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Knowledge is power. This idea is relevant in many aspects of life, but it has a new meaning in the world of Yharnam. In Bloodborne, this phrase applies to the game mechanic Insight. Like in real life, gaining valuable insights can bring clarity to specific situations and allow us to see something for what it truly is. In Bloodborne, the many discoveries and encounters you have in your journey are marked by the mechanic called Insight, and the more Insight the Hunter collects, the more is revealed about the Great Ones, Healing Church, Brygenwerth, and much more.
What is Insight?
Insight is a marker of your progress, a currency, and a curse simultaneously. The higher the number of Insight you have, the more bosses and areas you have uncovered within the game. Some players may overlook it at first, however, Insight plays a pivotal role in the Hunter’s understanding of the confusing yet intoxicating secrets in Bloodborne. Much like in our own lives, we learn significant lessons when encountering certain situations which can shift our worldview. Insight in Bloodborne quite literally shifts the world and enemies around you, and this quest for knowledge leads you down some of the darkest paths.
Insight serves many purposes to the Hunter on their journey. Your Insight will be represented by a number on the top right of the screen, right below the Blood Echo count. You may be confused at first, as the game does not tell you how to farm Insight or even what it is at the start. Insight is something that the player can gain in many ways, but the most common way is through boss encounters. When the Hunter first encounters the Cleric Beast on the Great Bridge in Central Yharnam, they will get their first taste of what Insight is used for. You will most likely die in your first encounter with this boss, but that’s alright because when you respawn in the Hunter’s Dream, you will see that you have gained one Insight.
This Insight will immediately trigger a change in the Hunter’s Dream, as the Doll that was previously inanimate will not be standing up. This is due to your Insight, as gaining one Insight will allow your Hunter to begin to see the world for what it truly is. Insight can be acquired within the world through deep, thorough exploration, and the more Insight you collect, the more secrets will be revealed around you.
Another way we can gain Insight is by using the consumable item known as Madman’s Knowledge. This item is found throughout Yharnam and beyond, and when consumed, the Hunter will receive one Insight. The Hunter will gain two Insight when using a Great One’s Wisdom item.
Is Insight a Good Thing?
Yes, players should strive to collect as much Insight as they can. Insight can be used as currency at the Insight Bath Messengers within the Hunters Dream. Here, you can buy upgrade materials, in-game consumable items, papers for your weapons, and many more options. Additionally, the more Insight the Hunter collects within the world, the more enemies and secrets are revealed. For example, after the Hunter has collected 40 insight, the Amygdala hanging on the side of Cathedral Ward can be seen. This Amygdala was previously invisible and serves as the teleporter to the Hunters Nightmare DLC. Collecting more Insight will slowly reveal the dark history that plagues Yharnam.
Exploration is the name of the game in Bloodborne, however, the game actively fights your ability to do this. While the quest for Insight is necessary in Bloodborne, there are a few changes you must deal with when attaining a massive amount of Insight. As your Insight grows, enemies will begin to change, and new beastly foes will appear in spots where there previously wasn’t anything. A prime example of this is Cathedral Ward. When the Hunter Reaches 15 insight, the Church Doctors inhabiting the Cathedral can now shoot projectiles from their lanterns. Once the Blood-Starved Beast is killed, a Snatcher will not spawn in the corner of Cathedral Ward, which was previously unoccupied.
Below, I will go over all of the notable changes to your playthrough when a certain Insight level is reached:
- Doll will come to life in the Hunters Dream, and the Bath messengers will be available to interact with
- Given the Small Resonant Bell and Silencing Blank as a gift
- Church Doctors will now be able to shoot projectiles from their lamps
- Lesser Amygdala becomes visible in Cathedral Ward
- Blood Moon phase activated, a new theme song will play in Hunters Dream
A baby can be heard crying in the background
This baby is another example of secrets hidden by the insight barrier, revealing a lot about the story and our mission. Those cries are actually coming from a baby Great One, Mergo, and one of the last battles we have in this game is against Mergo’s Wet Nurse. This fact is hidden behind layers of secrets and is another example of Insight’s significance.
Almost all of the significant enemies in Bloodborne seek to hide information from you, preventing you from gaining Insight. The fight with Lady Maria atop the Astral Clocktower is an excellent example of this. Maria is willing to resort to the Blood and Fire arts, which she swore off before, just in an attempt to hide the Fishing Hamlet from you. The constant quest for answers in Bloodborne is what makes Insight so valuable, and what you choose to do with all your Insight is entirely up to you.
