Exceed 2nd- Vampire REX is a vertical bullet hell shoot em up that takes place after the events of the first game. No longer do you have a choice to choose from three characters but instead you only play as one girl named Ria. Luckily Ria is a far better character to play as than any of the three prior ones. She is has an interesting power that completely changes the way the game is played as she can use both evil and holy magic. What that means is that if an enemy is firing red (evil) or blue (holy) projectiles at you, you can change to that color and absorb that projectile to charge up your ultimate attack. It is a very interesting mechanic that rewards risk as you will cause double damage to an enemy if your magic color is different than theirs so you can either play it safe and absorb their magic or change magic type for far more damage output but have the risk of getting hit.
You also have a special attack that destroys all projectiles of the different color that can harm you and releases a beam that causes heavy damage. Very useful to get out of a tight spot as it is far worse to lose a life than to use up your special attack. This game is far from easy though. You will constantly be attacked by both types of at the same time so learning when to switch your magic is key. Even if you are doing very well Exceed 2nd will take that as a challenge as it has a rather nice ranking feature. What that does is if you are doing too well, you will gain a rank which will raise the difficultly level higher and higher the better you are doing. Losing a life instantly loses you a rank so it keeps the game a challenge but if you start doing poorly it will but you back an easier level. I really liked this feature as I always felt the challenge to be perfect but it would be nice to have the option to turn it off, since you may just want to have fun on easy but end up being forced to hard after awhile.
There are four difficulty modes which are Easy, Normal, Hard and Exceed. Even easy can be quite a challenge until you learn the how the game is played and you get proficient at switching magic. That shouldn't take too long as the game is pretty short. Beating the whole game only takes about 30 minutes and the 7 levels are very short. Most of your time will be spent fighting bosses as the grunts will only keep you occupied for a bit before reaching the real fight, though getting cocky is fatal as one shot by them can still take you down. You have three continues at fives lives a piece but those can go by very fast if you are not careful. Gaining a lot of points nets you more lives and the best way to gain some is to fight the enemy with the opposite type of magic. Which is risky for novice players since they will most likely end up losing a life than gaining another one.
Environments themselves are very bland and I can not recall any of the backgrounds even though I spent quite a while playing this game just today. I can see why they choose to do it that way though, as being able to tell the color of a projectile on the fly is very important and minimal distractions help a lot. The music is pretty great, not on par with the original game but they are very enjoyable blood pumping tunes nonetheless. This time around us non Japanese speaking folks can understand what is going on in the story since this game does feature English subtitles unlike the original. It isn't the best story or even a good one but it is interesting as both of the fighting sides are neither good nor evil. We are on the side of the Vampires performing a last ditch attempt to destroy the human army since they are carrying out genocides against the undead. Which naturally means we will eventually be fighting against the three protagonists of the last game and boy, is it satisfying shooting each of them in the face for starring in the terrible first game.
Not all is perfect sadly. Entering fullscreen breaks the subtitles somehow and you will see no text during dialogue. I normally wouldn't really care but having the line “ Cutscene-driven story-telling” as a selling point for the game and having those same cutscenes broken when not in windowed mode makes it more of a deal in my opinion. Another problem that keeps popping up in most bullet hells is that the escape key exits the whole game instead of pausing which is such a annoying mistake to make. Controller support is not listed but it works perfectly and you can rebind keys. You can not use the dpad though annoyingly enough. Those are literally the only complaints I have. This is a much better PC port than that broken pile of disappointment that was the first game.
If you don't want breaks in the action you can turn off dialogue which is nice when playing through the game multiple times and don't want to hear anymore squeaky anime voices. There is also a level select feature that lets you choose whichever stage you want but there will be no dialogue so if you want to know the ending you actually have to whole 30 minute game in one go. Assuming you are on windowed mode and can actually see the subtitles that is. It may be a short game but it is a lot of fun to improve your skills and being able to hold your own on a higher difficulty, though there are no unlocks or anything like that if you need a reason to replay a game other than fun. Exceed 2nd Vampire Rex turned out to be an insane improvement over the original in every way and is one of the best bullet hells available on Steam surprisingly enough. Do not be fooled by the anime artstyle of the game, this is a title highly recommended to any fan of the bullet hell genre.