Was Bloodborne influenced by Nightmare Creatures?
Violence looms as the spectre of death pervades the environment. As you trudge through the Victorian Gothic streets, lashings of claret stain the cobbles as you fend off nightmarish monstrosities with rapid-fire melee combinations. The muzzle-flash of your pistol briefly illuminates your hostile surroundings – a brief spark of hope in an ocean of vileness. You edge closer to uncovering the truth about this horrific situation but your foes only become more hideous and more frenzied in their attempts to rend you limb from limb. This all may bring to mind From Software’s instant classic Bloodborne but it also accurately describes Kalisto Entertainment’s 1997 third-person horror actioner Nightmare Creatures.
Initially released on PlayStation, with PC and N64 versions following later, Nightmare Creatures put players in control of either Father Ignatius Blackward (there’s no messing about with a name like that) or expert gymnast Nadia Franciscus (same applies here, really) – both of whom where whirlwinds of melee madness. The narrative, as described on Giantbomb, melded the real and unreal:
‘Set against the real world backdrop of the Burning of Parliament in 1834 (amongst London’s many towns), the game uses several liberties with actual events. Adam Crowley, the newly appointed leader of the Brotherhood of Hecate, is practicing dark arts and unleashing a horde of evil creatures.’
Although a narrative link between the two games is relatively tenuous, there’s a subtle comparison between the burning streets of Nightmare Creature’s old London and the flaming crucifixes and scorched sky of Bloodborne’s Old Yharnam.
As for the denizens of said streets, starting with lurching zombies and ferocious werewolves, the latter of whom often burst from the darkness in a cloud of wooden splinters, the enemy types of Nightmare Creatures increased in ferocity and hideousness as you progressed through the capital’s alleyways. These were visually striking foes including winged demons, hulking blue brutes, humanoid cockroaches and frightening mutants like Pepy’s monster. Although swarm attacks rarely occurred on the scale of those endured in Yharnham, taking on a variety of Nightmare Creatures’s enemy types at once could be just as jarring and dangerous. Further to this, Nightmare Creatures’ levels were punctuated with the exclamation mark of testing boss battles that often became harder during their second phases. Some YouTubers have already drawn comparisons between the two titles merely in terms of general gameplay, and it’s interesting to see Nightmare Creatures in action.
It’s not as if facing off against creatures in a Gothic-influenced setting is an idea plucked from the limits of obscurity, but further similarities do exist between the two titles. The inclusion of a powerful pistol allowed for one-shot kills of most enemies in Nightmare Creatures, and although this isn’t the case in Bloodborne, a parrying shot will open up the way for a visceral attack that will fell many enemies outright. However, as opposed to Bloodborne’s parrying and dodging, Nightmare Creatures allowed the player to block attacks without taking any damage. Besides this, pistol ammo in Nightmare Creatures was constantly limited – if you missed with a shot you knew you’d just wasted a precious resource which could mean the difference between life and death. Similarly in Bloodborne, although ammunition isn’t as rare – it’s deemed so important there’s a way to generate it in exchange for your own health.
These qualities and mechanics, besides Frederic Motte’s lauded soundtrack, all combine to imbue Nightmare Creatures with an oppressive atmosphere not dissimilar to that of Bloodborne, albeit only at the mercy of the comparatively tame occult conspiracy rather than the existential terror of a Lovecraftian nightmare. Although there’s been no mention by Miyazaki, it’s not beyond reason to consider that Nightmare Creatures may have helped shape From Software’s masterpiece, as Bloodborne’s influences are still being discovered and collated by perceptive fans the world over.
Whilst gathering images for this piece, I discovered this excellent write-up covering similar territory. After deliberating whether or not to spike my article, as it was already written I decided to publish it. Thankfully I can prove I was aware of Nightmare Creatures’ existence well before the publication of the linked article due to time-stamped Thunderbolt forum postings.