Bleed is an action heavy shoot-em-up platformer. Developed originally by Ian Campbell and published on Nintendo Switch by Digerati. Bleed takes inspiration from classic platformers like Mega Man X and arcade shmups. For this review I played the Switch version of the game. Much like Kid Tripp, this is my second time through. Originally I loved it, but I’m not sure it holds up after playing the sequel and many games like it. Now let’s see if taking such heavy inspiration helps or harms quality in the long run.
You take control of Wryn, a girl with many weapons and large dreams. Your goal is to take down the world’s greatest heroes in order to become the greatest hero of all time. Bleed is very much a boss-rush game, very similar to Mega Man. Wryn starts the game off with a rocket launcher and dual pistols, these weapons are enough to get through the entire adventure. You have the standard fanfare for Mega Man X inspired platforms: running, jumping, wall jumps, and a nice and fast movement speed to dodge anything and everything without losing pace. You can also slow-down time and do mid-air dashes. There is a shop to buy more weapons upgrades to your abilities. The game calls the dash a “double jump” but you can do it three times before landing. While dashing you have control over your trajectory than you do with standard jumps.
Interesting concept right off the bat, but is it fun to play? It very much is, but there were a few times I felt like it was the game’s fault for me dying or getting hit. Sadly, that made those scenarios stick out like a pony in a pigsty. You never get overpowered bullets spammed at you from all directions, so for a shmup things are pretty calm most of the time. For some this could be great and for others it might be kind of an issue. It also feels very much like Mega Man X, which isn’t bad in my opinion.
Level design is pretty good for the most part. The fore and background don’t typically blend together and it follows the basic principles for great level-design. It uses the adage ‘teach by showing, not telling,’ in its tutorial and it does it rather well. Some sections of levels can stick out because of their low quality, but most of it is pretty good. Overall, some levels can feel short and leave you wanting more, but I’m not too sure if that’s even a negative for the game.
The presentation is decent, sprites are large and heavily detailed, the game never takes itself too seriously, and the sound design all around is pretty good. One odd thing in my experience was just how “empty” the sound felt. This was the case for bullets noises, dashes, and jumping. I never really realized that there was music in the background until I had finished the levels and went back to check some of them. While this is very opinionated, I think the music should feel more prominent, like it does in Sonic or Mega Man itself.
The story is mostly an excuse to get to gameplay, but what story is there is played for laughs. While never intrusive to the levels, the writing is self-aware and it knows nobody is taking it seriously. Because of that, I was able to enjoy the cutscenes even more than I did the first time through. It’s rare for a game to do that for me and I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like it among indies either.
The game is pretty short, it takes two to three hours to beat it on normal, and that could definitely be an issue for some. Your reward for beating it is more characters to use in extra game modes such as arcade mode. There four playable characters Wryn, Robo-Wryn, White MK 1, and The Rival. Each playable character feels similar to Wryn and, while I didn’t unlock them all, they seemingly have different attributes kind of like how in the classic Sonic games the other other characters have different attributes. Their powers didn’t change the overall gameplay but give you some new options while playing.
I heavily recommend Bleed to those interested in or are fans of Mega Man X. It may have a steep asking price for a short campaign. But it’s no worse than Mega Man. If you aren’t sure, wait for a sale on either Switch or PC. If you’re a fan of the genre, I doubt you will end up regretting the time or money put into the title.
A Switch review copy was provided by the developer
supiroguy has awarded Bleed The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval