words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Bootdisk Revolution for PC and Xbox 360, originally released in 2012.
The year 20XX was a time of many great heroes whose deeds have been celebrated in the years since, and a museum has been erected in their honor. But now, 100 years later in the year 21XX, no new heroes have emerged, and the old heroes only revel in their past glories, with some of them using their positions to take advantage of the people. One young woman, Wryn, has had quite enough of this, and she creates a death list, writing on it the names of the 6 greatest heroes in the world. She plans to kill them all and show the world what a true hero is!

Wryn’s moveset is small but effective. She can move and aim independently, perform a 2x jump, a wall jump, and perform up to 3 midair dashes in any direction, making her quite effective at aerial combat. The use of air dashes all but nullifies the need for a wall jump, and the move can actually be disabled in the menu for air dashing purists. Wryn begins the game equipped with 2 weapons: the fast-firing dual pistols and the slow but powerful rockets, and the player can toggle between these weapons at will. A shop system allows the player to purchase additional weapons and upgrades based on his in-level performance (more on this in a bit).

Another important asset in Wryn’s repertoire is the ability to slow down time. This bullet time effect allows the player to move and aim more precisely, deal some extra damage, and get the jump on enemies. Combined with her acrobatic abilities, this means that the player can freely weave between bullets and enemies, shooting in any direction along the way to unleash the maximum level of beautiful destruction. A meter in the top left determines how long the bullet time effect can be used. The meter recharges when unused, and there is a cooldown period if the player drains the meter completely.

At the end of each level, the player is ranked on his performance. More than just offering kudos or admonishment, the ranking system impacts the player’s final score. Points are earned by destroying enemies within the level, and these points are multiplied against end-of-level modifiers, including the difficultly level, style, and number of deaths. A score can quickly be halved if the player died several times on an easy difficulty setting, and can be doubled if the player took on a more difficult level with lots of style and no deaths.

Playing the game on Easy automatically reduces your end level score by 25%, whereas bonuses are awarded for playing on Hard or Very Hard. You are penalized for dying as well, but having a no-death run will increase your score.

Style is determined by your proficiency at keeping the combo meter charged. In the top right of the screen is a meter that climbs as you kill more enemies, with notches indicating ranks D, C, B, A, and S. Killing multiple enemies in a row without taking damage causes this meter to rise, and it slowly ticks downward in between kills. Take a hit, and a big chunk of the meter drops a way. Play well, and this adds up to a score bonus at the end of the level, which is important since points can be spent on new weapons and upgrades in the shop.

The shop contains numerous weapons with different qualities, from the short-range shotgun, to a flamethrower that causes continuous damage, to the powerful but difficult to aim laser rifle, to a katana that can kill enemies and reflect bullets. However, the default dual pistols are very effective even in the harder difficulty settings, so the player may stick with this weapon for the duration of the game if he so chooses. Any purchased weapons are added to the player’s inventory and may be swapped out at any point, although only two weapons may be carried at a time. All weapons have unlimited ammo.

Available upgrades include those that lengthen your health and energy meters, as well as an expensive upgrade that doubles the speed at which your energy meter recharges, allowing additional use of your bullet time skill. It’s worth noting that levels can be replayed and any money earned adds to the overall total, allowing players to knock down the difficulty or replay challenging areas while adding to their overall ability to purchase weapons and upgrades.

Still, even a full arsenal and extended meters aren’t guarantees for success. The game features several challenging levels, most of which have a miniboss and a boss encounter, with the final boss in each level being one of the aforementioned legendary heroes. Each boss has several attacks in its repertoire, and many of the encounters are multi-phase affairs where the player must dodge projectiles while slowly whittling away the boss’ health bar. Liberal use of time slowing and air dashing will help you to survive these encounters. On higher difficulty levels, bosses and sub-bosses move more quickly, fire more frequently, and are more apt to use advanced fighting techniques. Higher difficulties also pepper in some more powerful enemies on your way through the level.

Early levels take it easier on the player, giving him time to learn the controls. Frequent checkpoints and infinite lives also make the game very forgiving, with only a score penalty for repeated failures, allowing players to replay sections as often as needed in order to progress. Once the player masters the controls, he is free to replay the level for a higher score and additional currency, and then move forward into higher difficulty levels.

Level designs are kept fresh throughout the game, with the first level appearing in a mansion and the second starting with an exciting digging drill sequence followed by underground areas and lava. There’s even a harrowing moving train level that forces players to move across high sections quickly before the train enters one of several tunnels, which also impacts your encounter with the mid-boss. Later levels can get pretty wild, with the sixth going completely gonzo in one of the most insane and enjoyable levels to be had in any 2D action game. And the final level takes the age-old boss rush and turns it completely on its head, offering some interesting challenges.

Additional rewards are offered to players who complete higher difficulties, with 3 unlockable weapons that are not available in the shop, and 3 unlockable characters, one each gained for completing the game on Normal, Hard, and Very Hard. These new characters aren’t simply powered-up versions of Wryn; rather, they alter some of the core mechanics and require that you play each of the levels somewhat differently, which actually increases the overall challenge.

Also unlockable is an arcade mode that tasks players to 1cc the game. Since there is no way to regain health within the level, and health is not restored between levels, even the Easy mode is very challenging. Offering this mode in Very Hard was clearly meant for the enjoyment of our future robot masters whose pleasure circuits are activated via manipulation of human gaming artifacts.

An arena mode also opens up as you complete levels, adding in some of the bosses from each. You can then take on a selected boss in an arena of your choosing… or you can fight up to 3 bosses at a time! Think you can survive a simultaneous fight against the first 3 end bosses? Go for it.

Bootdisk Revolution is a one-man studio headed by Ian Campbell, who is based in Toronto, Canada. In addition to Bleed, Ian has a number of previous releases on Xbox Live Indie Games, including GrappleBoy, Plucky’s 3D Adventure, Soaring Santa, Frequency, and several avatar-based titles.