Cathedral Ward. Anyone with even a passing interest in Bloodborne is familiar. With its towering spires that pierce the dark sky above, and gothic stone masonry that peers over the cemetery below; its twisted trees bereft of leaves, whose branches grip its sharpest edges; and its myriad statues who cower with their palms facing the heavens, as if begging for reprieve from whatever gods are left in this world to look upon them.
The crumbling church is iconic, and as a result of Bloodborne's claustrophobic level design, you'll spend quite a bit of time here – either upon first discovery, or when shuttling between further reaches such as Old Yharnam, Yahar'gul Unseen Village, and Hemwick Charnel Lane. Cathedral Ward is so rich in detail, making it one of the game's most unique locations.
Except, that's not entirely true. Because the setting that I've described above doesn't feature in Bloodborne at all, but was instead painstakingly crafted block-by-block in Minecraft by creator Potomy. "When I was playing Bloodborne, I just wanted to fly around and take in the city's overall view," he says. "When that wasn't possible, I thought to myself: Okay, why don't I just recreate Bloodborne in Minecraft?"
The result is nothing short of breathtaking. Potomy's like-for-like recreation of Yharnam in Minecraft is easily one of the greatest ever creations I've ever seen in the open-world sandbox, and while Potomy and a core team of nine people – animators, modelers, programmers, and even a composer – have been piecing it together over the last year or so, they've only recently put the finishing touches on Bloodborne's central most locales.
Potomy explains that while he enjoyed watching Lance McDonald's Bloodborne camera mod from afar – the mod lets players freely explore Yharnam and beyond at will – the fact that it hadn't been released to the public at that point was a catalyst for this project. He continues: "It really was that simple. And then it was a case of: Okay, so if I'm making Yharnam, I may as well open a Patreon so that I can pay skilled artists to help bring everything together."
"I remember right at the very start, I started to model these structure objects – once I started to add them into Java, I was like: Man, this looks so good! It all really felt like it was coming together right from the very beginning, which was a great motivator. In Minecraft Java Edition, I can't quite model things as big as I'd like because there's a size limit of 3x3 blocks. This means you can't build or model over that, so if I wanted to model an entire structure, I can do that in, say, Blender really easily – but when it comes to blocks, I can't. I need to do it piece-by-piece, like Lego. And because it's a texture pack, it can feel really limiting. But I find it really exciting at the same time."
Potomy says this excitement hit new levels when he and his team finished up the city of Yharnam in Minecraft – although he admits that there are still some structures he'd like to add in, and various parts he wants to continue tweaking and polishing. Looking forward, one of Potomy's most immediate objectives is to continue evolving the creature models he and his team have been working on. He's not able to share too much on the specifics, but is able to talk to the process of bringing some of Bloodborne's most hideous beasts to life in Minecraft.
He says: "We're going to be adding a lot more animations to the creatures. Currently, there's, like, five animations per model, but we're going to increase that to like 20, or maybe 30. This will add more randomness to their actions and make them feel more alive. We're also going to make their behaviors more intelligent, so that players will have a much harder time fighting them. We're also going to add new player movements to combat, so that players can be more attached to Minecraft movement, but in a way that's easier to move around while fighting in first and third person mode."
Now that the structural bones of Minecraft Yharnam are in place, Potomy says the next stage of the project is filling it with everything players expect. That means Church Giants, Pthumerian slaves, Vicar Amelia and even the dreaded Father Gascoine are in the pipeline.
After that, assuming there's still interest and support from the project's vocal and supportive community, Potomy and his team want to give Bloodborne's Chalice Dungeons new life in their beautiful block-built world. Then Byrgenwerth, then Yahar'gul. And, honestly, it's hard not to get excited about what lies ahead by simply looking at how stunning the project is so far, and what it could deliver moving forward.
"If the community wants it and is still backing us, then we'll keep going," Potomy says. "The costs are really to keep our creators creating, and once the project is done, everything is going to be free. The maps, the mods, every single thing is going to be free."
And with that, I'm left with one lingering thought: post-Elden Ring, I've been considering a return to Bloodborne for some time. Perhaps I'm better off sidestepping the real thing, and taking a stroll through Yharnam by way of Minecraft instead.