Bloodroots is the Most Addictive Game at PAX East
Can I just spend all of PAX playing Bloodroots?
There is something about the fusion of one-hit kills, zany weapons, rapid fire repetition, and scoreboards that creates an utterly addictive loop. The Hotline Miami series is near-and-dear to my heart. The more recent release Ape Out also vibes with me on a deep level. These games get stuck in your brain. They take over every thought as you think about how to become better and better at the flow of combat and chase the best run possible.
Bloodroots is executing that addictive, obsessive loop in a masterful way. After my demo of the game’s first act at PAX East, I cannot get it out of my head. It almost feels unfair to the other games I’ve seen at the show since I played Bloodroots first. I just want to keep playing and climb the leaderboard. I have a long way to go to climb to the top, but I know with enough practice, I can get there. It’s jussssst out of reach.
I got to play the opening act of Bloodroots campaign. I was immediately on board with the snowy lands surrounding a burning village. It’s a bold intro that sticks to you, declaring that the game demands your attention. After a seemingly definitive cutscene, I skipped ahead to the first level of Act One.
The core of Bloodroots is that practically anything and everything can be used as a weapon. Each weapon has X amount of uses: More powerful/durable weapons have three uses before breaking while one-off weapons have only one hit. Clear the entire area to advance to the next. With weapons strewn about the environment, you don’t have to stop, pause, and plan your attack. You play your best with on the fly tactics, planning routes as you go and learning the lay of the land.
Ripping through areas is snappy and satisfying. Enemy placement is constant throughout runs, so you get a strong sense of area mastery as you play over and over. The best feeling is when you clear an area on the first go, a feat I did once. It was elating, especially when I messed up a bunch in other areas.
Weapons range from the goofy to gory; katanas and hatchets lie alongside rubber duckies and hay bales. All weapons are one hit kills (unless an enemy has a defensive shield, which means you have to hit them twice). Blood splatters everywhere to show the carnage you leave in your wake.
My favorite weapon was the harpoon gun and the chain-chomp inspired ball. They lash toward enemies, giving you space and speed. When I saw a new weapon, I couldn’t wait to try it out on my next victim.
Environments are unique and stimulating, especially since you a trying to fly through them as fast as possible. I was rampaging through Mr. Boar’s area which had forests, factories, and mail rooms. It was way more diverse than I expected. Bloodroots will have three full acts along with a prologue and epilogue. I can’t wait to see what each area has to offer, both for combat and visual design.
The world design of Bloodroots also lends itself to the story. In a way, it reminded me of building up to a big heist in the Sly Cooper games. Going through a big baddie’s world, tearing it down with the end goal being to defeat them. It’s a rad way to enrich the world and story without text.
The addictive loop of Bloodroots doesn’t just stop when you finally beat a level. There are leaderboards to chase, you can always get a better time, and higher ranks to achieve. There are also hats to collect for Mr. Wolf. These hats have unique, possibly game-breaking perks and attributes that should change the way you play a level. To make sure their power isn’t abused, you’ll have to clear a level with the regular Wolf Hat before sampling other hats. There will also be a chance to claim the boss hats, if you can achieve a high enough rank on the battles.
Speaking of the boss battles, they are just as exciting as the main game. Mr. Boar was broken down into segments as you chase him down while he drives away, throwing enemies and obstacles in your way. He even shoots giant lasers down one of three lanes as you platform and slice your way forward. Weapons shine beyond their killing ability here too, with some providing you with speed boosts or higher jumps to better navigate the landscape.
Paper Cult is crafting something special with Bloodroots. It’s clear from the moment you pick up the controller and start ripping and roaring through the land. With its snappy, speedy combat combined with the absurd number of weapons, Bloodroots is the next hack-and-slash that will not let go of you. I for one, cannot wait to sink my teeth into it.
Now just to mull over how to pull off a flawless run in Act One until it comes out this summer for PC, PS4, and Switch.