Review – Bleed 2

I need to make a confession here: I never played the original Bleed. To be honest, I’ve never even heard of it prior to playing Bleed 2 and now I’m pretty sure I’ve missed a lot after playing the second game in the series. There’s no other way to say this: Bleed 2 is amazing, and easily one of the best arcade titles I’ve ever played.

Bleed 2 plays like a colorful and cheerful “Metal Slug meets Contra“. The game is a side-scrolling shooter/platformer, with a lot more emphasis on shooting than on platforming. The game borrows the control scheme you’d usually find in a twin-stick shooter, with the right stick as as the command to use both your katana (when you just flick it once) and your machine gun (when you hold it to a direction). Besides this, the game also features a jump button, weirdly enough being mapped to the right trigger, as well as a taunt mechanic, which sounds useless in theory, but it actually has a lot more importance than it seems (I won’t dive into that for spoiler reasons). Finally, there’s a neat slow-mo mechanic that allows you to better aim and evade the three trillion bullets being thrown at you at any given time. You’ll need a few minutes to get used to the controls, but once you’re set, it’ll all become second nature.

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Dude, you know I can’t pause an online game!

Bleed 2 is a very challenging and fast-paced game but it’s far from being unfair or demotivating. You’re provided with infinite lives and a very generous checkpoint system to balance out the speed and difficulty of the game. Its main challenge, however, is the vast amount of boss battles, yet none of them are impossible. You can learn attack patterns very quickly, and their weak points aren’t exactly hard to deduce. Normal enemies, on the other hand, are basically just cannon fodder; a bunch of easy targets lying around for a bit of cathartic relaxation before your fight with the big guys.

If you’re having a hard time with bosses, not only can you tweak the difficulty setting, but you can always get motivated with the game’s amazing art direction.

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Just like a Michael Bay movie, but cuter. And not as bad.

Bleed 2‘s graphics and soundtrack were more than enough to keep me entertained throughout the short (but highly replayable) duration of this arcade adventure. The game retains a very “Neo Geo-esque” visual style, as in a game that should look like something from the 16-bit era but a lot more detailed, with better animations. Everything is very cheerful and colorful, with some areas resembling levels from the Mega Man X series.

If you think the visuals are good enough, you should check out the game’s soundtrack. Oh dear goodness, this is GOOD. An extremely fast-paced and upbeat hard rock soundtrack will keep you hooked in front of the TV while tons of bullets, missiles and lasers fly around the screen, with your (extremely charismatic) character barely managing to evade all of those attacks. Sure, the sound effects aren’t exactly great, but at the very least, the awesome soundtrack compensates for that fact.

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Boss battles are so insanely fun

Bleed 2 is a mandatory title in your gaming library. Simple as that. It’s a love letter to the good old days of side-scrolling arcade shooters, a challenging but extremely accessible game that features an amazing soundtrack and tons of replayability. This is the spiritual successor to Metal Slug I never knew existed.

Graphics: 8.5

Vivid and colorful sprites, reminiscent of the Neo Geo era, coupled with good animations.

Gameplay: 8.5

Once you get used to the unusual button mapping, you’ll notice how good the gameplay is.

Sound: 9.5

The game’s soundtrack is by far its biggest highlight. The sound effects aren’t as good as the music, though.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Bleed 2 is everything an arcade shooter should be: fast-paced, challenging, and above all, fun as hell!

Final Verdict: 9.0

Reviewed on PS4.
Also available now on: Xbox One, PC.
Copy of Bleed 2 provided by publisher