The Blood-Starved Beast is lunging at me, all flayed skin and sinew glinting in the low-light of a damned cathedral. It’s poisoned me, and my health is draining fast. I’ve got three quicksilver bullets left in my pistol chamber, and I just ate dirt as I darted to the side to avoid a fatal slash. This could be it; another doomed encounter. Another bloodstain on Yharnam’s shattered cobblestones. The beast raises its claws for the kill – and, driven by pure instinct, my finger hits the DualSense trigger. That noise, the one that sounds like a knife ricocheting off stone, reverberates around the arena. A gunshot parry! A quicksilver bullet brings the beast to its knees, and I bring my sawblade down with a crunch into the writhing horror’s skull.
Prey slaughtered. And that’s how I fell in love with Bloodborne. And it’s not been for a lack of trying – this is my third attempt at penetrating From’s obscure take on a fucked-up, Lovecraftian London. I tried at launch, after never really getting into these uber-hard action-RPG exercises in self-flagellation. It didn’t click. I didn’t even make it through to Father Gascoigne. Back on PS4 and PS4 Pro, I was promised a patch had made loading times better and that the hardware would offset some of the rougher edges in the game. Nope, still too slow and dark for me.
Somewhere between then and now, I’d picked up both Nioh games and platinumed them (twice!) Something about Team Ninja’s more stance-based interpretation of the formula worked for me. I was hooked. I became one of you; a masochist, an addict, a scoundrel. The moon was right, the time was now: Yharnam was calling to me again. And on the PS5 – where loading times are but a faint dream, hazy in the distance – the hunt was truly on, for the first time.
I’ve not looked back since. I’ve just killed the Vacuous Spider, and I have my sights firmly set on getting the real ending – and I’ve got nearly all the umbilical cords I need to achieve it. Yes, I know what’s going on. Yes, I’ve been looking at Wiki pages and reading articles as I go. Per advice from a close friend, I’ve been keeping my Insight high (I wanted to see the world change before it should, as my understanding of this cosmic nightmare came into focus!) and I’ve been fast-tracking my way to the best weapons and gear. I’m a busy person, after all: I don’t have time to spend eight hours of my evening stuck in a poisoned bastard swamp.
As much as I’m enjoying leafing through the volumes and volumes of lore about places I uncover online, there’s one thing that’s made this experience even better for me as I’ve been playing: the cum dungeon. Don’t google it. Use the word ‘cummmfpk’ instead. Instead of some industrial-looking warehouse full of fetish gear and fluids in Walthamstow, you’ll discover a fast-track to Bloodborne’s upper echelons: a bizarre subterranean lair that gives you an ungodly amount of experience. This is player-made; a custom dungeon that exploits randomly-generated maps full of surprises and (in some cases) unused enemies and items.
Once you have access to the unlikely catacombs stretching out under Yharnam like so much festering rot, the 'cummmfpk' Chalice dungeon can make the mid-game portion of Bloodborne a breeze. Some unknown, off-screen enemy will die – over and over – allowing you to harvest some 80,000+ blood echoes per reset. You can get over 1 million in minutes. Especially if you’ve been collecting Moon runes.
Sick of farming blood vials for a boss fight? Cum dungeon. Need to quickly beef up your Arcane stat so you can take advantage of a mob’s bolt weakness? Cum dungeon. Want to quickly level up one of your lesser-used weapons? Cum dungeon. Now, I know some of you pearl-clutching FromSoft purists will tell me I’m doing it wrong – that I’m supposed to bash my head against Darkbeast Paarl for 12 hours to really enjoy the experience – but I like it this way. It lets me enjoy the game on my own terms. I still need to engage with many of Bloodborne’s funkier elements (hello, Frenzy!) and the game still offers plenty of challenge.
I’m currently down to the second-last Chalice Dungeon – and it’s anything but a cakewalk. But I am saving time and I feel great; I can experiment with my build more than I would be able to in a cum-less playthrough, and some of the ‘git gud’ edge has been taken off. Wandering around the Forbidden Woods and ripping hulking men apart with my kirkhammer feels wonderful, sending currents of coursing bolt energy through a dungeon watcher is invigorating. Putting the Shadows of Yharnam to bed without breaking a sweat was divine.
So yes, I may be playing Bloodborne in an impure way – but that feels quite fitting for the game, really. But this sticky little shortcut has meant I have mastered some mechanics that I may have otherwise come to loathe; recovering my health with a rally after eating a face full of claws is a stupendous feeling, and realizing the intricacies of each weapon's ‘trick’ literally makes my jaw drop in wonder each time.
Bloodborne is a gem, you were all right, and some perverse prospector’s work in the spunky dungeons has allowed me to see that. I can’t wait to finish it (yes, I’m going for the platinum) and start on Elden Ring. I’ve even heard there’s a good place to farm runes in last year’s GOTY, too…