Bloodborne #1 Review
“Welcome home, Good Hunter.” - The Doll, Bloodborne
Written by Ales Kot, drawn by Piotr Kowalski and colored by Brad Simpson, Bloodborne tells the tale of a Hunter, who has died many times and who travels through the streets of Old Yharnam; the destroyed underbelly of Yharnam which is infested with beasts. Given the task of escorting a paleblood child to safety, the weight of death is heavy upon the Hunter's mind.
As an avid fan of the SoulsBorne series, it was imperative to make this a priority read; “was” is the keyword here. The transition from video game to comic book with this title leaves much to be desired. To note, the SoulsBorne games are rich in backstory, which would seem like a good franchise to work with in comic form, but the games are notoriously known for the lore being completely absent or hastily stitched together. Among fans, it is a much-enjoyed pastime to spend hours researching within the game, combing through events and dialogue, trying to piece evidence together to form a coherent story in a series that lacks one. Those not current on Bloodborne lore will question what exactly this book is trying to do. Given this is the first issue, it sets up for something of a plot but overall, where it seems to be going and what it is trying to accomplish is rather uninteresting due to the fact of Kot writing in the Hunter's literal respawning and the Hunter being given the task of escorting a defenseless child through some of the most hazardous areas in the world. The “deja vu” aspect is played up and gets old quickly. As a whole, the writing is so-so, but the blame can be passed over to the source material. Given the reigns, one would think the writer would also be given some information on the lore, though it just feels as if FromSoft told Kot to wing it.
Bloodborne, the game, has massive, sprawling set pieces that are beautiful to gaze upon. From the breathtaking view of the sun setting over the burning streets of Yharnam to the dystopian, barren wastes of Old Yharnam, every angle of the game can be captured within a still, framed, and hung upon the wall as a decorative piece. Kowalski's pencil work is done well. The characters, monsters, and environments are carried over from in-game, or are, at least, recognizable given that this issue takes place solely in Old Yharnam and very little is shown of The Hunter's Dream or anywhere else, and this issue is a quick read, so some aspects carried over well enough to an extent.
Bloodborne is not only a beautiful game, but also one of atmosphere. Design choices such as placing a thick fog in a cemetery to mask what may lurk in the shadows to the lack of music in other area with only the unsettling ambient noises of the environment bring out a type unease in the senses of the player. Most locations are dark, coming off as eerie and drawing anxiety from the imagination as the player ventures forth into the unknown; into what lies ahead. Here, the biggest, most inherent flaw found in the book would have to be the coloring. For whatever reason, the decision to use flat, watercolor pastels is a most questionable choice on Simpson’s part. The scenes look rather odd. Even though people are being slaughtered in the streets, it feels as if these scenes are not as dire as the artists want to imply and do not properly convey the dangerous world of Bloodborne. Perhaps it would have been wise to use darker, more radiant colors and multiple layers of the suggested color changes to make Yharnam feel even more bleak and desperate as beasts invade the streets and the night of the hunt ever-slowly draws into the night.
Working with a source that is infamously known for self-piecing the lore together is forgivable on the part of the creative team. The feel and tone of the game is not captured well due to bizarre and odd coloring choices changing the whole feel of the setting. These choices in writing and color are the biggest knocks against this release. It is a very quick read, however, though should only be reserved the most diehard fans of the SoulsBorne series. Easy pass, not recommended.