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They Bleed Pixels
A nameless schoolgirl is sent to the nightmarish Lafacadio Academy for Troubled Young Ladies to keep her out of mischief, but a mysterious stranger and an ancient tome cause her more problems than anything she’s faced in the outside world. Now she must battle through hellish landscapes and fight hideous monsters to survive, all the while making incredible jumps and avoiding spikes, saws and other implements of death that would love to tear her flesh.
This is a hardcore platforming game that tolerates no mistakes or false moves. The Bleed Pixels is a game with only one button for combat, but the arrow keys and the environment help the schoolgirl make short work of the monsters around her. This is a game where thinking out your moves ahead of time is a good idea, though most times you don’t have that luxury, or your window for pre-planning is very very small. Jumping is the primary mode of movement, though sometimes it seems like the schoolgirl is flying instead of jumping from place to place. It’s a familiar feeling if you’ve ever played Alice: Madness Returns. The tutorial is good in that it teaches you how to move and do certain basic game things, but it doesn’t really prepare you for the game itself. The first part of the beginning level is where you really learn to control the schoolgirl and see how she interacts with the world around her. There are levers that the schoolgirl must either push or and living barriers that she must break through in order to progress through the game.
This game is pretty hard, and you’ll probably find that you perish a lot in the beginning, especially when you encounter new hazards for the first time. One very interesting aspect of They Bleed Pixels is that you create your own save checkpoints when you’ve killed enough enemies or collected enough blood drops to fill the meter. You can choose where to put the save point by standing still and letting the graphic form behind you, though if you hold onto it too long, then you risk a monster taking you out before you can place it. The monsters themselves aren’t necessarily hard to kill, though they can be in places that make them hard to destroy easily. This is where the environment comes in. The schoolgirl can kick monsters off ledges and onto the spikes or the saws to clear them from her path. Of course, some of the monsters can do the same, so it pays to watch carefully.
They Bleed Pixels is a difficult game, and while a challenge is almost always a good thing, the frustration factor can be fairly high as well, especially if you save in a difficult or dangerous spot to respawn. The jumps can add to the frustration, because you have to judge how long to keep the button held versus pressing it again. That said, there’s nothing more fun than kicking an enemy off a platform and watching the spikes impale them or the saws chop them. The challenge the game presents also makes beating levels and enemies that much more rewarding. The atmosphere of They Bleed Pixels evokes Lovecraft through the backgrounds of each level and also by quoting HPL in the title screens for each dream level. While the monsters don’t seem to me particularly familiar from the Cthulhu Mythos, there are plenty of homages in the background art, which made me smile.
They Bleed Pixels is available for PC through Steam.