We live in an age where gamers relish the past and designers can’t help themselves but pay homage to some of gaming’s most classic titles. One of these shining examples would be the 2012 smash hit Bleed, a nifty little action game that had plenty of heart but lacked any unique qualities or dynamics. Now after all these years we finally get the sequel blasting its way onto consoles in style and grace. I dare ask if Bleed 2 holds up as the action sequel we deserve and whether it’s evolved from its sub-par predecessor.
The ultimate hero with purple hair known as Wryn returns in another daring adventure that requires cunning, firepower, and her love of pop culture and video games. Our beloved hero is sitting at home minding her own business when a massive invasion occurs with her old nemesis returning to finish off the job. Entire armies of cute little minions arrive along with some new foes in order to take care of Wryn and retire her from the hero business, once and for all. It’s up to Wryn to fight her way through a series of action-packed levels that take her from the rooftops of a city under siege, a giant warship, and a boxing match to end all matches.
For those who’ve played Bleed previously, it’s fundamentally the same (in more ways than one), as you sprint through vibrantly chaotic levels armed with dual pistols and her trusty katana. You’ll face a legion of minions in each level and have to battle various bosses that require fast reflexes and steady trigger fingers. Bleed 2 is simple to pick up and easy to enjoy but requires skill and tactics to proceed smoothly. You’ll need to utilize Wryn’s various bad ass powers in order to survive, whether it be her jumping dash, ability to slow down time, or performing counter attacks similar to that of Cuphead. Bleed 2 is extremely fast-paced and requires plenty of these tactics being used in order to gain a high ranking and to pass through with ease, as there are no health pickups. So for anyone who’s played the original game, it follows the same framework as before.
Bleed 2 includes some neat extras this time around, including an Arcade mode and you can now play the entire campaign with a friend in co-op mode. There’s plenty of fun to have with Bleed 2, the accelerated combat and highly energetic overtones make this a fabulous adventure for anyone to enjoy in any situation, co-op or single.
While I do feel that Bleed 2 is entertaining, it’s a shame to say that it’s rather a shallow sequel with nothing truly new or exciting added into the mix. There are plenty of elements from the first game including bosses and enemies reappearing but overall there are few new dynamics being introduced in the main game. It’s simple run-and-gun fun but with the action largely remaining familiar to the original game, without any improvements or growth. Major series like Gears of War or indie ones such as Hotline Miami, build on the framework of the older games, adding new elements to make the sequels better. Bleed 2 is taking what we’ve played before and just rehashing it over again with no new ideas.
Bleed 2 is also a very short game, with a campaign that lasts roughly an hour or so which is far to short even for a side-scrolling platformer. Now, this isn’t a major drawback as you can replay the game with new mutations that include infinite health, unlimited ammo, tougher enemies and other fun little modifiers to change up the game’s pacing. But Bleed 2‘s short length is made even more annoying due to its overall lack of new ideas and dynamics, making this feel more like a 1.5 version of the original.
There are indeed some highlights in Bleed 2‘s adventure that involve over the top set pieces, ranging from a high-speed chase along a highway to taking on a legion of enemies in the skies on a flying truck. These moments excel Bleed 2 in short bursts and make it more interesting than some other 2D side-scrollers, but it still lacks any meaningful substance or creative impact. It’s subpar compared to the excellent Bro-Force or the splendid and clever Super Time Force.
Bleed 2 is fine. That’s all I can really say from a personal level and an objective one. While the characters are charming and the concept is a lot of fun, it highlights the best of the 2D side-scrolling genre while never really adding anything to make it unique. The new additions are great, meaning you can partake in the action with a friend or combat within the Arcade mode or Endless mode which adds hours more onto the play time. While these are nice additions, it would’ve been better to have new dynamics introduced into the campaign, new enemies and less of the repetition and borrowed elements straight out of the first game.
Bleed 2 is a genuine thrill ride that’ll keep fans and newcomers happy. Just don’t expect this to break the mold and if there’s a Bleed 3, at least have Wryn dye her hair a different color.
An Xbox One copy of Bleed 2 was provided by Ian Campbell for the purpose of this review.