Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

They Bleed Pixels

Review: They Bleed Pixels

2:00 PM on 09.04.2012 // Tony Ponce
  @megaStryke

Death and dismemberment await you

Amusing story: I was sent a beta code for They Bleed Pixels so that I could get a little hands-on time before the official release. For some reason, Steam wouldn't run the game, forcing me to spend the bulk of the evening and the following morning trying to get the thing to work. Turned out to be a faulty installation of the bundled XNA Framework.

However, I like to think that the real reason I was denied access was because Steam was trying to protect me from the very Lovecraftian evil that serves as the game's focal point. There is a sinister force at play here, one that tempts you deeper inside its gaping maw, and it's out for blood -- your blood.

Slight exaggeration, of course. Though the dangers might be too severe at times, They Bleed Pixels is still enjoyably gruesome.

They Bleed Pixels (PC)
Developer: Spooky Squid Games
Publisher: Spooky Squid Games
Released: August 29, 2012
MSRP: $9.99 ($7.99 until September 5)

At the Lafcadio Academy for Troubled Young Ladies, a nameless girl discovers a strange, bleeding tome in the library. An otherworldly power from within the book causes her to have macabre dreams in which her skin turns purple and her hands become long, bloody claws. Though she doesn't mind the dreams at first, she quickly becomes distraught as her body starts undergoing the same transformation in the real world. But no matter how many times she tries to discard or destroy the book, it keeps finding its way back into her room, infesting her slumber with ever more disturbing visions.

Some folks may compare They Bleed Pixels to other recent, brutally hard platformers such as Super Meat Boy, but I find it has more in common with Battletoads on the NES. In addition to high-tension running, jumping, and dodging, both titles have combat systems that wouldn't be uncommon in your typical brawler. And like how Battletoads baddies meet their end by one of the game's iconic finishers, enemies in They Bleed Pixels are similarly dispatched in style, capped by a satisfying splatter of pixelated plasma.

Taking a page out of Super Smash Bros., you have access to a bevy of techniques via context-sensitive, single-button commands. Depending on which direction button you are holding or whether you're airborne, pressing the attack button will execute a jab, kick, air juggle, dive, dash, or one of a number of other abilities. You can also use the environment to your advantage by launching foes into walls of spikes or spinning buzzsaws, adding to your combo chain.

You can't button-mash your way to victory, as most enemies are able to defend against blind attacks. You'll spend the first few levels getting a feel for how to best approach each foe, then you'll start facing multiple varieties at once, putting your skills to the test. It's a shame that there are but a handful of enemy types in the entire game, but at least they manage to remain just as deadly from start to finish rather than becoming less threatening as you hone your skills.

Mixing up attacks isn't just good for your score -- it also ties into the game's checkpoint system. By linking hits (and collecting blood orbs sporadically scattered throughout a level), you build up a meter that will allow you to plant a respawn point almost wherever and whenever you wish. You earn more points the longer you wait to form a checkpoint, introducing a risk / reward mechanic to the simple act of temporarily saving your progress. You won't know what hazards lie in the next room on your first playthrough, so holding back on forming checkpoints becomes a crucial skill when replaying a level for a higher score.

To mark a checkpoint, you have to remain completely motionless for a couple of seconds. It won't work if you are standing atop a moving platform or in close range of an enemy or death trap. There are frequently long corridors or challenge areas that you must clear in their entirety without breaks -- it is in these zones that you won't be given any opportunity to save. They can be rather frustrating, considering these are often the hardest parts of the game and demand nothing short of pixel-perfect precision.

As you progress, the spike beds that lined the floors will start creeping up the walls and onto the ceilings, while the once-rare buzzsaw obstacles become far more common. Eventually, you'll be double jumping through narrow gaps in spike-laden halls and navigating tunnels as a rapidly advancing wall of blades approaches from behind. An immaterial corpse of your heroine will mark the spots where you died -- a visual reminder of your failings as the bodies start stacking higher and higher.

It's only natural for a game to amp up the challenge in later levels, but the difficulty curve in They Bleed Pixels is simply way too step. The increased demands are entirely on your platforming skill, as enemy encounters start taking a back seat. Enemies are still around, but they tend to be inserted as obstacles meant to distract you from some other stage hazard. In the beginning, the game trains you to approach battles intelligently and to aim for a high combo chain. By the end, the smarter strategy is to quickly knock an enemy aside and let the stage hazards kill it for you.

