Inside Pulse 12

Book Review: Bloodborne Limited Edition Strategy Guide

For those who’ve been around for a while, you know the deal coming in, but for newcomers, occasionally I’ll sit down and pick up a strategy guide for a game, either because I want to clear out a game, or because I think the guide looks cool and has useful information in it. We’ve already looked at the Dead Space 2 Limited Edition Strategy Guide and the Dead Space 3 Limited Edition Strategy Guide, both of which were mostly fine pieces of work, but today, I wanted to touch on a guide that’ll probably be a bit more critical for player success, in the recently released guide for Bloodborne. After several delays, the guide has been released, and you can pick it up on Amazon.com for about twenty three dollars (though the retail price is thirty five bucks), and since I picked it up, I figured, what the heck, let’s take a look at it together. As before, in the interest of full disclosure, I feel that before we begin I should make two points:

1.) Bloodborne, narratively speaking, is a bit on the sparse side, so anything included in the guide is absolutely going to be a boon to both wiki creators looking for the correct names of monsters and a general idea of how things tie together. That said, I have to assume the guide is correct in most of its narrative explanations and such, because I have no way of confirming this otherwise, but the creator of the guide did sit down and interview Hidetaka Miyazaki, so if you’d have any way of confirming this data, it’d be through the project lead. Also,

2.) I not only beat the game without the strategy guide, I Platinumed it, so I can safely say that you likely won’t need it in order to complete the game.

With that in mind, I’m basically going to judge the guide based on the same six points as last time:

Will this guide actually HELP you complete the game? – Simple enough.

Will this guide help you complete the game on the harder or specialized difficulties? – In this case, since Bloodborne only has a default difficulty, this isn’t quite a perfect category. That said, in this case, what I mean is, “Will the guide help with the Chalice Dungeons (which are insanely difficult at times), or with specialty playthroughs/New Game Plus?” Since these aspects of the game are far more challenging than simply playing through the game, it’s worth noting if the tools a player would need to get through them are on-hand here.

Will this guide help you get all the Trophies? – Simple enough.

Does the guide give you any useful information you might not know you needed? – This is essentially a case of pointing out anything that might be useful to you during the game, be it ideal choke points or effective strategies that might not be obvious, moreso than hidden items and such. As such, if the guide gives me any information I wasn’t expecting, I’ll include it here.

What are the extras? – This being a “Limited Edition” guide, and thus TWICE the price of a normal guide (more or less), I’ll list here what the guide includes that makes it special, and if that’s worth the extra cost.

Is it worth it? – Simple enough: does all of the above combine together to make the guide worth the asking price?

With all of that in mind, let’s get started.

Will this guide actually HELP you complete the game?

Oh hell yes it will. The guide, regardless of anything else you can say about it, is extensive, clocking in FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY TWO PAGES, each of which is full of crazy amounts of data and useful information. The beginning of the guide chronicles all sorts of basic play tips to give newcomers a good education on how to play and what to expect from the game, and each section of the game world is extensively mapped out with full progression directions that chronicle how to get through each zone and what you can find along the way. The walkthrough itself details basically everything you can expect to see across the main plotline of the game, and points out NPC’s to find, enemy positions, armor and weapon locations, and optimal progression routes so as to open the most shortcuts to and from a boss location. If you’re new to the franchise or just inexperienced with the game, this guide will give you a huge helping hand when it comes to getting through the game world, and that’s not a small thing.

Aside from the above, there is also an extensive bestiary that details the capabilities of each enemy and boss you’ll face, and bosses often get multiple pages each, which give you extensive tips on what they’re weak against, ideal attack strategies and loadouts, and details on their combat phases. The weaponry in the game is also detailed heavily, with weapons seeing even larger breakdowns based on their core capabilities, ideal gem loadouts, attack patterns based on form, and uses throughout the game. In other words, no matter what you’re looking to do, this guide will help you get there, whether it’s simply to breeze through to see the endings, find all the NPC’s, fight all the bosses or anything in-between. There’s an extensive amount of depth and explanation here, more than enough to help out players of all skill levels, and you’ll find that what you’re getting here is more than enough to help you get through the game, unless you’re just really bad at third person action RPG’s.

Will this guide help you complete the game on the harder or specialized difficulties?

This one’s kind of a toss-up. On one hand, it gives you full maps of all of the static Chalice Dungeons, which you’ll need if you want to get through these mostly intact and without an extensive amount of deaths. The guide actually is almost a savior here, in fact; not only does it explain the basics of Chalice Dungeons, but it also goes into great detail on each possible static Chalice map you’ll encounter, including enemy layout, locations you need to get to in order to progress, and locations for finding materials to make more Chalice Dungeons. It also features extensive write-ups on the bosses you’ll encounter in the Chalice Dungeons, so you’ll have a significant amount of information on these bosses before you even set foot into their combat dens, making these battles a bit more manageable than they might be if you were walking in blind.

The guide also details the exact effects of New Game+ on enemies based on their zone of existence, as well as a general explanation of their overall upgrade potential the more you complete the game, which, while generalized, is pretty useful for explaining how much of a challenge you can expect to deal with the further into the game you go. It doesn’t really get into specifics as they relate to things like speed running or the completion of specific challenges, though it does give you all of the tools you’ll need to figure out how to complete whatever challenge you’re interested in on your own, so you’ll at least have something to work with. About the only thing the guide doesn’t really help with on this front is Root Dungeons, but their random nature makes them impossible to really map out anyway, so that’s hardly the fault of the guide. Honestly, no matter what you’re interested in doing with the game, the guide lays it out reasonably well, and gives you plenty of useful information on how to do it, whether implicit or explicit.

