They Bleed Pixels is a fiendishly difficult action platformer inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and classic horror.
User reviews: Very Positive (1,169 reviews)
Release Date: Aug 29, 2012

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"Showed at PAX Prime 2013 - Fiendishly difficult Lovecraftian horror platformer."
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January 4

They Bleed Pixels Speedrun at Awesome Games Done Quick 2015

Watch the current speedrun champion Squidclaw do a full run through They Bleed Pixels’ story mode with developer commentary streamed live Monday night (12:15am EST) during the Awesome Games Done Quick 2015 speedrunning marathon for charity.

Squidclaw holds the current record for a full story run at just over 30 minutes and five deaths and his playthroughs are a wonder to behold. Miguel Sternberg level designer and artist behind They Bleed Pixels will be doing live commentary of the run and we’re providing a prize pack including a t-shirt, a rare Little Black Envelope Edition of They Bleed Pixels and other physical goodies.

You can catch the run at 11:50pm EST January 5th (UPDATE: 12:15am Jan 6th) at and donate directly here.

Exact time is subject to last minute change so check the schedule.

As an extra bonus you can pick up They Bleed Pixels at 80% off on Steam from Jan 4th - 6th!

AGDQ 2015 is running from January 4th -10th and is raising money for The Prevent Cancer Foundation this year. So go watch some games done quick and donate to charity! ːtbphappyː

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"They Bleed Pixels will make you feel like a magician with a gamepad."
8/10 – Hardcore Gamer

“Gothic brutality shines brightly throughout this blocky, blood-soaked indie platformer.”
8.2/10 – IGN

"A Pleasurably Painful Way to Break In Steam's Big Picture Mode."
– Kotaku

Steam Big Picture

About This Game

They Bleed Pixels is a fiendishly difficult action platformer inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and classic horror. Rendered in a distinct visual style that blends pixel art with paper and ink textures, They Bleed Pixels is a singular mix of intense platforming and fierce beat-em-up action. At the core of its fighting system is a simple one-button combat scheme with surprising depth and versatility. Button mashing is discouraged while kicking shadowy monsters into saws, pits and spikes is rewarded, thanks to a unique system that lets you earn and place your own checkpoints through stylish kills. The fancier your kills, the faster you fill the checkpoint meter.

When a young girl arrives at the Lafcadio Academy for Troubled Young Ladies, she's unprepared for the violent nightmares that plague her dreams and transport her to other worlds. Worse yet, her dreams are intruding into her waking life, slowly altering her flesh into the demonic form of her night terrors. Can she destroy the mysterious blood-soaked book that appears to be the root of her troubles or will her transmutation from girl to clawed horror become complete?

Key Features:

  • Extra tight controls: One-button attack system favors skilled combat over complicated combos and button-mashing. Super precise platforming controls let you stop and start on a dime while pulling off gravity-defying dashes and double jumps.

  • Eleven massive levels to fight through and explore, each with unique visuals and music. Unlock additional guest levels from indie game developers based on their own creations: They Bleed Ponycorns, They Bleed Stardust.

  • Unique checkpoint system rewards fancy kills with a save spot you can carry with you. Hold on to it for extra points or drop it right away to preserve your progress.

  • Becoming a monster stabbing master with individual level rankings, online leaderboards for speed and high score as well as over 100 skill-based achievements. There's lots to aim for after you've completed the game.

  • Lush pixel art motion comics tell the story a young girl haunted by eldritch nightmares.

  • Original electronic soundtrack by DJ Finish Him (aka Shaun Hatton) composed with synthesizers, unconventional instruments and gadgets often not meant for musical use.

System Requirements

    • OS:Windows XP or later
    • Processor:CPU 1.73GHz Intel Duo Core
    • Memory:1.5 GB RAM
    • Graphics:NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT (XNA 4.0 Hi-Def compatible card, Pixel Shader 3.0, Vertex Shader 3.0) (Integrated Video Cards not recommended)
    • DirectX®:9.0c
    • Hard Drive:350 MB HD space
    • Sound:DirectX-compatible sound card
    • Additional:Controller Support: Microsoft Xbox 360 Controller or other XInput compatible controller.
    • Processor:CPU 2.6Hz Intel Quad Core
    • Memory:2 GB RAM
    • Graphics:NVIDIA® GeForce 8800 or ATI Radeon® X1900 (XNA 4.0 Hi-Def compatible card, Pixel Shader 3.0, Vertex Shader 3.0) (Integrated Video Cards not recommended)
Helpful customer reviews
60 of 73 people (82%) found this review helpful
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: August 11, 2014
To be clear, I enjoy this game. BUT. I would not recomend to most gamers.
I've played a lot of hard games, and enjoyed them, This game included.

However many of those games offered the difficulty as an option, for ranks, collectable and the like. There were usually various strats to meeting these conditions. Hidden routes, different usable mechanics, etc.

I've gotten about halfway though This game as of this review, and the levels are set up in such a way that there is little freedom as to how you play the game, The game offers you a ton of moves, but demands that you use them to traverse in such a specific way, to the point that I feel I'm no longer in control as a player. As if I'm trying to win at simon says, and the colors are encypted. This gets frustrating fast, demanding lots of dedication, just to make any progression.

Again, I'm not saying the game is bad, But I just simply cannot recomend it to the average gamer.
Its gets that frustrating.
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22 of 32 people (69%) found this review helpful
6.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 31, 2014
An excellent addition to the "hard but fair" platformer genre. The save system is a meter that fills up based on performance and which lets you put save points wherever you like. It's genius. The art direction and character designs are great and it's got a female protagonist. What more could you want?
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10 of 12 people (83%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
37.0 hrs on record
Posted: December 1, 2014
Pros: clever level design, fancy fight moves, helpful checkpoint system, beautiful pixel art/animation, John-Carpenterish synthy disco music.

Cons: Finicky fight control and jump mechanic take some time getting used to; expect lots of misfired moves and missed double jumps until you nail it. Levels get tough real fast (being rectified by a rewrite as we speak.)

I usually don't care much for precision platformers, but TBP was a welcome exception. The main reason was, cruel as the game may be, it plays remarkably fair. The enemies and deadly traps communicate clearly to you with visual and aural cues, with anticipation time long enough for you to react. So when I died, I knew it was due to my poor judgement or execution, that I could do better next time. It reminded me of the first 2D Prince of Persia, in a good way.

Also, the dynamic checkpoint system comes in real handy - you can set one down anywhere (with reasonable limitation and cost,) which effectively split a level into shorter, manageable chunks that you can practice on. It's kept between game sessions as well, so you can always pick up just where you left off anytime. I certainly wouldn't have lasted without it.

And when all else fails, you can always unleash your trusty claws and vent your frustration on the nameless things that wander about in your way. Which also grants you more checkpoints then health refills, so it all adds up to a surprisingly encouraging play experience, despite all the bloodbath and body counts. Make no mistake; you *will* die often - and so will the enemies. It's all fair and square, and there's certain grim beauty to it.

I heartily recommend TBP to anyone with an intrepid mind who takes pleasure in the mesmerising recursion of experimentation, realization, and execution. Practice does make perfect!
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15 of 22 people (68%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.3 hrs on record
Posted: September 24, 2014
I haven't played much of this game, that's because I hate it.
My progress with this game is esentially a reminder of my own incompetence.
10/10 would play for another 80 minutes then devour ice cream while crying again.
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10 of 15 people (67%) found this review helpful
9.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 24, 2014
+Art (design of backgrounds, monsters, character)
+Music (gets creepier when dead)
+Concept (Idea is good)
+Extra Maps (prolongs game lifespan)
-Level Design (platforms and arrangement aren't anything special)
-Controls (almost emulates broken controller, and how functions are mapped to "the button" is silly)
-Replayability (does nothing to make you want to play again... not even the scores)
-Execution of Concept (fell flat; disappointing)

Overall: It's okay, just make sure that you don't get done in by reviews that shower it with praise without pointing out its drawbacks.

Recommend?: Qualified yes (get it when on sale, or get it if you exclusively play platformers)
Don't Recommend?: to people who do not have much free time on their hands...
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
16.2 hrs on record
Posted: September 30, 2014
Straightforward controls, straightforward physics, straightforward enemies.

The complexity of the game comes from the level design, and it's brilliant. Instead of making any one mechanic too complicated, they string together a series of simple and intuitive mechanics together to make something complex.

The difficulty on the first run is pretty stanard in the precision platformer genre. You die a lot as you get aquainted with the game, and the parts that seem hard are all because you're generally still improving. After you've done a section it gets significantly easier less because you've memorized the level and more because you've just gotten better at the game, although knowing a level layout doesn't hurt.

