Bleed – The Switch Island Review
More and more games these days seem to be embracing the cyberpunk aesthetic. Deus Ex, Frostpunk and of course, a title high on everyone’s watch lists; Cyberpunk 2077. It seems then that indie darling Bleed was way ahead of the pack. Originally released in 2012 by Canadian developer ‘Bootdisk Revolution’ Bleed is steeped in a cool futuristic 80s vibe, with frequent flares of hot pink that would make any contemporary developer start drooling.
You play as the spritely Wryn as she journeys to become the greatest hero of all time, mowing down the competition along the way. Unfortunately that’s it in terms of story, the game plays essentially as a boss rush with each level having some light platforming and grunt like enemies, before you face off against the boss (some of who have multiple stages). As you defeat each boss you literally cross their name off a list as you rise closer to the top of all time heroes. There is some plot development in the very late game, but what little there is doesn’t really do much to distract from the absence of a proper narrative.
Luckily not having a story really isn’t that much of an issue when the gameplay is as good as it is in Bleed. Part action-platformer, part twin-stick shooter, the game is a joy to play. You’ll jump and dash in the air, chaining them together to wiz around the stage avoiding damage. You can also slow down time for a short while, allowing you to pull off moves than make you feel like John Wick. Controlling Wryn also feels good, each mistake felt like I was the one who messed up and it wasn’t the game being unfair. The game also offers 2 player local co-op, which is as fun as it is stressful.
The game isn’t very long, on my first playthrough I finished the game within about 3 hours. However that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the focus of the game is all about replaying levels and improving your score. Part or your HUD is your ranking; starting ad D and going up to S rank you can gain points by dealing heavy damage and avoiding being hit. There’s also several score multipliers at the end of each stage that take into account things like your chosen difficulty.
The aim of scoring isn’t just for bragging rights – there’s a host of weapons and outfits to unlock that change up the gameplay somewhat, so you can play the game again or try them out in Arcade mode. However that really the biggest crux of Bleed, even though the game’s shorter length is fitting for the style of game, I could only go so far by replaying the same boss fights over and over. After a while I found myself wanting more variety in the fights, wanting a fight where I didn’t already know the attack patterns. This isn’t really a criticism as such, because it goes to show that what’s here is great; there just isn’t enough of it.
Overall I really enjoyed myself with Bleed. It’s not perfect and I wouldn’t struggle to think of some improvements, but if you’re looking for a good pick up and play title that you can come back to every now and then Bleed should be right up your street. The sequel Bleed 2 also made its way to the Switch last year and has already made its way onto my watch list, but for now that review will just have to wait.