Bleed combines a very Contra-like gameplay with the ideals of defeating bosses in Mega Man to create a very retro game, but with modern standards.

Bleed is a pretty ridiculous game predicated on shooting your way through the current heroes of the video game world to become the ultimate video game hero. Additional portions of the game also break the fourth wall, such as the hero Wryn blaming you for a game-over, but it doesn’t occur much besides that. It’s humorous when Bleed breaks the fourth wall, but I wish it happened more frequently to fit in with the nonsensical motif presented.

Bleed is a side-scroller shooter with a twist: you can dash around the screen with crazy acrobatics. After jumping, you’re allowed to perform several dashes in any direction, which are perfect for dodging or just moving quicker through a level. These surges through the air are, without a doubt, the key feature of Bleed. It becomes so much more fast-paced and dynamic. Because you have the ability to evade so quickly, the screen becomes frantic. Enemies and deadly projectiles are everywhere, and I had to stay on my toes at all times, otherwise, my health would rapidly decrease.

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The controls of Bleed are unique, and a bit hard to get a handle on at first, but after finishing the first level I became used to it. Oddly, this is due to Bleed giving you more control than most games offer. Aiming is done with the right thumbsticks, which can be pointed in any direction. Certain weapons, like the default dual pistols, take advantage of this with their ability to shoot at any angle. But more cumbersome weapons like the grenade launcher can be fired at far fewer angles.

The limitation of firing angles for the weapons in Bleed makes sense, but I don’t see much of a reason to use weapons beside the dual pistols. There is so much frantic dodging and jumping around that being able to constantly reassess your aim is required, and none of the other guns match the dual pistols in that regard. This didn’t necessarily make the game more difficult to beat, but I was yearning for some variety when it came to weapons and didn’t want a weapon that is, simply, less capable.

[quote_right]Yeah, there are enemies on your way to the big cheese, but they’re honestly just cannon fodder[/quote_right]Bosses are a major component to Bleed, very similarly to how they work in Mega Man. Yeah, there are enemies on your way to the big cheese, but they’re honestly just cannon fodder. Well, cannon fodder that resulted in my death an endless amount of times, but that is mostly due to the massive swarms of them on the screen at any point in time. Bleed basically becomes a game of memorization when it comes time to faceoffs against a level’s boss or mini-boss. They’re difficult but the key to beating them is just figuring out the various attack patterns. I died quite a bit, but thankfully, Bleed is incredibly accessible. It offers the chance to retry at various checkpoints, including before bosses, instead of shuttling you back to the start of a level.

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Repetition is the only thing holding Bleed back. It’s fun, but it’s pretty basic and there’s not much to do. New weapons can be purchased; new characters can be unlocked, but neither has much of an impact on my experience with Bleed. Stages are distinct enough from level to level, but nothing compelled me to go back and replay them, unless I wanted to punish myself by increasing the difficulty, which was brutal, but would probably interest someone really into the shooter genre.

The multiplayer in Bleed is interesting. I’m used to similar games that give each player their own life bar, and then compensate by increasing the game’s difficulty. Bleed doesn’t do this. Instead, players share a life bar and the enemies’ aptitude is static. I expected to die with greater frequency, but was surprised at how well this worked. It’s very possible to die faster, but the chance is also there to dish out an exponential amount of damage. In the end, it was a great couch-coop experience; even with the second player jumping in way later in the game.

Wrap Up

Bleed’s use of creative gameplay works well at breathing life into a fairly stagnant genre. It’s quirky and fun, but ultimately held back by repetition and weapon balance. Still, it is a competent shooter that provides fast-paced, thrilling gameplay.

score of 7