Movement is basic but very fluid – I recommend a controller for the PC version (the version I tested for this review). At any one time, you may equip two weapons (you can have numerous available to you but only two equipped) and freely switch between them. Wryn can aim in a 360 degree arc around her – controlled by the right analog stick – while movement is controlled with the left stick. That combination works well. I did have some difficulty adjusting to the fact that jump is mapped to the right trigger and not the A button as one would expect. After playing for awhile, it became obvious that this choice was deliberate because of the close relationship between jumping and the Matrix’esque bullet time skill you eventually pickup which is mapped to the left trigger. Both jumping and bullet time combine to create another cool and very powerful skill – the jump-dash. Eventually it became second nature to pull the left trigger and start my limited bullet time and then quickly pull the right trigger to execute a jump dash where you quickly dive through the air while the rest of the baddies are in slo-mo. Jump-dash can quickly level the playing field when you’re faced with near impossible numbers of bad guys, bullets, obstacles, etc… As I mentioned before, jump-dash is time limited (regenerates over time), as is the amount of times you may jump dash in a row (3) which forces you to make the most of the slow motion time you have with the weapons you have equipped. Boss battles will have you sweating every last nanosecond of your bullet time.
The game is a bit on the short side but it is fun to try and collect all the upgrades and goodies you can along the way – some may find doing that is totally necessary to complete the game on the most difficult setting. Speaking of that, completing the game on certain difficulty levels will unlock additional playable characters with their own distinctive play styles helping with replayability. You can also unlock additional play modes like a Challenge mode where you get to fight up to three of the “fallen” heroes at once and an Arcade mode where you attempt to run through the game with only one life.
There is no multiplayer. Too bad since it would be FANTASTIC to run side-by-side with a buddy through the Arcade mode!
The game has an over-the-top silly 80’s arcade feel, thanks in no small part to the pixel style graphics and 8-bit style music. The retro graphics are colorful and add to the overall silliness and fun of the game. Nothing seemed too hard to see, overly detailed, under-detailed, or glitchy. Just solid, good looking pixel-style graphics. Younger gamers may be put off by the lack of all the latest graphical bits and bobs like volumetric lighting, detailed shaders, etc… but Bleed is a retro-styled 2D action platformer and the graphics are one piece of the puzzle that makes that happen.
The other piece of the aforementioned puzzle is the audio. The background music is suitably campy and 8-bit’esque and should bring almost any 30+ gamer back to their roots and make them all teary eyed and nostalgic for consoles and arcade games of old. Sound effects are all done well and are very fitting with the overall arcade/old console feel of the game. Funky retro music and campy sound effects might spoil any other, more modern game but in Bleed they do justice to video gaming’s past.