'Bloodborne' a punishing trek through a haunted city.

AuthorKesten, Lou

Byline: Lou Kesten


Sony, for the PlayStation 4


There's something masochistic about video gamers. Even if you're playing an innocuous-looking game like "Pac-Man,'' you will be killed dozens of times before you get any good.

"Bloodborne'' doesn't waste any time getting to the hard stuff. Almost immediately after it starts, you get eaten by a werewolf. Sure, you get reincarnated and armed with a couple of flimsy weapons, but if you aren't prepared to die -- over and over and over -- you won't get very far.

"Bloodborne'' is the latest torture device from evil genius Hidetaka Miyazaki and his Tokyo-based studio, From Software. Starting with 2009's "Demon's Souls,'' Miyazaki and company have developed a reputation as the cruelest game designers in the world. If you relished the challenge of their "Souls'' adventures, you'll love "Bloodborne.'' If you hated those games -- well, their new ordeal won't change your mind.

Once you get past that werewolf, you'll find yourself in a sprawling city called Yharnam, where majestic Gothic towers loom over gore-drenched streets. A nasty illness has overcome most of the populace, and the few remaining humans seem to hold you responsible. Those survivors are relatively easy to dispatch, as long as you don't let them gang up on you. It's the creatures that have mutated -- bloodthirsty lycanthropes, sledgehammer-wielding behemoths -- that will send you screaming into the afterlife.

You're initially armed with two devices: a melee weapon that can be extended for longer-range attacks and a firearm that seems almost comically ineffective. Gamers who are used to cutting a swath through hapless enemies will lose quickly. You need to approach...

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