In Bloodroots, the world is your weapon – improvise and adapt to an ever-changing ballet of ultraviolence, in a bloody revenge quest across the Weird West.
Publisher: Paper Cult
Reviewed on: PC
Also available for: PS4, Nintendo Switch
Developer: Paper Cult
Creative Directors: Raphael Toulouse, Michael Emond
Writer: Nick Suttner
Artist: Samuel Laroche
I jump on top of the barrel and smash it into two enemies. Hitting the ground I grab a dagger and dash quickly forward, disposing of the three enemies in front of me; as I deliver the final blow I jump upwards to meet my next challengers above with an empty can in hand. I quickly throw the can at the rifle-wielding enemy in front of me, but miss hitting an enemy wearing a pool-floatie which sends my can flying straight back at me. I rush to get behind cover dodging the rifle-fire, picking up a spear on the way. I jump over the fence I took cover behind and throw the spear to take out the rifleman. There’s only one goon left now. Heading at full pace towards them I grab a carrot on the ground and smash it over their head, finishing the room of enemies off in slippery fashion.
Bloodroots is pulled from the same design tree that Hotline Miami, Katana Zero and last years Ape Out share, and it’s a tree I love to see produce games.
As you play through each level in Bloodroots you’ll enter screens/rooms full of enemies with many different weapons and options to take them down with, but if you take one hit, that’s it, restart. It’s all about learning the room and having the fast reflexes to take everyone down. Do it fast, with style and you’ll feel like you’re playing out a bloody, and sometimes hilarious action scene ending with the last enemy dying to a carrot slap to the forehead.
You play as Mr Wolf, who as the game begins was left for dead by four characters that make up the Blood Beasts. Now on a quest for revenge, Mr Wolf travels across various landscapes to kill each one of those that betrayed him and left him bleeding out in the snow.
The game takes place over three acts with a handful of boss fights and bonus stages spread throughout. The enemies and locations change to represent the character you’re chasing at the time and you’ll interact with them along the way as you learn more about Mr Wolf’s backstory via flashbacks.
Each of the Blood Beasts has unique designs and personalities that make for fun villains, but the game is sometimes at odds with itself. You’ll go from playing through a level and killing enemies with pool-floaties around them and throwing snowballs around to these, at times, super-serious conversations with the villains. Bloodroots works best when it’s having fun and not taking itself too seriously.
I died 499 times by the time I’d rolled credits and yes, I too wish I’d just died once more to round it off.. I’d say I’m decent at these types of games and it took me about 4-hours to beat Bloodroots, but you could definitely take longer if you struggle, and less time if you’re a pro. Either way, my 499 deaths were all my fault and the game never feels cheap with what it throws at you. As enemies require different tactics you learn and adapt. For example, the game introduces enemies with spike shields around them which can’t be attacked by short-range melee weapons, so you learn to attack them with ranged weapons instead. The floatie-wearing enemies send projectiles back at you, so you learn to attack them with the close-range weapons.
What makes Bloodroots so much fun to play is its rather ridiculous amount of weapons. These can be as simple as a hammer to a gigantic sized scythe. There’s several types of guns, swords and an assortment of silly items that make for some of the funniest end-level kills as the camera zooms in to show you finishing the last enemy off. Doing this with a fish is a lot of fun.
Just about everything in a level is a weapon, meaning you always have something to grab and fight with and it’s necessary to be aware of what’s around you as you make your run since some weapons break in one hit, while others shall take a two or three.
Apart from the sound dropping out twice as a finisher was performed on an enemy I had no major technical issues with Bloodroots. I would be wary of the Nintendo Switch version in handheld mode simply because of the amount of stuff you need to track on the screen, but I haven’t got hands-on with it.
Bloodroots features a vibrant art style paired with its pseudo-spaghetti western influence that makes for a Cartoon Network feeling adventure. The soundtrack is an equal mix of styles with some tracks fitting the western-inspired tone and others being straight-up bangers I’d expect to have heard in Hotline Miami instead. The soundtrack is disappointingly not available anywhere, but if it hits Spotify I’d love to listen back to some of the key songs, especially from the boss fights.
Each of the boss fights in Bloodroots is unique and change up the gameplay. They play like old school platformer fights with the boss having different phases and their personality guides what type of fight it’ll be. The first one has the larger of the Blood Beasts sitting in a mechanical object floating in front of you and you must fight off goons while dodging their lasers and keeping up with them all at the same time. They’re all a lot of fun; challenging and rewarding to beat.