Bleed 2 Review
Triple jumping with rocket boots. Reflecting shots with a beam katana. Directing the spray of thousands of bullets with the thumb stick. Slowing time to weave between enemy blasts. Standing on a semi-truck while shooting down attack helicopters piloted by evil cats, then having that semi-truck turn into a jet so you can fly close enough to jump on missiles and ride those to a the enemy’s starship.
Bleed 2. If you like ridiculous action, it is your next obsession.
The evil villain Valentine is attacking the city, and as the Greatest Hero of All Time, Wryn, it would kind of look bad if you sat around playing Super Nintendo while they reduced the city to rubble. So, you set off, ready to shoot them down with an endless stream of machine gun fire, which can be directed just by pointing the right thumbstick. This makes shooting down foes so effortless, cutting down enemies without ever slowing down.
Of course, they’re going to shoot back, nuisances that they are. They fire a mixture of purple and yellow shots, and while you can only dodge around the yellow shots, you can either disperse or knock back attacks on the purple ones using your katana. Every time you flick the right thumbstick (which also controls your shots), you’ll swing the blade, letting you either get rid of the attack or send it hurtling back at whoever shot it, doing extra damage. While carving up enemies with bullets is fun, making them eat their own shots feels even better.
Still, gotta dodge a lot of shots, and this is where Wryn’s jet boots come in handy. She can triple jump before she needs to touch the ground, and you have a lot of control over where she goes as she jumps. This allows for a lot of maneuverability, letting you sneak over and around any errant bullets. If those give you trouble, or if you just want to line up your shots more precisely, you can slow time, letting you sneak around easily or take better aim.
Doing these all at once feels great, and all of it is very intuitive using the game’s simple control scheme. It’s easy to direct shots with the right stick as you slow time, guiding your highly-maneuverable jump through a blanket of shots, knocking back the occasional purple one on your way through this deadly array. You can move so quickly and effortlessly that it makes survival into a fun dance, giving you tons of tools to keep from getting hurt.
Bleed 2 also gives you plenty of great boss battles, enemy setups, and odd locations to use them in. Through broken streets, rolling down the highway on a transforming semi-truck, or flying through the clouds, there is an endless stream of absurd places to be fighting in, and all while ridiculous enemies like cat helicopter pilots, rocket-toting robots, and living piles of goo try to take you down, falling as you rush past them, bullets flying.
The bosses might bring you to a stop, as they are several of them in each stage, requiring you play around with the mechanics to avoid their weapons while constantly pouring on damage. These things will play around with environments you need to shoot through, knock back debris, or taunt them in order to help take them down. Also, you’ll be fighting flying cowgirls, bow-wearing mechanical snakes, and a machine that fights an awful lot like The Yellow Devil from Mega Man. They add constant variety with their looks, and also play around with the mechanics in varied ways that keep the game endlessly entertaining.
“Run and gun bliss”
Everything happens fast, too. The game feels like it is always getting you to rush ahead and take risks, using your high maneuverability to get out of trouble or keep pressing on. You can whip through each stage with ease once you get good at the controls, and it just feels so, so good to do so. This speed also feels like it’s amplified by the game’s soundtrack, which is a nonstop barrage of pounding rock. There needs to be an edition of this game that comes with the soundtrack.
The game features a scoring system that slowly builds up a rank as you kill enemies without taking damage. This feature won’t matter much to you on the first few runs, but as you get comfortable with the controls and maneuvers, it adds an extra fun challenge to see how far you can go without getting hit. It also gives you practice should you want to go to arcade mode, where you only have one life.
The regular modes give you infinite lives, and are very generous with checkpoints. Someone with low skill could easily have a blast with the game and complete it, or they can choose one of four difficulty levels to add new boss and enemy mechanics, as well as challenges, to make it harder for themselves. Bleed 2 wants you to enjoy it regardless of skill level.
And on top of it all, you can do it all in local co-op. Having two people shooting their way through all this mayhem is run and gun bliss. Just nonstop pewpewpewpewpew.
Once you finish it, you unlock some neat modes. You can choose to enable certain Mutators to alter how the game plays, giving yourself infinite health, changing the size of enemy shots, or reveal aspects of the game and how it was built. Players also unlock new weapons to use as they play, like the powerful rocket launcher, or new characters that change up how the game works (like the blade-handed heroine from They Bleed Pixels).
If those don’t work for you, beating it unlocks an optional mode where you can fight up to three of the game’s bosses at a time. You’re free to choose three major foes to tangle with, and the game just sticks you in a tiny arena with them. It’s an absurd mode, but it lets you make up some wild fights that are a blast to work through.
Bleed 2 is a nonstop torrent of side-scrolling shooter joy, giving you a character that can weave through the air with easily-directed jumps, slow time for extra precision, and keep up a stream of shots as you face down increasingly-silly bosses in increasingly-silly places. It’s fast and fun, built to be easy for newcomers or hyper-challenging for the masochistic, and just offers fast-paced shooting pleasure.
Go buy it already.