The game also handles replayability extremely well. You have two ways to play the game "better". Speed running and score running. Both require you to essentially give up on placing checkpoints, which help you survive in your initial runs. But how you approach a level in is vastly different depending on what you're going for.

Speed and score runs require memorization, but that's because figuring out what to do is half of it.

Speed runs are all about avoiding combat and getting through the levels quickly. Occasionally that means taking damage to rocket yourself across the screen, and actively avoiding the free point orbs.

Score runs, on the other hand, are all about forcing the AI to do what you want, then using the map to perform the most point intensive combos. The combos aren't obscure either, which is refreshing. Each attack has a clear job and is easy to perform, and the map is what decides the best combo.

My only gripe is that there's no map editor.
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13 of 23 people (57%) found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 4, 2014
The game is not a hack and slash platformer as one might assume by the theming and combat tutorial placed at the beginning of the game, which is a shame because combat is fun and well-designed. It's actually about 90% monotonously difficult precision platforming. Reviews claim that it is "easy to learn, hard to master," but this is not the case. There is no difficulty curve whatsoever- after the third stage the game rapidly increases challenge to rediculous levels, and requires far more patience and effort than can be balanced by the meagre early game exposition in the way of motivation.

Or, to put it simply, it offers too little and demands too much.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
12.7 hrs on record
Posted: August 11, 2014
They Bleed Pixels is a 2-D sprite based platformer combat hybrid, it offers a variety of well designed levels and indie style music from DJ Finish Him. While this game is well made, a good port on PC, and has controller support, I will say its definitely not for everyone, because of one factor.

The Difficulty

This is one of the most difficult platformers I've ever played, and it isn't for reasons you'd expect. For one unlike other notoriously hard platformers, you are given a wide variety of abilities, such as a dash, double jump, wall jump, and a plenty of combat moves to work with against enemies. You also get a system that replaces lives and continues with your own checkpoint at any point of the level when a certain score is reached by defeating enemies and collecting items. However, the levels don't get truly challenging until you hit the 3rd world, which is referred to as dreams in this game.


Well the enemies are designed to be aggressive, all of them, even tiny squids are your worst enemy as the level design shows you more saws in one area then at your local hardware store. Because there is a heavy hitting knock-back similar to that of the Castlevania games on NES, you'll more likely die from hitting one cleverly placed saw or enemy, because there is no recovery time in the game you could lose all 3 of your hearts in less than a second.

All in all, this was a great game to play, and an amazingly designed one at that with a cool style and music, I'd recommend it, but to actually finish it is a question you can only answer by your skill level.

Also you play as a little girl, so that's cool.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
6.9 hrs on record
Posted: August 6, 2014
This game is a good example of why difficulty for it's own sake is not a positive. This game is made difficult by...
A.) A character with little weight and poor traction
B.) Checkpoint starvation disguised with a place-your-own-checkpoint system. The game allows you to place your own checkpoints, but only in places with non-icy, non-buzzsaw-infested ground. Instead of directly starving you for checkpoints, the game instead starves you for clear ground upon which to place said checkpoints.
C.) A difficult obstacle, which is then duplicated five times before you reach a place where you can set a checkpoint. Doing the difficult obstacle once is clearly not difficult enough, so you must do it five times in a row instead, with very little variation besides adding more buzzsaws.
D.) Oversaturation of spikes, buzzsaws, and icy ground. Even in the inferno level there is ice to prevent you from walljumping or having any fun. Difficulty that relies on depriving the player of options and control over the character is not enjoyable.

6 out of 10

Overall, the level design is unimaginative and unnecessarily irritating. I've played and enjoyed a lot of difficult platformers, but this one is not difficult for the right reasons.

Sidenote: The music is literally nauseating. When you die, the pitch distorts downward and then back up when you respawn, which completely disrupts any enjoyment you might otherwise squeeze out of what is already repetitive and dull music.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
6.3 hrs on record
Posted: September 1, 2014
Initially I really enjoyed this game. The aesthetic and the promise of a slower paced Super Meat Boy platformer with some combat mixed in was the main pull for me.

When I started playing the game I had some trouble with the controls, it felt very fumbly and the amount of actions expected out of a single button seemed a bit much. I figured, hey I'm bad at platformers generally speaking so I'll just have to take some time to improve. While I did improve, the problems with the controls did not.

