Getting “stuck” in Dark Souls was a common occurrence for me, but that was never truly the end. Whenever I died and respawned at my cozy little bonfire, there were always at least five Estus Flasks waiting for me, and I knew that I had a fighting chance. Dark Souls was always willing to give you a little boost when you needed it most.
Bloodborne however is not a sequel to Dark Souls. It’s a sequel to Demon’s Souls, and it shows.
The Blood Vials in Bloodborne function much closer to Demon Souls’ grass than Dark Souls’ Estus. Quick shots of health that don’t regenerate upon death, which means more have to either be bought or taken off of dead enemies. While there are usually plenty of vials if you’re consistently making forward progress, this system really falls apart once you get stuck on a boss or particular area.
Say you get stuck on a boss. In Dark Souls a restart would mean a refill of all your Estus flasks and a run back to the boss that might cause you to use one or two. In Bloodborne repeat deaths means a permanent loss of Blood Vials and the same run back to the boss. So eventually I came to the point where I had to either grind out some enemies to get blood (read: souls/currency) to buy some Blood Vials, or I could reload the same area early on where I could kill two big guys who usually drop two vials each. This shatters the pace of throwing yourself against the boss repeatedly so quickly that you don’t want to give up, and makes failure more of a problem for the wrong reasons. Grinding enemies in Souls games is not fun for long, so the idea of doing that whenever I fail more than a few times in a row is slowly killing my motivation to keep going.
And you know what this system reminds me of? The grass in Demon’s Souls early on.