We Play It For The Music | Bloodborne


Mike Merucci, Writer/Volunteer

I’ll be honest, I hardly registered a good chunk of the Bloodborne Official Soundtrack and Bloodborne: The Old Hunters Official Soundtrack on my first playthrough. That chunk was the very best part: the boss battle OSTs. I’ll place the blame on my all-swallowing fear of dying to bosses for the tenth, fifteenth or twentieth times and on the never-ending streams of swear words that would jet from my mouth. Some of the bosses’ bellowing screams certainly played a part as well — I’m looking at you, Laurence, the First Vicar.

For those unfamiliar with Bloodborne, it’s the type of game where it’s a little more understandable for the player to put their head in their hands and whisper “fuck, fuck, fuck” every once in a while. The game was released in 2015 by FromSoftware, the studio famous for the Dark Souls games. Bloodborne adopted the staunch difficulty of Dark Souls and transported that into a Victorian-era, Lovecraftian-horror-swept universe where most humans hide from the deformed, blood-soaked nightmare that runs through the streets, forests, waters and beings outside their homes. That horror is manifested in the soundtrack, a collection that knows when to crawl under one’s skin, when to ramp up one’s heartbeat and when to blast or whisper or shriek along with the terrible dream. It has multiple composers: Cris Velasco, Michael Wandmacher, Yuka Kitamura, Ryan Amon, Tsukasa Saitoh and Nobuyoshi Suzuki.

What’s truly special about the game is its atmosphere. Yes, that’s a broad and somewhat meaningless term, but it’s the best umbrella for which to stick the masterful combination of music, color, sound and art design under. The resulting world is miserable, terrifying, hopeless, but so beautiful. I suppose I could ramble over it all, but this is “We Play It for the Music,” not “We Play It for the Music, Color, Sound, Art Design, Lore, Writing, Bosses, Weapons, Movement and Characters.” Well, perhaps I’ll slide a little of that in here. 

Alright, when I said “I’ll be honest” in the first paragraph of this article, I was being a little dishonest. Some of these boss OSTs were always impossible for me to ignore, no matter how wrapped up I became in the swipes and bellows of my opponent. No matter how many times fuck or shit or damn or frustrated nonsense was said. How long it took me to absorb them doesn’t really matter, though: the OSTs I hold in the highest regard now include ones I noticed from the beginning all the way to ones that didn’t blossom until my third or fourth playthrough. It was difficult to narrow down my favorite OSTs to cover here, so I decided on a perfectly logical way to do this: I love just about every piece of music in Bloodborne, so I’m listing my seven favorite bosses and talking about their OSTs. For me, these OSTs are essential to my enjoyment of these fights. They push already phenomenal gameplay straight over the edge and into this all-important top seven. Everyone loves the number seven. No need for a top five or top ten when you could have a lovely top seven! 

7. Martyr Logarius

Man, I used to HATE this guy. He left me as a shell of myself to put it simply. Here’s one of those themes that I didn’t truly listen to until my third or fourth time fighting: It’s a slow-burn piece that takes its time to reach its bellowing, but about half-way through, all the instruments sound as if they’re running from some recently-awoken beast. It’s true horror. But this is a horror game, after all. As I began to notice the theme on further playthroughs, it put me in panic mode a few times — as all the greats do. Those panicked, sprinting strings never fail to make me feel as though spiders or tiny drops of blood are running along my hands and up my arms. Combine that with Logarius’ raining daggers and swooping scythe swings and you’ve got… you’ve got… nevermind, I don’t want to think about the pain.  

6. Vicar Amelia

Vicar Amelia shares an OST with the Cleric Beast, which is the optional first boss of Bloodborne, but as far as I’m concerned, they could have used it five times and I wouldn’t care. I don’t mean to whisk away Vicar Amelia’s spotlight here, but I’ll add one more thing about the Cleric Beast. When I first played Bloodborne, I reached the Cleric Beast about five times, was smashed to pieces by it about five times, and then didn’t touch the game for two years. I was completely disoriented by the theme, the giant fur-deer-werewolf-skeleton thingy and all the fight’s screams/screeches, but one could guess that I eventually came back. Just as soon as Covid-19 was beginning to shut down the U.S. in fact. 

Alright, apologies to Vicar Amelia, since she’s the boss I consider my sixth favorite, not the Cleric Beast — still a pretty solid boss though. What I really love about Vicar Amelia’s fight is the cathedral setting and the creepily graceful boss. She’s kind of like a partially-cleansed/healed Cleric Beast, which justifies the usage of the Cleric Beast’s theme. The OST ties into this cloud of terrifying beauty that I find myself in whenever I take on the fight, and after fighting her many times it holds a slightly tragic tinge that resonates when the cathedral stands empty. 

5. Father Gascoigne

Such an awesome arena in this fight. Such an awesome foe. The theme’s not half bad either. It’s another one of these themes in Bloodborne that starts off a little slow, then grows into the boss’s rhythm, acting as if it had an axe and pistol just like Father Gascoigne’s. The second half of the theme slashes and shoots in alternating cries from the choir and strings, mimicking Father Gascoigne’s pure frenzy. 

