Spotlight: Bloodroots

Spotlight: Bloodroots

Bloodroots is a game developed and published by Papercult Games. It provides an action-packed, ultra-violent experience that’s as tough as it is fun, and is a smash hit for those who enjoy the one-hit-kill mechanics of other recent indie titles.

Bloodroots puts you into a visually Samurai Jack-like fictional wild western world where you play as Mr.Wolf, a rather burly man who returns from the dead to seek revenge against the one who murdered him. With no allies to call his own, Mr. Wolf has to take on a multitude of enemies standing in his way in order to achieve his goal. While I don’t find the story to be all that interesting due to being rather basic, the core gameplay of Bloodroots is what keeps me going.

Viewed from a top-down perspective, Bloodroots has the more recent system popularized from past indie games where players are killed in only one hit. To circumvent this, nearly any object found around the environment can be used as a weapon. Mr. Wolf can pick up swords, axes, fence posts, ladders, skewers, fish, cabbages, and more while smashing his way through each area. Additionally, there are also some weapons Mr.Wolf can ride on for a short amount of time, such as barrels and wheelbarrows which can partially destroy areas while also taking care of multiple enemies at once. Each weapon has a certain amount of hits it can use before being thrown away, keeping players on their toes and always looking for the next tool they can utilize.

Some items aren’t used as weapons but more as tools for traversal, such as using rakes to pole vault to reach higher platforms or jump long distances between them. This can be confusing when first playing since you might expect all items to damage enemies, but over time you get used to it. Some enemy killing weapons can be used for traversal as well by dashing across large gaps between platforms or avoiding traps, creating a distinct combination of platforming and combat when properly used. When not thought out carefully, this can also be a disadvantage when trying to simultaneously avoid and kill a group of enemies and may cause you to fall to your death.

There are a few types of different enemies in Bloodroots. There are basic enemies with no weapons, basic enemies with swords or axes, armored enemies, bounce enemies, gun-wielding enemies and more. All basic enemies take only one hit to kill while armored enemies take two. The bounce enemies are a bit trickier since they can deflect your attacks, and honestly, I’m still not sure how I’ve dealt with some of them but it feels like trying to attack them from above helps.

Each level in Bloodroots consists of multiple areas, and all enemies in an area have to be defeated before moving on. Due to the one-hit-kill mechanic and the multiple types of enemies, this is easier said than done. You fail more often than not, but after some practice and letting yourself become familiar with the area you’ll make a little progress each time, figuring out the best way to chain combos to get the highest score along the way, and perhaps even finding an alternate route you weren’t previously aware of. This is where the gameplay stands out the most, as while there are certain patterns in each area that might work out the best, you aren’t restricted to those patterns, giving the neutralization of enemies in each area a more freeform and artistic feel. There are also checkpoints each time you reach a new area, so you won’t have to restart an entire level if you have to put the game down.

Once there’s just one enemy remaining in an area, you’ll be told so and an arrow will pop up to point you in their direction, just in case you aren’t close to them. As soon as you make contact with that enemy, a scene will play out showing a stylized finish with whatever weapon you had just used on them. The Genndy Tartakovsy inspired artwork of Bloodroots is a great choice for these finishes and always gives you a stylish reward to look forward to.

There are still boss fights too, but as you might been able to discern, they’re a bit more unconventional in some ways due to mechanics. Chase levels, bullet hell mechanics and more await you, usually with a stricter pattern to follow than in regular levels. Similar to regular levels, they take a while to get through after dealing with multiple deaths especially considering that they’re more restricted. Bosses also have multiple phases, but luckily they only take three hits to kill. These fights are still fun to figure out, but I feel that most of the time the freedom of the other levels makes them better to play.

The music featured in Bloodroots, while not bad by any means, doesn’t really add much. The soundtrack is more mediocre than I would have preferred, and although I’ve enjoyed a few tracks, I’ve mostly found myself playing with the volume down so I can be more focused on making progress through each area. It’s a small nitpick for an otherwise great game.

While Bloodroots may not be perfect, it’s quick and simple yet tough gameplay shines through any of the minuscule problems it has. The speed and simplicity of its mechanics keep you coming back for more even when it can be frustrating. While I’m not quite finished with it yet, I’m looking forward to playing more of it and I’m even hoping it gets new content with more weapon and enemy variety in the future. Bloodroots is an indie title that I’d definitely recommend checking out for yourself, whether you’re a fan of its mechanics or not.

Bloodroots is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC.

A code was provided by the publisher.


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