Ill Communication

Lately I’ve been trying my hand at Illbleed. It’s an exceedingly strange game, both in terms of its premise and its game mechanics. I don’t really like it so far–the ideas seem good but I’ve found the execution to be very frustrating. There’s a lot of interesting things here, like the trap disarming mechanic, but the possibility for failure is so high and the checkpoints are so few and far between that I hardly have time to appreciate the finer points of the design. I’m too busy trying to maintain all the different stats I have, and trying not to let any of them kill me.

The thing about Illbleed is that there is only one way to win but there are tons of ways to die. Your health can drop to zero. Your bleeding meter can go too high. You can run out of adrenaline and are then unable to avoid traps. Your heart rate can get too high, causing you to faint. There are too many values to manage and not enough ways to manage them. If you want to decrease your heart rate or bleeding speed you can stop moving, but then you’ll be dinged for not completing the level in time. And often the game will put you in situations where you must take a hit (or increase your heart rate, or lose some adrenaline) no matter what.

Basically, Illbleed seems to give you zero margin for error. If you don’t do everything perfectly (and knowing what to do is a problem in and of itself), you’ll fall victim to one of the many ways you can fail. And since there are no checkpoints and only one or two save points per level, failure usually means losing a significant amount of work. It seems like there are a lot of cool things going on with the design, but the frustration level has been way too high so far.

I haven’t finished the game yet, so maybe my opinion will change. At the moment, however, it’s not looking all that hot.

4 thoughts on “Ill Communication

  1. I’m having a similar problem with Sweet Home at the mo. The monsters become far too powerful too early and you’re left to restart a lot cos you end up losing a vital member of the group. Also, there’s very few healing items for the group so it’s vital that you destroy the enemy in quick succession because you’re bound to take a fluke heavy hit.

    I should really enjoy this game but it’s far too hard (presumably because it is a tad short) to get any kind of enjoyment out of it. Plus it has the most frustrating interface ever. You can select menus but you can’t go back. So usually, you end up skipping in frustration only to find the menu disappears and you select the wrong thing again (usually having to pick the team member or their item is the cause of all this).

    Don’t get me wrong Sweet Home is a neat game, just there’s a lot of frustrating things that makes me think this isn’t the classic everyone makes it out to be.

    (I’ll write a proper review soon!)

  2. I actually bought this game the other day.
    It was strange to find a store with Dreamcast
    games. I was happy 🙂

  3. I bought Illbleed fo 10.00 total on Ebay, sealed. Not kidding.

    Illbleed is an odd game. The first couple of boards are the hardest. Once you figure out how to play it, the last boards become easier then the first.

    Hint-Pick one character and max out it’s levels.

  4. I personally adored Illbleed. My friends and I were addicted to it one summer when it first came out. We beat it every which way possible and then played it again and again. Very amusing little gem that Illbleed.

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