What to do with Insight
Stack it up
There are many benefits to stacking up Insight, so this is undoubtedly a good option. One reason, as mentioned above, is that the more Insight you have collected, the more is revealed about the enemies and landscape and the overall story. The thing that makes Bloodborne, and Souls-like games in general, is their constant ability to keep you engaged and on your toes. As you progress, the changes that come with the stacked Insight will keep the playthrough fun, thrilling and fresh.
If you struggle with a particular boss or area, having a lot of Insight will help. To summon a friend or ally NPC into your world will cost you an insight. This can quickly burn through your Insight if you constantly die in the encounter, and you only get one Insight in return from the first encounter. Stacking Insight and Madman’s Knowledge is essential for players looking to take advantage of the PvP and summoning systems.
You can also use your Insight as currency at the Insight Bath Messengers in the Hunters Dream. These little guys sell some of the most critical items in the game, and below I will list what I feel are the essential items and their Insight cost.
- Small Resonant Bell (1 insight)
- Sinister Bell (1 insight)
- Beast Blood Pellet (1 insight each)
- Numbing Mist (2 insight each)
- Shaman Bone Blade (1 insight each)
Along with these items, these messengers also sell Blood Rocks and all the other weapon upgrade materials. This is where stacking Insight will come in handy, as the Blood Rock alone costs 60 insight.
There aren’t any downsides to stacking Insight as much as you can. Aside from a slight difficulty spike, all the changes that come with increased Insight should be welcomed. Also, Insight isn’t like blood echoes, as you will not lose it upon death. The only way you can lose Insight, aside from spending it on your own, is to get caught in a grab attack from the Brainsuckers in Byrgenwerth. These enemies will hug you tight, and a horrifying animation will start, as the top of their heads stretches out into a tube, which gets placed on your head, where he will proceed to suck the Insight out of your brain. Aside from this one annoying enemy, your Insight will stay safe in your inventory.
Why Does Insight Change the Difficulty of the Game?
To answer this question, we have to reflect on the world that we are in. As a Hunter, we are dropped into this ever-waking nightmare filled with beasts and horrors beyond our comprehension. Initially, we are overwhelmed by all the horrible things we see and still don’t understand one thing; why. The story of Bloodborne is primarily focused on seeking answers; our goal, in the end, becomes more apparent, however, we have no idea what our purpose is at the start of the game. We are simply told to ‘go out and hunt beasts’.
The more we explore Yharnam and beyond, the more we will come across beasts and landscapes that help us understand the world. Thus, we gain one Insight when encountering a new boss. The Insight we gain in these encounters represents our perceived understanding of what is happening around us, making us more aware of our environment. With knowledge of the mysteries that plague this world, we can comprehend certain things we hadn’t been able to before.
A prime example of this idea revolves around the Lesser Amygdala clinging to Cathedral Ward’s side. This entity is invisible for a long time in the game, leaving the Hunter unaware of its presence until they have gained 40 insight. Gaining 40 insight will also trigger the Blood Moon phase, revealing even more in regards to how terrifying and bleak the situation really is. If you want to read more about the Amygdala in Bloodborne, be sure to check out our Amygdala Guide.
Insight and Sanity
Another example that brings clarity to the concept of Insight has to do with the Frenzy meter. Frenzy in Bloodborne is one of the most feared status effects, as it builds up fast and takes out most of your health bar in a flash. Unlike most status effects, however, you become more susceptible to Frenzy the more Insight you have. Usually, when your character is more experienced in these games, your resistance will build up against specific status effects. So why is this not the case with Frenzy?
This is because the more horrors your player has encountered, the less sane they become. By learning more about the secrets of this world, you slowly begin to lose your sanity. With little Insight, the Hunter cannot even comprehend what they are seeing, causing them to be less affected by the Frenzy. Someone who is already losing their sanity will crack when they encounter particular horrors. This idea is further touched upon in the description of Madman’s Knowledge, with the description reading:
“Skull of a madman touched by the wisdom of the Great Ones.
Use to gain Insight.
Making contact with an eldritch wisdom is a blessing, for even if it drives one mad, it allows one to serve a grander purpose, for prosperity.”
The Madman’s Knowledge is an item that comes to be when an individual loses sanity completely and is ‘driven mad’. When we use this to gain Insight, we are just taking on the thoughts of someone who was driven insane, or ‘mad’, by what they have seen. So, by gaining Insight, the Hunter slowly loses their mind until their sanity becomes entirely eradicated.
Bloodborne thrives in shrouding the story in a thick layer of mystery, and it is up to you to uncover these secrets. One of the main reasons that people adore this game is because of the freedom you are given, and how every time you push on a little further, you are rewarded in some way. These rewards usually come in the form of uncovering small secrets, whether in the level design, enemy placement, or anything else. Insight is one of those secrets that may not seem that important initially but has real effects on your playthrough.