Bleed (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 15.01.2018

Review for Bleed on Nintendo Switch

Heroes are a thing of the past in 21XX. A century has gone by without a new hero rising up to join the Hall of Heroes, and spunky protagonist Wryn simply isn't having it. Determined to kill all six heroes in order to wipe the slate clean, Wryn sets out on a platforming journey filled with plenty self awareness and referential humour. It would be easy for Bleed to rely entirely on its bizarre narrative and charm, but it's not without engaging gameplay and an incredibly refined control scheme. After looking at the PS4 port, now Cubed3 checks out the Nintendo Switch port.

More than any other genre, platformers are the one that endure homage upon homage from indie developers. The good ones, like Super Meat Boy and Shovel Knight, redefine or re-imagine the genre in some capacity and end up as fondly remembered as their classic counterparts. The not so good ones, think Mighty No. 9, suffer from riding the tailcoats of the old greats without trying to solidify their own identity. Bleed seems like it would fall into the latter category, what with its somewhat sloppy aesthetic and reliance on self awareness, but it's genuinely one of the most original platformers in the last few years. To call it an homage would be to deny just how creative it is.

Wryn's goal is to become the first hero to be inducted into the Hall of Heroes in 100 years, which, by her logic, requires her to kill the six best heroes. The story follows a linear progression with Wryn starting from the bottom and making her up to the world's greatest heroine. Homages to other games are, interestingly enough, mostly relegated to boss designs and take inspiration from arcade titles instead of old school platformers. Most of the references are broad enough to be overlooked, as well, paving the way towards a strong sense of identity that doesn't rely on other projects to feel whole.

Screenshot for Bleed on Nintendo Switch

Each stage is part of the typical "move right to reach the end" platformer formula, with a few gimmicks sprinkled throughout. On its own, the level design is fairly basic with a lack of emphasis on demanding jumps and an abundance of simple rooms with enemies to fight off. It's the mechanics that elevate the stages into so much more. Wryn's skill-set gives her quite a few different approaches to each stage and encourage enemy design that, in turn, enhances how each level plays out.

Wryn can fire off her weapons in any direction with the right analogue stick; she can triple jump at command; she can direct herself in her jumps; and she can trigger a bullet-time sequence. Of all these techniques, Wryn's ability to bullet-time is by far the most mechanically important. To compensate for her useful skill-set, enemies attack fast and often. In later levels, especially, it isn't unusual to be bombarded with an almost bullet hell level of assault. The triple jump's manoeuvrability allows for quick bursts of freeform dodging, but the speed at which enemies attack can make it difficult to avoid getting hit, especially during boss fights. Bullet time slows the game down enough where Wryn can control her triple jump more reliably and even score in some extra hits she otherwise wouldn't be able to due to the base speed.

Screenshot for Bleed on Nintendo Switch

Bullet-time's main drawback is that it relies on an energy meter that drains fast. An overreliance on the top ability will inevitably lead to Wryn being unable to access it when she needs it most. Thankfully, there are ways to circumvent that unfortunate scenario. Throughout each stage, Wryn carries a rank with her that dips and rises depending on how well she does. Starting at D and ending at S, clearing a stage with a high rank will reward Wryn with points that she can use to shop for meter extensions and even the ability to double the regain speed for her double time.

Rank is primarily raised by consistently attacking enemies, although it isn't unusual to get to the boss with a low rank while still killing everything. Most of the rank is determined during the boss fight. Since bosses take the most damage to kill and offer plenty of opportunities to be damaged, rank can skyrocket here. On the flip side, rank can plummet here since Wryn taking damage causes her rank to take a huge dent. The obvious workaround is to learn the boss patterns, but that gets harder on higher difficulties when battles start to last longer. Like with the bullet-time meter, however, points can be exchanged at the shop for new weapons, potentially making endgame stages more tolerable.

Screenshot for Bleed on Nintendo Switch

Since the main game is so short, rolling credits after seven fast-paced stages, it's easy to miss all the replayability that's actually present. The goal is less completing the story and more mastering the mechanics. It's all very arcade-like in its presentation. Many games incentivise replayability with difficulty modes, but Bleed encourages it with genuinely fun to master gameplay. Triple-jumping and bullet-timing through boss patterns is fun already, but it's near euphoric to pull off on higher difficulties.

Along with Story mode, an Arcade and Challenge mode are available for some extra content. Arcade requires the main game to be beaten without dying, and Challenge is effectively a boss arena the player customised to their heart's content. Since so much of Bleed's content comes from replaying stages and bosses, even in the other modes, it's a good thing the soundtrack is catchy enough to make each run a treat. Long after the credits have rolled, it isn't unusual to hum along to one of the soundtrack's incredible tracks and reflect on one of the most charming platformers in recent memory.

Screenshot for Bleed on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

What Bleed lacks in play time, it makes up for with one of the most fluid control schemes to grace a platformer. Wryn's triple jump allows for a flow of movement that encourages dodge heavy, bullet hell style level design. Coupled with a well implemented bullet-time mechanic, stages require quick reflexes to complete, especially when taking rank into consideration. While the main story takes less than two hours to complete, unlockables, Arcade mode, and higher difficulties keep Bleed a highly addictive, and highly replayable, experience.

Developer

BootdiskRevolution

Publisher

Digerati Distribution

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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