If you took the gameplay loop of Hotline Miami, mixed it with a visual style reminiscent of the works of Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and wrapped it all up in a blood-soaked revenge plot, you have Paper Cult’s Bloodroots — a game that will challenge your ability to choreograph bloody ballets of violence, but might also test your patience here and there.
What Is It?
Bloodroots is a top-down action game that tasks the player with one objective and one objective only: kill everything. You start each level barehanded, but just about everything around you can be weaponized in some way shape or form. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sword, a ladder, or even a carrot, everything is a weapon here. At its core, Bloodroots is a game about killing everyone with everything, and it makes for a bloody good time.
Why Should I Care?
It won’t be long before you start war-gaming scenarios in your head to try and conquer levels in Bloodroots. Adopting the “try-die-repeat” nature seen in games such as Katana Zero and Celeste, this game feels as much like a jigsaw puzzle as it does an action game. You’re probably going to die a lot while experimenting with different tactics and weapons available to you, but once you figure out the way that works for you, and start putting the pieces of the puzzle together, it results in a victory that feels earned, even if it did take a while to complete.
Everything is a weapon in Bloodroots, and figuring out which weapons to use when can make for some chaotic moments of improvisation that force you to really be aware of your surroundings. You might start out an encounter with a familiar weapon, such as a sword or a rifle, but before you know it, you might be forced to utilize some less traditional ones, such as a carrot, or even the dead body of an enemy. Every weapon feels satisfying to use, and with some boasting some gameplay altering properties, such as a heightened jump, or a quick dash, they make for some dynamic gameplay when it comes to combat.
While Bloodroots is a game built around the challenge–and is certainly a satisfying one to conquer–there is a fairly steep difficulty curve to overcome, especially in the game’s later sections. Difficulties in combat can be overcome with enough gusto, but what’s a little harder to overcome are some of the game’s platforming sections or areas relying on precise jumps. The game simply doesn’t feel as if it’s designed for precision platforming, and trying to manage combat at the same time as these sections can make for some frustrating moments that left me wanting to put down the controller rather than give it one more shot. Fortunately, these sections don’t make up an especially large portion of the game, but even with their limited time, they still tarnish the shine of what is an otherwise (dare I say) bloody great gameplay experience.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
One of the most prominent qualities about Bloodroots is how stylish it is. It’s no secret that its art style is comparable to animated works such as Samurai Jack and Primal, and it meshes really well with the aptly named Weird West that this game is set in. Cutscenes feature hard hitting action that matches the intensity and tone of its gameplay, and on top of everything else, it tells a pretty killer story, one that I certainly wasn’t expecting to be as invested in as I was.
You take on the role of Mr. Wolf, who is out for revenge after being gunned down by a shadowy figure. The game spends its three act runtime immersing you in a story of revenge that subverted many expectations I had for the game going in. It takes advantage of the fact that it is a video-game to tell a story that really can only be told in an interactive medium, something for which I hold high regard. While the story itself isn’t particularly exposition heavy, it still succeeds in building a world that feels fresh, fun, and one that I desperately wanted to continue to hang out in after I was done with the game.
In terms of post-game content, you can opt to S-Rank every level in the game or fight for a spot on the leaderboards, but that’s really about it. Fortunately, playing through the game naturally unlocks various hats that alter certain in-game mechanics or start you with certain weapons, so that replaying levels for a better score can still feel fresh, even if you’ve already played them before.
Even with some minor gripes I have, Bloodroots is a game that dug its hooks deep into me and didn’t let go until I finished it. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it and still think about it on a regular basis. I came for its gameplay, stayed for the story, and fell in love with the world of the Weird West, and can only hope there is an opportunity to revisit it at some point in the future.