“Down by the old canal in central Yharnam, past the shambling crows and the groaning, curfew-breaking villagers, there is a window that wriggles with candlelight. You can’t enter. Iron bars and taut chains hold back the city’s tide of filth. But approach in good faith and you may talk to the girl who sits, unseen, on the warm side of the pane. She doesn’t tell you her name... but she does share with you her problem.”
So begins Simon Parkin’s Introduction to Blood Echoes, Tune & Fairweather’s newly announced anthology of Bloodborne criticism. It’s a fitting anecdote from the author’s experience with the game, as it so beautifully mirrors the relationships we all have with the worlds created by Hidetaka Miyazaki and his colleagues at FromSoftware.
Miyazaki’s games are opaque but they spark for us a candle of understanding. They are terse in their explanations, but respond eagerly when engaged. They beckon to us insistently from the other side of the flickering glass, parceling out fresh mysteries for us to untangle. A quality just as true in 2023 as on the day of Bloodborne’s release in 2015.
Though you will have no success getting FromSoftware fans to agree on a hierarchy of the studio’s output – hail ye stalwart few on Twitter desperately trying to crown Dark Souls II a misunderstood contender! – Bloodborne is arguably the most singular and cohesive design tapestry that Miyazaki has yet woven for players.
The writers and interview subjects assembled in Blood Echoes would certainly agree with this sentiment. And it shows in the illuminating criticism the game has evoked. There is much to say. Perhaps even more so now, given the all-too-recent years of plague and paranoia and mistrust of institutions (and mistrust of one another). Sequestered away at home, many of our writers returned to Yharnam in search of catharsis, which they indeed found and have documented here.
Blood Echoes is not an official FromSoftware product, nor is it a comprehensive dissection of Bloodborne’s lore. It is very much, however, a testament to the game’s enduring power, and an attempt to understand the strong magic it exerts to this day.
The approach is prismatic, filtering the game through the hard-won illumination of essays published shortly after launch, plus a variety of newer essays and interviews commissioned by our guest editor, Simon Parkin (The New Yorker, The Guardian), exclusively for this anthology.
We are also delighted to have the blessing of Future Press to republish a long out-of-print interview they conducted with Miyazaki for their official Bloodborne guide. We can’t thank them enough, truly, for giving this conversation a second life.
“Our eyes have yet to open… Fear The Old Blood.”
- 40+ illustrations by renowned Soulsborne artist Shimhaq, both cover and spot illustrations reimagined in a painterly “blood-smear watercolor” visual style, plus 10 full-color plates of the artist’s most detailed works.
- 16 essays examining Bloodborne, half a dozen of them previously unpublished, by some of the most accomplished and insightful writers covering video games at present. To give a sense of the scope, here are a few examples:
- Christian Donlan makes a case that it is Robert Louis Stevenson, the 19th-century novelist behind the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, rather than H.P. Lovecraft, whose creative spirit most permeates Miyazaki’s games, Bloodborne in particular.
- Matthew Seiji Burns sheds light on how Bloodborne’s iconic soundtrack, drawing inspiration from Wojciech Kilar’s score for Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation of Dracula, is meticulously designed to instill a sense of both fear and reverence in its listener.
- Grace Curtis examines society’s primordial fascination with blood as an object of healing, revulsion and even sacramental observance. In Bloodborne, blood is the great leveler, she argues. “Person, beast, or god, we are all equal in the face of a well-swung cleaver.”
- Seth Killian critiques Bloodborne’s potent approach to combat, in which fortune favors the brave. Even combat can prove a tool in Miyazaki’s ambient-storytelling arsenal.
- Gita Jackson reflects on how Bloodborne’s moon-driven story contains provocative themes both subtle and unsubtle around pregnancy, menstruation, birth and rebirth.
- The long out-of-print interview that Future Press conducted with Hidetaka Miyazaki for its official Bloodborne guide makes an encore appearance in Blood Echoes, with the publisher’s kind permission.
In order to ensure this interview stand out from the rest of the book, we will be using a weighty 170gsm coated paper stock for this one chapter so that it offers a show-stopping interlude in the middle of the book.
We've also employed a 'blood-moon' colour shift to make this 12-page signature feel that much more distinct. The red ink on glossy paper will hopefully achieve the eerily viscous texture we're after.
- 4 brand-new Q&As:
- Lilith Walther, creator of fan-made ‘demake’ Bloodborne PSX.
- Ryan Morris, Bloodborne’s lead translator for the game’s English script.
- Chase “Genso” Morrissey, Bloodborne speedrun world record-holder.
- Ryan Amon, one of the lead composers of Bloodborne’s soundtrack.
- 6 x 9 inches (14.5cm x 22cm)
- 254 pages (exact count subject to revision prior to final printing)
- 120gsm Abbey Pure Rough premium uncoated design paper
- 9 full-color plates on 150gsm Stucco Old Mill Gesso
- Spine blocked in Ghost Silver foil
- ‘Full-eclipse’ blackout effect on page edges
- Three-quarter bound in Silktouch Yana vegan leather
- Two-color red and black printing throughout featuring ‘blood-smear watercolor’ illustrations
- Red-and-black striped head & tail bands
- Protective slipcase with blind-stamping and blocking in Ghost Silver foil
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are there any pre-order bonuses?
Yes. Anybody who pre-orders in the first month of the pre-order campaign, ending March 23rd, will get a FREE digital version of Blood Echoes (€15 value), which will arrive well in advance of the physical edition. We will deliver this in April.
- Is there any way to sample the book before purchasing?
Yes. There is a digital sampler of Blood Echoes (40+ pages of the book with illustrations) that can be downloaded free of charge. We hope this will give you a better sense of the book's content and design approach so you can pre-order with confidence.
- When will physical copies of Blood Echoes arrive?
The print-ready layout will be completed by the time the campaign ends in late March so that we can go straight into production. This would allow us to have the final book manufactured and delivered by December of 2023. As with our other projects, we will share production updates along the way so you can observe the progress (check out this February Abyssal Archive production update for reference).
- Are there multiple versions of this book, as in past T&F campaigns?
To help us produce Blood Echoes in a timely fashion, there is only one version, which comes standard with the decorative slipcase. That said, there is a higher-priced version for those who wish to get a Benefactor name credit printed in the back of the book (including any future reprints).
- Do you ship to X/Y/Z country?
In the past we have tried to accommodate worldwide shipping and it has proven difficult to accomplish in a reliable and economical fashion. In some cases, we have had to cancel orders because there were no courier options to the countries in question, or the shipping cost was extortionate (sorry, Capetown friends!). Check our newly published Shipping Policy to see if we ship to your country. And be aware that there are no destination restrictions on the digital versions of our books.