Ah, They Bleed Pixels… When I first heard about you and your 8-bit Lovecraftian platforming goodness, I was excited to say the least. It’s been ages since I’ve had an opportunity to play an old school style platformer and you looked like you were poised to fit the part. Plus an eerie H.P. Lovecraft-style story with dark and creepy enemies? As soon as the opportunity presented itself, we were all over Spooky Squid Games for a review copy.
They Bleed Pixels is a platforming game straight out of they 8-bit era, which is reflected perfectly in the game’s graphical style. While quite unforgiving, They Bleed Pixels is a lesson in patience and repetition, as flying through a level unscathed is very unlikely. I could probably describe the platforming sequences as Super Meatboy-esque as you have to utilize all the skills in your repertoire to make it to the next level. There is quite a bit of combat as well, with many enemies having their own little tricks to tearing them to shreds. I know everything sounds like a match made in heaven, but does this game live up to expectations or fall a bit short?
The game’s presentation itself is great, in fact I am quite the fan of the old 8-bit graphics mixed with the awesome electronic soundtrack that was created by DJ FINISH HIM. I would go as far to say these to parts of the game are by far the best parts of the game altogether. The blend of everything made me want to try harder to explore that extra spot and knowledge of 8-bit era hiding spots helped me find quite a few secrets as well.
I initially started playing the game with a keyboard, even though it does recommend a controller at the start of the game. After getting threw a few levels, while absolutely fumbling with the controls as well, I decided it was time to make things a bit more manageable with a controller. Surprisingly, the combat aspects of They Bleed Pixels still came off as a little over complicated than they needed to be. For instance, holding forward and hitting A would cause you to attack normally. Hitting A while also hitting forward makes you dash forward and just hitting and holding A causes non-damaging kicks used for setups. With the platforming as precise as it is later, this makes combat incredibly frustrating at certain points of the game. Several times, I decided to play something else just so I didn’t get too angry at some of the damn enemies that love to show up and hit you in mid jump.
While a little overly complex, the combat in the game still had quite a few enjoyable moments as well. I can tell you right now that there wasn’t too many moments in the game as awesome as beating up a monster, only to send it flying into some deathtrap. The combo system allows you to build up a bar that lets you create a checkpoint when it is full. When I first read about this, I felt like it may actually simplify things a bit more than needed but it actually became one of my favorite gameplay features of the game. Once the bar is full, you have to stand still to create a checkpoint, which allows you to restart when you die and also recover your health. Enemies and traps will block you from placing things at any place you wish, so I found myself oftentimes just looking for safe places to set up a checkpoint. This is great to have as I found that sometimes I may need to take a leap of faith to reach my next goal, while other times nasty jagged spiked were just waiting to impale me. Upon death, you go back to your checkpoint where you get to either make the same mistake again or figure out exactly what you need to do to win.
The story is mostly a silent narrative that tells the story of a little girl, a mysterious book, a menacing shade and a demonic transformation. Really that is about it, but even this is ok as long as you aren’t looking for a game with a gripping story line. The retro-stylized cutscenes are enjoyable and did make me want to at least see what was going to happen next.
While not a perfect game, They Bleed Pixels is full of good intentions. Spooky Squid Games absolutely did a great job of breathing life into a old genre and gave gamers something new to experience. Something worth absolutely noting as well is that They Bleed Pixels also features a DLC system that has FREE DLC. At the time of my review there were levels based around Sissy’s Magical Ponicorn Adventure and Experimental Gameplay Projects: High Velocity. These levels chance the look of your character and also have a few little surprises in them as well. Who doesn’t like free stuff?
In conclusion, if you are looking for a challenging title that goes a little against the grain, They Bleed Pixels is absolutely the game you should be checking out. Even though it is a little hard to get the hang of the controls, I feel this is just the beginning of awesome things from the folks as Spooky Squid Games.
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- Retro-noir 8-bit graphics are quite awesome
- Music. This soundtrack is badass
- Addictive gameplay
- The controls are tedious
- Expect to get cheesed by enemies at the worst times