Yeah, I'm finding blocking to be a good deal less effective for my build as well. Paired with rolling losing a good deal of its iFrames, unless you level Adaptability, and the Demon's Souls-styled HP decrease upon death, your mistakes hurt more than in the last two games. I like it in that masochistic Souls-styled way.
A random tidbit:
Once you make yourself a decent poison resistant build, Harvest Valley is so much fun. You don't even have to attack the green enemies, you can just jump down into the mist, quickly run out, and they'll kill themselves.
The difficulty seems a bit unbalanced. For example, Gargoyles and the Sentinel trio were incredibly crazy solo. Sinner was a really
neat and brutal fight, but you can make it easier for yourself by lighting up the area. Then, a bit after, you have the Skeleton Lord
trio which was easy once you realized the proper order for killing things, then a weird blob-like thing that I don't think anyone could