Review – Bloodroots

Bloodroots is an isometric, fast-paced, action game from the small Montreal based developer, Paper Cult. If you were to take Samurai Jack, The Revenant, Hotline Miami, and a pinch of John Wick, and mash them together in a beautifully horrific orgy of violence and hate, Bloodroots would be their bearded, revenge-fueled baby.

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So you wanna be a gangsta?

To expound, Bloodroots is a violent tale of revenge in a beautiful art style similar to that of Samurai Jack. You make your way through the unrelenting snow covered mountain tops, arriving to your entire village having been razed and burned to the ground. Your friends, your family, left lifeless in the heavy snow. Then finally with you facing off against your old gang and being left for dead. And so begins the high octane, over-the-top, opus of Mr. Wolf. You jump, slash, bash, bludgeon, roll, crush, flip, impale, slice, pierce, and stab your way through enemies in a one-hit-kill action extravaganza.

Bloodroots is divided into four acts with each act generally being split into four to five parts. Those parts are then split into multiple levels that act as respawn points. If you die before clearing that level, you are sent back to the beginning of it to try again. You will die often, but each death will show you a better way to handle that area, which weapons to use, and which order to take out specific enemy types.

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A musical symphony of mayhem.

You start a level with nothing but what you bring in. If you die, that means you start with nothing. You can still attack with your bare hands, but you will need to be closer to your enemy and your attacks will go a little bit slower. Nothing drastic, but enough to leave a much larger than anticipated window open to their quicker attacks. To rectify this, you grab yourself a weapon. Anything will suffice: a fence post, carrot, watermelon, sword, pumpkin, lantern, spear, fan blade, ladder, gun, harpoon, hook, pottery, etc. Pick up any of these and you suddenly become a tornado of destruction, moving from weapon to weapon.

Most weapons have a unique quality to them. A fence post or carrot gets you a single hit. A sword or axe gets you three hits before breaking. Grabbing a canoe paddle gives a wider swing and also acts as a pole-vault. Jump on a wagon to roll it over your enemy before leaping off and tossing a lantern at a building to burn it down, along with surrounding enemies. A ladder will spin for a limited time, taking out multiple enemies. A… well, you get the point.

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May I axe you a question?

Gameplay can get a bit frustrating, especially with trying to figure out if you are or are not landing a jump instead of plummeting to your death in a canyon. Some levels will really beat you up over and over again, until you not only get the pattern down, but execute it well enough to get past it. It isn’t so much that it requires a learning curve rather than it requires you mastering its pattern. Once you get that the game is a constant and rapid rinse, dry, die, and repeat before you begin to understand how to tackle it. After the first couple of levels, you will find yourself focusing more on score and how to ace already completed levels.

Thankfully, Bloodroots gives you reasons to go back to try and master your past score by allowing you to earn different hats throughout the game. By completing separate goals, you unlock hats that will change up gameplay, such as switching your controls to inverted, or giving you certain buffs. These hats can only be used on levels that you have already beaten, so no cheating your way through the campaign’s first playthrough.

I have noticed my fair share of jank in Bloodroots. At one point, the game began to stutter and wouldn’t stop. The framerate would move at about 1fps making it completely unplayable. I had to close out of the game and restart it. At another point, I reached the end of an Act only to not be able to move past a scene. The game didn’t freeze, but not buttons worked to close the scene, requiring me to close the game again. Thankfully, both times I was placed right about where I was before the issues happened.

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52 deaths gets a B? My kinda game!

Surprisingly enough, Bloodroots has a story to it. It is a tale of betrayal. A tale of revenge. It may not be a deep story, but it does give all the characters some dimension and made me want to find out what happened. Much like the graphics and the sound, it is simple yet effective at getting what it wants across.

Bloodroots really is an amazing little title that frantically bounces you between frustration and accomplishment in the most entertaining way possible. It’s one-shot-kill keeps the action going nonstop, even when you’re the one being taken out, again, and again, and again.

 

Graphics: 8.0

Beautiful cartoony art style that oddly lends itself perfectly to the over the top action. The lack of depth on the flat 3D levels can effect gameplay.

Gameplay: 10

Superb one-shot kill gameplay that makes for frantic action as you learn and master the levels. Some depth issues can cause frustration.

Sound: 8.0

Subtle and simple. Skipping any dialog in favor of text. Instead focusing entirely on the combat and mayhem.

Fun Factor: 10

Rinse-Dry-Die-Repeat becomes incredibly addictive as you work to beat your score and that of your friends.

Final Verdict: 9.5

Bloodroots is available now on PS4, Switch and PC.

Reviewed on PS4 Pro.

A copy of Bloodroots was provided by the publisher.

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