After owning the game for months, and playing it for around 60 hours, I’ve finally managed to beat every boss in Bloodborne. They weren’t all great – Micolash and Witch of Hemwick stand out as particularly awful – but overall it was a game that was full of fun and challenging boss fights. The one that stands above the rest though is Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower, featured in The Old Hunters DLC.
Lady Maria is a hunter boss, and this makes her different from most bosses right off the bat. A large number of bosses in this game are beasts or Great Ones, gigantic monsters who mainly attack by thrashing at you. The hunter bosses on the other hand are all humans who generally are similar in size and in power to you, despite their much larger health pools. Hunter fights in general are different in that they feel like much more equal battles. When you fight a hunter, it feels as if you’re fighting someone with the same abilities as you. This persists when the hunters are bosses, and it makes every second of the fights against them feel like fair duels.
Lady Maria has this element as a hunter boss. She, much like Gehrman, faces you head on in a one-to-one match, using only her swords and gun, much as you do. Yes, she has blood powers which are far beyond anything you’re capable of using, but the scale of her attacks are small enough that they feel as if they are actually able to be faced head on.
Every one of Maria’s stages trains you for the next. While some bosses like Ludwig completely change in style between their phases, Maria simply adds new elements to her previous attacks, first by adding blood in order to extend them, and then by adding fire to ensure you can’t escape if you’re unfortunate enough to be caught in a swing.
Gehrman does the same thing though, so why do I prefer Maria to Gehrman? Maria provides a significantly harder challenge. Both Maria and Gehrman can be relatively easy if you’re good at parrying, but I’m terrible at parrying so I was only able to get a few on them each time. However Maria is much faster than Gehrman is, and her attacks chain in such a way that it can be hard to get away and heal once you’ve been caught in one. This makes dodging her attacks one of the utmost priorities of the fight. In addition, Maria’s second and third stages also give her much greater range, making it possible for her to hit you while you try and heal.
Gehrman and Maria are both great fights, as fights against hunters are in general. But Maria’s difficulty being higher is enough to make her a better fight in my mind. When you add my preference for her character design, and the absolutely beautiful music and setting her fight is in, she easily becomes Bloodborne’s best boss, and one I’m excited to face again on my next playthrough.