illBleed is an over-the-top comedic horror game developed by Climax Graphics and released for the Sega Dreamcast in 2001. The game has players take control of horror fan Eriko Christy and, later, her classmates, as they try and survive a horror-themed amusement park filled with booby traps in order to win a hundred million dollar prize.
The gameplay in illBleed stands out from other Survival Horror titles by making players pay extremely close attention to their environment. The bulk of the gameplay involves finding traps in the environment using a “horror monitor” device found early in the game, then marking the traps so you are not attacked and/or scared by them when you come into contact with them. Triggering an unmarked trap causes players to become wounded, lose strength, or become scared. If a player is wounded they must heal themselves or risk bleeding to death, whereas getting too scared can cause a player to be scared to death. Marking a trap, however, uses up the player’s adrenaline. Adrenaline is regained by marking a trap that is actually a trap and not some random feature in the environment, or by using status recovery items.
Another feature unique to illBleed is its battle mode. When the player comes in contact with an enemy an RPG-esque battle system is initiated. Battles are fought in real time, but are confined to a small battle area the player cannot leave. If the player absolutely must flee from an enemy they can call for a helicopter by standing on a green square and pressing a button. Keep in mind that the vast majority of this game takes place indoors.
Throughout the various levels the player will come in contact with members of Eriko’s horror film club, who will be in need of rescuing. After rescuing a character they become selectable in the game.
An intro using the in-game engine sets the scene as main character Eriko gives a speech for a high school speech contest, in which she explains her obsession with horror movies. Eriko, whose father used to be a designer for a popular horror theme park, is revealed to be the president of a horror movie club at her school and has a predictably troubled past, coming from a broken home and having been simultaneously traumatized and fixated on her father’s work in the horror field.
The player is then introduced to the members of Eriko’s horror movie club, all of whom can be player controller later in the game. One of her friends, Michel, tells the group about a new horror-themed amusement park, Illbleed, and conveniently has invitations to the park’s grand opening. He also reveals that the first person to make it out of the park alive will be awarded a hundred million dollars by the owner of the park. All of the members of the club are excited, save for Eriko, who is convinced that the park will be lame as hell. The horror movie club, minus their fearless leader, set off for Illbleed.
A day passes. Then multiple days pass. The horror movie club has not returned. You can probably figure out that something horrible has happened.
Worried for her friends’ safety, Eriko winds up going to Illbleed, and, as the game’s psuedo-infamous trailer claims, “you will SHIT with FEAR”.
Each level is set up as its own mini-horror film, often times spoofing real horror films.
Homerun of Death
Taking place in the charred remains of a hotel, Homerun of Death tasks players with dealing with Gale Banbollow, the former owner of the aforementioned hotel. Banbollow packs a flamethrower and is out to avenge the death of his baseball-loving son Jimmy, who was burned to death in the basement of the hotel when juvenile delinquents burnt it down.
The Revenge of Queen Worm
This level takes place in an abandoned campground and tasks players with helping a ghost kill his massive pet worm.
An angry tree spirit takes over a wood mill, kills the owner, and turns the mill’s employees into an army of “woodpuppets”. The player must destroy the mill and, of course, the “woodpuppets”.
Killer Department Store
A haunted department store hides vindictive, possessed merchandise.
IT’S A MURDER MYSTERY!
In one of the most bizzare segments in any videogame ever released, the player takes control of Cork Inda, a literal composite of Woody from the Toy Story films and Indiana Jones. Cork’s love interest, Sexy Doll, has been cast into Toy Hell, and now he must save her from eternal damnation. Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds, and Cork winds up fighting Zodick the Hellhog, who looks like a composite of Reagan from The Exorcist and Sonic the Hedgehog.
The Final Battle
Exactly what it sounds like. The player battles the man who owns the theme park and one of his grotesque monsters.
Despite having all the makings of a cult hit, illBleed fell victim to its own eccentricness and the horrible timing of its US release, which occured near the end of the Dreamcast’s lifespan. An enhanced port for the Xbox was announced by the game’s developers but never materialized. A homebrew sequel entitled illBleed 2: Reynold’s Revenge, was announced a year or so after the original game’s release by Lucky S Designs, but the website was taken down in 2006.
Hopes for an official illBleed sequel were destroyed in 2004 when the vast majority of the game’s programming team quit following the merger of Climax, by then known as Crazy Games, with another, much larger company. Climax Graphics/Crazy Games CEO Shinya Nishigaki died of a heart attack shortly after this incident.