Review by KFHEWUI

"Disturbing yet unique game that feels like a breath of fresh air"

Eriko Christy was born to family with a father that was less than normal, and her father was obsessed with horror. The father would create horror parks, for his horror caravan, in the basement, and he would lock Eriko in the basement at night. Eriko's mother let her husband, and Eriko grew up into a beautiful woman.

After delivering a speech about her unique uprising, Eriko's friends approach her: Michel, Kevin, and Randy. Michel has obtained four tickets to an amusement park called Illbleed. The owner of the amusement park, one Michael Reynolds, has offered a million dollar reward to anyone that can survive the park. Eriko turns down the ticket however several days with no word from her friends, Eriko heads to Illbleed to find her friends.

The game begins with Eriko giving her speech about her childhood, and the game is full voiced. Eriko's VO is actually good, and the rest of the voice acting is a mixing bag. Some of the voice acting is good, and other are terrible but considering how Illbleed is, it seems the bad voice acting was intentional like a badly dubbed foreign flick.

Illbleed looks great, and the textures are crisp and clean. Since Blue Stinger (by the same director) the animation has received an upgrade, and the animation is much better. The characters no longer have an awkward walk cycle, but it came with a price which is the character's mouths do not move when they talk.

When the player is given control of Eriko, the controls take a little while to get used too. Pushing slightly forward will have Eriko walk while pressing forward quickly will have her run also pulling back will have Eriko run. The rest of the control scheme is not bad, but the controls do change when in combat. “R” is used to going first person view or use horror monitor outside of combat, but in combat “R” is used for a weapon with only one exception with the wood puppets. “Y” is used for melee attack, and “A” is used for dodge which is a very useful ability that must be mastered.

Illbleed starts out in a hub area where Eriko can buy items and save, and there is also a bank and hospital. The hospital can be used for upgrading if the player has the necessary item, and the bank can be used to revive dead players which can be expensive. There is a second area in hub which houses six theatres, and these theatres are the levels of the game. The six levels cannot be done in any order, and only one theatre is opened at a time. Once the last level is beaten, Eriko can go into the museum of Michael Reynold where she will fight the final boss.

A goofy and out of place song plays in the hub world that sounds great, and even though it is out of place, it fits with the mood of the game. The rest of the sound track is great including the "bum-bump" track that plays in mazes when an enemy is stalking the player.

The first level takes place at an abandoned hotel that has been burned, and the owner of the hotel had a son that was going to be a big baseball player however some guests were playing with fireworks which led to a fire. The son died, but the hotel owner was badly burned however he is determined to kill the ones that were responsible for the fire.

After a brief back story and showing of the requirements for payment, the player gets to control Eriko. The first thing the player should notice is the bar at the top of the screen which has a box for sight, hearing, smell, and sixth sense, and this bar helps make Illbleed so unique. In each level there are traps, and when Eriko gets close to them, one of her meters will start beeping. Continuing forward will set off the trap which can lead to either Eriko taking damage, bleeding, and/or heartbeat to rise. These traps can be disarmed with the horror monitor which when obtained, hitting “R” will activate it then the player can move the camera around. When the camera locks on and zooms in on a spot it means it can be marked by hitting “A”. Marking a spot will use up adrenaline, and once Eriko's adrenaline gets to low she cannot mark any more spots until she refills her adrenaline which is done by two ways. The first is by using items, and the second way is by beating enemies in combat also she regains part of the adrenaline used on disarming a trap. Although not every spot Eriko can mark will be a trap which is one of the strengths of Illbleed that is some of the traps are random each playthrough. This is why the bar at the top of the screen is very useful.

Shortly after starting the level, Eriko will encounter an enemy, and when an enemy is encountered the screen will flash. If Eriko does not mark an enemy before countering them, this will cause Eriko to be knocked down however marking an enemy area will keep her standing plus there is an item called anti-shock brace that will prevent her from being knocked down however this item is not in every level.

Combat takes place in an enclosed area, and when the player runs into the boundary, the floor will flash blue showing how big the area is. In the enclosed area is a green block and hitting “B” while standing on this block will cause an escape ladder to lower from the ceiling. When the ladder touches the ground, Eriko will escape from the battle, and not every battle can be run away from. There is a nice variety of enemies including inside out man, dummyman, monkiller, worms, and giant eggs, and in the first battle, Eriko is not well equipped for the battle so it is best to run away. Later on Eriko will gain a weapon, and the weapons range from axe, butcher knife, pistol, machine gun, bat, and flamethrower however these weapons are not available in every level.

The levels in Illbleed are long, and each one will take around an hour or more in the first playthrough and in each level there is at least one photo booth. Photo booths are used to save the game, and some of the longer levels have multiple photo booths. Some levels also have an ER where health can be recovered and upgrades can be performed if the right items are obtained. Each level is based upon different movies including mainly horror films ranging from Tremors, Psycho, Indiana Jones, Halloween, Toy Story, etc. The first level takes place in an abandoned hotel and level two is in a camp. Other levels include wood company, market, maintenance area of Illbleed, and lastly toy world/hell.

Illbleed is a well written story, and the story can be disturbing at points like a toy that trying to get to toy hell to save his lover, sexy doll, or a tree that turns people into wooden puppets and mails them to their house. The dolls come alive, and when they are attacked, they spew out blood. Speaking of blood, Illbleed lives up to its name, and blood flows profusely throughout the game. A simple attack can cause a geyser of blood to flow out of the enemy.

Like the game play, the game features several unique features when it comes to the death system. Running out of health causes a strength empty death, and Eriko could also die from shock, heart attack, and bleeding to death.

Illbleed does have some replay value in the random traps which can alter each play through plus there are three final bosses, and the player gets to choose which one they want to fight. There are also three endings, and at least two playthroughs are needed to see every ending. Along the course of the game there are four bonus characters to unlock that are playable, and when one of the players dies in a level, if there is another character unlocked then the player can choose the character and restart the level from the beginning or save point.

While Illbleed is a great game, it does have a few problems. The controls can be questionable at time like the movement control, and the camera does have some problems however follow camera 2 worked really well for me. Combat can be clumsy and annoying, and one notable fight in the game takes place against three worms at once with a butcher knife. This fight is cheap and frustrating, and another notable fight is Killerman which has some tough attacks to dodge. There are also some issues with the story where the game says completing the game will gain 1,000,000, but it will also say 100,000,000 at one part in the game.

Illbleed is a unique and refreshing breath of air that the horror genre and video game industry desperately needs now.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/25/12, Updated 04/24/13

Game Release: Illbleed (US, 04/16/01)

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