Written by Jonathan Wojcik

Bloodborne: The Old Hunters

Last year, we reviewed a whopping 31 superb creature concepts from Bloodborne, a game teeming with some of the freshest, tastiest cosmic horrors since the better days of the genre. In the year since, a small but equally lovely batch of monsters have been added in a downloadable expansion, and while I still lack any devices on which I can play games this demanding, I'm still an avid fan of its design aesthetics and world building, so as always, we're going to check out my personal favorite additions!

The Enlarged Head Patients

One new location in the Old Hunters DLC is a research hall populated by individuals in possession of rather bigger craniums than they ought. The pulsing, writhing blobs are hidden under what appear to be big, burlap sacks, and the patients themselves are all completely bonkers, whether hostile or friendly, many of them repeating sing-song rhymes again and again. This, coupled with a few other clues, seems to indicate a relation to the winter's lantern enemy from the main game, though the massive, tentacled, singing head of the winter's lantern is usually still attached to a humanoid body....

...Whereas the patient heads seem to break off and go about their own crawly business after a point, leaving their original, headless bodies to just sort of wander around aimlessly. Magnificent. I especially love those two simple eyes so brilliantly shining through the cloth sack; the many scattered eyeballs of the lanterns may be creepy-cool in their own right, but sometimes you just can't beat the unwholesomely human quality of a single pair peeping out of something otherwise very alien.

The Fish Witch

The Old Hunters also brings us a big, hefty dose of nautical horror, with a whole community of half-fish, half-human mongrels. Skeevy seaside villages of decrepit fish people are one of the few tropes popularized by Lovecraft that I almost never get sick of, though Bloodborne's piscesapiens aren't all bad guys, unlike the spawn of Dagon.

When you do cross a less savory scaly, it's likely to be one of their eerie sorcerors, who cover their grotesque faces in filthy shrouds and simply sit in place, summoning shadowy, flying spirits to home in on intruders.

The Deep Sea Hound

Another advantage Bloodborne's fishing hamlet has over Innsmouth is that humans aren't the only creatures who get in on the sea creature hybridization. The hounds are basically just slimy-skinned dogs with the heads of viperfish, but it works. Nice and straightforward.

The Shark Giant

These shark-jawed, crocodile-skinned, barnacle-encrusted ogres might be one of the scariest things in the game, in that blunt, basic "I'm super going to die" sense of scary, which isn't my favorite, but you gotta have it somewhere, and it may as well be a gigantic, hulking manbeast with shark teeth.

The Snail Women

Last of the fish people and company, the snail women are one of those atmospheric monsters more distressing for what's been done to them than what they're going to do to us. How they became these slimy mollusks is unclear, but they can be found praying to the final boss and are protected by bands of fishmen, who seem to harvest something from them.

Eerier still, the snail women often conceal themselves in massive, ammonite-like shells amidst vast swarms of pale, nonhuman slugs of unknown relation.

The Living Failures

Encountered just beyond the research hall, this strange boss looks almost like a transitional form between the Celestial Emissary boss and the big-headed patients, albeit completely faceless, with elastic limbs and a connection to massive sunflowers rather than the emissary's alien pods. When casting spells, the creatures also reveal a pair of bright, white lights for eyes - hovering a few inches in front of their heads.

Ludwig, the Holy Blade

Once one of the first hunters, Ludwig is now one of Bloodborne's most artfully disturbing "beast" type monsters, with a gaping, eyeball-lined maw in his torso and an impossibly nightmarish visage, like an old man melting his way into a rotten horse. I feel like it's that still-too-human left eye that really pushes this design over the edge from merely menacing to downright haunting.


Naturally, the existence of all these malformed fish and snail people can be traced back to one of the great ones, but in a sad twist, this great one is already long dead, her beached, pearly white carcass calling to mind a mermaid, a giant squid and a bit of the cryptozoological ningen, which I always found a whole lot creepier than they reasonably ought to be. How Kos died, when she died, and how this relates to the corrupted beings of the harbor are, like much of Bloodborne's lore, left open to deduction and interpretation by the players to some degree. It's definitely fascinating for a dead cosmic monster to be the root of so much horror. What can you even do about it? What's left to fight?


The Orphan of Kos

You don't fight Kos, but you do fight something that came out of Kos. This big, emaciated white ghoul will fly into a violent frenzy when Kos's resting place is disturbed, and attack with a weapon confirmed to be its own placenta. It can swing it around like a killer yo-yo and even tear off pieces of it to hurl like grenades, easily making my top ten or fifteen things to ever involve a placenta.

...So what is the orphan? Is it really Kos's child? Why does it look so human, then? Again, this is all pretty open to debate, but it's scary as hell that you basically have the fight a very big, very old baby over the rotting remains of its alien mother.

So, there you have it, my favorite things added to Bloodborne since the last time I talked Bloodborne. Not a lengthy list, but a pretty juicy one, and just wait til I review content from Bloodborne's baby cousin, Dark Souls III.