There's also the issue of stage length. Though it's possible to clear any of the game's 14 stages in a matter of minutes, you can expect to spend up to half an hour or longer on your first visit. The final stage especially is an endurance trial of the maximum order, and I wouldn't be surprised if many folks give up right here, not realizing that the final goal is so very, very close.

On the upside, They Bleed Pixels offers a few incentives to keep playing. There's a wall of achievements for the really adventurous, as well as a collection of unlockable art from various guest artists. But the best goodies are the bonus levels created by fellow indie developers. Featured are "They Bleed Star Dust" based on Golden Gear's Seraph and "They Bleed Ponycorns!" based on Untold Entertainment's Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure, with a future free DLC level by digital magazine exp. publisher Mathew Kumar.

These stages paint over the morbid yet minimalist graphics of the main campaign to better match the guest game's theme. They may be more colorful and have more upbeat music, but they are no less challenging. Other than the surface changes, there's nothing extraordinarily remarkable about them. It's simply nice that other devs were invited to partake in the pixel carnage.

With They Bleed Pixels, Spooky Squid Games tried to cleverly blend hard-as-nails platforming with beat-em-up mechanics. Though the end result is not the perfectly balanced fusion the team was aiming for, it's still an intense adventure for anyone who doesn't mind repeated death and dismemberment.



THE VERDICT

7.5

They Bleed Pixels - Reviewed by Tony Ponce
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Tony Ponce, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure megaStryke Tips
(Decommissioned) Super Fighting Robot more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
They Bleed Pixels


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Summer Wars: The Video Gameā€¦.I mean Digimon: Cyber Sleuth

Gaming's Beautiful People #4: Valentine's Day Special OR Love Multi-Kills

Exist Archive: The Other Side Of The Sky Import Review

Stupid Teens Do Stupid Things: An Oxenfree Critique

A blog test. Brought to you by Buckner & Garcia

Cblogs of 2/11/16, 2/12/16 + Firethoughts

XCOM 2 And The Glory of Mods

PS+ Games of the Month January 2016 - Feat. GajKnight and SolarPonyDjango

Your Opinions On Racing Games Are Stupid

The Nerds Have Won

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Parismio avatarParismio
Omg i love the internet
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
Iron Paladin avatarIron Paladin
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
I can't wait to mute Niero. #NoRules #ThePurge
Joe Parlock avatarJoe Parlock
I spent all last night playing Day of Defeat: Source. If only Valve gave it even half the attention it did to TF2 or CS:S...
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Nearing Platinum status.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
THIS IS THE BEST EMAIL I'VE EVER GOTTEN HOLY SHIT
Parismio avatarParismio
Sheesh i played metal gear rising before and Platinum ruined the franchise.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Toonami is running a poll right now at [url]www.toonami.com/poll[/url] where one of the questions is which show you'd want un-cancelled. Oh, Teen Titans is included? That's curious...
SlyTAdvantage avatarSlyTAdvantage
"The Ravagers dropped the giant insects and waited for them to evolve ... it's clear. This is their plan from the start" -EDF 4.1 scientist So dragons are evolved forms of ants, spiders and/or wasps ....... what?
Ckarasu avatarCkarasu
Every time I hear "I don't understand why people like _____ game", I get annoyed. Of course you understand, if you've listened to what those people were saying. You just don't agree, and that's A-OK. I HATE Twilight, but I understand why people like it.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Just tried playing the first Bayonetta game... it was really bad. Honestly I don't understand why Platinum games are so well regarded. None of them are really worthwhile.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
The first person I block is the person who talks shit about Platinum
Torchman avatarTorchman
Even though your waifus are shit
Darth Wachen avatarDarth Wachen
Finally, a blog that I can call my own, I feel accomplished somehow.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Gonna be honest; this really made my day.
Rico the Penguin avatarRico the Penguin
I doubt I'll use it much but I'm totally fine with a block/ignore feature. Everyone has a right to speak, but I don't think anyone has a right to be heard. If this place played country music I'd want a mute button, basically :p.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Mall haul today (plus I split a BEAUTIFUL Star Wars Slave I with my brother). Any thoughts on Haze? Wanted to play it back when it came out and I had no PS3. For a dollar you can't go wrong!
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
I'm not gonna lie, I don't feel "good" about the upcoming "ignore" feature. Maybe it's just me, but I don't like the idea that people can mute other people because they don't agree with them. Spammers and trolls, sure, but not regular community members.
Gundy avatarGundy
Oh man. Those Next Gen transformations in Megadimension Neptunia are legit as fuck!
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -