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Video Game: They Bleed Pixels
Body Horror has never been so cute.
They Bleed Pixels is a 2012 indie platformer for PC. Arriving at the Lafcadio Academy for Troubled Young Ladies, an unnamed young girl finds a mysterious book that constantly drips blood. It brings her strange dreams of other times and places, and of another self with claws instead of hands—and with each dream, the line between herself and the monster thins...

They Bleed Pixels combines Super Meat Boy's tough-as-nails style of retro platforming with a one-button combat combo system, all wrapped in visuals inspired by Lovecraft's work.

This video game provides examples of::

  • 100% Completion: There are a hundred and twenty six achievements in this game!
    • Beat all the levels.
    • Kill all the enemies in all the levels.
    • Collect all the pages in all the levels.
    • Speedrun all the levels.
    • Get an S rank in all the levels (covers 2 achievements per level, since A rank also gets an achievement.)
    • Complete all levels without dying, and just one level without taking damage.
    • Get a 60-hit combo (covers six achievements, one for every 10 hits.)
    • And various other achievements, like "set off a chain reaction involving five different bomb imps."
  • Action Bomb: Bomb imps. They're very fragile, but there's no way to destroy a bomb other than to wait for it to explode, and they do double damage at close range. (Thankfully, you can kick them into the nearest crowd of enemies. Or bat them when in mid-air, which the game calls the "Exploding Palm Technique".)
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: Expect to spend a lot of the late-game running from sawblades.
  • Arc Symbol: A stylized claw, which appears all over the background scenery, as well as on the Book of Claws itself.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Book of Claws. Apparently, the student library has many books like it.
  • Awesomeness Meter
  • Black Bead Eyes
  • Blade Brake: The protagonist uses her claws to cling to walls.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Its headmaster is an evil magus trying to turn his students into Cute Monster Girl servants, for one.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: Nothing can destroy the Book of Claws.
  • Clock Tower: Level 4-3.
  • Cute Monster Girl: The protagonist when transformed.
    • As well as some of the other transformed girls.
  • The Corruption: The Book of Claws seems to cause this rather than The Virus.
  • Double Jump
  • The End... Or Is It?: The headmaster's dead, but the books are still around.
  • Eternal Engine: 4-2, and to a lesser extent, 4-3.
  • Flash Step: One of the protagonist's combat maneuvers, also useful for crossing spike pits. It can be done unlimited times when flashing between enemies, but it requires a short recharge if it doesn't hit anything that bleeds.
    • Ghosts also teleport in a manner similar to a Flash Step when hit. They rarely block attacks, so getting a good combo on a ghost means chasing it around and hitting it over and over. (Naturally, you eventually have to fight them while clinging to walls and unable to chase them without the risk of falling.)
  • Hair Decorations: Cutscenes show the protagonist as wearing a little red bow in her hair. It's probably not coincidental that the pixel art seen in gameplay makes this look like devil horns.
  • Idiosyncratic Combo Levels: They're mostly words Lovecraft liked, such as "gibbous", "rugose", and "necrotic."
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Oh yes. Can happen to both you and your enemies.
  • Interface Spoiler: With the addition of Steam Trading Cards, The Headmaster can be seen long before he becomes relevant to the plot.
  • Ironic Hell: The backgrounds reflect what the heroine has most recently attempted to rid herself of the Book of Claws, such as the bottom of the ocean or a lake of fire.
  • Juggle Fu: The upwards strike is intended for this.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Make no mistake-this is not a Cosmic Horror Story, or even that much of a horror game. You win, and manage to destroy the book and the guy using them to make servants, after all, though it wasn't the only one of its kind.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Get used to seeing the protagonist impaled, shredded, and disintegrated.
    • What's more, deaths that don't completely destroy her corpse will leave behind an after-image. Particularly challenging sections will quickly amass quite a collection of bodies lying around or hanging from spikes.
  • Nintendo Hard: Expect to die several times per level until you get a good handle on the controls. They are VERY precise and overdoing ANY movement can lead to your death (no shortage of enemies, spikes, and other sharp objects in this game). Inertia is present and the floor is always a bit slippery even without ice. Also, not mashing goes against your natural instincts (there are only 2 buttons used other than the arrow keys), so mastering the character takes practice. The game supports and even suggests a controller be used, but the game is difficult enough for this trope to apply even if you do use one.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: There's a reason the score counter is measured in "pints."
  • Perpetual Frowner: As a human, the protagonist only smiles once, at the very end. However, she acquires a Cat Smile every time she transforms.
  • Piņata Enemy: It's relatively easy to string out a nine-hit combo off a single shambler (ten if you finish by punting it into spikes.)
  • Planet Heck: 4-1.
  • Rank Inflation: In a manner of speaking—there's an S rank, but the score requirements for it are ludicrously high. Getting it requires near-perfect memorization of a level, as well as deliberately skipping over a lot of possible checkpoints.
  • Save Game Limits: Killing enemies and collecting orbs fills up your "sigil meter." When filled, you can empty it to place a checkpoint on any flat, non-slippery surface with no nearby enemies, sawblades, or crushers. Alternatively, you earn double points for all kills performed and orbs collected with the meter filled. (Of course, you lose all those points if you die.)
  • Shout-Out: Lovecraft is particularly well-loved here, but there are references to everyone from LafcadioHearn to Philip Pullman.
  • Silence Is Golden: There's screaming, laughter, and a bout of Black Speech, but no one ever says an intelligible word.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: A figure in a bowler hat, wielding a claw-shaped knife, appears behind the protagonist at the end of every dream. The observant player will notice that there's a painting of a man in a bowler hat on a wall in the school.
  • Something Completely Different: The game contains unlockable "guest levels" created by different indie game developers. They include:
  • Spikes Of Doom: Everywhere.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Book of Claws seems to be this, although we never see any of what's in it.
    • While the protagonist only interacts with the one, it's not the only one around. The student library's full of them, and they're evidently doing similar things to the other students.
  • Underwater Ruins: 3-1 and 3-2.
  • Vague Age: The protagonist looks very young in the game itself, and some of the concept art reflects this, but in other concept art, she appears to be a teenager.
  • Womb Level: The final level, though technically, it's a heart level.

The Showdown EffectSteamThey Breathe
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