Though the two games are not connected in any tangible way, nor is any relation or inspiration implied, it kinda broke my heart when They Bleed Pixels jumped the XBLIG ship to Steam. I was really looking forward to it. I’m not a violent man by nature, at all, though I do demand a certain amount of pixel blood be spilled from time to time. I suppose the only reason I’m opening with this is because these two games have similar titles. And I’m heartbroken. Or, I should say I was. Slay Those Pixels ($1.00) is an able stand-in for the violence I crave.
That’s not to say that Slay Those Pixels does anything unique or awe-inspiring. It could most aptly be described as an adventure / RPG, though neither genre is probed for much depth. The ‘adventure’ aspect is essentially moving from left to right, one screen at a time, while the ‘RPG’ angle consists of three different skills you can learn (one of which will come at the end of the game, which doesn’t do anybody any good). You can level up the traditional route, however, earning increased health, damage, and defense as you take down a smattering of different enemy types across three ‘themed’ levels.
You can choose from two classes at the start, a warrior and a wizard. They too, are frustratingly stereotypical; the warrior focuses on melee attacks with his twin swords, while the wizard deals damage from afar, shooting fireballs. Other than a downward thrust move for stunning enemies below you, one-button handles the entirely of the combat. And that’s it. Move left to right, spam attacks, rinse and repeat.
The lone element of exploration comes in finding a key to unlock rooms (which is always located exactly one room over from any locked passage). While almost every door is optional, it is worth your while to open them, as it leads to additional loot. The smaller treasure chests will net you health potions or special, one-time use items, while the bigger chests offer permanent stat boosts.
Obligatory Ice World. Not shown? Snowmen. Yes, ’tis dark times indeed, when snowmen roam the Earth.
Tougher boss fights are offset by an incredibly easy Overworld; with the constant health regeneration and nigh-plentiful potions dropped by the two or three (!) enemies per screen, there’s really no way you can die in the rooms between boss battles, unless you’re ludicrously careless. Some ‘mini-boss’ types are sprinkled in to break up the monotony, otherwise, it’s smooth sailing. At worst, you’ll need to revisit a handful of the bigger monster rooms to pad your stats.
And yet, despite the bland trappings, I enjoyed the game. The relatively short playtime (an hour and a half), a complete lack of story, and repetitive combat means it boils down to little more than a basic, grind-it-out action / RPG hybrid, but some flying pixel bits and a stellar chiptunes soundtrack makes Slay Those Pixels a decent distraction.