So, this one is nice and right onto the 2022 jam theme, “CONFINED”. Wait, this was made for the 2021 jam, on theme “10 SECONDS”? Well, congratulations, you managed to match both themes without knowing it in advance!
In principle, the up/down progression allows you to take a break to an easier level after a failure, but it can be frustrating when you chain failures on “levels you’re supposed to know”. In fact, I think it’s good for the “campaign” as you don’t even need checkpoints: if you come back to the game later, with everything you’ve learned, you’ll be able to come back where you were as each level is 10 seconds. But that doesn’t take random levels (and small mistakes) into account, so I’ll have to come back another day and see if it’s easy to get back where you were indeed.
And when it comes to “training”, I think a simple “repeat level indefinitely” would be better. But I understand that a jam game rarely has multiple modes…
Bullets are big and the character hurtbox not super small either, so you must really pay attention to navigate between small bullets, and in dash right in front of big bullets if you want to get to the other side.
My biggest complain is the dash input, which only works when dash button is pressed on the same frame as, or after holding directional input. Often, you want to stand still then dash at the last moment. With this setup, you need to either start moving forward a little bit in advance, or move back a little first (assuming you have that leeway) then move forward again and dash.
Sin & Punishment 2, for instance, takes your Dash input into account no matter what, and starts a Dodge maneuver. Then if it detects late directional input, it will apply it to the dash. Of course, S&P 2 is more complex as it allows partial & dynamic dash, where you can change direction mid-dash and even use the opposite direction to decelerate quickly and perform a half-dash. But without going to those lengths, supporting Dash -> Move would help a lot as I died many times simply missing a dash and running into a bullet, even in levels I consider “easy”.
The only place where Dash is not my main issue is random levels, where sometimes I barely have to move, and sometimes the warp zone happens to be filled with bullets when it appears, and if I dash a little bit off it, I’ll fall right into it.
But well, I realized this game was made for the 2021 jam while writing this comment, so it’s less likely to receive an update now. I played Surgevania before and kinda like your concepts, I’ll have to check your more recent games now!