They Bleed Pixels

There are those who define insanity as: “Doing the same thing over and over and, at some point, expecting a different result.” That pithy aphorism pretty much sums up my time with SpookySquid’s They Bleed Pixels. And the “same thing” I was doing over and over and over was dying. After dying almost 100 times (no joke) on the third level, I had enough. I just wasn’t having fun anymore. I play games to have fun and when I stop having fun, I stop playing the fucking game. Period.

The basic premise behind They Bleed Pixels is, essentially, what if early 20th century horror novelist, H.P. Lovecraft, had the resources and wherewithal to design a punishing, NES-hard platformer? What would that be like? Well, I’m assuming, along with the creators of this pain-in-the-ass disguised as a game, it would be a lot like They Bleed Pixels. From what I understand, Lovecraft himself was a rather uptight, prickly and difficult man, so this makes perfect sense in the grand scheme of things. Good job there, SpookySquid! You managed to distill the essence of fucking weird-ass New Englander (weird, yes, but still a great writer) and put it into video game form. Bravo, I say!

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The girl on fire…or…? Wait, wrong thing.

The story is pretty straightforward: a young girl is sent to a creepy boarding school, The Lafcadio Academy for Troubled Young Ladies, where she comes across a Necronomicon-like tome that turns her into a human/monster hybrid each night. Her dreams (or are they…?) are the levels she must conquer to see the dawn once again and regain her human form.

In terms of actual gameplay, it’s pretty standard stuff. One button jumps, the other button attacks as you progress through the macabre levels that are riddled with pitfalls, spikes and random, whirling saw blades. The female protagonist can do double jumps and cling to the walls, as long as they aren’t “slippery” walls, mind you. She can also unleash some rather nasty attack combos on her bland and far-too-similar enemies.

I really wanted to like this game. I’ve been looking forward to playing it since it came out at the end of last August… and reviewing it (finally) gave me an excuse to play it. I think it is easy to tell that I AM DISAPPOINT with They Bleed Pixels overall. To its credit, it does have some nice stylized, 8-bit pixel graphics (with some sweet, bloody flourishes to boot) and the music by DJ Finish Him is very cool as well. One other thing I dug was the innovative checkpoint system that saves the player (some) frustration by allowing you save almost anywhere you want…if you play your cards right.

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Does Satan have an unlimted supply of these random, spinny saw blades lying about? Just curious…

At the end of day, if I want to be frustrated and punished I’ll go to work at my real job. When I play a video game, I want to relax, have fun and get “lost” in the experience.  They Bleed Pixels drove me to brink of madness…to the point of questioning my own sanity, I daresay. I feared for the very life of my gamepad because after dying countless deaths, I wanted to smash it to bits against the wall…to end its horrible, unending misery and my own, by God!

And let me just say this in closing: back in the day, I beat the majority of “hard” punishing, platform games, so it isn’t that I’m not good at them or don’t like them as a whole. I guess it’s just that I don’t have the patience and/or time for this style of game any longer; I have better things to do now…

…like not die 100 fucking times on a single level.

ImageThey Bleed Pixels was developed by Spooky Squid Games.

For $9.99 They Bleed Pixels will eviscerate your eternal soul and then serve it up in offering to the Great Old Ones in the making of this review.

They Bleed Pixels is available on Steam.

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7 Responses to They Bleed Pixels

  1. julenisse50 says:

    The cutscenes and character of this game looks good, but the rest just look like super-meat boy clones with their colorpalette swapped around :/ And having a lot of Steam achievements is not something you should list as features… This genre needs something new..

    • Indie Gamer Guy says:

      Agreed. And I almost wrote something like that, but I never actually played SMB; I just watched my son play it and saw it in Indie Game: The Movie.

  2. Bought TBP during the Steam Summer Sale. I like the combat system, but the number of spikes, saws, and other death traps would send 8-bit Mega Man run crying to his mother.

    • Indie Gamer Guy says:

      Yeah, it’s a bit on the ridiculous side for sure. At a certain point you just have to throw up your hands and scream, “WHY GOD?!?!?” :^)

  3. joeyamthebest says:

    Why aren’t the kick attack moves and claw attack moves assigned to different buttons? I’m sure I’ll get used to it but why do I have to remind myself which way to hold the stick and how long to press a single button for different situations? My keyboard and gamepad are full of buttons, use them!!

  4. I didn’t have much issue with the combat, really. I thought it was pretty fluid. But, yes, giving you the option to map attacks to different keys/buttons would have been nice..

  5. Lecros says:

    I thought the combat was pretty fluid and it’s quite easy to get rid of the enemies.
    Just the slippery parts of the levels could be kind of frustrating. But I had a lot of fun playing chapter 1 and 2. It does feel like playing this alot makes you better at the game because my level 1 and 2 runs became much better over time.

    The smartest move they made is that you can stop the game and continue from the checkpoint so even if the level takes an hour you can finish it one day.
    So even if it’s difficult I kind of like the game.

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