I don’t even remember how I acquired this game, truth be told. It may have been in a Humble Bundle a while ago. That’s probably it. Bleed is a little 2D Action-Platformer incorporating heavy elements of Twinstick Shooters and Bullet Time. While I had a hell of a time getting used to the controls (truth be told, I don’t think I ever completely mastered them), for a game I can’t even remember how I obtained and so few people seem to talk about, I had a great time. I sat down, played it for the first time, and 2 to 3 hours later completed the main story on Normal difficulty.
Before one begins, I feel like this is a game that pretty much requires a controller to play, rather than a mouse and keyboard. I don’t know, maybe others could get the hang of it, but I ended up making my character imitate a chicken with its head cut off if said chicken was also packing heat every time – I couldn’t control it well. So in my opinion, definitely invest in an Xbox 360 Wired Controller or preferred controller of your choice to play this.
The controller preference for me is mainly due to the way you control the character, in that your left stick moves you, and your right stick shoots in the direction which you’re pointing, effectively making it a twinstick shooter. I wouldn’t have so much of a problem with this if they hadn’t decided to, for some reason, use right trigger as the jump button. Many was the time I wanted to shoot and instead jumped for amethyst joy as I was taken apart by some laser-emitting wheel I had intended to fire at, because it’s so ingrained into me that the trigger should be for shooting. That’s why it’s called a trigger! Still, it makes for a different gaming experience from your standard shooter schlock so I can’t complain too much, because at least they’re making it interesting for me.
A little too interesting for me in particular, because this was certainly targeted at gamers. Yes, this is a gamer’s game, where on the first level a ‘oops-I-thought-I-was-going-to-fall-to-my-death’ gag fell flat because the game had given me no reason to think that down wasn’t a direction I was supposed to go. The characters make ‘gamer’ quips, only about half of are amusing at all, but thankfully they’re short-lived enough to be inconsequential if you find that sort of thing cringe-worthy (save possibly for the final level).
Goodness, I haven’t even gotten into the plot! You play as a purple-haired lady named Wryn, whom aspires to be the greatest hero in the world, and intends to claim this title by systematically killing off the top six ‘greatest heroes of all time’. She can slow time down for a short while to get through tough obstacles and projectiles, can triple jump and move in midair as she does so effectively giving her a short amount of flight, and wields dual pistols with infinite ammo that fire so quick it’s a wonder how she hasn’t broken every bone in her hands yet. And yes, if you’re immediately struck with the thought of another game that has a stereotypical ‘geek’ protagonist systematically taking out bosses to get to the top of their ranks and be the best at their craft, then you and I are on the same wavelength, chum. Which, now that I think of it, is ironic due to the fact that in Bleed, society doesn’t really seem to want heroes anymore, and sees the remaining ones as by-gone relics of an age long passed, annoying wastes of space that cause nothing but annoyance to the general populace. It seems like the title No More Heroes would have been far more fitting for this game than it would have for the game it’s stuck with, named only for the hotel the protagonist stays in, although there’s a rather amusing twist at the end of Bleed concerning this widespread disdain and apathy towards heroes that I won’t spoil.
Throughout the game you get currency depending on how well you do during the stage, which can be used to buy health and Bullet Time upgrades as well as a good amount of new weapons, but quite frankly I felt as though all the weapons I bought were a considerable downgrade from my standard dual pistols I started out with – they were far less reliable, usually slower, and I could basically take anything out within one second with my pistols anyways, so I really didn’t understand the point of using anything besides them. I made it through the game just fine with my trusty machine-gun-like pistols. Maybe it’s just me, and I’m the one averse to change.
Despite my gripes, I found that after a while, I really began to enjoy the gameplay. The rush of it all and the retro chiptune-style background music combined with just how smooth everything felt really worked with me. I’ve always been a big believer in flow in games (a reason why I could never get into Sonic the Hedgehog in nearly every game except Generations, because even in the old games it forces you to stop a lot to platform and it just breaks the flow of going fast and it irks me a lot) and Bleed in my opinion really nails that feeling of flow that hardly ever breaks. And since most of the game is comprised and based around said flow of running and gunning and dashing like a maniac, I came away with it pretty positively!