Because Bloodborne tosses you in with little in the way of a tutorial the basics of gameplay can only be learned through the Messengers in Hunter’s Dream. To resolve this I will be covering the general info you’ll need to know to make it through the beginning of the game.
Health & Death
Your character’s health is determined by your Vitality, with the red gauge at the top left of the screen indicating your overall health. When your health reaches 0 your Hunter will die and return to the last lamp you activated, dropping your Blood Echoes on the ground.
There are two ways to regain your health: Blood Vials and Regain.
Blood Vials are used by pressing Triangle to restore 40% of your health and can be purchased in Hunter’s Dream and/or dropped from enemies that you’ve killed. You can only carry 20 Blood Vials at a time before you must find more or return to Hunter’s Dream to replenish your stock via the Storage.
Regain is a system in which for a short period after being hit you can restore your health by attacking an enemy. When hit a white vertical bar will appear on your HP gauge, indicating your current health, and the remaining red behind it is the health that you can regain by attacking enemies.
Blood Echoes & Leveling Up
Blood Echoes are the form of currency in Bloodborne, used for purchasing everything from items in the Messengers Shops to leveling up your character. They are obtained by killing enemies and will continue to be stored on you until you use them or you die. If you die, your Blood Echoes will either drop on the ground or be contained within an enemy near where they dropped, so make sure to pick them up before you die a second time or you will lose them forever.
In order to level up you’ll need at least 1 Insight when you enter Hunter’s Dream to gain access to the Doll NPC, who will allow you to exchange a certain amount of Blood Echoes for 1 point in any stat. Each time you exchange Blood Echoes for a stat you’ll be required to exchange more the next time, no matter which stat you are leveling because they are based on your level and not the individual stat.
Gained through finding and killing bosses, as well as using items, Insight is another form of currency that is used to summon Hunters to your world or to purchase things in the Insight Messengers Shops. Note that high levels of Insight reduces your Beasthood and your Frenzy resistance, with some enemies becoming stronger, so holding on to too much can be a blessing or a curse.