Horror Gaming: Illbleed (2001)
By Matthew Fishgold of Cakewolf.com
Imagine being a five year old and waking up from a nightmare. You jump out of bed, blanket in tow- you race toward your mother and father. Fear spurs you on, choking your screams before they can escape. You weren’t grabbed by the thing under your bed, you made it past the creature in the closet, and your parents’ room is just ahead. You’ve made it! You throw open the bedroom door, reach toward their bed, and prepare to dive under the sheets. Instead, you’re greeted by a towering, drooling monster. Behind the beast, your mother lies in pieces. Grabbing you by the throat, the beast pulls you close. Grinning a bloody grin, it runs its rough tongue up the side of your face…
ILLBLEED is a sick and twisted horror game, a retro hayride to hell, and a bloody good time.
Our game follows Eiko Christy, a teenage purple-haired gal who’s aspiring to study child psychology, and for good reason. Testing his horrifying gags on his own daughter, our protagonist's father raised his family on the success of his traveling haunted house. Over time, it became increasingly difficult to scare his daughter, pushing him to employ more desperate and dangerous methods.
By the time Eiko was six-years old, her mother had enough. She divorced her husband and raised Eiko on her own. Eiko’s father was never heard from again…
After a brief introduction to our main character, we catch up with Eiko’s high school friends: Kevin, Michel, and Randy. They decide to go to a new local horror theme park. Apparently, you can win a lot of money buy surviving its frights. But, after they go missing, Eiko takes it upon herself to find out what happened to them.
This is where the meat of our game lies, and it’s a bit of a bumpy ride for a while. Unlike today’s modern gameplay techniques, Illbleed wants you to stumble. This game is Kong before Pong, focusing more on the story than the gameplay mechanics. There’s no golden path to rely on for navigation, there’s no mission objectives held within the HUD- it's as if you were in a real horror movie, where all you can rely upon is your own intuition. That’s what Illbleed is, an interactive series of horror movies, each of them hoping to kill you in a myriad of ways.
Twisted into six unique theaters/levels, each playing horror movie amalgamations for fans of the genre to geek out over, the goal seems simple: survive the films. Eiko can enter these theaters through the theme park itself that acts as the main hub. Before each movie starts, you’re given a sort of trailer that acts as the premise to the film. Each intro provides clues to assist in surviving the horror movie, rewarding close attention.
These are the theaters and their respective films:
Minnesota Hell Cinema: Homerun of Death
-This level is what happens when you combine The Burning with The Shining and pepper it with a little Field of Dreams.
Cinepanic: The Revenge of Queen Worm
-Tremors meets Basic Instinct
Boogie’s Fun Movies: Woodpuppets
-A terrifying Body Snatcher story with a memorable Texas Chainsaw Massacre scenario.
Shock it to me Theater: Killer Department Store
-This is an incredible level with homages to Chopping Mall, Child’s Play, and Dead Heat.
Hall of Resentment: Killerman
-Embodies a ton of slasher themes, giving nods to a lot of the greats.
Child Palace: Toyhunter
This one is by far the most bizarre. You play as a parody of Woody from Toy Story and have to murder a little boy so you can go to Toy Hell and save your sex doll from a demonic Sonic the Hedgehog...no I’m not kidding.
Health, Blood, Heartbeat, Adrenaline, Sight, Hearing, Smell, and Sixth Sense all act as your managing system of staying alive. At first sight, this will all seem very intimidating and exhausting, but in time, you will find your equilibrium, but it won’t come without plenty of dedication and even more death.
Most of the gameplay while inside of the horror movies is a stab in the dark. When you first jump into a movie, you’ll want to find yourself a horror monitor. The horror monitor helps you spot things that you normally wouldn’t see coming, specifically the jump scares.
Sometimes, when your health and adrenaline is low and you’re unable to use your horror monitor, you’ll be trying to navigate carefully through the level, hoping to God that you find a save point. It’ll feel like you’re running naked and blindfolded through a room filled with rapists and rabbits.
Personally, I loved the jump scares. There’s a little something for everyone, including gore-spewing bread rolls, projectile cutlery, and ghostly hands that reach up from a toilet to strangle you.
As far as the graphics go, this was a 2001 release for the Sega Dreamcast, so they’re as horrifying as the game’s story. But if you’re an old-school gamer like me, the graphics will just make you feel like a kid again.
Illbleed needs a film adaptation; it’s a thrilling experience that must be had by any fan of the genre. Be sure to play through a second time, too. It’s only at the end of a second game that you’ll be treated to the true ending and the hidden reality of the amusement park. Don’t save any of your friends the second time around- not only will you get the final ending, but Eiko will also be naked for it. How many games let you fight the final boss in the buff? This game is fucking AMAZING!