Ectoparasites such as fleas, lice and ticks are among my very favorite category of real-life enemy creatures, yet they're so rarely represented in media, perhaps because the go-to bloodsucking "bug" to the average person is a mosquito, and mosquitoes can fly, and that just makes a more obvious basis for a video game monster. Bloodborne, however, opted to buck tradition and give us a monster that alludes to some sort of vampiric arthropod without having it fly, so it's either a nice unconventional take on a mosquito-based enemy, it leans more towards a flea, or it just doesn't matter because it's not technically really an arthropod anyway!

A Bloodlicker resembles a distorted human being; extremely bony, gnarled, wrinkly and emaciated, it runs on all four of its elongated limbs in an arched posture, its bloated stomach dangling beneath it. Thick, bristly hairs and spines erupt from its flesh just about everywhere, and its long hair almost fully hides its otherwise human face, except for the bright red tongue it feeds through!

Bloodlickers actually behave differently depending on how well they've been fed; the nastiest are "starved" lickers found in Chalice Dungeons, and actually emerge to feed on the spilled blood of other monsters you've slain! You may also notice in this screenshot just how big a "starved" bloodlicker is. These monsters are already larger than normal humans, but the dungeon variant is a full two or three times natural human proportions!

Merely "hungry" lickers are a bit easier to deal with, but still formidable enemies that roam around Cainhurst castle. In an area known as the Hunter's Nightmare, on the other hand, they're a bit more bloated from drinking a river of blood, and a lot lazier about attacking.

Then there's the single "bloated" Blicker, also found in Cainhurst, so swollen with bloo that it's practically docile and won't even try to fight back. These variants are a fun little detail, but the real novelty of them for most players is how much blood they gush when they're killed. Your character's clothing, armor and weapons actually remain visibly splattered with blood until they're changed, and if you want to get completely drenched from head to toe, the fastest way is to pop some of these fat and happy cooties, assuming you're that MEAN.

But what ARE the bloodlickers? What's the lore? We know the corruptive beast blood is a big part of the setting, but that usually makes werewolves!

The bloodlickers are introduced by the Old Hunters DLC, along with the whole history of Cainhurt Castle and the NPC character Annalise, Queen of the Vilebloods. The Vilebloods are a covenant that specializes in killing other hunters and harvesting "blood dregs" from them. These can be used to give yourself a point of insight, or you can give them Annalise to rank up in her covenant. The only rewards for this are a couple of unique gestures your character can make, because oh yeah, you can also collect emotive animations in this game like you can in Animal Crossing. To get the blood dregs, win the queen's favor and learn how to express yourself a little better, you have to go online and actually kill other players, so the whole thing is really just some bonus fun for gamers who enjoy the PVP mechanics.

In-universe, however, Annalise wants blood dregs because consuming them will supposedly allow her to give birth. The illustration for the "dregs" even resembles a swarm of little red sperm cells, though each has what appears to be a howling, ghostly little face on it. We don't know exactly what this means, why Hunter's blood is like that or whether it can really help Annalise make a child, but the item description unsettlingly says that the vileblood alone can see these "frightful things." Guess they're kind of like cosmic protozoa.

And what does this all mean for the bloodlickers? They're only found around Cainhurst, Annalise is said to be the last of the vilebloods, and she's desperate to continue her lineage. What we can surmise, then, is that the Bloodlickers are what's left of the other Vilebloods, having degenerated into mindless vampires by similar processes to the beasts, kin and other "mutations" around Yharnam.