Bloodborne (Sniper)
Genre: Survival Horror RPG
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Gloomy lamplit cobblestone alleys lined by Victorian-era English wood-framed houses, against a back-drop of "The Nightmare Before Christmas" towers, archways, and tombstones, chased by Lovecraftian beasts with tentacled hair... the only let-down is that progression to the game's more varied areas takes a whisker too long. The usual muddied visuals so typical of From's releases is full-bore here, and will be likewise loved or hated according to the player's tastes.

Like the "Souls" games, there isn't a great deal of music in Bloodborne-- so when the haunting pipe organs do flare, one can be sure that one of the game's plethora blood-curdling bosses can't be far! The echoey sound effects and haunting moans and roars are all the more emphasized by the game's minimalistic aural presence. The game's excellent voice acting speaks ambiguous and peculiarly worded, quintessentially From-style lines of dialogue.

Where the first three "Souls" games are somewhat stilted and slow-paced in the combat department, Bloodborne takes a radical departure into borderline "Ninja Gaiden" territory, with brisk rolling and fluid combo attacks. The game's ingenious weapon system, which sees the player flipping between modes, combined with the most innovative use of firearms in a video game yet, make exploring the brilliantly inter-woven, short-cut unlocking stages sheer joy.

If there is a criticism to be had of From's PlayStation 4-exclusive "Souls" spin-off, it's that the opening area is a bit too lengthy, and that some of the bosses have a bit of a "copy and paste" feel to them. But those minor quibbles aside, Bloodborne is in the very top-drawer of game design from nearly every facet-- and the fact is manifest on the basis that this reviewer, who is not exactly one of the legion of "Souls" addicts, veered not just towards completion, but towards uncharacteristic completionist territory when tackling this masterpiece.

Sniper's verdict: