REVIEW: Bleed 2

Bleed 2 is the sequel to Bleed and, consequently, the work of Ian Campbell. Also worth noting is the fact that, this time around, Bleed features a great soundtrack by Jukio Kallio, the mind behind other great soundtracks such as Nuclear Throne and Luftrausers. If you’re looking for a short definition of what it really is, Bleed is a game best described as a bullet hell platformer shoot ’em up. At its core it’s still very similar to the original, which is a plus in this case given how much I enjoyed it but, in the end, I found the sequel to be a lot more enjoyable and polished.

DEVELOPER: Ian Campbell
PUBLISHER: Ian Campbell

Just like the original this game revolves around Wryn and is a follow-up to the events of the first game, when Wryn set out to become the best hero on the face of the Earth by eliminating all others. As a consequence, the Earth is invaded by aliens and it’s up to Wryn to stop them. All in all, the plot is undoubtedly one of the weakest points of the game, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since this game is all about shooting enemies in the face.

Bleed 2’s main focus is obviously the gameplay, more specifically the shooting, which is incredibly fast-paced and requires you to have your reflexes on point, meaning that missing a key press by just a fraction of a second can result in failure. With that in mind, I found the game to handle better with keyboard and mouse, but still, controlling the air dash ability still proves to be somewhat tricky. As far as the rest I don’t have any real complaints, and as it should be expected, for the most part, it handles like any other platformer. You can use the dash ability up to three times while mid-air, and you can also deflect enemy projectiles corresponding to your colour, which in Wryn’s case is purple. Shooting is spot-on and is handled with the mouse, just as the time slowing ability, which is key to survival in the bullet hell sections when you need that extra time to dash through projectiles or be able to deflect an upcoming attack. Every time you shoot for the first time you’ll also slash with your katana and this is particularly important since it can deflect attacks without the need to move or to spend one of your dashes.

One thing I did find rather curious was the fact that you can change your loadout mid-game, thus being able to choose one of the seven different weapons available, such as a rocket launcher or the chainsaw. In the same way you can also choose one of four different dash abilities. In a way I guess this works the way it does in order to help the player in some harder sections of the game but still, I find it rather odd. With that said, while most of the enemies are pretty easy to deal with, despite their different designs, the bosses are where the game really shines. Each of them is very different from the others and they usually have different phases and attack patterns which really help spice things up. The level design in particular is exceptionally well done and the game forces you to make use of your dash abilities and quick thinking in order to get out of some tricky situations which only add to the tension.

You can choose one out of four different difficulty modes right from the get-go, easy, normal, hard or very hard. The game also offers two player local co-op, which I wasn’t able to try, and three different modes that you can play, Story mode, Arcade and Challenge. The Arcade mode basically has you playing through the campaign with only one life which, even on the easiest difficulty, is a challenge in itself at times. As for the Challenge mode, this allows you to fight up to three bosses at once inside various arenas which for me was pretty much signing my own death sentence. As for the Story mode, I was able to beat it on the Hard difficulty in about an hour or so. With that said, beating the game unlocks more characters that you can play with and each one of them is completely different, not only in terms of actual looks and design but also in the way they play, with some deflecting certain attacks while others have different special abilities that spice things up and increase the game replayability.

If you’re wondering what’s up with the game’s price and the average time for the story mode completion, well, simply put, the game was not really made to just be played once and then be done with. The game has a strong emphasis on speedrunning, leaderboards and scoring. At the end of each level you’ll be assigned a rating which depends on your performance, but personally I found it really hard to get anything more than a B.

Even though it’s a very good game for what it is, if you’re like me and just like to beat each game a single time you might be better off waiting for a discount. Still, you can clearly see that a lot of effort was put into making Bleed 2 as polished and bug free as it is and that deserves recognition. If you’re really into speedrunning hardcore games, you’ll probably get your money’s worth here. In any case, it is with that in mind that I rate this a Save for Later, since you’re most likely to find your purchase worth it at a lower price.


(click on the image to see the rating explanation)

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