If there was a core design philosophy behind Bleed 2, I think it would have been “do the same thing as before, but better”. In almost every way that matters, Bleed 2 feels like a more polished version of its predecessor; you find yourself fighting a lot of the same enemies with some of the same weapons and all the same abilities. There’s even a boss rush near the end where you literally power though each of the original Bleed‘s major bosses.

This familiar design, plus whatever the developer may have chosen to either downplay or take out of the game altogether, might have made this feel like an insulting cash grab sequel if it didn’t just feel so much better to play. Developer Ian Campbell pretty much took the Nintendo route and polished his formula rather than innovating on it, to nearly the same result. Bleed 2 feels familiar, yet is fresh enough to stand on its own.

One of the games biggest changes is that there is an actual running narrative this time. Instead of just literally going through a list of levels for no discernible reason, here Bleed 2 fluidly movies you from one level to the next, with each mission book ended with a news reporter gushing over your actions. This doesn’t add much to the overall experience, but it does add a bit of flow that was sourly lacking from the original. You know what would have made this set up better though? If Will Mcavoy had been the news caster instead. “Greatest Hero on Earth? I don’t know what the FUCK you’re talking about!” (Editor’s Note to Self: Update Will’s swearing tally.)

I guess the developer is more of a dog person. Now that I think about it, I’d like a game explaining why this world is filled with Ninja Kitties. Never mind, spin offs never work.

While the story gets expanded, the gameplay in Bleed 2 is heavily streamlined. Sometimes for the better, other times not so much. The biggest offenders here are the new levels. Where the original game had full stages leading up to each boss, here you only get a short reprieve between bosses. That’s not to say that any of these sections were bad, but with all the work that clearly went into smoothing out the controls, it’s a shame the game puts a hacksaw to its run time.

I think this change was made to accommodate the new upgrade system, where instead of purchasing new equipment, you have to beat the game on different difficulties. If that’s true then it’s doubly disappointing, because your starting gear is ridiculously overpowered. Right from the start you’re given a pistol as well as a sword that not only deals damage to enemies, but can reflect enemy shots back at them. I went through the entire game not even knowing you could change weapons and only found out when I checked specifically for this review.

You can just see the “Oh fuck” in the bosses eyes as Wryn slows time and sends bullets back at it. (Editor’s Note: Update the tally again. Might get bingo today…)

That really is the extent of my issues with Bleed 2. Everything else has been polished to a mirror shine. The controls are tighter, the graphics are cleaner, and the soundtrack is more enjoyable. It really is such a shame that the the game ends so soon. I’ve already run out of things to talk about, and I haven’t even found a way to shoehorn in my contractually obligated Metal reference yet. Okay, I can do this. How about: Bleed 2? More like Bloodbath, amiright? Okay, not my best. But at least I didn’t make a fucking Linkin Park reference. (Editor’s Note: I guess you aren’t crossing that New Divide today. HEYO!)

headerBleed 2 was developed by Ian Campbell

Point of Sale: Steam

$9.99: Not to big a wound for your wallet.

A review copy for Bleed 2 was provide by Ian Campbell.

William Shelton is awarding Bleed 2 the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.