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It isn't too often that my controller starts sticking. And as a preface, I would warn all of those about to play They Bleed Pixels, it's going to happen to your controller too. But that will be the least of your worries. I'd be more worried about throwing your controller through your computer screen. Luckily, that part didn't happen to me, but I was sure close.
They Bleed Pixels puts you into some sticky situations. This one took me a good 15 minutes to get through.
They Bleed Pixels is an action-platformer crossed with a beat-them-up game, based loosely on H.P. Lovecraft's general themes. The story outlines the tale of a young girl, our heroine, who is at a troubled young ladies academy. She begins to have terrible nightmares surrounding a book, and that's where the story ends, beyond a few sparse quotes. But right where the story ends, the frustrating gameplay begins.
The heralding point of They Bleed Pixels is its focused gameplay. Each level is extremely long, unlike many other games of its type. I found myself taking at the least 10 minutes per level, some taking upwards of 20 minutes. And those 20 minutes are incredibly frustrating.
The controls are very interesting, but typically when the word “interesting” is used as an adjective, it doesn't usually mean amazing. On the assumption that everyone is using a controller for this (it would be crazy not to), the game has very simplistic controls, only using two action buttons and a joystick for movement. I found the two button concept angering though. One button jumps, and the other button does every other action. It took me almost an hour or two to finally start understanding how to use the controls which is far too long for me. I'd rather have more buttons than such simple ones.
What is most important to the gameplay of They Bleed Pixels is its save feature. The original save feature brings the uniqueness-level of the game way up. To save murder must follow, as enemies are killed or blood is gathered, a meter fills up. Once the meter is fills completely, it becomes a choose-your-own save space extravaganza. As long as there are no enemies directly in the area around the heroine, a save space can be created in any stationary spot. Thankfully, unlike many other platformers, a save spot in any place you'd like makes such long complicated levels much easier. At least easier to avoid too much repetition, though be warned, make your save spot somewhere in a definitely safe spot. I placed one in an awkward position and spent 15 minutes trying to get out of it.
Here you can see its fresh save system at work, as I save in any place I please after accumulating enough blood in the top left bar.
Beyond the controls, the game is amazing. The entire look of it is fantastic, maintaining the retro-style look that is done flawlessly, as well as making it feel like it was made recently. The whole set-up was beautifully done, and you could tell Spooky Squid Games Inc. spent time on trying to make it as smooth as possible while looking old. Going deeper into the design of the game, it is impossible to ignore the soundtrack. The soundtrack is simply incredible. I would have left it on forever if not for the long levels, which led to extreme music repetition. However, if you are an absolute pro at these games, I would leave it on. It is too good to ignore.
In the end, They Bleed Pixels is a good game, but it is very particular about how to be played. I understand it breaks the immersion, but I found myself listening to my own music, or watching videos really enhanced the experience, or rather kept my anger levels down. But if you have to binge on Spooky Squid Games Inc.'s horror platformer, I would get ready to get angry. The game never gets easier, and as much as I love games like Super Meat Boy as much as the next platformer fan boy, it is going to take a while to finish a single level. And while finishing levels is great, it isn't very satisfying. But if you're a hardcore platform lover, or you're just in for a little retro-style masochism, pick up They Bleed Pixels. It is only $10, and you will get your money's worth in the challenge it brings.