Bloodroots launched on Nintendo Switch and PC last week and this bloody tale of revenge has had me gripped to my Switch.
Spoken out loud, Bloodroots sounds like a somber title. Hunted by a pack of heatless frontier types, our protagonist Mr. Wolf is left broken bleeding in the wilderness. What follows, however, is a top-down tale of revenge that mixes a little bit of twin-stick action with the sort of carnage that feels like it should be at home beside a hammer horror gorefest.
This slightly ridiculous adventure is designed and published by the indie team at Paper Cult. After launching on PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch, Bloodroots kicks things off with an almost cinematic entrance. As our protagonist trudges through the into view, a pristine white snowscape very quickly turns red and reveals a deceptively deliberate and sophisticated intent. A quick nod towards the Revenant, a frontier setting, and this solo survival tale kicks off. Bloody retribution is in order as Bloodroots quickly dispatches with the preamble and get down to killing its way through the frontier.
As Bloodroots opens for the first time and players jump into the game world this cartoon facade ratchets up. The top-down perspective provides a good overview of frontier towns interspersed with the wild outback. The sandy clifftops, abandoned encampments, and rocky savannah provide ample opportunity to create carnage and enjoying the view. Aesthetically the game takes a very deliberate approach to the gore that will flow. Bright red rivers of gunge are splattered across a game that is inked like it could have been a children’s novel. The juxtaposition of a bright jaunty and angular look against the brutal combat is further enhanced by a soundtrack that is just fantastic fun to hear. Opening bars of pianos and upbeat banjos could even have you painting your wagon, just with blood this time.
Carrot Carrot Carrot Kill Kill Kill
Getting to grips with combat isn’t particularly difficult in Bloodroots. The movement comes curtsey of the Nintendo Switch’s analog sticks with appropriately mapped buttons for jump attach and pick up. If you have some experience playing run and gun titles like Ape Out or even Hotline Miami then the tutorial will barely be necessary. Thankfully, that simplicity does not mean that this game gets tiresome. Each of the game’s stages is utterly littered with potential weapons. While Mr. Wolf can use his fists this is neither effective or fun. While obvious swords, axes, and sabers are obvious, sometimes the more inventive approach ultimately proves more satisfying. Environmental options such as bash a fence post provide ample fallback solutions and watching enemies tear around the map as you light them up are wonderful but it’s the more outlandish options that make this game gleefully fun. If you’ve never skewered your opponent with a roast turkey or beaten a mob down with an inflatable flamingo then You need to try it to understand. If you have, I really hope you’ve played this game and nothing more sinister.
Paper Cult has clearly taken a great deal of care handcrafting a barrage of short levels in Bloodroots which provide a decent range of encounters. These change up the way that vengeance is dealt out and the variety tends to avoid boredom. From Vegetable attacks to muskets, and chainsaws the variety of environmental weapons keeps things rattling along at an incredible pace and the surrounding enemies swap in and out sufficiently often to avoid the game becoming a trudging death march. Much like Ape Out, Bloodroots is all about the chaos that ensues as players run a gauntlet at pace without any extra lives to back you up.
Death in Bloodroots isn’t particularly taxing either. Take one hit and Mr. Wolf is down for the count but that only resets a particular stage. With the twitchy controls and fast-paced combat crammed into small levels full of aggressive enemies, the prospect of death is high. Thankfully whether it’s the jump across a canyon or a particular sniper you’ll jump back in with plenty of gusto and the satisfaction of mastering the timing required to get by a troublesome enemy feels decidedly old school.
More Of The Same
Roguelike dungeon crawlers are all very well and good but there is something to be said for a well-crafted experience that is difficult to master without being punitively long. I feel like the level design in Bloodroots really understood this and portioned out content well. While this expertly crafted game requires practice to beat, repeating the same level might feel redundant after conquering it a few times. Thankfully, when players have beaten the game, modifiers are available in the form of charming new hats. I can’t help but love the fish caps that swaps all the controls around.
Bloodroots expect you to fail, even without a fishy hat. This is a game that especially helps usher players down that path on the Nintendo Switch. Grabbing the game in handheld mode means peering down on a game that plays smoothly but ultimately relies on good reactions as the game unfolds. In Short, play this on a big screen. It is fun but you’ll find a few more curse words than you might expect if you squish t into the morning commute. If you do, however, manage to make it onto your morning journey with Bloodroots be prepared for long loading times on the Nintendo Switch too. This could use some work based on the size of stages.
If you are looking for a deep interactive narrative and a complex gameplay loop then I’d also advise you to pass on this. Like Ape Out or Redeemer, the core gameplay loop here is about cathartic fun and creative destruction. The environmental objects, changing challenges, and chaotic action mean that while there is only one button to attack, that rarely gets old. Bloodroots is out now on PC and Nintendo Switch. Check out the game over on the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation Store, and Epic store now.