Review by krammaiii
"Fun Game, but Patience is a MUST"
You could say I am big into the whole survival horror genre. I've played the good (Resident Evil: Code Veronica), the bad (Carrier) and the awful (The Ring). Basically if the title has a creepy/subhuman feel to it, I'm bound to give it a whirl. I really wasn't sure to expect with Illbleed, but due to the recent drought of Dreamcast games I bought it on impulse. Within the first 10 minutes I could say without blinking that this game was horrible.
So why 7 out of 10? Well, once you get the hang of the game it is actually quite fun. Though it must be said that one needs a lot of patience to get into the swing of things.
Story wise there isn't much of one, though it is similar to the movie ''House on Haunted Hill.'' There is a billionaire moviemaker, he is twisted, he is offering 100 000 000 dollars to anyone that can survive his house of horrors, people go in and don't come out, and our heroine must rescue them. Simple as that, though the developers have an awful lot of fun with it. They maximize the cheese factor and it really works for the game.
Illbleed reminds me a lot of the Playstation series Deception. The big difference is that you are on the receiving end of the traps rather then setting them. Like Deception, traps are numerous; most are random, some are not. To avoid the plethora of traps you have 4 senses, ''Sight,'' ''Sound,'' ''Smell,'' and ''Sixth Sense.'' They peak as according to how close the character is to the trap. At the beginning of each level you must find a ''Horror Monitor'' which you can use to mark off what you think might be a trap.
As I was saying my biggest beef with Illbleed is it's horribly steep learning curve. The instruction manual really isn't sufficient when it comes to explaining Illbleeds bizarre mechanics. The majority of people are going to start the game and die very quickly a few times before realizing what needs to be done or completely giving up. It has to be said that there is a graveyard that can be used for training at the beginning of the game. Though I can't help but feel that it was somewhat of an afterthought due to the fact it is practically hidden and borderline useless. On top of that, the first level is reasonably hard.
When you think of the average life bar in video games the first thing that comes to mind is a gauge that depletes as your character is damaged. Illbleed does not have one life bar, it has three. One is the standard strength gauge that all games have. The others are fairly unique; a blood lose gauge that monitors the amount of blood lost per second and a heart rate gauge. Lose all your strength, you die. Lose too much blood, you die. Get scared when your heart rate is too high, you die. It is very hard to maintain lifebar homeostasis. This may anger some game players but I felt it added to the perilous atmosphere Illbleed is trying so desperately to uphold.
Illbleeds controls at times are plain insufficient. This is not entirely true when you are just exploring, though pressing the R-trigger constantly for the ''Horror Monitor'' gets mighty annoying. The controls are problematic during the fight sequences. I found that there is a one-second delay from when you hit attack and when the character actually attacks. Also, the camera during combat is inconsistent. It's either too far away, too close or is facing the incorrect direction so you cannot even see what is happening. You get accustomed to the control's and camera's sloppiness but nonetheless it is unacceptable.
The ''Horror Monitor'' can lead to extreme frustration for many reasons. Initially I had no idea where to find the ''Horror Monitor'' because it is well hidden in the first level leaving me confused about what to do and absolutely raging. Once it is found the biggest problem with the ''Horror Monitor'' is that disarming potential traps can be a total guessing game. This is can be daunting, considering that you are limited to the number of objects that you can warn because every trap mark off leads to a drop in ''adrenaline.'' Use too much too soon and you are not gonna last long. Don't use enough and you will probably be too beaten up to complete the level. On rare occasions the ''Horror Monitor'' is not just a shot in the dark. For instance, when a dead body is down the hall from your character and has potential to a trap the ''Smell'' and the ''Sight'' might spike, tipping off that you should probably mark off the corpse. Though after an hour or so you do get a feel for what is and is not a trap from trial and error resulting in a suspenseful environment rather than a frustration one.
Illbleed is not breathtaking but definitely visually pleasing. Characters move fluidly, textures are nice, and the colors are vibrant. The B movie feel adds a lot to the atmosphere and it is great to see a survival horror game that doesn't take itself too seriously. Though some jerky/poor trap animations take away from the overall visual presentation.
Unfortunately, the CGI cinemas do look a little 'cheap.'
Illbleed's music is totally cheesy and it suits the game.
The narrator has a hilarious B-Movie octave, but most the other voice acting is really annoying.
Sounds are nondescript booms! and bangs!
All and all the sound is just average.
Illbleed isn't glitchy whatsoever. The only problem I have is that you can usually hear your Dreamcast loading a trap before you've encountered it, totally giving away the surprise.
I'm docking stability points for the lack of explanation and general cruelty of the first level. You cannot avoid the first trap and that is just stupid.. it really throws first time players off.
On a positive note, the non-existent load times are very pleasing.
FINAL 7/10 not an average
I do recommend Illbleed, but definitely rent it before you purchase. After you conquer the initial confusion you are in for an original, addictive and humorous game.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 12/29/01, Updated 12/29/01
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