## WARNING! Spoilers ahead for first part of game! ##

I mentioned /admitted in the first first post on my journey into Bloodborne that I had cast my eyes online for a bit of hand holding so I had best start this second one by mentioning /admitting that I did this again before my second proper session with the game.

I know that this is very much against the principle of playing a game like this, that these support networks weren’t there in the good old days, etc. but unfortunately I don’t have the time that I had then either.  I suppose I could have found the answers by fumbling around in the darkness for a night or two but I’m justifying it as a little nudge in the right direction to a) make the most of my limited gaming time and b) keep my enthusiasm going on a game where, based on my abilities, I clearly don’t belong.

It was only the one YouTube video mind you.  One of those 2 min efforts that explain how you open that left gate at the spawn point  in Central Yharnam. What an eye opener that was.  In just 2 min I discovered:

a) that you can simply run by swathes of enemies if you don’t fancy farming for echoes.

b) that once that gate is open you have an almost direct line to the big bad at the end of this section.

c) that you can use the environment to your advantage when taking down some of the larger beasties.

I appreciate that this could have all been found out naturally by an experienced Souls player or one with the time to explore but, again, I cite the need for this player to have a level of scaffolding in order to engage with the game.

By unlocking the gate and the surrounding areas I have already started to witness how genius the level design is in this game.  It’s not just a set of beautiful, set-designed corridors but an organic, higgledy-piggledy seething mass of a city.  It feels real, as much a character in the game as anything else.

By unlocking the gate, I was able to make it to the first boss. It was a brutal, short and disappointing end to my first encounter with the Cleric Beast but it woke up the doll in Hunter’s Dream so now I can start to level up my character whilst farming echoes and hatching plans for the return match.

By unlocking the gate, I found an additional sewer area where I was able to find some Hunter gear (following a fight with some very ugly rats and an extremely annoying pike wielder who was so thin my molotovs kept missing him).  I now feel a little more armoured against the horrors in Yharnam.

Have I cheated?  Technically, yes. Is it any different from poring over a strategy guide?  I would say no.  I endeavour to find as much out for myself as I can via trial and error (or trial and death in this case) but I’m not too proud to say that I will need help.  If it keeps me playing then it’s worth it.

I finished the session levelled to 15, with a +2 cleaver and a bag full of vials and molotovs.  There’s always more farming and levelling possible (whilst further honing a more fluid fighting style and improved timing whilst dodging) but there’s no putting it off – Part 3 will be the rematch with Mr Cleric Beast.

## WARNING – Mild spoilers ahead ##

Ok, so I’m going to play Bloodborne.  A game by From Software, following in the footsteps of the ultra-hard, unforgiving Souls series (of which I have collectively played about 10 min (dying at least 50 times)).

Bearing in mind that, despite my love of all things video games, I’m pretty crap at playing them this is likely to end badly with lots of shouting, recriminations and regretful sobbing whilst rocking in the corner.

Nevertheless this evening sleeves were rolled up (and real ales lined up) and I began.  For the first hour it was very much ‘so far, so am I getting anywhere?’. I’d managed to deal with some of the more basic grunts with only the odd death or two but was hitting a bloody brick wall with the mob of unruly types warming themselves by the sacrificial fire (never mind what was groaning and thundering against the wooden gate just beyond…).

It was very much ‘die extremely bloodily, wash (on a hot cycle), rinse, repeat’.  So what could I do differently (apart from flinging more pebbles about)?  Casting a guilty glance at early walkthroughs online, it seemed that the expectation was to plough on through to the first boss fight but, with my limited abilities, I wasn’t going to get there without some buffs.

Returning to Hunter’s Dream and engaging with the rather cute Bath Messenger I found that, with some limited blood echo gathering, I could suit up with some moderately improved armour. Anything to stop me getting pulverised quite so quickly was definitely a good thing so I endeavoured to grind echoes for the next 45 min (repeating the first 15-20 enemies) until I could get suitably suited and booted.

Although this felt a fairly cheap way of playing the game early on I did end up slightly more protected and, more importantly, started to read the early game enemies and their fighting styles.  I even started to look like I almost knew what I was doing.

Two hours in and I had my first feeling of progress. The fire-worshipping mob had been felled (even those annoying fellas with the guns) and I’d only suffered the odd stupid death.  With chest fully pumped, off I went to find out what was making the wooden gate shudder.

Faced with a hefty Brick Brute I initially found success with a well placed molotov halving its health before some clumsily timed dodges found me very much dead again. And back at Central Yharnam again. With all the enemies respawned again.

