Bloodroots is some of the most fun I have had in a game in a long, long time. It borrows so many fantastic elements from the games of old and does something so fresh with it all. What we have here is an action platformer that allows you to use just about anything in your environment as a weapon, and this is so satisfying for all the right reasons.
The game starts off with your character, Mister Wolf, being murdered. Well, attempted murder(ed). It seems your own gang and a new wolf in town, Mister Black Wolf, were not happy with the new lifestyle you chose, so they decided to take your life.
Right out of the gate, Bloodroots grabs you with its wonderful storytelling. Using very few words and depending a lot on its cartoony visuals and at-times perfect expression, the game takes you on a journey that will keep you engaged until the very end.
I was absolutely in love with the characters. The dialog with each old gang member just sings songs of the history of the relationships, and learning more about our character and his past through these interactions made for some intriguing storytelling.
The banter between the game’s antagonists, who serve as the bosses throughout the game, is top-notch. It just oozes with personality and life, and it helps so much to understand the characters and connect with them, whether you agree with their motives or not.
Your character, Mister Wolf, is equipped with one sentence for the entire game, and it never gets old and show’s the focus and dedication of our protagonist.
“Where is Mister Black Wolf?”
After the first couple of times seeing these words, I began to chuckle each time I read them. Over time, though, I began to see just how intense these words were meant to be. As the game did a fantastic job painting a transparent picture of our antagonists, so did they paint a phenomenal image of Mister Wolf, his struggles, his pain, and his goals.
I was sucked into the story of Bloodroots. This was not a game I expected to win me over with its story, but that is precisely what it did. I was glued from start to finish, and it was one of the best wild rides I have experienced in an indie game ever.
Bloodroots is an action platformer on a 3D plain where you are able to interact with most everything in your environment to use as a potential weapon. In an old-school fashion, Bloodroots allows for only one hit. Like Contra before it, any one point of damage that comes your way will kill you, so preparation for this type of gameplay requires lots of practice and trial-and-error.
But do not let that discourage you. Bloodroots is tough and challenging, but it is also fair and one of the best action experiences I have had in quite some time.
Stages are spread out fantastically so that there is no truly overwhelming moment. As you begin your kill rampage seeking your revenge, you need to create a plan of attack. Should you take out the first guy with a pint? Or should you go heavy with the axe right away? This is where the game shines so much, because you are able to customize your plan of attack with each and every section. And there is no absolutely wrong way to do anything.
For those that are fans of leaderboards, however, we all know that there is an absolute right way to do everything, and Bloodroots is no different. Chaining kills in a fluid fashion will earn you multipliers, and hitting an enemy perfectly rewards you with bonus points and more time to chain your kills.
Although I do not consider myself as a scoreboard attacker, I fell in love with trying to chain the correct attack patterns. It was so interesting looking at the stage like a chessboard and planning twenty subsequent moves in my head before attempting to execute. It made each stage feel more fun, which is really saying something, because the game is already a blast without the need to chain numerous kills.
This is the beauty of the game. It provides a challenge for casuals who can simply take their time, and it provides a challenge for top-level players who want to conquer the leaderboards.
As you progress through the game, it is bonkers the amount of things you can use as a weapon. Each passing area introduces new items and weapons that can be picked up and experimented with. From a carrot to a giant hammer to a tire to a blunderbuss, the world of Bloodroots is truly your canvas to paint blood on it however you desire. Oh, and the special kill animations with each weapon are also glorious! Please mix things up so you can smile ear-to-ear more often.
I will say that you need to be careful with particular weapons in certain areas, because it is easy to throw yourself off of a stage by launching yourself forward with an unprepared sword dash.
Boss fights are one of the highlights of the game. Each boss fight is incredibly unique and provides different challenges. These are some of the best boss encounters I have ever experienced! A boss stage consists of three different sections that progress wonderfully to a climactic finish. These fights are quite the challenge, too, but they never feel unfair thanks to great checkpoint placements between each section. Like in the regular stages, learning the strategy of a boss stage takes a lot of time and patience, but the feeling you get taking out a boss is second-to-none.
Bloodroots has quite a lot of unlockables as well. There are hidden wolves spread out across many of the stages, and you can unlock new headwear by killing bosses and earning certain scores on some of the levels. This is just a great incentive for those who enjoy doing more than simply progressing the story. I found the wolf challenges to be particularly entertaining! Finding the right routes and using the right items to reach them was just another example of how Bloodroots encourages strategizing.
There are also Bonus Rounds sprinkled throughout the game. These are great little casual romps where you use the skills you have learned previously to take out a certain number of dummies in a set amount of time. These really help to mix things up, and I am sure leaderboards are going to be crazy for these, since the “enemies” are stationary and cannot fight back.
There are a couple sections in the game where the camera shifts to a 2D view, and it was amazing! I honestly did not know I wanted some 2D platforming in between my kill streaks, but I absolutely did and loved every second of it.
I only have one minor complaint regarding the gameplay, and it hardly has anything to do with the game in particular. It more has to do with circumstance, which is just unfortunate. Because Bloodroots is an action platformer on a 3D plain, depth is very difficult to determine some times, so making jumps moving north or south on the screen, for example, can be deceiving on occasion. This is not necessarily the game’s fault, but it is just a harsh reality. Other than that, though, the gameplay was flawless.
The music and sound all throughout Bloodroots is so good. Certain areas made me feel like I was in the old west, from the piano riffs and jigs that played to the sound of ricocheting bullets and chairs breaking over people’s heads.
It also made me forget I was in the old west at times when some upbeat techno would get my blood pumping and lasers and bullet-hell like experiences were flooding my screen. It all sounded fantastic and gave so much life to a game that was already bustling with it.
This was one of those audio experiences where they got everything right, but because everything else was so damn good, one might forget that the audio is stellar, too.
Bloodroots art direction is an interesting one. It is cartoony as to not be taken so seriously, but character faces are expressed so well that it is hard not to see the pain, frustration, horror, shock, and angst that is on display.
This is one of those games where the visuals do not feel quite right for the message being conveyed, but at the same time they are gorgeous. The serene images they use throughout some key points in the story made me forget how cartoony the game looked and made me admire how beautiful the world is and how perfectly it fit with the art style.
Every section is also a lovely canvas of different lands. The wooded area is brimming with greens and browns to show the living nature. The desert is dead and dry with no life in sight. And the snowy mountains look so powdery, cold, and mysterious. This made each progressing section feel fresh and new, never allowing me to become bored.
Bloodroots is going to run you $19.99 in the US, £15.99 in the UK, and €15,99 in Europe. For an indie game, that is a little on the higher end, but I honestly think it is worth it.
For starters, you are getting a solid 6-hour campaign. Sometimes the value of the experience is more important than the value of the time, and this is absolutely one of those cases. Quality over quantity. Secondly, there are lots of unlocks and hidden items to collect, and new headwear gives you different abilities that can be used in stage replays, giving more reason to go back and try levels again. And finally, leaderboards will keep score attackers busy for a very long time, because this is the type of game that causes these people to salivate.
There is a lot of game here, and it is all executed to near-perfection. It is one of the best experiences I have had playing a game in ages, and for that alone, I cannot recommend Bloodroots enough.
Storytelling and character development
All of the weapons!
Art style and audio
Depth can be difficult at times
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.