Reviews

Review: Bloodroots - Beat the odds. Use a carrot.

Published: 21:02, 20 March 2020
Paper Cult
Key art for Bloodroots.
You think axes are lethal? Try using a carrot. They're DEADLY.

Bloodroots is equals parts frantic and demanding; repetition through death might be a common occurrence, but it manages to weave a delicate balance so that it never becomes frustrating. It'll take a minute to find your rhythm, but when you do, it really sings.

As Mr. Wolf, you'll charge, slash, and steamroll your way through a series of intricate and malleable spaces, eliminating foes with a reckless abandon not seen since John Wick first became cinematic legend. 

In fact, the temptation here is to draw a parallel with Hotline Miami, with the lightning fast movement and one hit / one death push and pull. Yet this felt tonally more in line with Mr. Shifty, another indie effort that saw you making use of anything and everything to weaponize for your own purposes. 

The learning curve takes a steep incline after the opening area, with Bloodroots deliberately taking a hands off approach to mechanics and controls, leaving you to connect the dots. But the less guided approach really works, and the combat clicks into place once you grasp the need for reactions and momentum. 

Through a combination of jump, grab, and attack, you'll string together vast combos and make use of melee and ranged strikes to send your enemies careening into all manner of destructible constructs.

Presentation wise, it's an impressive effort, with a rock solid frame rate on Nintendo Switch, and wonderfully reactive environments that shatter and crumble in response to your actions. Your tools of the trade are bountiful, and balanced by their fragility. For most items, three successful hits and it will break, so you'll constantly be scrambling to secure something fresh. 

The real fun starts when movement and attacks are combined, with barrels and hay carts offering hilarious physics based destruction.

Paper Cult Rolling over enemies in Bloodroots. Only this and My Friend Pedro have managed to nail rolling on a barrel. Sorry DK!

Prepare yourself for an onslaught of respawns, as this is not a game for casual players. The stylised graphical aesthetic won't accurately convey the genuine challenge Bloodroots presents, and there will be some players who won't gel with the trial and error approach. 

Speed of character movement does lead to some unfortunate platforming errors, with the combat environments not always doing a good job of conveying what is hazardous or out of bounds. 

Checkpointing is equally harsh; one mis-step, and you'll be back to the start of that instance, so prepare to dig deep if you plan to nail those high scores. The lack of voice acting is disappointing, as the written dialogue is great, while the added narrative context presented in cutscenes works exceptionally well. 

It's a shame that the characters aren't therefore more fleshed out, as their look and scripted lines would have benefited greatly from some sessions in a vocal booth.

Still, despite some level geometry being difficult to read in the heat of the moment, and everything discussed in the paragraph above, Bloodroots is a confident and satisfying action brawler that absolutely delivers on its core premise. Developer Paper Cult should be very proud of what they have achieved, and it's well worth checking out.

Paper Cult Turning a hay cart into a lethal weapon in Bloodroots. Momentum is your best friend.

8/10

Bloodroots is available now, for PS4, NS, and PC.

Nintendo Switch review copy provided by Paper Cult.

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