“So there’s this statistic in transmitted by blood called Insight,” I would say to anyone who would listen. “It governs the amount of Inhuman knowledge you have gleaned from the world when slaying unnatural abominations.” So far, so video game-y; you kill something or use an item and the numbers go up. So what? “But Insight isn’t just used to summon other players and stuff – it’s world-changing. It’s infuriating. Scary.” At this point, the strangers in the bar I’m in have moved away, circling their fingers next to their temples to indicate that I’m crazy about their laughing friends. And maybe they’re right – Bloodborne really stuck in my head.
But that Insight stat… I’ve never seen anything like it. Each major boss you slay would grant you a little more insight, and if you made an effort to explore the game and break the loop a bit off the expected path, you could pick up a significant amount of knowledge very quickly. about the fucked up, dying world of Bloodborne.
It manifests passively – perhaps certain enemies become more powerful as you begin to understand their true function in this world. Maybe some NPCs start mumbling seemingly innocent nonsense. Perhaps you are beginning to see the creatures that truly control the world, clinging to cathedral belfries or lurking in the shadows. Perhaps otherworldly abominations begin to sing, miserably out of tune, whenever you’re near – cooing bastard hymns to terrors beyond anything we can actually see.
And you’d never know any of this without the online guides, nudging you to what’s new that starts happening when you’ve racked up 40 Insight, for example. Getting to 60 provides a bit more fascinating insight into the true ending of the game, and all those weird things start to come to mind when certain things happen to you, player, no matter where you are in the game. It’s infuriating, it’s compelling, it’s FromSoftware at its sadistic best.
And I only played it in 2023. I tried to get into Bloodborne about five times before – but it never worked. When I saw it had been added to the PS Plus collection (despite already owning it through a PS Plus deal several months ago), I started again – this time bolstered by the fact that the PS5 has virtually eliminated loading times. This time I managed to scrabble past the cobbled streets of Yharnam. The game’s uniquely aggressive, momentum-based combat correctly clicked in my head when I faced the blood-hungry beast. I’ve dug the depths of Chalice Dungeons (with a little help from the now infamous “cum dungeon”).
From there, it felt perfectly natural – grabbing me in a way that games rarely manage to do these days. Staying up until 3 a.m., killing everything I saw, tentatively making my way along every path I could find, becoming a full-fledged goblin and reading everything I could get my hands on, poring over wikis, watching every second of videos that the excellent VaatiVidya does…Bloodborne had cast its spell, and the Ancients were in my head, smiling as I went mad, exasperating as I bled.
“Grant us eyes, grant us eyes,” sings a pathetically mutated NPC, desperate to learn about the ancient gods that infect this world. “Plant eyes on our brains, to cleanse our bestial idiocy.” He had gone mad with knowledge, you see – he knew enough about the real state of the world to want to ascend, but he didn’t know enough to really understand the nature of those with whom he was trying to commune. From hellish limbo, aware of his own ignorance. Around him, in the accursed mansion he has chosen to inhabit, you see humans with swollen eyes – whose brains have literally given themselves eye organs to try to peer into nothingness. It killed them, horribly. But you and me, we’re smarter than that, aren’t we? We have the insight to prove it.
Not that the stat really does anything. You really have to go out of your way to pump it up as much as you need to hear endgame bonuses, and all it does is slightly alter the state of the world – you can’t use it for anything other than summoning other players (something Elden Ring later streamlined and simplified). But I think that’s why it’s so impactful; all those tiny little world-changing changes if you have the agency to see it as a player, all implied, all said in the gutters, in the dirt under Yharnam’s fingernails.
It took me nearly a decade to finally understand the appeal of Bloodborne, but once it set its claws inside me, it wouldn’t let go, and I immediately understood why everyone talked about it all the time. More than that, it started my current FromSoft obsession – where I dedicate myself to earning a Platinum or 1000G in every game available on modern platforms before the end of the year.
That’s why I wanted to write this today; to pay homage to the beauty of the PlayStation Plus collection and thank it for finally giving me the tools and motivation to play one of the best games I’ve ever had the pleasure of being abused. It gave me a new appreciation for the PlayStation 3/4/5 exclusive library – something I was previously quite cruel and dismissive of. If you come in time to steal all you can from this dying service, I recommend it: you never really know what you’re going to find.
Manage cookie settings