Bleed is a side scrolling, platforming, twin stick shooter where you play as Wryn in her journey to become to ultimate video game hero. Stacked with guns, bullets, tripple-jumps and a persistent reliance on slowing down time, things heat up fast.
If the intro didn’t sum it up enough for you, Bleed by Bootdisk Revolution is a bit like Contra, and a bit like Max Payne. You move through short, punishing levels using the left joystick to move, the right joystick to aim/fire, and the triggers to jump and slow time. The bumpers switch through your arsenal of weapons, and that’s pretty much it. The game tasks you with, basically, killing everything that moves until you get to the final thing that moves and, well, you make it stop moving.
The complexity of the game comes primarily from the time slowing mechanic and the tripple jump, which blasts you across the level like a Junebug ridding a bottle rocket that’s just a little too silver and chrome for it’s own good. Your time slowing is limited to a bar that’s depleted as you hold in the trigger. Releasing the trigger recharges it, and draining the meter too far results in a quick cool down. This is the meat and potatoes of the game as you constantly juggle draining and charging the time meter while boosting yourself around the levels with the triple jump. Things get hot quick as the enemies often move at impressive speeds while bathing you in a hot shower of lead and death, and you’re expected to manage these systems to either slow down time for offense, defense, or to help keep control of the powerful jet like jumping mechanic.
The game is quite challenging as you barrel through just over a handful of levels and a final boss with a boss rush. Expect to die many times through a level as you learn enemies attach patters, level layouts, and what techniques work well. There is a very generous checkpoint system that kicks in every 30 seconds or so, meaning you never lose much time at each failure, and the game reloads instantly to get you back to the action.Each level has its own theme and require some new techniques to get through, such as bullet timing your way through waves of enemies while tagging switches to open doors, or a level that drops the ceiling like the ticking clock of death itself, crushing those who aren’t fast enough to make it through, and this keeps things mixed up enough to keep it from getting stale through the play-through. The enemies and bosses all have a technique or gimmick to them, and all of them require using the time mechanic in one way or other, either for dodging assaults, navigating mid air, or just dumping slugs as fast as possible into a Flash like flying baddie. It’s a good time.
The game is short, taking me just over an hour to beat it, but you can and should retread repeated levels on harder difficult, complete with more enemies, to upgrade your time bar, health, and unlock more weapons.
Both visuals and sound are both utilitarian, only serving to do their job and nothing more. Neither are impressive nor distracting, and you’ll bee too busy to notice either anyway. They’re not bad, but nothing to talk about either. It does run at a flawless 60 fps at all times, at least on the Switch.
I do have one main gripe, and that’s really with the Switch itself. While in portable mode, the game requires far too much precision and use of the triggers to really be enjoyable. If you’re going to play this game, you really want a Pro Controller, or at the very least the Joycon Grip. Otherwise, the game feels loose due to the small, cramped joysticks and triggers. On the Pro Controller, however, it’s pinpoint accuracy all the way.
At $15 for the Switch Version ($5 on PC) this is a budget title, but I still feel like the asking price is a little high for the amount of content you’ll receive. If you’re new to this type of game it’s going to take you a bit longer, and the unlocks easily double or triple that play time if you’re a completionist, easily providing about 3 hours of gameplay. Still, I’d say for the experienced gamer I’d wait for a sale, but it is a nice diversion from the huge 30-50 hour games that have been dropping this year.
Fundamentally, the game is a lot of fun to play, even if it is a bit short, and the story is basically just there to get you into blowing things up (I’m O.K. with that).
I recommend if you want something different to play or if you’re a fan of these styles of games, otherwise I’d recommending waiting for a sale.
Bleed is available now for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
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