Upcoming hack-and-slash RPG BloodRoots is all about its verbs: “smash, slice, crush, blast, crack, slam, burst, break, split, slit, gut, tear, gash, gouge, scoop, cut, chop, dice, hash, grind,” it promises.
BloodRoots premiered yesterday at Nintendo’s indie games GDC event in San Francisco, where I met Raphael Toulouse, co-founder of developer Paper Cult, who explained that his game’s main selling point isn’t simply its Samurai Jack backgrounds or its fast-paced action. It’s “object exploration,” a phrase that’s hard to understand until you’re pulling a wheel off a carriage and spinning and riding it into a gang of enemies or fighting an incoming dagger man with a carrot.
Toulouse compared BloodRoots’ protagonist, the revenge-seeking Mr. Wolf, to the many action heroes that Jackie Chan has played, because he’s “a complex person who uses everything around him as a weapon.” Ladders, dead fish, haystacks, haystacks on fire, and repurposed fence wood are all improvisation material. In the course of a few seconds, the player might pull an ax out of a stump, chop someone down with it, toss it aside to pick up a ladder, spin that around furiously in an area-of-effect attack and, after tossing that aside, grab a table and cut down whoever remains.
I only played for a brief period but found BloodRoots’ object-based combat fresh and surprising. Everything happens so fast. In a split second, if you misjudge a weapons’ range in relation to enemies’ trajectory toward you, that will mean starting the level over. It’s a little unforgiving, but so far, didn’t feel overly frustrating.
BloodRoots will be out on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Steam this summer.