Even though I've conquered every boss Bloodborne had to offer, nothing left me with more of an impression than the glorious fight versus Father Gascoigne.
My absolute favorite thing about Bloodborne, and what sets it so far apart from any entry in the Souls series, is the speed. Your character is incredibly nimble but even so, enemies are just as fast. The game at times turns into a bloody but beautiful dance as both player and enemy move around each other, exchanging blows. The first character you come across that really puts you in a fight like this, is the mad hunter himself.
Standing in a very gothic graveyard covered in tombstones, you find Father Gascoigne hacking at what hopefully once was a beast. He turns, a snarl on his face, as he tells you that everyone eventually succumbs to the blood of beasts, even you. Driven mad with bloodlust, he attacks.
Now, this is the first hunter fight you encounter and the game truly just throws you in headfirst. It's really driven home that you are not the only one in this world who is incredibly quick and nimble. Gascoigne will dash at you, leap back, roll to your side, everything you can do, but slightly better. You have to stay on your toes, only stopping for brief moments to heal yourself. Wait too long, and his relentless attacks will surely be sending you back to Hunter's Dream. It's visceral, unyielding, and one of the best boss fights I've ever experienced in gaming. It takes everything you have learned up to that point and puts it to the test, hoping you have really learned your character's limits.
A neat aspect about the fight is because he is a hunter, you essentially know all his moves. Sure, it's still pretty early in the game when you come across him, but even though the game only gives you split seconds to think, you can still semi-predict his attacks. However, in classic Souls fashion, he has a second phase of the fight. Gascoigne fully gives into the blood craving and transforms into a wolf-like beast that's easily twice your size. Gone is his old moveset and now you have to desperately learn everything about him before he painfully kills you. Tombstones shatter and crumble as you two leap away and towards each other, his huge claws ripping up the earth itself trying to eviscerate you. Timing, patience, and split second judgement is the only way you will be escaping the fight alive and I absolutely loved every moment I spent locked in combat with him.
On my first playthrough, when I finally beat him, I was shaking. The controller was moist from my sweaty palms and I stared dumbstuck at the screen as I watched the former hunter disappear, amazed at the fact that I actually beat him. This was the hooking point for me, the moment in Bloodborne that I knew I had to conquer this whole game. The stress of fighting him, the adrenaline as he was so close to death, as was I, and the amazing feeling of triumph as I saw him fall is still one of my favorite experiences in gaming. Truly, his fight is the highlight of the game for me and that's saying a lot considering how many "Hell yeah!" moments I experienced while playing.
Father Gascoigne isn't only the best boss, in my opinion, in Bloodborne, he is one of my favorite bosses ever. Sure, later bosses really put my reflexes to the test and made me cry out in frustration as I died over and over, but none gave me quite the thrill and exhilaration he did.
Moving away from the fight, he also is a pretty well developed character for a Souls game. He is a hunter, as I stated before, who is fighting off the beast plague in order to protect his wife and daughter. However, like many hunters before, he starts to become enthralled with blood and beasthood, slowly descending into madness as time goes on.
While traveling through Yharnam, you may encounter a window where you can talk to a little girl. She says her father is a hunter but hasn't returned in a while, so her mother went out to find him. She gives you a small music box, which she says her father will recognize. Play it during the fight with Gascoigne, beast form or human, and you will get a reaction out of him. He will stop his attacks, and groan to himself, as if remembering the humanity and family he has lost. You are indeed fighting the father of that little girl. After the fight, you will find a slain woman with a red piece of jewelry on her body, the same piece of jewelry Gascoigne's daughter tells you her mother wears. It's not clear if Gascoigne killed his wife or not, but since she is found in the same area you fight him in, and Gascoigne has gone a bit mad, I say it's likely. There is more that happens in this little quest line, but it's pretty dark and would require many more paragraphs, so check out this video on the full story on Gascoigne if your interested:
While his backstory has no real effect on the fight, I love it when bosses have some lore behind them, making them something more than a cool fight. Gascoigne's fight shows the horrors of what the plague haunting Yharnam is like, and how easy it is for hunters to succumb to it. It's like an early -game warning of what could happen to your character. Nothing like that does happen to you, since you are the protagonist after all, but still it's a fascinating little warning. Out of any other character in the game, he has the most tragic story behind him, making his incredible boss fight even better when you think of the events surrounding him.
Truly, he is a fight to remember.
(Source: VaatiVidya via Youtube an excellent channel for anyone who loves the Dark Souls or Bloodborne)