Illbleed's premise is simple - survive the deadly traps and monsters of the famous Illbleed Horror theme park built by the infamous horror movie producer Michael Reynolds. Get through the park in one piece and you'll be awarded 100 million dollars! Of course, with that much money on the line, don't expect this to be the typical house of horrors filled with spring-loaded objects.
Four brave teenagers decide to take this challenge. You start off playing Eriko Christy. The park is separated into different themed aspects of horror movies produced from Michael Reynolds. You will also find an item shop, "photo shop" that saves your progress, a "visitor center" where you can change to different characters (you must locate them in the park before you can play them) and a hospital. The hospital not only allows you to heal your character, but when you find upgraded "human organs" (brain, heart, etc), you can have the doctors perform surgery to customize your character with more health, greater adrenaline supply, and a slower heart rate.
This is all part of the gameplay system, if you don't want to bleed to death you'll need bandaging. Don't want to have a heart attack? You need a low pulse rate. Monitoring your health is vital when it comes to Illbleed. As far as combat goes its not like most games of this type. You get one weapon for each level, specific to that level. You also need to locate the weapon in the level, and until then all you have are your fists. Fortunately if you need to make a narrow escape it's possible via helicopter, just look for an H on the ground to hail a helicopter.
Sure you'll encounter hideous fiends and other ugly horrors, but most of the time you'll be avoiding traps and finding clues. During this exploration part of the game, a sensory-feedback meter displays eyesight, hearing, smell, and sixth sense. Whenever you approach an area with a trap, frightening obstacle, or hidden item, one of the senses will display a "blip" indicating that you're close to something strange. And once you find the Horror Monitor item you'll be able to target certain areas that you suspect have a surprise and mark it with a glowing icon. However, every time your mark an area, you use up adrenaline so plot your markers carefully; not every suspected area will have a hidden item or a nasty trap.
The Horror Monitor is usually found at the beginning of each level and it's a necessary item that you have to grab before venturing further into the stage. The mix of action sequences with the unique sensory-feedback meter to detect hidden items and traps make for a very unique gaming experience, one that should've made Illbleed a standout title ... if it weren't for the awkward controls, jerky animations, and camera angle problems.
The game is unique, bloody and I love the campy B-grade movie thing it has going on, but the flaws really bring it down. Need to run from a boss? Even if you have the analog stick all the way up you'll probably still walk. Jumping is a pain in the ass with a three second recovery time! Collision detection is questionable. There is no auto lock just a semi version of auto lock. The camera angles are a pain also.
Illbleed has a good concept, but muddies it up with bad control. If you can get past that problem you might find an enjoyable game. The Dreamcast has better survival horror games, but when you're done with those you should definitely check out Illbleed.