How do you follow up 10 hours playing the game you were obsessed by 20 years ago? By spending a further 15 hours playing the game you were obsessed by 19 years ago!
After the fun but rather basic original XBox game based on the hit TV show was released in August 2022, the follow up came out a mere 12 months later, also available for the Playstation 2. The publishers of game #1, Electronic Arts, didn’t get the gig (bet there is a story there) and the baton instead passes to Vivendi. As such, the look and feel is very different. The graphics are loads better, even more noticeably now playing the two side by side, and everything feels a lot slicker.
The narrative of Chaos Bleeds fast forwards the player a few years on from Buffy’s High School days. This time round, logically we must be somewhere late in Season Five or early on in Season Six. Joyce is dead and buried in Sunnydale cemetary. Giles owns the Magic Box where Anya works there while she’s not shagging Xander. Willow & Tara are, for now, a happy couple. Faith is (supposed to be) in prison in LA. Spike & Buffy are still rocking the will-they-won’t-they vibe (presumably meaning this takes place before the events of OMWF). Dawn doesn’t get a mention, which is probably for the best.
Chaos Bleeds is far superior to its predecessor. Rather than simply pummeling bad guys and navigating jumps between platforms, there are actual puzzles to solve! I should, perhaps, be concerned by how many of these I specifically remembered, such as Xander having to find a UV filter for his flashlight so he can read the password on the whiteboard. I wonder how my life might have been different if my brain had decided to let that piece of information go and instead retained something important. Did I fail interviews or tests because my memory was hellbent on hanging onto that particular scrap?
As I played through, various other bits of the game came screaming back to me. The Giles escort quest out of the Magic Box, Faith’s boss fight with Kakistos, Spike tripping the cyborg’s alarm, Willow’s annoying propensity to cast Shield instead of Possession to name but a few. Also the slightly illogical way that Buffy has to find a weapon at the start of every level. Surely, surely she would be packing a stake at all times?
Most of the voice cast from game 1 reappear for this sequel, joined by Eliza Dushku (doing an absolutely bang up job I might add). In an inspired move, they also got veteran voice actor Tom Wyner to reprise his role as the laviscious Sid the Dummy from Season 1 filler episode The Puppet Show. Giselle Loren is on double duty as both Buffy and Anya, carrying both off with aplomb. Kari Wahlgren steps in to voice Willow this time around, but is just a tad too shrill sounding for my liking.
Once again, this was a diverting excusion down memory lane, and a handy distraction from the sweltering heat of last week.!