Maybe get it when it’s on sale.
Bleed was to me another challenging 2D platformer-shooter, with a solid variety of weapons and characters to play and replay the game in higher difficulties. There are a lot of these in the eShop these days, and Bleed didn’t quite stand out to me. If it weren’t $15, I might tell you to check it out. As it was, it just reminded me of my experience with Gonner, which I wasn’t too hot about, either.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think Bleed was a bad game. It controlled well enough, the bosses were fun, the bullet-time game system offered a degree of masterability that made the game much more enjoyable once I learned to use it skillfully, and the forgiving checkpoint system prevented me from having to replay the boring parts of the game over and over again. I’ll go in detail about these different aspects of the game.
The controls and systems were simple to figure out: I could shoot by pulling the right stick in any direction; I could jump and dash in any direction up to three times in mid-air; and I could slow the game down (bullet-time for those that remember a time when the Matrix was the hottest thing ever), which allowed me to shoot and dodge with more finesse.
As I progressed through the game’s seven levels, I found myself having to master the bullet-time mechanic in order to avoid the faster attacks from the increasingly brutal bosses. I played through the game in Hard Mode, which was quite a challenge, but thanks to a forgiving checkpoint system that allowed me to immediately get back to any part of a stage (or any boss) in which I died, mastering the enemies and bosses’ attack patterns was pleasant. This is a contrast to some roguelike games I’ve played, which sent me straight to the beginning of the game upon the smallest mistake; this meant that I rarely got to practice the harder parts of the game instead having to repeat the boring early parts. Two thumbs up to Bleed for not imposing that kind of punishment on the main game mode, relegating it instead to an unforgiving Arcade Mode for those that relish that one-life-only challenge.
The level design was not quite exciting, but it did offer a bit of variety in the form of elevator levels, stealth sections, and hazard sections on top of the regular sidescrolling, platforming action. Enemies came in a decent variety, as well, with some enemies crawling through the ground before pouncing on me, others shooting at me from a distance, and some just generally being pests.
The highlights of the game were the boss fights, however. Each boss had a unique premise, form, and attack patterns, so that mastering each boss was a unique experience, and victory felt like an accomplishment.
After beating the game, I felt compelled to play the first three levels again with one of the characters I unlocked, and in Very Hard difficulty. The character, a robot, worked a little differently from the main character in that it couldn’t just pick any weapon, but rather had only its main weapon which powered up as I increased the style gauge (achieved by hitting enemies and dodging attacks, and lost by getting hit). This was a fun way to play the game for the first two levels, where keeping the style gauge filled up wasn’t too difficult, but it simply became unmanageable in the third stage.
I played Arcade Mode in Normal Difficulty and can attest that the one-life-only aspect of it is absolutely brutal, especially since the game offered no health pickups or health restoration of any kind.
I also tried playing a different unlocked character, but it wasn’t very fun. Now I don’t really feel like playing the game any longer, so I’m giving it up.
All in all, it was a decent experience for the short 2-3 hours it lasted, but I wouldn’t be happy with it if I had to pay $15 for it.