Earlier this year I bought Bloodborne and played it for several weeks. I beat a total of five bosses (4 story, 1 chalice dungeon) before I decided the game wasn’t for me. Going in I knew what to expect. I know all about the legendary difficulty of the Souls games and how Bloodborne is a Souls game in every aspect but in name. It was mostly everything I thought it would be. The combat is precise and responsive. It doesn’t get any better than Bloodborne’s. The boss fights were challenging and epic, but they weren’t as difficult as some of the stuff I’ve read made them out to be. As a matter of fact, on a pure gameplay basis, I don’t think Bloodborne is the hardest melee-combat game out there. The Ninja Gaiden games easily surpass Bloodborne’s difficulty. NG is much more demanding in terms of reflexes, coordination and timing and death comes much quicker (and more frequently) if you don’t bring your ‘A’ game. The biggest thing that makes Bloodborne hard (and all the Souls games, I would imagine) is the checkpoint system. I don’t feel like going into detail about it right now but let’s just say that you got defeated in a boss fight. In most other games you’ll get to try again immediately or get respawned at some checkpoint right before the start ofthe battle. In Bloodborne, you respawn at the most recent lantern (physical checkpoint that is nowhere near the boss fight). All the non-boss enemies you’ve killed are respawned as well, meaning you’d have to fight through them in order to reach the boss. You do have the option of trying to sprint past every enemy all the way to the boss, which could take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes, depending on whether or not you know the shortcut. Could you imagine any other game in which you’d be forced to wait that same amount of time to do a boss fight over? But that’s not only the norm in Bloodborne, it’s also the best case scenario. Usually after a boss battle, you would’ve used up most of your blood vials (health potions) and other necessary items. When you respawn at said lantern, those items do not get replenished. You would either have to purchase them by visiting the game’s hub or fight enemies and hope that they would drop the items you need. Worse yet, you’d have to go back out and kill more monsters to gain enough currency to be able to back to the hub and afford the items you need for the boss fight. In reality, doing a boss fight over in Bloodborne could take a half hour or more, depending on your situation. I grew tired of that. Yes, finally besting a boss after all the frustration feels very rewarding (I did a jig after every boss I beat), but at the end, I couldn’t take the grinding any longer.
This is where Lords of the Fallen comes in. I’ve always been curious about the game but like Bloodborne, it too was compared to the Souls game. Unlike Bloodborne, it is considered to be much more forgiving. Having experienced Bloodborne I felt confident that I could handle Lords of the Fallen’s difficulty, and so far I’ve been right. It took me ONE try to beat the first boss (First Warden). I’ve beaten four bosses so far and though it took multiple attempts to beat the next three, the difference was that there were convenient checkpoints right before each boss fight. More importantly, it reset all the health potions I had before the boss fight. Even better is that activating a checkpoint automatically replenishes my potions. This is a game that has respect for my time. LotF has its fair share of grinding and farming, but the checkpoint system makes all the difference in the world. My first impression was that the combat felt inferior to Bloodborne’s in that it lacked precision and consistency, but it’s not the exact same game. LotF has a very similar feel to Bloodborne but it’s still different. As I’ve upgraded my character and begun to learn the combat’s intricacies it’s become much more enjoyable. There’s still plenty of bosses left in the game and there’s still a very real responsibility of the game falling into the same pitfall as other games–unfair difficulty spikes in the end, and I’ll reserve my final judgment for after I’ve vanquished the final boss. Until then, Lords of the Fallen is shaping up to be a better game than Bloodborne, at least for me.