(Click the pictures to see them at the original resolution.)
The tutorial explains the controls well, which is good because they're not quite what you'd expect. Every attack is performed with the same button (redefinable, thank fuck we're in the future now) but just tapping or holding the button triggers a harmless kick. Well harmless if the enemy isn't standing in front of spikes anyway. To inflict damage I have to pull towards the enemy while I'm hitting attack, though it still takes a fair few smacks to kill these creatures.
Oh, and they also threw a Lovecraft quote on screen, just to make sure that reviewers mention that it's 'Lovecraft inspired' in their reviews.
So many indie games are being released with retro style low colour pixel art graphics like this these days, and personally I think it's fantastic. It's an art style born of technical limitations, but there's no reason to just abandon it now the limitations are gone.
This is good for two reasons. First, yay checkpoints! And second, this is a system that encourages taking risks and exploring by offering up the most valuable reward I could want in a video game: not having to replay the last section of level again when I inevitably screw up. It's bloody brilliant is what it is.
I can't just punch these monsters to death on the ground, as they soon start to block my attacks. But in an emergency, like if there's no spikes handy, I can kick them into the air and hit them all the way down. Usually seems to do the job.
I played Super Meat Boy again for a bit just before trying this out to give myself a point of reference, and it'd be fair to say the two games do feel very similar in how they play. Though Meat Boy has a run button, and this has a double jump.
But first I'm grabbing that bonus thing on the left. I don't think it does anything, I haven't come across a powerup in the game yet, but I want it anyway.
Oh, turns out I can just walk through them. Well... okay then.
SOME TIME LATER.
Huh, there's a page behind this door? But how do I open the door? Oh I just have to trigger those bomb guys down there on the left to explode and hit the switch... but to do that I need to go jumping around over the spikes again. I'm going to be leaping over these bloody things all night at this rate.
I lost 42 lives on this level in the end, after 23 minutes of failure. But hey that's still a C grade!
LATER, ON THE NEXT LEVEL.
Jumping up to grab those red dots might be worth it though, if they'll get me full checkpoint power.
This level looks like it's going to cost a lot more lives though, as they've taken away the floor and stuck spikes on top of every platform. Mario never had to put up with this.
Damn, it must have taken those demons forever to put all these down. It's a really impressive piece of construction work. I wonder if they assembled it out of prefabricated sections...
Man, what am I even talking about? I think I've been staring at this game too long and it's driving me mad.
I suppose I could just ignore them, flip the switches, and drop into the exit. But nah, I've got a full set of hearts, I can afford to take a dumb chance and re-kill their dead ass.
And that's another nightmare over. (I got a C grade if you were wondering).
Hang on, are those tentacles on that bridge? Plus there's the claw logo again on the sides. In fact looking back I'm spotting that claw logo on everything. Creepy.
Alright, that's They Bleed Pixels then. It's stylish straightforward platformer with a few cutscenes scattered in between levels to add a little plot. Like Super Meat Boy and Hotline Miami, I found it more than sadistic enough, but the challenge is broken down into small pieces so it doesn't give you the frustration of having to endlessly replay huge sections of the level. It's about getting something right then moving on, rather than mastering a level. But like those two games, it does has a level select, so you can return to older levels to work towards getting a better grade and earn achievements if you want. Shame I can't say the music's as good though, and some of the tunes get old after 15 minutes of looping.
I'm struggling to find anything bad to say about it though really. It looks like it may be a little short I guess, and I suppose it could get a bit repetitive. Also boss fight fans may be sad to hear that I haven't come across one yet, though for all I know it could be all boss fights from here on out. Anyway, what I've played of the game so far makes me want to recommend it to anyone who's finding themselves halfway interested.
Anything you want to say about They Bleed Pixels, or the site in general? Comments are welcome.