Ever-so cunning but lovely Wryn is back. The opportunistic and purple-haired heroine from the side-scrolling 2D twin-stick shooter Bleed has turned selfish thoughts aside as she wages war against the evil invaders. After all, she’s not only the greatest hero of earth, but also the only one after eradicating her colleagues in the prequel. The attack against the Earth doesn’t last long (only about first two levels of the story mode) when Wryn launches a counter-attack and pursues the invaders back to their turf.
And that’s pretty much all there’s to Bleed 2 as far as the story goes. Developer Ian Campbell AKA Bootdisk Revolution has smoothed out the rough edges of the first Bleed (most notably the platforming sections and upgrading skills), leaving a straightforward non-stop action shooter mostly intact. There’s no stopping once the action starts, with Wryn striding and air-gliding through enemy-infested terrains with her twin-pistols singing in unison. What the game doesn’t offer is longevity. The story mode lasts about one hour, spread across seven levels with over 20 boss fights. Checkpoints are frequent, even between boss phases, and player lives are infinite. The story really is meant to be a blazing rollercoaster of manic shooting and skillful dodging.
Bleed 2 is presented in a pixel art style that may lack finesse, but it’s vivid and joyful on screen. Everything is big and clearly-defined, making the action easy to follow despite its frantic nature. I’m not usually a fan of fast and trashy music, but some of composer Yukio Kallio’s simple riffs are deceptive earworms. The same groove continues in the gameplay. The controls are instantly responsive; moving the right stick shoots Wryn’s guns at the pointed direction and the right trigger sends her hopping, all the way up to a triple-jump, essentially making her glide. The left trigger slows down the action, activating a Max Payne-style bullet time for precision shooting, dodging and jumping. The slow-mo can be used pretty frequently, as the allotted meter fills up pretty quickly after being depleted. The right bumper brings out Wryn’s katana to cut enemies with and deflect projectiles at them.
Completing the story mode unlocks new characters and weapons sets to play with. The clawed girl from retro-action platformer They Bleed Pixels is a nice addition to the Bleed roster. Her claw attacks don’t have the same range as Wryn’s pistols, bringing a challenge of its own. The game also supports a co-op play to double the fun. Giving further life to Bleed 2 are arcade, endless and challenge modes. The arcade is practically the same as the story mode, but with only one life. That’s quite a steep challenge even in the normal difficulty. In endless, there are five randomly generated levels to shoot through, including random bosses at the levels’ end. Again, it’s a one-life deal. In the challenge you can fight up to three bosses of your selection at the same time. It’s unbalanced as hell, but crazy fun when you try out different combinations of bosses, never meant at the same place together.
Bleed 2 is like its heroine. Short, sweet and mad. The game can be an unadulterated bliss when you manage to get in the groove; glide across several smooth-scrolling screens, taking no hits as you go, dodging and blasting your way forward. I advise to play the game in a lit room with well-rested eyes. Otherwise its action can get dizzying, as I firsthand experienced after the first session with the game (a late evening after watching a movie). Bleed 2 achieves just that what it sets out do. It’s a short-lived but tight package of intense arcade action with no extra frills or cheap padding. Simply put, it’s fun as hell!
Video game nerd & artist. I've been playing computer and video games since the early 80's so I dare say I have some perspective to them. When I'm not playing, I'm usually at my art board.