Welcome to a world full of torment, pain and anguish; no, I’m not referring to the lore of They Bleed Pixels, I’m referring to my own personal experience with the title. Somehow, however the gaming masochist inside me keeps going back for more like the tastiest ice cream you’ll ever eat – stuffed with staples and burnt hair.
They Bleed Pixels is another title to feed upon the gaming world’s love of hatred for itself, providing the player with a 2D-platform filled with combos and challenging maneuvers to do so. You play as a Lolita looking school girl who recently began attending an all-girls school for troubled young ladies when things start to get weird. Whilst the story isn’t directly explained, it is shown through a series of outstanding pixel art works and whilst they are great to look at, TBP certainly isn’t the next Shakespeare, nor does it really want to be.
They Bleed Pixel’s real charm doesn’t necessarily carry through with things as simple as aesthetic features, it’s more its replay-ability and frustration that make it the game it is, just five minutes ago I went to collect screenshots and found myself playing through (Read: Attempting to play through) an earlier level in an attempt to beat not only my own score, but those of my peers. I found most of my fun came from ridiculous self set challenges such as beating a level without dying or gathering all of the six collectibles in each level.
It’s hard to review and critique They Bleed Pixels without mentioning Super Meat Boy at least once, both are consistent with their ridiculous difficulty and both happen to be 2D side scrollers, however – They Bleed Pixels has an edge to it, it has that something extra that just makes it more appealing to me. Perhaps it’s the addition of combat or maybe it’s to do with the levels being vastly larger with so many more options to explore.
Whilst Super Meat Boy defined the platforming genre (essentially becoming its own sub-genre) They Bleed Pixels takes that formula and mixes it up, it adds some stunning artwork, beautiful scenery and game play aspects that truly keep you riding on the edge.
It’s easy to see that They Bleed Pixels was not designed with keyboard controls in mind specifically, it even goes as far to recommend that you use a joypad from the very opening screen, however, for those who don’t own a joypad fear not, your experience might falter in places but the game is playable, but I really do recommend you pick up a joypad of sorts to play this title, it feels far too dynamic for simple keyboard controls.
They Bleed Pixels is not for the faint of heart, this game will – I repeat – WILL have you frustrated and hating the very fiber of not only yourself, but the game, but like a lot of the harder titles hitting the market currently (Dark Souls, Spelunky, Binding of Isaac and yes, Super Meat Boy) the level of satisfaction you’ll get from beating this game or even beating a single level is innumerable, also with a scoreboard that features both time and “pints” you’ll be replaying the levels to not only destroy your friend’s scores, but also unlock more features such as guest levels and artwork.
All in all it’s quite easy to see that They Bleed Pixels is for a niche target audience, but don’t let this detract from your enjoyment, If you do happen to be the kind of person that really enjoys a challenge, then I thoroughly recommend They Bleed Pixels, it could very well be your game of all time, however, it really isn’t for everyone. What it does have is beautiful, enjoyable and exactly what a lot of gamers want and for that I commend it highly.
Available on Steam as of 29th August, for £6.99 with 20% off in the first week.
Developer: Spooky Squid Games
Singleplayer, no multiplayer