As the difficulty of the levels increased I discovered that my initial concerns may not have just been my own incompetence. The controls are too sensitive in some places, not sensitive enough in others. The attack animations are very awkwardly timed (the overhead slash, in particular), and too much is expected out of the "attack" button. To lay out what all the buttons are in this game (using an X360 pad), it's Left Stick to move, A to jump, and B to attack. But What attack you do depends on context or how the button is pressed. Left Stick + B = standard stabbing attack, Left Stick + B = dashing attack as well, if there is nothing immediately close to you. Just tapping B makes you kick, holding B makes you kick straight up. Left Stick (up) + B = overhead slash, while in the air B = ground slash, unless you're next to an enemy, then B = attack enemy.

Too much expected of too little, and combined with the less-than-impressive responsiveness of the controls this creates more frustration than is bearable. There were times during wall-jumping sections that require a double jump, but falling from the wall is considered a jump, and even thinking about moving the Left Stick away from the wall causes you to fall. This created no end of terrible moments of being unable to control the character well enough to accuratly move around the obstacles.

Some might say I am bad at platformers, but I have played more difficult levels than what They Bleed Pixels has to offer in games like Super Meat Boy and 1001 Spikes, and succeeded without much, or any, frustration. I could not finish They Bleed Pixels because of the control issues, but combined with the lack of resolution options or really any basic graphics settings, I would not recommend anyone play this game.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
9.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 4, 2014
"Fiendishly difficult" is a particularly apt description of this particularly bloody platformer.

With a difficulty ceiling rivaling that of Super Meat Boy, a challenging combo system, precise, deliberate controls and far more strategy than meets the eye, You'll be spilling quarts and quarts and quarts of blood, over and over, and over... and over again.

Racing the clock, your combo chain and the level rewards are all overtly satsifying, and are all the more enhanced by the Lovecraftian themes and immense, splattering blood sprays.

Good leaderboards and achievements are a nice bonus.
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3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
14.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 29, 2014
Great platformer game with awesome graphics and soundrack. The gameplay is also great, but the combat can get repetive. The story telling is well made, level desing, well... could be better, but it offers secrets and different ways.
Also the final level is ridiculously hard.
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6 of 11 people (55%) found this review helpful
11.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 30, 2014
This game was an experience on a level that exceeds Super Meat Boy by a few magnitudes. It was incredibly fun.

I also never want to play it again. This game is hard. Harder than SMB easily. It's difficult to the point where I got kind of stressed out and frustrated at about my 300th death. You'd think checkpoints placed wherever you want (mostly) and combat would make things easier. It doesn't. It makes things harder because with those two features the level designer has no reason to not be downright sadistic with you.

You have 3 hearts of health but given that the mercy invincibility is about 2ms long if you fall into a spike or hit a saw you're pretty much done for.

I know this sounds like I'm being critical but I'm really not. We all know what we sign up for when we get these insane platformer games. You get them for the feeling of accomplishment when you win, and oh boy does it provide it.

I made a video wherein I navel gaze about what constitutes a lovecraftian mythos and the nature of insanity here.
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6 of 11 people (55%) found this review helpful
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 23, 2014

A great game that pushes your reaction and planning skills to the max. Great level design and non stop threats to keep you on your toes. A good grab for anyone looking for simple, yet complex,
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
18.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 3, 2014
To start, the theme of this game is devilish difficulty. And it won't allow you to forget that. Theme-wise, it's a very dark, almost gothic kind of universe with alchemy and magical rituals and all manner of occulty goodness so if you're looking for a more noire-niche way to rip your hair out, look no further.

Those who've played a lot of the more recent platformers like Super Meat Boy and to a much lesser extent, I Wanna Be The Guy, will have a ton of fun with this in that there's actually a way to defend yourself, engaging you with what you're playing a little more, or so I like to think. The controls are supurbly tight, which is a must for players trying to optimize speed runs and keep the adrenaline going, as well as the instant continuing after you're killed by something. Which EVERY GAME SHOULD HAVE ALWAYS. ALWAYS. (Which, also, the nice about it being that dying didn't immediately mean the end of a record run)

I find the collectables to be really well placed and the scaling of difficulty in finding them, really thoughtful. The enemies were one of the things I had to say I was quite happy about. At first when you hear from someone else that you see the extent of the enemy list in the span of a few pages you think the game will turn out a bit dull but they use even the first thing you see, the shambler, in the most creativelly annoying ways possible, which I was pretty impressed with.