I would like to say I took all of this in good grace and immediately set to work again but this would be a lie.  In truth, I moaned and pleaded like my 7 year old when I tell him that his ‘screen’ time is up.  I must also admit that the word ‘unfair’ entered the tirade (and probably not for the last time either).

What should have happened shortly afterwards was a rage quit with the middle aged pouting gamer putting on something else (with an ‘easy’ option) to make him feel better BUT instead I went again.  All the way through to the Brick Brute (Seeing him off with an oil urn / molotov combo) and beyond.  I even made it up to the Nether Beasts before, once again, I met my bloody fate. And back at Central Yharnam again. With all the enemies respawned again.

Deep breath. Time to put the game to bed for the night.  But not before I harvest some more echoes so I could replenish my resources and fix my cleaver.

All set up for next time then.  With hopefully more of a tactic to deal with those pesky Nether Beasts.

My first real night playing Bloodborne has been an interesting one and has already raised several points of note:

1.  I am still pretty crap at video games.

2. I am more resilient than I gave myself credit for.

3. I think I like the game.

4.Please God, let me at least get past the first part / boss of the game.

To be continued….

P.S. I take full responsibility for any blatantly stupid playing styles described above, including missing anything screamingly obvious to other players of this game.

P.P.S. Any hints or tips will be very warmly received!

As part of my efforts to support Midlifegamer.net’s Pile of Win challenge (for charity), I’ve gone for Darkness II on PS3 (which also takes one title off my Pile of Shame before the Year of Shame officially begins end of the month).

Recently completed the first title after a year gap between playing the first and second halves and was looking forward to seeing how Digital Extremes brought the cel shaded comic style into the sequel.

So far, so good! Lots of bright vibrant colours, real contrast between light and shadow with only occasional tearing.  The opportunity to attack in one of four ways (and variations within two of those four with your demon arms) is great fun although a little confusing at times.  Very satisfying when it all works though and parts of your enemies fly in different directions.

What is most pleasing is the care and attention given to the Darkness lore and back story.  This isn’t a thrown together game using some comic characters but a continuation of tale spun in the first title.  The yearning for Jenny still shines through, lending a strong reason for Jackie re-embracing the Darkness to get the job done and the ‘Shining-like’ flashbacks to time spent with her provide welcome moments of quiet whilst being bittersweet.

Will carry on with this title during the Pile of Win week ahead, hopefully get near the end as campaign is pretty short apparently.  Mind you, wouldn’t mind a cheeky go on the Vendettas mode too..

Dipped on Hearthfire last night (400 MSP), the latest bit of DLC coming to 360 (and who knows, PS3 if Bethesda sort their Sony related DLC issues out anytime soon).  If anything can further hinder my attempts at saving the world, an add-on enabling me to build a house, adopt children and create the perfect high fantasy based idyll of perfect life is definitely in the top 3.

As part of my Year of Shame challenge  (in true ‘arse about face’ fashion’, will explain in a later post) I’ll be spending a lot of time in Skyrim this December and part of that will be spent creating my new home.  Will post images up as I go, perhaps pimp it big time and then try to flog it on Tamriel’s number 1 TV show ‘ Homes under the WarHammer’)…Doo, Doo, Do0-Do-Do-Do…I don’t really watch it…it’s the wife…honest.

And once again with the blog silence…no wonder no-one comes visit me…

I will endeavour to improve (it can’t get much worse – here I am talking (or should that be typing) to myself)…



Wanted to try this for a while, demo didn’t overly grab me but read so many positive responses when it was first released and that pawn system definitely required a further probing.

I’m about 3 hours in now and, having mastered an understanding of 50-60% of the mechanics can honestly say I’m having a whale of a time. Cannot quite believe that a game threw a sodding big Chimera at me 10 min in! Cue a lot of thrashing around and button mashing as I tried to work out a) the controls and b) a strategy other than just falling about and shouting ‘Hello pawns, look I know I’ve just met you but GO KILL THAT BIG THING!’.

Appreciated the quiet time in Cassardis and have carried out the initial menial quests to level up and learn more about the system. For example, combat is surprisingly deep with a number of options becoming available as you accrue discipline points. Am really enjoying creating and cultivating a character whereas all too often in RPGs I start off with good intentions only for my man / women to become a mishmashed walking armour/weapon stand. Apparently there are options to jump vocations later on too.