I feel as though I should also mention the music box that can be used in this fight, as it’s a complete game-changer and it adds a new lore perspective for the fight. I won’t describe what that new dimension is, just in case there’s someone reading this who wants to figure it out for themselves in-game, but the music is also used for the Mergo’s Wet Nurse fight. It’s a creepy little piece, and I love how it’s used for both of these boss battles. 

4. Orphan of Kos

The Orphan of Kos OST is one that, similar to the boss battle’s opening cutscene, tries to evoke pity. It’s an orphan, after all. It’s so tiny. How could it be all that difficult? How could it do any harm? Quickly, one learns that the Orphan of Kos certainly is difficult; it certainly can do some harm. Many consider it to be the most difficult fight FromSoftware has ever crafted. Since you’re so desperately wondering who I find to be their most difficult, I’m rolling with Darkeater Midir from Dark Souls III, but Orphan of Kos is certainly in my top five. It’s that phase two. That damn phase two. Not only gameplay wise, but music-wise. When the music switches up, it’s panic time yet again — and man, do I love panic time! 

When a boss’s theme lives up to the challenge at hand, it elevates all elements of the fight. The encounter is pushed to the forefront of what makes the game memorable, what makes it a special experience. Ultimately, I truly love the versatility of this particular OST. I find it to match the fight extraordinarily: its quieter stretches tend to eat away at me just as much as the louder, panicked stretches, keeping the entire fight fresh. The placenta-slinging frenzy of the second half ends up being the most memorable part, but it’s hard not to have the mental image of a screeching, flying, placenta-slinging goblin-skeleton-creature losing all sanity as the major takeaway. 

3. Gehrman, The First Hunter

This fight is beautiful. This theme is beautiful. In such a horrid nightmare, the last — or second to last, depending on your in-game actions — fight takes place in an arena outside of all the pain and rot, in the haven players have retreated to for safety, guidance and upgrades. It’s my favorite arena in the game: the field of flowers is such a peaceful place for a battle to the death between two allied hunters. 

All the elements of this battle are reverent to the foe, as they should be. The arena, as stated, is beautiful and peaceful, the attacks are fluid and graceful. The OST treats Gehrman not as a monster, but as a tragic hero. The piece steers away from the epic, booming soundscapes that marked many of the previous fights, and instead grasps a slightly somber, flowing strand that comes off as more human to my ears. I already mentioned Gehrman’s treatment as a tragic hero: this piece has so many traces of tragedy toward its conclusion, but for the player rather than for Gehrman. For Gehrman, there is a tinge of peace. These symbolic sounds set this OST apart from nearly all others in the game; it’s a huge reason why this is my third favorite fight in Bloodborne.

2. Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower

It seems that I have an affinity for hunter fights, and I have my reasons for liking this hunter fight most of all. First: just look at her name! Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower? Badass. Second: Flaming blood swords. Pretty self-explanatory. Third: I have to give the all-important shoutout to the music in this fight. It’s not overbearing and it fits perfectly with a common observation among Bloodborne players: this boss battle is an elegant, bloody dance. Lady Maria’s movements, like Gehrman’s, are fluid and beautiful, but The First Hunter is simply outclassed here. The rhythm of this fight is unmatched, and the OST slides in so wonderfully next to it. I was actually a little upset that it took me so few tries to beat Lady Maria for the first time, as I loved every dodge, every slash, every hit I took. The music is so essential to why this fight is amazing, but my choice for number one has a composition that is truly in a class of its own.

1. Ludwig, the Accursed/Holy Blade

I am resisting the strong urge to type in all caps. Ludwig is my favorite video game boss of all time, and a large reason for that is the amazing — dare I say transcendent — OST. Everything else about the fight is absolutely perfect, so I don’t need to go into all that much detail about it. All I need to say is that it’s extremely fun and challenging, and that Ludwig himself is such an incredibly designed creature. What nearly made me fall out of my chair on my first playthrough of this fight was the mid-battle cutscene and the transition in the music that followed. I honestly don’t think I’ve heard a piece of music that enters my bloodstream quite like this one. If anything deserves to have the word epic stamped onto it, it’s the Ludwig, the Holy Blade OST. The phase of the OST when he’s still the Accursed is incredible, but when he takes the Holy Moonlight Sword into his hands and the great bellows of various instruments and the choir wash over the battle, it’s almost too much to process. I honestly can’t get mad and have never gotten mad when dying in this fight; I just find myself in awe of how incredible of an encounter it is. If you have never played Bloodborne and don’t think you ever will, I strongly recommend that you watch this fight. Like I said, it’s my favorite boss battle of all time, and I could never do it true justice with my words. 


I won’t hold you much longer. Your reading is nearly done. All I have left to say is that I could definitely see Lil Wayne killing some of these beats. We need a remix album ASAP!

“May the good blood guide your way.”