With a week and a half left, things are getting tight! Bleed 2 is looking good, but I’m still cramming to make sure everything is as polished as it can be. A ton has happened this week so there’s tons to talk about: first, the Clawed Girl!
Yes! The Clawed Girl from They Bleed Pixels is an unlockable character in Bleed 2 — a huge thank-you to Spooky Squid Games for trusting me with their intellectual property. This was a really exciting opportunity to me, and I hope I’ve done the character proud!
Like in her own game, the Clawed Girl is a melee-focused character. This instantly makes her harder to play in a fast, ranged-combat game like Bleed 2, but she’s got plenty of tricks to help balance her out. Her swipes and stabs do way more damage than Wryn’s pistols, and even her air-dash hurts enemies! She can only air-dash once after a jump, but landing hits refreshes her dash — so if you’re good you can combo like crazy and never even touch the ground! Additionally, not pictured, you can end her air-dash with a flying kick that reflects any attack
(UPDATE: I removed the kick because while it looked cool… it always came out when you didn’t want it to, it was hard to use even when you tried to, and when you did use it slowed you down and ultimately wasn’t worth it — you may as well have used the swipe instead! RIP kick.)
She can also reflect any attack with her swipe — it’s like Wryn’s sword, but it covers a wider area and does more damage! It’s less spammable — you have to stop attacking for a moment for it to come out — so she isn’t great at defending against lots of little bullets. Landing big reflects (like large bullets or physical boss attacks) gives her another swipe instantly, so you can do big rapid reflects when you need to.
Finally, her taunt! The Clawed Girl gains energy by landing hits, and can use it to either slow time, OR to heal herself! If you hold the taunt button she’ll stay in the animation, trading energy for health. You can tap the taunt button to taunt without regaining health, of course.
…phew! As you can tell she’s pretty technical, but hopefully she’ll come off really powerful in the right hands. She’s unlocked by beating the game on any difficulty, as I think is appropriate for a guest character. I hope you’ll enjoy her very different style of play!
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On top of that, I spent much of this week re-balancing Very Hard — a common complaint among testers was the mode being too easy. I know many devs get too good at their own game, and tune it so hard that any sane person could never beat it. Constantly keeping this in mind had the opposite effect, where I was overestimating my own abilities and underestimating the players, resulting in a Very Hard that… wasn’t.
I took another hard look at the numbers. I played a bunch of my favourite Platinum games on the hardest modes. I basically tried to get myself attuned to what enjoyable Very Hard gameplay felt like to me, and then gave tuning Bleed 2 one more shot! Now bullets are faster, and have more of a spread so it’s harder to predict where they’ll go. Bosses take much less time to telegraph their attacks, and there’s almost no cooldown once they’re finished– so now attacks begin to overlap and blend into each other.
You can see a before-and-after of the Blast Jumper above. You really have to be aware of what’s happening now, use slow-time and dodge and improvise. It’s WAY more intense, and thrilling, and satisfying to play!
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Even the minibosses got jacked up on Very Hard. The Rolling Invader is much more active, and can catch you off-guard if you aren’t careful! Other bosses got meaningful edits like this too, but they’re mostly ones I haven’t talked about before, so I’ll just leave them alone for now!
Long story short, now the difficulty curve looks more like this (the purple is the new curve.) Easy and Normal were barely touched, and Hard has been raised a bit to smooth the transition, but I was mostly focused on making a Very Hard that would cater to pros and make the game thrilling for them to play. I feel pretty dumb that it took this long to recognize the game wasn’t hard enough — reworking this much a week before release seems nuts, and it’s too bad reviewers have had the game for like three weeks already.
BUT! Playing it now, there’s no question. It’s the right decision — I’m just glad I clued in in time.
That was an awful lot of blah blah blah. Thank you for reading. The game is almost out!! I hope you’re ready!