I know that there are lots of things to worry about out there in the world. Climate change…economic anxiety…if Baldur’s Gate 3 will ever actually come out…tons of things to keep you up at night.
With the arrival of Bloodroots, however, you can put one thing to rest, the nagging what-if that formed in the back of your mind all those years ago:
What if Samurai Jack and Kill Bill had a video game baby?
You’re relieved, I’m sure.
Bloodroots tells the story of Mr. Wolf – a grizzled killer with some serious anger issues. Best as you can tell, he belongs to an animal-themed mafia group and is forcefully ousted (AKA murdered) as the game begins.
Due to what can be best described as “supernatural stubbornness”, Mr. Wolf returns to the world of the living, rightly pissed off, and decides to wage a war of vengeance.
In Bloodroots, you are working through, stage by stage, in classic Conan The Barbarian format: slaughtering your enemies, seeing them driven before you, and hearing the lamentations of their women.
Also, very similar to Conan, you dispatch them in a greatly varied number of ways! Sure, you could kill them with a blade or an axe, but what about impaling them with a carrot? Or chucking a massive wagon wheel at their heads?
This is at the heart of Bloodroots fast-paced and furious gameplay – weapons that affect the way that you move, and kill your enemies in delightfully different ways. Oh, and to be clear – it’s one shot, one kill. For (most of) your enemies, and yourself too. Don’t blink!
Each stage is like a macabre puzzle, littered with potential tools to work through the level more efficiently in order to lower your time and achieve a better score. There may be a rapier at your disposal, as well as a heavy chain. The rapier performs a dash-attack that allows you to cover great distance quickly, while you can spin the heavy chain into a tornado of pain and destruction and take out enemies in your wake.
Some items, like the rapier, are actually essential for platforming elements in Bloodroots. There may be large gaps to cross, which you can conquer using a particularly long pole (these can be found throughout levels as well) and doing a pole-vault like move, or dashing across chasms with the rapier or kabob-skewer.
The combination of using weapons to traverse platforming challenges, as well as the emphasis on speed and cold-blooded efficiency, turns Bloodroots into a delightfully violent dance. Much like a dedicated performer, the slightest stumble may have you restarting the level to experience true beauty. There are no lives to account for – the only penalty you’ll face is the score and rank at the end of the level. Still, I haven’t experienced such an intoxicating addiction to pursuing perfection since Way of the Passive Fist. It’s wonderful.
If you played Katana Zero last year, you’ll probably get a similar vibe to the fast-paced combat, though the restart times aren’t nearly as fast (some loading is required). The one thing that puts a damper on this non-stop pain-train are some of the platforming elements.
As I mentioned, there are numerous weapons you can use to help overcome gaps and chasms, but there are also points in the game where you’re moving quickly down a narrow strip of land with cliff-edges to either side.
You can fall off the cliff.
You will die instantly.
Don’t worry, I tested this thoroughly for all of you.
While it does add another layer to the “git gud” formula, it was probably the main thing that detracted from an otherwise exhilarating pace. That’s it. That’s my main gripe.
Adding to the charm of Bloodroots is the aesthetic – a visual style that is very much reminiscent of Samurai Jack, or another innovative cartoon of that school. Ladders and poles twirl around with great drama, blades glean the sun from their polished edges, and our protagonist gets a number of dramatic “FINISH HIM” animations, depending on the weapon used to deal the killing blow on the final enemy in the stage.
A minor aesthetic note – as the game goes on you can unlock various hats for your grumpy, vengeance seeking maniac. I appreciated this, probably more than I should have.
Bloodroots is good. Real good. We’ve been itching to get our hands on it since spotting it on the PAX scene years ago, and now that it’s finally here, we’re so glad that it shaped up to be this whirling dervish of pain and adrenaline.