Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds Review

When you’ve reached the point where you’ve written literally hundreds of game reviews as I have, there are two types of games that you look at with apprehension when you have to sit down and start playtesting – games based on superheroes and movie/TV show licenses. Developers of these types of games often get lazy and rely on the license to drive game sales rather than putting effort into making the games fun to play. It shouldn’t be too surprising then that I was a little hesitant when it came time to sit down and play Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds. It’s a good thing that we reviewers (the honest ones at least) play through games before mailing in our reviews because Chaos Bleeds goes against conventional wisdom and provides some fun gameplay ... and is a real treat for fans of the TV series.

Screenshots

First of all I must appease the Buffy faithful by letting everyone know that the game is set during the show's fifth season timeline.  The game's story plays out like an extended episode of the show, and you'll get to see appearances by a who's who of the show's heroes and villains.  While many of the game's locations are your stock horror sets of unnamed cemeteries, churches, and abandoned warehouses, you'll recognize some of the locations such as The Magic Box.  OK, now that we've gotten that out of the way, on with the review.

One of the good things about Chaos Bleeds is that it gives you the chance to control other characters from the series in addition to the Slayer herself. At different points in the game you’ll also have the chance to control Willow, Xander, and Spike, and each character has a set of attacks that befits him or her. Buffy can kick some serious undead butt with her fists and feet, Spike draws on his vampire strength, Willow can cast spells, and Xander is adept at using weapons, especially his signature crossbow.  You'll also have the opportunity to control other characters from the series as you make your way through the game's twelve levels, but I'll leave their identities as a surprise to the show's fans.  The chance to play as so many different characters gives the game some variety as each character has his or her strengths and weaknesses.  This variety goes a long way towards making the game more enjoyable as you spend a good portion of the game slaying hordes of vampires, zombies, and even the all time favorite video game fodder, giant spiders.  On the downside you can't select which character to use as the game dictates who you control and when.  While Willow's spells are effective, I found them to be a touch slow to cast and that they weren't quite as satisfying as hand delivering a can of vampire whoop-butt.  I would have rather taken Spike or Buffy into the fray, but sometimes you just have to make do with a bit of magic instead.

As I mentioned, Chaos Bleeds will throw legions of nasty creatures of the night your way.  To fight them off, most characters have a punch, kick, and jump button which can unleash single attacks or be combined to perform moves like flips or sweeps.  You can also get your hands on a variety of weapons in the game, and they are easily accessed by an onscreen inventory list controlled with the D-pad.  Using the weapons is as easy as pressing an action button, but their effectiveness varies depending on the target.  Wooden stakes are devastating to vampires, but you're much better off beating zombies down with a shovel.  Since wooden stakes are such an indispensable weapon, the black button is set to instantly unleash a stake attack making it easy to plant one in a vampire when needed.  The control in the game is pretty responsive and you'll enjoy taking on all evil comers.  There is a minor annoyance with the control in that it is too easy to accidentally unleash a long combo move in the wrong direction, but I found that this happened most often when approaching enemies so it didn't often end up hurting me at inopportune moments.