Just about to venture beyond the starting area but wanted to mention that pawn system again. Basically, it’s the method by which this game gives you your NPC squad and ultimately leads you to building the classic RPG set up – Tank, Rogue (Strider in DD), Mage +1 other BUT the system definitely brings something new to the genre. You have one ‘permanent’ pawn who you can skill up and equip just like your own character plus up to two others (recommended, there are some big beasties in Gransys).

These secondary pawns can be picked up when met in the game or accessed via one of the Riftstones found in the gameworld. Activating these stones takes you to a mysterious otherworld (full of dry ice it would seem) where you can inspect and invite pawns into your team (and you can do this as many times as you like in case you come across a part in the game where more or less Mages or Fighters are needed). You can select from those offered or use a database to search for pawns that fit your requirements. Some are ‘free’, some can be bought using another form of in game pawn currency but ALL have been generated by other players – how cool is that? I know that my chubby but affable Fighter pawn, Indrid Stern, is being uploaded and offered for use to other gamers whilst I’m choosing from theirs. It’s not a perfect system yet but I’m sure Capcom will continue to develop it for the rumoured sequel.

Difficult to say too much more having only played a small percentage of the game but there are some negatives – the pawn comments can suffer from repetition fairly early on and you can almost hear the pop when the graphics and draw distance stutter at times (rolling on PS3 if you’re interested) but I can forgive these sorts of faults and they’re not game breakers. The roughness in places just confirms what type of diamond this game is.

The fact that I’ve gone out and bought a strat guide for a game I don’t technically own tells its own story. Will have to hand back soon but will have it on radar for the eventual price drop. Recommended!


Howdy pardners, done a little piece to reflect on my playthrough of Red Dead RedemptionAct 1.  Apologies for length and the bastardising of Stephen King’s writing style in the ‘Dark Tower’ series…


Some say the winds of change can chill you to the bone as they whistle their way up the main street of our town. Sure Armadillo, our little piece of dirt in the New Austin dustbowl, will have to buckle up its braces and face the new frontier but I’m here to tell you right now that don’t worry me two bits.

You’d think these new ideas would put the wind up an old timer like me but that’s the deal right there.  I’m old, don’t have too much left on the clock and got enough of my own wind (thanks to those beans Herbert sold me last week) so let change do what it wants and thinks is right with my town. S’long, when it’s time, I get my long stay abode up on that hill (with no bodily ‘early alarm call’ telling me my withered up bladder needs emptying, d’ya ken) then change can come right up to my front door and declare it’s moving in and taking the best room in the house.

No sir, what chills me are those stormy squalls from the past.  I’ve seen a lot of what’s come before in this town.  Some of it makes an Armadillo born and bred man proud but some of it will send you right to the saloon to lose it at the bottom of the nearest whisky glass.

One of them ill breezes picked up early last week.  Arrived one morning on the train from Blackwater.  Just a man, but one with a whole heap of baggage even though all he carried was the hat on his head and the piece at his side. He offered the name ‘John Marston’ to anyone who looked like they wanted it but I knew who he really was.  One of Van der Linde’s men.  A gunslinger.  An outlaw.

Some say that Van der Linde gave his men a love of nature, taught them how to hold a pen and read about the World.  Mebbe all that’s true but all I ever saw were his teachings of violence, how to look a man square in the eyes as you shot the life out of them.  At least that’s what Marston signed up to.  Right up to that train massacre when our John decided he needed a different direction in his wretched life.

Some say Marston isn’t here on his own steam, that he’s being pressed by the government to tie up some loose ends with regards to some old friends.  Working for Dutch? Or the Government? Different puppeteers, same puppet.  A dangerous one at that.

I’ve been told that if, like the times, the weather can change then so can a man.  Maybe that’s true too, I’m always learning new things even at my age (although that game of Liar’s dice don’t think much of my arthritic paws).  By many accounts, Marston has done a great deal of good up at McFarlane’s Ranch.  Helping with chores around the place, breaking in the horses, even saving some of old McFarlane’s best stock from a suspicious barn fire just the other night.  Other stories don’t paint quite the rosy picture.  It’s gone awfully quiet up at Pleasance House since John popped by with the firm offer of a land purchase.  P’raps it was a little overly firm.

My nickel’s worth?  I say you judge a man by the friends he keeps.  Sure our protector of the peace, Marshall Leigh Johnson, will count himself lucky that Marston turned up when he did to help with crooks like the Bollard Twins threatening to turn this town lawless.

But I’ve also heard that Marston has literally bin diggin’ up the past with that grave robber, Seth, up at Coot’s Chapel when he’s not emptying the pockets of gullible fools and fixing races with that shyster Nigel West Dickens. Not the first set of names I’d have come up with to ally against Bill Williamson and his band of merry men up at Fort Mercer.

