It’s no secret that H. P. Lovecraft was a massive influence on the highly successful gothic horror/action RPG Bloodborne, but perhaps not every gamer is familiar with his works. If you loved Bloodborne, here’s my top 5 reading recommendations to get you started on the vast mythos of H. P. Lovecraft.
“The Whisperer in Darkness“
Anyone who has spent time in Byrgenwerth will recognize the monster in this story. For the Garden of Eyes enemies, the Mi-go, extraterrestrial insectoids, are the primary source of inspiration.
Scientists are kidnapped by aliens who take the brains and preserve the scientists’ consciousness in cylinders and send them to the faraway planet Yuggoth. This idea isn’t a far-fetched one, given the current obsession with obtaining knowledge through the most heinous methods.
What is it like to be a scientist who is eager to get in touch with things that we can’t see? Bloodborne appears to have a plethora of storylines. For our narrator, he is unwittingly dragged into these experiments by the mad scientist, and is then left to face the harrowing, otherworldly things that the experiment alerts to our presence.
Bloodborne’s insight mechanic, which allows players to see the terrifying creatures that have been staring down at them all along, explores the idea that our worlds overlap and that we are surrounded by things we can’t normally perceive.
“The Nameless City“
This is a prequel to “At the Mountains of Madness,” which tells the story of an unnamed protagonist’s discovery of an ancient Middle Eastern city. After initially believing this ruin to be deserted, he begins to suspect that its ancient inhabitants have not actually left, but have instead been sleeping deep within the maze-like tunnels beneath the surface.
There is some evidence to suggest that the “Chalice Dungeons” may have been inspired by this. For Lovecraft’s first use of the infamous couplet, “That is not dead which can eternally lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.”
“The Shadow Over Innsmouth“
This book is a must-read for any Lovecraft fan, no matter what your reason for reading it is. You’ll notice some uncanny similarities between this tale and Bloodborne’s ill-fated fishing hamlet after reading it.
We follow a visitor to Innsmouth as he conducts ancestry research. But soon enough, he discovers a cult that performs human sacrifices to amphibious humanoid-fish-frog creatures known as the Deep Ones, which the half-breed residents of Innsmouth will turn into. Along with Lovecraft’s Dagon, this is the definitive work on the Deep Ones, a race that would later appear in the works of George R. R. Martin and Robert Jordan.
“The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath“
An epic journey through the dream lands populated by characters drawn from Lovecraft’s other works makes this one of his longest stories and one of my favorites. It’s safe to say that this is his finest work.
An earlier Lovecraft character, Randolph Carter, has a vision of an otherworldly metropolis known as Kadath. In spite of being warned not to, he sets out on a journey through the dream-worlds in search of it. Monsters and ancient interstellar entities are among the things he encounters on his journey. This is, in my opinion, Lovecraft’s finest work, a mix of the fantastical and the fantastically terrifying.
Honorable Mention: “What the Moon Brings“
One of Lovecraft’s shortest stories, it touches on the occult nature of the moon, an all-important element of Bloodborne. In it, a man is transported by sinister moonlight to another world, and encounters the idol of an eldritch God. Despite its brevity, it includes many things that the video game would incorporate into its world and mythology.
While there have been many attempts to transpose Lovecraft’s universe into video game form, few have been as successful as Bloodborne, in its handling of the unknowable horror of that which lies beyond our senses, and the way it can twist our minds to gibbering madness.
A Scarlet Fever
We’d only have one night to let our hair down and let loose. But then something else happened. One glance across the dance floor. Invited to their house by a hot stranger. Too many playful bites.
Mina Sun’s life was forever changed by one night. When she awakens, she discovers that she has become a vampire against her will, caught in the middle of a centuries-old conflict between two rival factions who are both after her blood.
During her time as an undead, she is confronted with a new threat, one that is both terrifying myth and half-forgotten legend at the same time.
Putting her city, her family, and her friends in jeopardy, this threat jeopardizes the tenuous truce between warring vampire factions. It’s up to Mina to save herself and her loved ones from the impending doom.
A Plague of Shadows
Mina Sun should be put to death. Despite the fact that I’m already a zombie.
It’s a pity she’s a little busy at the moment. Her best friend is missing. Her family has been nagging her to come over. After being invited to join their group of vampires, she’s having a hard time fitting in. Whenever she enters the room, there are whispers and sidelong glances from the other vampires that reveal their second thoughts.
Even if they were to whisper it to her, Mina would know right away that she is different. She can hear it in the screams of her blood and feel it in the twists of her gut as she fights the monster within. The demon she will inevitably become.
And now bodies are turning up, sucked so dry they look like mummies. Not the gargoyles: they only leave a half-dead corpse, gnawed to bits.
Instead, a new evil stalks the night. The dying words of a homeless man, who was raving about the reign of night, the death of light, and a blade of darkness, are the best clue to its identity.
Are there any other ways for Mina to solve this puzzle without releasing the monster she harbors?