It takes a talented developer to make a person feel the same things as the protagonist of a story. It can really put you in the mindset to embody the actions of the person you’re controlling. There was one feeling that Mr Wolf and I shared in our time together playing Bloodroots: pure, unadulterated rage. Make no mistake, Bloodroots is a bastard hard game that will have you cursing, wanting to throw your controller at a wall, and yet still bring you back because you will not let it beat you. It’s manages to be pretty great in the process.
Having been betrayed by his gang, killed and left to rot, Mr Wolf simply refuses to let death claim him. He comes back to life to get revenge on those who betrayed him. It’s basically The Revenant if it were directed by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez, and without an ounce of sympathy within the main character.
Bloodroots is part bloody ballet, part tactical puzzler as you make your way through each level. Mr Wolf may have come back from the dead but he isn’t invulnerable. One hit and he’s dead (again), so you have to be quick and precise with your movements, opting for the most optimal path to take out enemies. To aid in this murderous endeavour Mr Wolf can use swords, axes, blades, muskets, snowballs, carrots, fish, and the body parts of those he’s killed, amongst other things. Everything is a weapon, but not every weapon is right for every job.
Bloodroots starts off tough and gets progressively tougher. The early enemies are relatively simple to dispatch, though you have to be quick about it. However, as you progress new enemy types are added to the game, included those armed with guns or other dangerous ranged weapons. Some take a couple hits to take down, and some will get armour that will deflect any ranged weaponry or kill Mr Wolf if you attempt a melee attack.
You will die a lot and it will be frustrating, but it feels so good to overcome an area that is giving you a tough time. I do appreciate that the Bloodroots experience will not be for everyone, because of how often you need to repeat areas to get the patterns almost perfect to get through. There is an assist mode available, though activating it means you will not appear on the leaderboards.
Various things can add to that feeling of frustration. Areas appear to have barriers like walls, but Mr Wolf can something just launch over these barriers and die. Jumps can be tough to judge at times due to angles and weapons sometimes making him either overshoot or not even get close to a ledge. Sometimes bullets from enemies pass right through scenery and hit Mr Wolf which is particularly annoying, and while it doesn’t impede the gameplay, enemies can sometimes get caught in the scenery and stretch as though they’re made of putty.
Bloodroots’ art direction is eye catching. Though it has a cartoon aesthetic, the action still comes across well and complements the fast paced nature of the gameplay. The soundtrack has some very catchy tunes in it too, and you won’t get sick of it even if you’ve been stuck on the same level with the same song playing over and over. I guess you’re too distracted staring at the screen, fighting the urge to throw the controller, and not shout out loud, “I hit you first, you ****.”