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Set during the shows fifth season as a ‘lost episode’ (approximately between episodes Intervention and Tough Love), Buffy discovers that old adversary Ethan Rayne is at the center of a struggle with The First, which is literally the first incarnation of evil. As they battle a host of evil and demonic creatures, alternate realities bleed into Buffy’s one (hence the title of the game), bringing with them past villains such as Kakistos, an ancient vampire that Faith killed in the true reality and alternate/evil versions of allies including Anyanka.
In Chaos Bleeds players have the chance to play as five characters from the Buffy universe, most of which play uniquely from the others. Buffy and Faith are identical, fitting the slayer mould while Willow, the witch, uses magic based attacks. Xander has fewer and slower attacks. The other playable characters are Spike and somewhat bizarrely, Sid the Dummy. The majority of the games 12 levels are played as the title character with the others only occasionally taking the stage.
In keeping with the Buffy universe there are a variety of enemies such as vampires, zombies, werewolves, gargoyles and demons. As a vampire slayer it is the vampires that provide most of Buffy’s action and these must be staked through the heart in order to kill them. You could beat on them all day and not kill them. Unfortunately when the game released the hit detection was poor and a vampire could often be staked in peripheral areas of the body.
The game features 12 levels including well known locations from the TV show like Sunnydale High.
- Magic Box
- Blood Factory
- Magic Box Revisited
- Downtown Sunnydale
- Sunnydale Hospital
- High School
- Old Quarry
- The Initiative
- Sunnydale Mall
- Sunnydale Zoo
- The First's Lair
In addition to the single player campaign the game features several multiplayer modes with a variety of maps and playable characters. Initially only one map and four characters are unlocked with the player unlocking more as they complete the game.
- "Survival" - death match style combat
- "Bunny Catcher" - players compete to collect rabbits
- "Slayer Challenge" - a survival mode with the player trying to kill as many enemies as possible. Other plays can take control of enemies.
- "Domination" - A capture and hold mode with players trying to keep control of magical pentagrams
Dark Horse comics released a prequel set just before the events in the game. The comic introduced the idea of realities bleeding into each other and was even including in the game itself as an unlockable reward. Written by Christopher Golden (who also wrote the game) and Tom Sniegoski it featured art by veteran Buffy artist Cliff Richards.
A novelisation of the game was also written by James A. Moore and published by Pocket Books.