Thursday, December 14, 2017

Review: Bleed [ Nintendo Switch eShop ]

The 2D platforming shooter is a genre not very widely represented yet on the Switch, and certainly there’s nothing yet that’s quite like Bleed. It mixes a very colorful and cartoonish visual style with intense firefights, a hit list full of former greatest heroes in the world to take out, and a need for extreme maneuvering. If you think you’re up for some serious work and a lot of tough boss fights you may find it to your liking.

The name of the game in Bleed is using your guns and a whole lot of double and triple-jumping to make your way through hosts of enemies and varied environments while trying to stay alive. In order to make this something that can be accomplished by mere mortals thankfully you have unlimited continues and once you enter a new space you’ll continue from that spot rather than at the beginning. This is important because, in general, you’ll likely die quite a bit. The projectiles fly in abundance and in many cases the environmental traps you face will demand that you shoot, dodge, and make some tough jumps in parallel. Once you get through a section or two you’ll then typically face a mini boss (they’re usually not slouches themselves) and then complete another section before taking on the target of your mission.

With so much insanity you’ll typically need to choose your weapons carefully. While you’ll start out with a rocket launcher and dual pistols you’ll have an array of additional weapons you’ll be able to purchase with the points you earn over the course of the previous mission(s). You’re awarded base points which are then modified up or down based on the difficulty level you choose, your “style” (though I’m not sure how that is tallied), and your deaths. The weapons you can purchase are pretty varied and over the course of the game’s stages you’ll want and need to have some diverse options. The punch of a rocket is great but the firing speed is slow, the dual pistols don’t have much power behind them but can be fired quickly and that’s ideal for hitting fast-moving targets, the flamethrower doesn’t have much range but it does great damage to larger groups of enemies, and so on. Effective boss strategies often ended up revolving around making a great weapon choice and then pairing that with effective dodging and use of your time slowdown ability to try to hold your enemies in place as long as possible to do more damage to them.

Where the game falls down a bit for me is in that critical area of control and maneuvering. While I was able to adapt and get to the point where I did reasonably well with it the jumping in the game just doesn’t have a great feel overall. There’s a certain floaty quality one you get in the air and it feels like it makes you very vulnerable to all of those bullets flying around. While the fact that you can triple-jump is useful I think part of the reason it is there because the game needs it. Especially while you’re trying to dodge and shoot back at enemies there’s a certain erratic quality to the directional jumping that never quite clicked, it always felt a bit clumsy. Throw in some elements like a tendency for enemies to make low shots at you that are close to the ground and sometimes deaths just felt a bit cheap in some way.

While I appreciate Bleed’s style and energy my quibbles with its control consistently stood in the way of me liking it more. You can learn to adapt to the way games feel but overall Bleed just seems a little more distant from what I’d consider tight controls than I’d prefer in such an intense game. Mix that with fast-moving enemies and an abundance of bullets on the screen and it sometimes feels like that side of the table holds the game back a little. There’s no doubt it will have its fans, and in general I like what it does, but I personally prefer some of the other options on the platform more.

Score: 7.5

  • Varied and often-intense boss fights aplenty
  • An array of weapons that are necessary to properly utilize to be as successful as possible
  • Vibrantly colorful with on-screen action

  • The jumping is a bit floaty making you feel vulnerable in the air
  • Low to the ground shots from enemies sometimes end up feeling a bit cheap
  • The game’s speed is nice but with some enemy patterns it felt like you have too little time to react to some movements