Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Review: Bleed (PC)



BLEED
Platform: PC (Steam)
Released: 2013
Genre: Platformer
Developer/Publisher: Ian Campbell
Buy on Steam

The strangely titled retro platformer Bleed from Bootdisk Revolution was released recently on Steam but has been available DRM free and on XBox Live since 2012. Featuring a cool pixelated purple-haired heroine dual-wielding pistols, you can make sure this game got my attention and getting it for my birthday from a friend, I had to try it out. Is it worth buying or is this indie game just another retro platformer in the sea of retro platformers? Let's find out.

The story in Bleed isn't exactly complicated stuff. You're basically sent out to kill some ex-heroes who have turned into villains somehow over time in order to become the new ultimate hero. The game does have its own unique humor though and contains several references to oldschool platformers and clich├ęs. I particurarily love the level and boss descriptions and the main character has a ton of personality as every time you die, she will utter a comment about how she died, often pertaining to the level or enemy you fought. The story is pretty basic but sufficiently quirky to make it a bit unique although the gameplay is obviously the focus of the game.

The game plays a lot like the old classic Megaman games although with its own spin on things. The basic goal of each level, which can be played alone or co-op with a friend, is to make it through to the end and killing everything in your path, using your abilities to survive the hazards and enemies that come your way. The controls are gonna take some getting used to, especially the jumping mechanics (which confused me a bit at first as your double jump is controlled by aiming it). You're given two weapon slots and start out with dual pistols and a rocket launcher (two of my favourite weapons in any game) although as you complete each level you earn money you can use to buy new weapons and upgrades and you can change your weapon loadout at any time during the level, which expands your inventory slightly. You're also given a slowmo ability which comes in handy during certain areas and boss fights and it can be upgraded to last longer by giving you more energy, and a health bar which can be upgraded and you have infinite lives so losing is not that big of a deal, respawning you in the room you died. This is a godsend because this game is really challenging, even on the Easy difficulty. I really recommend not playing on anything but Easy when first playing this game as even that mode seriously kicked my ass on several occasions, especially since the controls feel a bit awkward at first and take some getting used to.

Once you have beat the game's 7 levels with the last one basically being a boss run, you can play through those again on higher difficulties or attempt some harder modes such as the Arcade mode (playing through the game on one life) or Challenge mode where you fight 3 bosses simultaneously on one screen. You can also unlock other characters by completing the game on other difficulties so the game does have some replay value although for me the game felt a bit too short and with not enough differences to warrant repeated playthroughs. I would've loved the ability to play more than just 7 levels personally.

The graphics are pretty decent, sporting the retro pixelated style you can expect from a retro platformer so there's not much to say about it. It feels deliciously 80's though with a lot of purple and pink used and a pretty broad colour palette. The game has a pretty good soundtrack although it just didn't stick that well with me for some reason. The main theme is pretty much the only memorable theme from the game in my opinion which is a shame. I just didn't feel the soundtrack stood out that well for me.

So overall, how good is Bleed? For me, the game is pretty average and kind of gets lost in the sea of retro indie platformers these days. Although I enjoy the style, especially the dual pistols and just the fact the game has a badass heroine and a quirky story, I found it way too short and way too difficult to really get into. The controls take some getting used to and even then I just can't find much replay value. It might be something I have the odd craving for now and then but I can't see myself playing this much.


SUMMARY:
STORY: 5/10

Largely forgetable and just there to serve the gameplay, although a bit quirky.
GRAPHICS: 7/10
Colourful retro graphics, but nothing you haven't seen a million times before in other retro platformers. If you like this style, this game is probably for you but for me it just feels a bit above average.
GAMEPLAY: 5/10
Difficult controls take a bit getting used to giving the game a bit of an unfair difficulty level for beginners and it will take a while to get into. It's a decent platformer though and the gunplay is fun. I will have to say it's a very short game though, the only replay value is there if you somehow feel the need to play through the same levels over and over.
SOUND: 6/10
It's classic 8bit style sound all the way but just doesn't stand out enough for me. I've seen this done a million times already in other indie platformers and this game just doesn't do anything unique in the sound department. It's decent and definitely fits the game, but just not memorable enough to be anything but average.

FINAL SCORE: 6/10

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