By Aleš Kot, Piotr Kowalski, Brad Simpson, Aditya Bidikar
What would Bloodborne the video game look like if it were a graphic novel? Unsurprisingly, it would look almost exactly like Bloodborne #1. It’s nostalgic for players who have spent time in the series and is interesting in its narration as it captures the thoughts of both the player and the character. It’s welcoming for readers new to the series as well. Even within the game itself, the player is forced to piece together the story as well as details about lore, so the comic is open to explore, and it does. The Victorian aesthetic and its execution are gorgeous. The hatching throughout gives the book a manuscript vibe, and the action scenes are fun and energetic. This first issue succeeds in a lot of ways and even overcomes the stigma of being adapted from another medium.
Bloodborne the video game embraces failure, and, as a result involves a lot of repetition. The comic takes that idea and condenses it, beginning the story in medias res. This allows the main character to be aware of the rut they’re in, without forcing the reader to experience the same few panels over and over again. The death mechanic sees usage within the narrative and, hopefully, will present even more interesting twists in future issues as the Hunter is faced with more difficult challenges. At a close glance, even the idea of locking a character into a specific attack is played on. The creators have a clear respect for the source of their story and use it to their advantage rather than run from it.
Kowalski’s inks stand out as an artistic force in the issue. His hatching gives everything it touches an aged, well-worn texture, reminiscent of a distraught Victorian era. The shadows and bleak colors set the tone of a seemingly endless nightmare as well. It’s as if Simpson lifted the color palette directly from the video game itself. The environment and its inhabitants are familiar. For players of the game, the visuals alone bring back memories of slogging through Yharnam. For the uninitiated, the scene is set immediately. Hope is scarce, and success is hard to come by. The art team captures each core emotional beat of the game with ease, and by the end of the issue, the series proves to be more than just an adaptation.
Bloodborne #1 takes its source material and uses it as a catalyst. It restructures the storytelling of the game, but is able to retain many of the same important factors: failure, dread, and the last shred of hope. This debut new series proves that adaptation is possible, as long as the creators are thoughtful, and this team is exactly that. Bloodborne players will undoubtedly enjoy this comic. Admirers of the game who thought it was too hard, or who, perhaps, gave up because they couldn’t beat that goddamn Martyr Logarius no matter how hard they tried, this comic’s for you.