She’s proven herself as the greatest videogame hero of all time over on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, but now Wryn our pink haired protagonist is back. And this time she’s looking to relive her epic adventures once more as BLEED has arrived on Nintendo Switch. But how does it hold up on the portable device?
The overall goal of BLEED is a fairly simple one. Wryn is unhappy. She’s seen hero after hero paraded before the world and she wants to have her name up there; but she doesn’t want to be equal to the other famous faces out there. She wants to become the greatest videogame hero of all time and it’s your job to make that happen. How? By besting every other hero in the world from her hand drawn list of foes of course!
Overall there are seven heroes to overcome in BLEED, each of which provide a boss fight at the end of each level. With seven heroes altogether, if it’s a lengthy experience you’re after then you’ll probably want to look elsewhere, as an entire run will take no longer than an hour at most to finish off. That said though, BLEED isn’t a one and done game by any means, and if you like to squeeze every last drop of gameplay out of your games, then there’s plenty of enjoyment to be found by going back through on the harder difficulties after that initial playthrough – not to mention there are also Arcade and Challenge modes to bring some variety to the standard story mode.
At the start of each level, players can choose from four difficulty levels from Easy to V.Hard. On Easy, the only thing you really need to focus on is enemy fire and to make sure to utilise Wryn’s quad-jump ability to evade any off-guard bullets. Switching it up to Normal however provides a fair challenge – one that I barely scraped through. To master this, you’ll need to make a fair few trips to the in-game shop between levels to ensure you stock up on suitable upgrades. New weapons and ability upgrades such as increased energy are all present, and as enemies are faster, harder and fire more devastating bullets, you’ll need to utilise everything at your disposal. To buy the upgrades you’ll need to complete levels and hope that your performance based score will translate to a decent amount of currency to spend in the shop.
Each level offers a vast change over the one before it, with unique enemies and level designs shining through amongst the fast-paced run’n’gun action. Each provides platforming combat in a side-scrolling fashion, with progression met by reaching the checkpoint at the end of each section.
Killing your enemies however will be more rewarding as every stage comes with its own score-based alphabetical ranking system with the coveted S-Rank proving the hardest to get. Getting hits on the enemy raises the score and in-turn your rank, however get hit and you’ll quickly see that shiny rating dropping in seconds.
Whilst it would have been nice to see more levels within the game, it’s fair to say the levels included are a spectacle to behold. Despite being pixelated in design, BLEED is without a doubt a beautiful creation. With vibrant and ever-changing colours throughout, it certainly catches the eye as you run, jump and shoot your way from start to finish whether you’re playing portable or via the TV.
It’s also worth noting that even though BLEED is rather simple on Easy difficulty, the challenge is ramped up dramatically – in a way that’s much more noticeable when compared to other games – should you wish to proceed over to the next difficulties. For a start the bullets coming at you in anything other than Easy quickly start to bring a true bullet-hell experience and it’ll take a lot of hard work to even make it to each checkpoint without losing the majority of your health bar.
Fortunately the controls are simplistic enough though, with only a few buttons needed for the important actions; ZR for jumping, ZL for Wryn’s slow-mo ability, and L or R for changing weapons. This means you’ll have little need to worry about what you’re supposed to be pressing and more time to focus on improving your skill level.
In all fairness there’s very little to complain about with BLEED. The gameplay is fluid and fast and generally it’s a really enjoyable classic platform experience. One thing that does niggle away however is just how easy the mid-level enemies are when compared to the boss characters.
Obviously, you don’t want every enemy you come across bringing an overbearing barrage of bullets at you, but when compared to the end level bosses, normal enemies are excessively underpowered. Harder difficulties do remedy this, with a lot more enemy fire coming your way, but it would have been nice to have seen as much importance given to other enemies rather than just the boss of each stage.
Away from the Story are the Arcade and Challenge modes. Arcade is the ultimate classic experience as it pits players against each level of the story once more, except this time with the added challenge of a single life. You can of course choose your difficulty, but Easy is the only feasible difficulty this could be possible on without buying every single upgrade within the shop first.
Challenge mode on the other hand brings something that is entirely unfair – but that’s the idea. Here you get to skip out all the mid-level enemies and jump straight to the boss fight, but instead of just one boss, you’ll be facing three at once. Unless you’re a highly skilled individual who thrives in the face of the impossible, chances are you’re probably not going to last very long at all here. Any hopes you may have for beating it – if that’s possible – are next to none. Is it a worthwhile mode? Probably not, but at least the option is there.
Overall though, if you enjoy platformers, action-heavy run’n’gun titles, or just love a great challenge, BLEED has everything you need and you should without a doubt be getting involved.
Massive thanks to: Digerati
Release date: Dec 2017
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review), Xbox One, PS4, PC