Hell, mebbe Marston isn’t the past after all.  Perhaps he IS that wind of change,  made man.  If so, then that change cain’t be far away…and, from what my sore old eyes have seen these past few days, it’s going to be mighty messy.

Sit down, Mr Kane.  I’d just like to ask you some questions.


Am I being charged here?


Well, maybe you are, maybe you aren’t.  Up to you to fill us in best you can.  If you can justify what went on perhaps you’ll walk out of here a free man.


OK…let’s get started then, just means the sooner I get out of here.


So Mr Kane (flips through game manual), says here the first time we hear about you is in 2007?  Apparently there’s another fracas involving you in 2010 but, for today, let’s concentrate on 2007.


Fine by me…


Got yourself in a mite of trouble didn’t you, Mr Kane?


A little, made for a promising story being busted out of custody though…


Can you fill us in on what happened exactly?


Well…difficult to give you all the detail… things were a little hazy, people were speaking without moving their lips, everything seemed to flicker…


Says here you opened fire on the police department?


Hell yes, they were firing on me!  Didn’t hit that many though…


Were you concussed?


Yeah, I might have been.  Don’t know how else my aim could have been so clumsy.  Arm just felt like someone had nailed a long, stiff piece of wood to it – really unresponsive.  Felt sluggish, really difficult to set my aim…


Managed to shoot and injure some officers?


Think so, don’t what chickenshit gear I was packing though.  It said machine gun but I must have put half a dozen bullets into some of the uniforms and they still didn’t go down even though the recoil was massive.  It also sounded like I was using a BB gun rather than serious hardware.


Doesn’t sound very realistic, Mr Kane.


Well, like you said, I must have been concussed or something.


OK, let’s move onto the bank heist…


I was trying to save my family!


Calm down, Mr Kane, we’re just filling in the blanks here.  Again, there’s clear evidence here that you used firearms on law enforcement.


I had no choice!  Although everyone was telling me to be careful there was no real stealth option.  I was pretty much forced to off every officer in the area just to go forward.  That time, trying to get into the vault, I even had to retrace my steps back out of the bank and shoot a uniform left standing outside before my colleague would open the bloody door!


Again, I have to say the whole thing doesn’t sound very realistic, Mr Kane.


You’re telling me, and I haven’t mentioned the van we escaped in yet, must have had the worst suspension in history the way everything seemed to jump up and down during my little chats with Lynch.


Ah yes, Mr Lynch, your associate. Helpful?


He was clearly insane as his actions in the bank showed but he behaved as well as any of my team when given an instruction.


Not very well then.


You’ve got the file, read it for yourself.


You showed remarkable resilience throughout your little adventure, Mr Kane.


There are reasons for that – I got shot a hell of a lot and my friends had a shitload of adrenaline shots to get me back on my feet.


Why not use cover?


Yeah, good question.  Walls around here must be funny or something but half the time I went for cover I just ended up running into them and, when I did find some environment that wanted to cover me, I still ended up getting hit by bullets.  You police using ammunition that goes around corners now?!


Sounds like you were up against it then?


I wish – like I said, the walls were pretty evasive. S’ok though because your officers were pretty dumb anyway.  I saw them dry humping walls that weren’t there and take cover behind features that were only knee high. Huh, huh. They looked pretty stupid.


We can’t all be born with such high levels of intelligence as yourself, Mr Kane.  I notice that a few of your friends apparently stood rather obligingly in the open to get shot at as well.


I can’t vouch for them, perhaps they had a death wish or something.  Sure made it easy just to send them ahead as bait, especially as your guys seemed to spawn from nowhere when those mugs crossed a certain point.




So, after our discussion and all the things that went wrong, are you sticking with your story, Mr Kane? Your whole adventure sounds like a very old fashioned experience, not the kind that this generation sees at all.


Yeah, I guess I am.  My story is an interesting one, just presented in an incredibly frustrating and rough round the edges way – I’m no storyteller.  The people pulling my strings in the background must have had other things on their mind, I’ve heard something about an agent 47?…


Oh, come now, Mr Kane, they say that Agent 47 is nothing but a myth…but who knows?  Let’s hope rumour of a second sequel for you is more unlikely…


(Game manual is slapped shut)


Time’s up, Mr Kane.  Nice try but we’re charging you anyway.

Broken promises, eh, copper?

After your two outings, you should know all about those, Mr Kane.