My favorite parts of 2012’s Hotline Miami were when I wasn’t using guns. There was a great deal of satisfaction when I took the time to solve levels with only the basic melee weapons. Bloodroots is an entire game that plays into how appealing that gameplay loop can be, providing a uniquely stylish atmosphere to boot.
In Bloodroots the central character is a bearded warrior wearing a wolf pelt who’s aptly named Mr. Wolf. He has been betrayed and left for dead by his gang who also wear animal pelts. Thus, a tale of payback ensues, full of blood, bodies, and makeshift weapons.
Bloodroots is stylishly violent fast-paced fun
The combat in Bloodroots is the highlight of the experience. Centered around a one-hit kill/death mechanic, it involves quickly equipping items in the environment that are then used as weapons. From swords and vegetables to fireworks, there’s a widely available group of tools at the player’s disposal. There is a limited number of uses to each weapon (with most capping out at three), which required me to change my play style frequently. Almost every weapon comes with a unique extra aspect; hooks carried me to my soon-brutalized enemies, and ladders gave me the ability to hover in the air when I swung them continuously over my head. Also, whenever I died in the game, it quickly loaded me back to the beginning of the encounter, which ensured that my interest to keep trying levels again and again remained.
These excellent gameplay mechanics works in tandem with Bloodroots‘ stellar level design. Enemy placement is carefully considered in a way that allows the more skillful players to have the ability to not break out of their combo. The skill ceiling is already fairly high in Bloodroots due to the existing difficulty, but thanks to this combo system, there’s truly formidable depth. Most importantly though — it’s fun, as replaying runs over and over in order to get a perfect combo is really addicting. Successfully pulling off high scores in the quickest amount of time lets players go competitive on well-incorporated global or friends’ list leaderboards. I found the boss battles to also be very entertaining, both thanks to the hilarious oddball writing and the continuously solid design that was involved in each of their encounters.
The good, the bad, and the weird
This violent revenge narrative is visualized in a heavily cel-shaded art style. While cartoony (especially for such a violent video game), it works well with the over-the-top tone of the story and is easy on the eyes. The minimalist construction allows for smooth gameplay performance on Nintendo Switch as well. There is, however, some occasional slowdown in the more intense sections, and my game would frustratingly hitch while I waited for dialogue boxes to appear.
The most notable drawback that comes with how the game performs on Nintendo Switch is how small the screen is in portable mode, making it difficult to identify what an enemy and a weapon are at some points. Bloodroots might be best played on the Switch’s docked mode, but the core gameplay is thankfully uncompromised in handheld.
The soundtrack is another standout aspect of Bloodroots, featuring weird western tunes that aren’t tiring to listen to repeatedly. Paper Cult overall has succeeded in creating a striking presentation with this game aesthetically and technically, as smooth animations accompany the attractive style.
A fistful of carrots
Bloodroots‘ cartoony action kept me engaged through its entire campaign. While it can be more difficult to enjoy handheld due to the likes of Nintendo Switch Lite’s smaller screen, the gameplay is utterly unique and justifies a playthrough. There’s enough in the mechanics to entice even the most uninterested individuals to get involved in score-chasing, and the overall narrative is uniquely weird enough to entice someone looking for something different from these sorts of games.
A review code was provided by the publisher.