Quick Look – Bloodroots (#JustOnePercent 10/100)

Developer: Paper Cult
Release Date: March 12, 2021
MSRP: $19.99

I seriously considered passing over Bloodroots entirely. Not because it doesn’t look fantastic, because it does, but because the phrase “one-hit-kill” kind of makes my blood run cold. It’s just a little step from that to things like “fiendishly difficult”, and that’s not the playground I want to be in, y’know? But that’s also one of the great things about having XBox Game Pass – I don’t even have to think I’m going to like a game to give it a whirl. Despite the fact that this is very clearly a Not For Me kind of title, I’m glad I played it.

The story telling is primarily environmental, and the prologue shows your character racing through a town which is now a graveyard, as all the inhabitants have been brutally butchered. You play as Mr. Wolf, who confronts the culprits in an actual cemetery, and you are attacked by them and left for dead.

Instead of being dead, however, you embark on a quest for revenge, picking up anything and everything you can get your hands on to kill everyone in your path, but you have to move carefully, as any single hit will kill you, and you’ll have to restart the section. There’s some trial and error, while you’re figuring out what everything does, and I admit to having to consult a walkthrough video very early on when I couldn’t figure out how to get across a chasm just slightly too wide for the default jump distance.

At the end of each level you’re scored, and as expected, my scores were very much Not Great. However, replaying the first couple of levels, I managed to eek my way up to almost respectable once I got a feel for the maps, the different available weapons, and where the enemies were located. I expect that score-chasing is very much a part of the core-gameplay loop, and I could see the allure of replaying levels and trying to do just a little bit better each time.

Considering the whole game is pretty much a twitch-reflexes murder simulation, I’m actually shocked by how much fun I was having, even as I was failing over and over and over again. I fully admit to cracking a smile the first few times I interacted with something that looked innocuous that turned out to be lethal. Everything is a weapon, and every weapon behaves differently. Figuring that out is a key component of success, almost from the very beginning.

I considered playing around with the assist options, but the “options” seemed to be limited to an invulnerability mode. I really would have liked to see more settings to tweak; I am personally not a fan of playing on God Mode, but I may have played a lot longer if I could just dial down the challenge a bit (or even make the scores at the end disappear so I was on more of a pass/fail system). However, even based on my short playtime, I’d wholeheartedly recommend this one for someone who enjoys this type of challenge. The game felt really well put together, with smooth animations, a killer art style (pun only partially intended), and a fun soundtrack.

SteamDB estimates that Bloodroots has sold somewhere between 2,800 and 7,800 copies on Steam. Reviews have been very positive overall, and it is available via Xbox Game Pass for PC, which means the actual player numbers are likely far higher than the sales numbers reflect. It’s ranked 916 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

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