Review: Bleed deserves more praise than I know how to give

Bleed is an action platformer from indie developer Bootdisk Revolution (which happens to consist solely of one Ian Campbell). Bleed was originally released according to Bootdisk Revolution’s blog on December 12, 2012 for PC and Xbox Live with a later release through Steam’s Greenlight on July 3, 2013. The game itself focuses on protagonist Wryn and her desire to become the ultimate hero. So really, it’s a darn good thing that she’s super good at jumping and has a well concealed arsenal that never runs out of ammo. Is there any better kind of arsenal? She progresses through an increasingly difficult 7 levels of pixel heavy 2D action goodness in what has to be one of the most fluid and rewarding platformers to come out in years.

The story

Though a game this well put together probably doesn’t need much story to be enjoyable, there is one and it’s pretty fun. In the year 20xx we end up with some pretty hideous heroes. By 21xx, they’ve gotten lazy resting on their laurels and the world needs to be shown what a true hero is. Enter Wryn and her dual pistols and rocket launcher. In true comic style, she starts with the 6th best hero ever and begins her quest for ultimate heroine-ness. As she (quite literally) scratches heroes off  her list and moves toward number 1, we start to wonder who keeps piloting those weird, out of place mechs she has to fight? Dun-dun-duuuun!

Just make them bleed already

Bleed is about action and delivers it like few others. The gameplay is extremely smooth and kinetic. Thankfully, each level allows you to set the difficulty individually so the story can progress regardless of your particular amount of coordination. Perhaps that’s just lucky for me as I’m terrible at pressing the right button in the right situation. As you complete levels, you earn points that can be spent on upgrades to health or new weapons so don’t forget (like yours truly) to stop in at the store and buy things with them. The enemies are all well designed and bosses will likely require a couple attempts by most gamers. Although you can only have two weapons equipped at any given time, you can always pause the game and changeup which two weapons those are whenever you need to. Use a sword to deflect projectiles like a Jedi and then blast baddies in the face with a shotgun. How fun is that? If that doesn’t do it for you, you can even slow time for a bit to get that perfect shot or triple-jump just the right way to avoid a volley of projectiles.

Keeping it fresh

Bleed - firing shotgun at enemies while jumping

Eat lead you floating blobs!

I managed to play through the main story in about 3 hours and I didn’t find a minute of it dull or repetitive. Each level is highly inspired and all of the foes you face keep things fresh and interesting throughout the game. While each level follows the classic pattern of fodder; mini-boss; fodder; boss, the unique design and effort put into Bleed really shines through over and over. Then, of course, the unlockables come after beating the story for the first time. In fact, arcade mode will be perfect for all the hardcore and roguelike gamers out there. See how far you can really get on easy with just one life. No, seriously, go for it because I can’t beat more than one level like that.

The only thing that I can complain about in Bleed is how difficult the controls can be and the lack of ability to customize them on the PC. Playing with just keyboard and mouse was way too difficult for me. The bonus is that Xbox 360 controllers are natively supported on the PC version of the game. The downside is that it still requires a level of coordination that I am seriously deficient in. It’s a good thing that there are frequent restart points in each level or I would never have completed this game.

Well worth the price

What can I say? Bleed fills the Mega Man shaped hole in my life. While you don’t go around collecting powers from the bosses, you do get that amazing platform experience that seems to be missing from modern games. At only $5, Bleed is worth every penny. I love the emergence of the indie scene and I love what they’re able to put out without having to be a AAA blockbuster title even more. If Bleed is any indication of the future, I hope to see some amazing things come out of Bootdisk Revolution. If you head over to the Bootdisk Revolution website, you can pick up the game DRM free for PC and receive a Steam key as well. Or heck, download the free demo version and try out the first level if you aren’t yet convinced. You’ll be glad you did.