Tuesday, March 6

Review: Bleed 2 [Nintendo Switch eShop]


The original Bleed was a breath of fresh air on the Switch eShop, marrying platforming, insane boss fights, and twin-stick shooting intensity. While mechanically it wasn’t as fluid and polished as it could be it was still a solid experience. Armed with an understanding of which areas needed refinement the developer has now come back with the sequel, Bleed 2, and it has pretty well removed everything holding it back, making for a satisfyingly fluid and intense shooting experience.


Now that you’ve solidified your place as the World’s Hero (see the original Bleed) you’d think you could get a moment to relax and enjoy video games, but unfortunately evildoers have other plans. After a quick tutorial giving you the rundown of your essential triple jump, twin-stick shooting, time-slowing, katana slash (handy for repelling properly-colored projectiles and attacks), and taunt abilities you’re as ready as you’ll ever be. What follows is a mix of more straight-forward platforming and shooting in corridors and some very creative scenarios like zero gravity in a rotating space ship. Never really giving you an opportunity to settle in and relax, you’ll find that you need to think quickly and adapt in order to keep up with the ever-changing level design.

Complementing the changes in scenery is a collection of bosses who will absolutely throw everything possible at you in their multi-phase barrages. While there’s no doubt that there will be some dodging involved the style of attacks are rarely repeated, making every new boss somewhat of a learning experience. Some will require your bullets and some your sword, but almost all of them will require a degree of patience and looking for an opportunity to counter-attack. Up through the game’s final Epilogue battle it never lets up and you can’t ever be sure what you’ll need to face next, which really adds to the fun. Once you finish the game and add in new weapons, characters (including a cameo from another indie title), ability unlocks, and mutators as well you can continue to change up the challenge and experience the game in new ways. This is, of course, on top of the added Arcade and Challenge modes which in themselves offer up different styles and intensities of play.


One qualifier to go with the enthusiasm I have for the diversity of bosses and their attacks is that some of it is a repeat of the original game. Back in robotic form not only are some of their looks the same but the nature of their attacks can be as well. Thankfully, for the most part the refinements that have been in the game in general apply to the bosses as well and just enough has changed that the fights feel fresh and, thankfully, generally less cheap than before (looking at you low-angle shots from the original game). With that exception in pretty well every way Bleed 2 shows a great deal of care and polish at every phase.

If you’re a big run-and-gun fan there are very few titles on the platform that I hold in as high regard as Bleed 2. The action is intense, character movement is fluid, and there’s something new thrown at you at every turn. Perhaps more critically with multiple skill levels and a pretty lenient continue system the game is also surprisingly fair, and thus accessible, to gamers of just about any skill level. That isn’t to say beating the game on Easy is a cakewalk, you’ll still need to earn it, but with so many games that default only to brutal it is great to see a game that scales down effectively.


Score: 9

Pros:
  • Diverse and creative boss fights
  • The flow of the game and controls are spot-on
  • Many ways to scale the intensity and style of play

Cons:
  • For people who played the original there is some repetition
  • Even with scalable difficulty it may prove too difficult for people with less dexterity