right through a rusty gate which will eventually lead to another of my favorite boss fights(more sarcasm) – the Shadow of Yharnam. This boss fight puts you against not one, not two, but THREE hooded assholes, two of which come at you with katanas and the other one stands back and spams fireballs at you like they’re named Ken or Ryu. Of course, we wouldn’t want this to be a simple fight now would we? So, to make things even more exciting, each of the three Shadows can begin to summon gigantic snakes during a third phase which emerge from the ground and force you to immediately go full evasive maneuvers. I only had to repeat this…<sigh>most joyous test of skill a few times as I knew to equip my bolt paper to add a charge of electricity to my cane-whip and that the best strategy is to distribute damage evenly so I could quickly take out all three within moments of each other and avoid an annoying third phase of the fight. I’ve accumulated enough experience by now that it’s not as difficult going through the area as it once was, but I still emphatically decree – Fuck the Forbidden Woods AND Shadow of Yharnam…can’t wait to meet up with them again in Mergo’s Loft.
Now that the Forbidden Woods had been mostly cleared – I still need to go through the poison caves(thank you, Miyazaki) to reach the rear entrance of Iosefka’s Clinic, it’s time to press forward to the next area – Byrgenwerth. This is one of the more fascinating areas to me from a game lore standpoint, but it was around this time I decided to get some sleep. Tune in next time as we’ll take a stroll through Byrgenwerth before battling Rom, the Vacuous Spider and marching onward to Castle Cainhurst.
Farewell, good hunter. May you find your worth in the waking world…