Bleed – Indie Game Review

 

Games like: Metal Slug, Contra III: the Alien Wars, Gunstar Heroes

TL;DR

Time played: 2 hours

Originally developed and released on the Xbox Live Indie Games, Bleed is an action packed run-and-gun with tons of gameplay mechanics from many popular games including bullet time effects and over sized enemies. You play as Wryn, a sassy young woman who is determined to become the ultimate video game hero by destroying those that can before her. Armed with dual pistols and a rocket launcher, you take to seven different levels battling through a barrage of enemies slowly becoming the best hero.

Launching rockets across the screen to take out crazy cats. Boom!

Launching rockets across the screen to take out crazy cats. Boom!

Initially being developed for the Xbox, you’d expect the 360 gamepad would work perfectly. And it does. It plays like a twin stick shooter: the left analog stick moves Wryn around the level and the right stick determines the angle of your shots and fires the gun as well. The right trigger is used to jump… and double jump… and triple jump actually. Yeah, more on that later. But yes, the trigger is used as the jump button and at times I feel that there’s a delay because of have to pull the trigger all the way down to perform the jump. If the button was an instant press (like a face button), I don’t think I would have the sensation of feeling this delay. Granted, I’m making mountains out of molehills but it was something that I had to overcome. In short, controls great.

Take to the haunted mansions and running trains to fight to defeat the previous Heroes of video games.

Take to the haunted mansions and running trains to fight to defeat the previous Heroes of video games.

Your starting weapons are a set of dual pistols and a rocket launcher. Switching between the two for different situations will help in aiding in different situations. Sure the dual pistols are quick to fire but are weak in damage whereas the rocket launcher may be labored in speed but packs a powerful punch. Luckily all of the weapons come with unlimited ammo so no need to pick up ammo crates and the like. The weapons you can purchase or unlock are what you’d expect for the most part: shotgun, revolver, flamethrower, even a sword. There are even weapons that can only be unlocked after completing the game on different difficulty levels. One of these includes a homing rocket launcher which is a nice touch. After playing with many of these different styles of weapons, I found myself always coming back to the originals. They just didn’t seem to work as well with my style of platforming to have the need to switch.

Giant enemy bosses meet you at the end of every level.

Giant enemy bosses meet you at the end of every level.

Another element of the game that I didn’t use too much was the bullet time effect. This gives you a chance to slow down time to avoid enemy fire. There are many points in the game where there is just so much going on screen that slowing down time will give you a chance to dodge and survive. Strangely, I never used it. Sure there were times that I felt overwhelmed and died more times than I would care to mention, but overcoming this without the help of bullet time gave me a high sense of accomplishment. Although I did only play the game on the Normal difficulty setting, I’m sure that the higher settings would be of better use of this type of slow down.

I mean,  you are killing all of the heroes. You need a death list.

I mean, you are killing all of the heroes. You need a death list.

So let’s talk about the triple jump, shall we? I am not typically a fan of any type of double jump, let alone a triple jump, because more often than not this type of mechanic leads to lazy level design. But this jump isn’t a jump per say. It’s more of a common jump followed by two dashes to which ever direction you are pointing the left analog stick. This dash feels like the same move from Mega Man X except with more control. Something I would have greatly enjoyed in that game as well. With this dash, you won’t be using it just to get to higher ground or platforms but as a dodging mechanic from enemies and gliding over large gaps. It feels perfect when some bosses come crash down on your position giving you a chance to dash out of the way. It’s a nice addition to the rest of the moves you have at your disposal.

OMG! What the hell is this thing!?

OMG! What the hell is this thing!?

The level design is an excellent point of reference for aspiring developers. Bleed consists of all different types of environments including a haunted mansion, on top of a moving train, and inside a dragon. Each level can be broken down into segments each being divided by a checkpoint of sorts. Half way through each stage you’ll have to face off with a miniboss that usually relates back to the end boss. This sets the player up for credible expectations and shows that developer did their research. This style of level design is a perfect arch to a conclusion of the stage.

A triple jump mechanic plays more like a dash from Mega Man X.

A triple jump mechanic plays more like a dash from Mega Man X.

With run and guns such as this you’d expect an overhaul in weapon power ups. Bleed goes about this in a different style by providing a shop to purchase different weapons. You’ll only be able to carry two at a time switching between them using the bumpers. To purchase these new weapons the currency you use is your score from previously completed levels. Changing the difficulty will change the multiplier used at the end of each level either up or down depending on the difficulty. Keeping it on normal will create only a 1x to your final score so playing through the levels multiple times will grant you a higher score. You can change out your weapons by pausing the game and going into the weapons menu. Although this does come off as a strange pause to the gameplay, it allows you to take your time in picking the right weapons for the offensive.

Fighting inside a dragon? Yeah... we got that.

Fighting inside a dragon? Yeah… we got that.

Upon entering the final arena, you’ll run a Mega Man style gauntlet of previously defeated boss battles only this time there are two copies of them and they are mechanized. The fights are harder than ever, yet proves that you have honed your skills from earlier encounters. You’ll soon get into a rhythm and take them out one at a time. Doing so will bring you to your final battle with an unknown fighter that has claimed best hero for himself. He fights like you, jumping and dashing, and using similar weapons. This is easiest the hardest battle in Bleed and will take multiple deaths to overcome the challenge.

The final fight brings back the gauntlet of defeated heroes. Only this time, there's two!

The final fight brings back the gauntlet of defeated heroes. Only this time, there’s two!

Let’s face it: I love this game. Everything about it. It holds everything in a game this style that I enjoyed and even enhanced many others that I felt needed a better touch. I had no problem retrying different areas after dying multiple times. I took time developing my skills with different weapons and fighting all of the challenges that were thrown at me. There’s even a two player co-op mode available that I wouldn’t mind trying out. So good. I was happy to come across it.

Why, indeed?

Why, indeed?

Bleed is a run-and-gun platformer that contains a plethora of great gameplay mechanics and some that feel so right and perfect in its setting. A simple tale of a woman who wants to become the greatest video game hero takes to the top ten list to vanquish those that held the title to become the only one left. A great twin stick shooter that covers a vast land of inspired video game titles and feels too good to be true.

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