A hunter who goes drunk with blood is said to be taken by the Nightmare, destined to wander forever, engaged in an endless hunt. It is a fate that no Hunter can escape.
The Old Hunters’ story will likely resonate with Bloodborne fans who have taken the time to ponder and discuss the events and characters of the game. The expansion doesn’t offer much of an easy to follow narrative. Cut scenes and dialogue moments are few, and they are ambiguous enough that they might not mean a whole lot to the casual observer. Much like the base game though, there is a wealth to be learned about the events surrounding Yharnam by paying attention to seemingly inconsequential details and taking time to consider their implications among all the other seemingly inconsequential details. Those who keenly analysed the lore of Bloodborne will find much here to kindle their sleuthing flame. Characters mentioned in passing conversation and item descriptions make appearances, and it can be truly compelling to piece together all these seemingly disparate chunks of narrative to form and expand your own version of events.
Technically, not a great deal has changed from Bloodborne. The game still runs at a mostly consistent 30 frames per second, and manages to create beautiful scenes out of bleak gothic architecture and creepy environments. There are familiar areas, but they are only superficially so. Start exploring around the expansion’s first area, Cathedral Ward, for example and you’ll find that recognisable landmarks take on an entirely different meaning when considered in their new environmental context. Rivers run red, and new hideous inhabitants make the areas you once knew take on an uncanny vibe. Cathedral Ward offers relatively open spaces in which to manoeuvre, but later areas use cramped spaces and evidence of past goings-on to fashion a claustrophobic and unnerving tone.
Enemy design in this expansion is particularly notable. Some creatures you will face early on might feel like relatively tame reinterpretations of those you’ve faced before in the base game, but very quickly the monsters become wonderfully grotesque. The first boss of The Old Hunters is a spectacular example of the awe-inspiringly twisted creative minds at From Software. The revelatory cut scenes for each of the bosses were captivating, it’s genuinely enthralling to discover the freakishly monstrous ways these beasts look and function.