I have to say I've put a lot of time into playing now and I would love to complete it but I don't have the attention span. It's not impossible for a casual gamer to get every blood badge but you'd have to be dedicated. In some respects it reminds me a lot of The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai but much less combat based, though there will be blood, delicious glorious blood in the form of pixels.

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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
2.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 6, 2014
Are you prepared for some old-school, Nintendo-hard platformer with a pixelated Lovecraftian aesthetic? Just making it through the levels is pretty challenging, but if you're going for completion, get ready to start tearing your hair out. The platforming on its own is fun, and you start off with double jump and wall climbing abilities (the latter being an obvious application of having claws for hands), and the enemies that aren't shamblers require some deftness and skill to dispatch safely, but combine them and things can quickly get hellish.

Fortunately, you get three hitpoints to work with, and when you activate a save sigil (read: checkpoint) you get them all back. Save sigils aren't located at designated points, but are earned through collecting blood drops and killing enemies (higher combos earn sigils faster), and can then be created on (non-icy) flat ground a safe distance from death traps (stationary floor spikes don't block sigils, fortunately).

Unfortunately, some of the difficulty comes from controls or mechanics that could use minor tweaks. Movement (especially while jumping) could be a little tighter, and this is particularly noticeable on sections full of icy platforms, when landing with even no horizontal momentum still causes the player to slip forward at surprising speed, often towards spikes or buzzsaws. The two button controls can be unecessarily restrictive. Stab and kick are assigned to the same button, depending on whether you press just attack or also hold left/right. The problem occurs when you want to dash, which uses the exact same key combination as stab, but when you're already moving. This is an issue that could have easily been avoided by making kick and stab two different buttons. Additionally, the rebound from hits is pretty severe, which can be incredibly frustrating on small platforms, and while recovery is fairly quick, there is no temporary invulnerability following a hit, which combined with the knockback can turn a minor misstep into instant death.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
2.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 8, 2014
Hard. Very hard. As in, "Oh god why am I even trying to do this?" hard.

The save system mitigates it a little, but the level design is completely sadistic - you might make things easy on yourself saving often; or you might invite hell by dropping a checkpoint somewhere awkward. If you don't like challenging platform games, I'd actually advise against trying this.

That said. I love the aesthetic, the music and the theming. Nothing like a purple little girl shredding assorted hordes of eldritch horrors. ^_^
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
1.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 18, 2014
This game is so good! 1.5 hours isn't much but I'm working in game maker and it takes most of my time away from playing games. If you like pixel art then this game is for you. It's hard but not too hard and it's satisfying when you make progress. When on sale, it's a must buy hands down.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
5.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 23, 2014
I recommend this game, first and foremost, to people who want an unfair platforming challenge. You will die. A Lot. I'm not JUST saying that because I died a lot, but because the games platforming and level design is such that you won't always know what lies ahead. Some quick reflexes may save you in most situations, but it's likely that the game's architecture changes at that one critical moment to make you slide instead of stop, or have floating enemies chase after you through intense buzz saw blade platforming elements.

I had fun though. I tried to get all the pages, but around chapter 3 they start placing them in unkown sectors of the level and you'll have to send your little girl flying out into a bed of spikes to try and find where they placed it. Still, if you like that kind of platforming challenge, the control and execution in this game is really technical and can satisfy that urge to "get it perfect" and a lot of the levels, though they took me a half hour to get through, can be beaten in under 5 minutes.

So yes, I recommend this game, It's fun, well built, has that unfair platforming design, but some people like that. I did, until I just couldn't take it anymore.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
10.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 25, 2014
They Bleed Pixels is a fun but very unforgiving platformer. The difficulty curve goes up rapidly, so don't expect to finish this in one sitting. As of writing this, I have not completed all of the levels.

The main thing you want in a precision platformer is good controls. They Bleed Pixels succeeds quite well in this regard, since you essentially have one button for attack and one button for jump. You can double jump and you grab walls just by falling into them. The jump physics provide very good precision. Various attacks can be performed by pressing or holding the attack button in combination with other buttons. This all becomes fairly intuitive, and doesn't require you to learn countless moves each requiring different buttons to execute.

As was mentioned before, They Bleed Pixels is a precision platformer. It requires precision, timing, and trial and error. It also requires patience, because you will fail over and over. There are a decent variety of enemies with interesting and challenging behaviors. The game is well-designed, such that even the most basic enemy can prove to be a legitimate obstacle in the right circumstance. You can't just button mash your way to victory. You have to approach enemies intelligently and exploit their weaknesses.
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