The setting of Bloodborne is able to intrinsically captivate our minds as we walk cautiously through the magnificently designed world. Bloodborne is set in the haunting but enthralling city of Yharnam, a city where your blood will curdle as you venture into the depths of the flowing plague which has grasped the city. Upon my first playthrough of Bloodborne, I knew that there was something uniquely special about the world which I was going to be spending countless hours within. Was it the awe-inspiring gothic architecture? Was it the music which nested itself ferally within my cerebral? Or was it everything about the world amalgamated which made the setting so entrancing? Settle in, grab your favourite drink, a bite to eat perhaps; and we will look over Yharnam in all of its illustrious glory which it is known for.
Streets of insanity — the city of Yharnam
Upon my first step into the daunting streets of Yharnam that lay before me, I cast my eyes up to the looming midnight sky which emitted piercing beams of moonlight down onto the lower streets. Sounds of tormenting anguish and pained groans could be heard from the beasts inhabiting the city. Throughout my exploration of the first area of Bloodborne, I was eminently immersed within the nightmarish surroundings which wrapped around me. Central Yharnam is not only an excellent choice of location for starting the game in but overall is indicative of the devilish difficulty which Bloodborne presents to players.
Thes scenery of Central Yharnam along with the Cathedral Ward entices us to ruthlessly explore every nook and cranny of the world. The city is prolific with mystery and it is this sense of the unknown which draws us subliminally further into the inner workings of Yharnam. The crepuscular skies shone against the towering gothic buildings which surrounded my hunter and all I could do was stand still and stare at the edifices, I was paralyzed of any motion, stripped of any thought from the real world, I was now a hunter forevermore within Yharnam. It was at this point when I knew that I would remember the setting of Bloodborne for a long time to come; as I have done.
Outskirts of Yharnam — roots of the city
Once the opening hours of the game have passed, with numerous bosses vanquished, the player moves into areas outside the catalyst zone of the plague and into the veiled depths surrounding the city. Locations such as the Forbidden Woods (shown above) and Hemwick Channel Lane are just a few of the places you will visit within the outskirts of Yharnam. Each area does a spectacular job at changing the perceived formula of what you would expect from a certain location. The petrifying atmosphere that is omnipresent throughout exponentially adds to the setting itself. When I was exploring the Forbidden Woods particularly I found myself frightfully lost in the scarlet haze of blood. Paths intertwined with each other and the dense foliage was mocking me as I ended up at the same exact spot, over, and over, and over again. The forest areas of Bloodborne excel at making the player feel claustrophobic, as they slash their way through the beasts that primevally seek to kill them.
Hidden areas are plentiful within the world of Bloodborne too, take Cainhurst Castle for example. The stunning fortress concealed in snow which the player can fight their way through to take on a thrilling battle with Martyr Logarius. Every single area in Bloodborne offers something unique to previous areas already explored. Do you want a decaying city? Got it. Want a claustrophobic and terrifying forest? Got those. How about a nightmare realm? You know it! We’ve got those too.
The lore of the world — history to be remembered for generations
Bloodborne’s world resonates with intricate lore to be discovered, it ebbs and flows through the veins of Yharnam and draws us closer into the coveted nature of the setting. World-building plays a vital role within any FromSoftware game, any time I defeat a boss within Bloodborne I jump on over to the sprawling wiki and find out more about my foe; their backstory, and their view on the decaying world around them. Oftentimes the lore fills me with so much intrigue that I personally dig through more archives to learn even more. By the time I’m finished doing abundances of reading after traversing my way through the labyrinths which are wiki pages I make my descent into Yharnam once again with a more fleshed out knowledge of the world. It is that knowledge which makes me appreciate the setting with the utmost respect it deserves.
The music — tunes of ecstatic woe
Music within souls-borne games are masterpieces of orchestration which soar high and ensure that a constant sense of chaos is present. Within Bloodborne this motif is no different, the soundtrack is an effusive fountain of tones. Music of despair, panic, depravity, and horror are all found locked away in the soundtrack. Oftentimes I find myself simply playing the Bloodborne soundtrack on my daily commute—needless to say—it’s a bit over the top for a bus journey but it reminds me of the long arduous hours spent battling a single boss. These moments are to be cherished and one of the reasons why the setting is my favourite of the generation.
Bloodborne excels at creating a world which invites the player to explore, conquer, and fear for their very existence as they scramble towards the next lantern. It is a world which challenges our mind as we unearth the lost secrets of Yharnam and gain a new purview on the beasts who roam the streets. The chilling enemy design only adds to the setting which is already breathtaking on its lonesome. It is for all these reasons and more that the setting of Bloodborne was my favourite game world from the past generation. So hunter, will you continue to “transcend the hunt” within the city of Yharnam? I know I certainly will.
Thank you very much for reading and as always, have an excellent day!