Bleed Nintendo Switch Review: A Short But Sweet Thrill Ride

Bleed isn’t one of those games that makes a heaping amount of promises that it can’t live up [...]


Bleed isn't one of those games that makes a heaping amount of promises that it can't live up to. The game is designed simply, and gets right to the point – it's all about the run-and-gun. And for some, that will be more than enough.

The game follows the actions of a young girl by the name of Wryn, and she's out to become the greatest hero the video game world has ever seen. But, in order to do that, she'll have to take on a mounting dose of challenges, through the course of various bosses that must be cut down to size. Sounds reasonable enough, so Wryn grabs a heaping amount of firepower and takes off throughout each level, taking on enemies both big and small before getting to the bosses, which range from weird robots to giant sandworms, all with the goal of trying to crush her.

If you've played Contra or Metal Slug games in the past, then you have a pretty good idea of what inspired Bleed, though you have great aiming controls with the help of your right analog stick, so that you can shoot enemies from afar, even if they're not typically within your range. But there's a little more to the gameplay than that, which makes Bleed more special than other games of this nature.

That comes with the ability to slow down time. You have a limited meter that you can use this for, but, by holding down the left shoulder button, you can slow down everything and nail enemies with more precision, or escape a split-second scenario where you might – might – be able to survive. It's a great tool to call upon, but try not to abuse it too much, or you've pretty much had it.

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Along with that, you can also pick up new weapons within the game, including some that will provide a greater boost against bosses. These include a shotgun and an assault rifle, as well as cool secondary weapons like a laser sword (not a lightsaber, right?) and mines. These mix things up with combat wonderfully, so that you have something worth shooting for as you try to earn an S rank on each level – something that doesn't come so easy.

Bleed is definitely challenging, especially as you play through on tougher settings and/or rely on your skills to stay in one piece. Fortunately, it's the right kind of challenging, with well-spaced checkpoints so that you don't have to go all the way back to the beginning. The controls are awesome as well (and pretty spot on), and you can also earn better abilities over the course of the game, including wall jumping and being able to connect jumps together, so you're not always screwed if you end up hitting the ground. (That said, be on the lookout – enemies will try to take advantage if you put yourself in a particular spot, like setting off sensors in the robot stage.)

The presentation isn't the best the Switch has seen – this game definitely caters back to an old-school type of design by one-man programmer Ian Campbell (who goes under Bootdisk Revolution). But it's pretty great in that regard, with graphics that pop off the screen like the best kind of 16-bit game, as well as an inspired soundtrack with tunes coming straight out of the late 80's/early 90's era. It's a lot of fun to watch and listen to, whether you're on the go or playing at home – the best kind of Switch game.

That said, there is a downfall – there's not much to do once you conquer the main game. There are only seven levels in all and only a handful of weapons to unlock, and once you S rank them all, all that's left is to try and speedrun the levels (which is a challenge some people would welcome). I would've preferred a secondary adventure to be unlocked, but, in this particular case, this game is all about the main journey, and not so much the destination.

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Campbell has done a splendid job making the side-scrolling shooter genre count on the Switch with Bleed, and we already know he's hard at work on a bigger and more improved sequel, so it won't be long until we see what he's got cooking next. In the meantime, if it's a swift, enjoyable action game that you're after – and one that, ahem, won't "bleed" your wallet dry – you'll want to lock and load with this bad boy.

WWG's Score: Four out of five.

Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.