Like the game itself, I’m going to keep this review short but very sweet. Bleed 2 is a fast-paced 2-D action title developed by Canadian game designer Ian Campbell, AKA Bootdisk Revolution. In Bleed 2, just like its predecessor, you play as Wryn, the world’s greatest hero, as she fends off hordes of invading robots. At first glance, it slightly resembles a 16- to 32-bit Mega Man title with a purple-haired chibi heroine who can air dodge, deflect certain incoming bullets and kick bosses’ asses. There aren’t powers like the Blue Bomber, but Wryn’s trusty pistols and katana definitely even the odds against the hundreds of baddies she faces, including wildly varying regular enemies, bosses and mini-bosses.
As good as this sounds, in the hands of the wrong developer, Bleed 2‘s infinite lives and minimal penalty of mistakes could’ve also fallen into the trap of monotony or simply not engaging players enough. Fortunately, Ian Campbell introduced a challenging risk/reward system throughout each level. As players successfully attack, defend, triple jump and taunt their opponents, a combo meter in the upper-right corner of the screen fills up from Rank D to at least S (I wasn’t good enough to see if there’s an S+ or SS), but taking even a single hit brings the meter back down by 85-95%. Avoiding them is no small task in this nearly-bullet-hell side-scroller but it adds a great (optional) element of difficulty to an already frenetic game.
Of course there are bonuses too. Beating the game on various difficulties allows Wryn to unlock different weapons for her loadout, which she can change at any time in the pause menu. And did I mention how adorably nice she is? Any time you die, the screen goes black and she has a positive message for you (“That was tough; I’m sure we’ll get them next time!”). I actually felt supported when she’d say things like “This is Normal Mode? Jeez; it feels like Hard Mode to me,” or “They say a hero is only as good as his toughest villain; maybe this challenge is good for us!” It’s the little things like this (and the Scott Pilgrim: The Videogame element of animated pixel fun) that help make the game a pleasant experience.
So while Bleed 2 may come across as a simplistic side-scrolling action title, it’s both fun and challenging if you give it the chance to be. I’m calling this an 8 out of 10.
Disclaimer: AIR Entertainment was given a review copy of Bleed 2 prior to launch.