This is my first review on BGG; glad to start off with a game like Bloodborne.
As a disclaimer, let me say that I am completely biased. I am a huge fan of anything From Software makes, including Dark Souls and Bloodborne. I felt that Bloodborne was a brilliant, atmospheric action/RPG/horror hybrid game with a lovely multiplayer component. The sort of Lovecraftian world and grotesque monsters shambling around ruined, Victorian streets enthralled me from the start.
Needless to say, I was immensely looking forward to the Bloodborne Card Game. While there are some things I wish they had done differently, the end result is, in my opinion, a fantastic game that we'll be bringing out to the table for a long time.
The premise is quite simple. I won't go too much into detail with the mechanics, as that's something you can find on your own rather easily, but I'll talk about why it works and why I enjoy it.
You get a basic starting hand (all players start with the same cards) and upgrade your arsenal through playing the Hunter's Dream card, or dying. Most cards are weapons, either ranged or melee, and will have a damage value. The objective is to clear the deck (representing the Chalice Dungeon) by defeating monsters and mini-bosses until you reach the final boss. Players will lay down their cards at the same time, and reveal them simultaneously. For each point of damage, you'll collect a blood echo from the monster. Blood echoes can be lost if you die without banking them via the Hunter's Dream first. There is also a trophy system that adds bonus echoes at the end of a match- different monsters award different types of trophies.
This game has a certain magic to it, much like the video game, that I can't quite put my finger on. Je ne sais quois. The weapons and items accurately reflect the ones found in the game and make player interaction very enjoyable. For example, the Blood Vial card heals you to full health AND allows you to steal blood echoes from players that have more than you. Cards like the Cannon deal damage to the monster and other players, representing the splash damage such a weapon will deal.
The monsters are varied and the mechanics that govern them are sound. There are 3 different dice that represent different levels of danger; green being the weakest, red being the strongest. From Church Servants to the iconic bosses that appear in the video game, I was pleased with the monster deck, and especially the boss monsters. Most of the final bosses in this game have some kind of special effect that stays active throughout the entire game. For instance, one boss has an effect that states players who die a second time are removed from the game entirely- brutal and challenging, much like the game it is based on. Some people may take issue with such harsh penalties, but I'm glad that they chose to keep the game's trademark challenge and brutality.
I can understand the complaints that this game is just a "push-your-luck" game, because in some ways, it is. I imagine that much of the appeal of this game will rest on whether you are a fan of the source material. From my personal experience with the game, it is absolutely one of my favorite releases this year. We had a raucous good time playing the game, and played 5 games back-to-back. It manages to capture the atmosphere and the unforgiving challenge of the video game, and that is what I was looking for in this game. In one instance, a simple Church Servant wiped our entire group because he kept getting + signs on the die roll, calling for another roll. Despite wiping the party and the frustration that came with it, I was thrilled that it happened...for me, it's important that this game retain that harsh, uncaring environment that punishes players. Much like the video game, even the most basic of enemies can be deadly- no matter how seasoned a veteran you may be.
All in all, I highly recommend this iteration of the game to anyone looking for a fun card game with a high level of player interaction. If you enjoyed the video game and its challenging nature & oppressive yet majestic atmosphere, it is very likely you will love this game. I'm reticent to give it a number score, but if I had to I'd say it'd be a 8.5/10. My only complaint is that they weren't able to include the covenant/faction system in the game to add more to the PvP aspect of the game. Other than that, it's a fantastic game that plays smoothly and relatively fast, allowing for a quick game that's easy to pick-up-and-play.