No, I don’t mean the Fox TV series, nor do I mean the Tim Burton movie. In fact, I don’t even mean the old Disney cartoon The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, though that’s certainly the superior version of the three I’ve mentioned. I’m actually referring to the original short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving, first published way back in 1820.
To my knowledge, there has never been a Sleepy Hollow (or even Sleepy Hollow-esque) video game that’s been worth a damn, so the Hemwick Cemetery section of Bloodborne is really the closest I’ve ever come to seeing what such a thing would look like.
This little section of the game took me completely by surprise. Before that point, almost the entirety of what I played was set in the city of Yharman, with its cobblestone streets and wrought-iron fences. It’s all very reminiscent of Victorian England (intentionally so, I assume).
So I didn’t really expect to stumble upon a section of the world that felt like it was pulled straight out of the American Gothic short stories of the early 1800s. As a guy with a degree in Literature, Hemwick felt like something I’ve always wanted to see represented in a video game. Sure, there are a few games I can think of off the top of my head that tried it, but nothing I’ve seen has presented the American Gothic look and feel quite this well before Bloodborne.
Aesthetically, Bloodborne nails it. You’ve got the abundance of tombstones, the decaying farmhouses, and the torch-wielding witches. There’s even this really neat little section where you encounter a moon overlooking a silhouetted harbor. It’s exactly what I picture in my head when I read works by Irving or Nathaniel Hawthorne — or even some of Poe’s stuff. (Though, I’m inclined to visualize more pumpkins.)
And then there’s this thing, which I can only describe as an undead Marshwiggle (amirite, Narnia fans?):
The Hemwick Cemetery takes up a pretty tiny subsection of Bloodborne, but my brief time there felt like a rare treat. The Literature nerd in me is squealing with a very particular sort of delight that’s not usually associated with video games, and I tip my hat to From Software for allowing me this very niche experience.