Will this guide help you get all the Trophies?

It absolutely will, so long as you have the skills to earn them. The guide not only has a dedicated Trophy section that outlines the Trophies themselves, but at eight pages long, it contains basically everything you’d ever need for how to unlock them. It gives you a full list of every Trophy in the game, a page number in the core guide that outlines what needs doing when applicable, and full lists of every possible collectible or object you need to accomplish everything that needs doing. Anything you’ll need can be found either in this section, in the pages the guide directs you to from this section, or in the various other chapters that outline boss strategies and world navigation information. Basically, if this is a thing you want to do, the guide will help you accomplish it, and it’ll do so with flying colors.

Does the guide give you any useful information you might not know you needed?

Not exactly; the guide gives you a lot of useful tools for completing the game, but the most that it provided that I wasn’t aware of before opening it up was data that, while useful, didn’t really impact my ability to complete the game in any fashion. There is data here that wasn’t on the various wikis (but will almost certainly be by now), such as the exact effects of Insight values relative to the world around you, the specific bonuses enemies receive on all New Game+ levels after the first, and the specific effects of weapons in battle (that is, their bonus effects and such), so that’s there if these are things you’ll need. Honestly, the only really useful data I found from the guide that I wasn’t clear on beforehand was the exact effect of the Yharnam Stone, which the wikis have since ripped off and posted, so… your mileage may vary on that front.

What are the extras?

You get three extras here, and each of them are pretty awesome, though only two of them are likely to be real selling points of the guide. The first is the aforementioned interview with Hidetaka Miyazaki, where he explains his thought process going into this game, the reasons for a lot of the plot as it is, and other really interesting things, and it’s really worth reading if you’re a fan of the franchise or the game in specific. The second is a theme for the Playstation 4, which, while not a huge selling point, is pretty cool looking, and probably justifies a bit of the asking price right there. The final is a full digital copy of the guide, so if you don’t want to damage your hard-copy version you don’t have to. The digital copy also makes research a lot easier, given the nature of digital guides, so it makes planning and review much simpler than it would be if you were keeping this massive guide on-hand at all times. It’s not a bad inclusion, and more guide producers should look into this concept, if only because it’s a nice “thank you” to fans and might engender good will enough to bring more people in on love of the company rather than waiting for a fan guide.

Is it worth it?

This is a hard question to answer, simply because, honestly, the guide came out as late as it did. The guide is extremely high quality, and if you’re a person who likes to have high quality guides, or likes to have a guide on-hand when you’re playing a game, it’s definitely worth the investment. It also has a lot of information that’s well-organized, and the extras it comes with make it an easy recommendation, as there’s simply so much here that it ends up being a high quality piece of work across the board. Fans will also find this to be a worthwhile acquisition because of the sheer volume of lore, concept art, and fun stuff within it, and honestly, if you love Bloodborne you’ll love this guide as well, because it’s really written from the perspective of someone who clearly loves the product and wants to share everything they’ve seen in it with you. It comes across less like a procedural piece or something the writer was paid to do, and more like an actual fun project that was enjoyable to write and create.

That said, again, I managed to Platinum the game without using the guide, so if that’s what you’re going for beyond all else, you may not need it. Also, let’s be honest here: the wikis are going to cannibalize everything in the guide they didn’t already know and post it online, meaning that if you’re fine with using online resources (and don’t mind supporting this thing), there’s only so much this will benefit you. Also, some asshole (let’s call it what it is) is probably going to get the interview out there sooner or later, and while I don’t support or condone that, it’ll probably happen. There’s a lot of data that probably won’t be copied to the internet, though, so those who want to have everything available to them will find this more useful than an internet guide, but the casual fan or the person who wants to finish the game and be done with it may not find much value in what’s here, sadly.

Final thoughts:

If we’re being honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Bloodborne, and I didn’t even need the guide, but I still think it’s worth buying, even with all that said. Why? Well, honestly, it’s an amazing piece of work, and it’s almost certainly going to be of some use to you no matter what your overall opinion of the game is unless you absolutely hate it (though if you hate it because you can’t complete it, this may still be worth checking out). It’s an exceptional piece of work, full of detailed information, useful tools and tricks, and all sorts of helpful data you might not even think you’d need until you have it in front of you. It’s certainly true that there are websites and wikis that have a lot of similar information available already, but it’s also true that a lot of the information on those wikis is going to see an overhaul in light of the data contained in this guide, and you’re honestly better off getting that data from the source instead of secondhand, if only to support the cause. Beyond that, though, the guide is simply great; it’s well organized, detailed, and should be able to help you accomplish nearly everything you’d want to accomplish with the game without trouble outside of the inherent game difficulty. If you have even a passing interest in Bloodborne, the guide is really a good investment; it’s beautiful, well organized, well presented and full of useful data that’s helpful and should assist anyone in completing the game once they get the mechanics down. Whether you’re a dedicated fan of the franchise, a fan of this specific game or a newcomer who’s having troubles with certain sections, this guide is worth your investment, and supporting it only ensures we’ll see even more as time goes on.