Bloodroots feels incredible to play. A minute in and I'm laughing my arse off as I send murderous protagonist Mr. Wolf leaping around a village, ricocheting wagon wheels off surprised villains, firing myself out of cannons and battering baddies with fish. 15 minutes in and I'm convinced it's one of the best action games I've played this year.
Hotline Miami seems like an obvious cornerstone. You've got to clear the level of enemies any way you can, using whatever's lying around, and if you get hit, you're dead. But it's a bit more playful. The aesthetic is immediately evocative of Samurai Jack, while the prop-heavy combat is 100 percent Jackie Chan. The result is something that looks very striking, is extremely silly and is gloriously violent.
The brief, one-mission demo is filled to the brim with killing tools, most of which you wouldn't normally pick if you had murder in mind. An unassuming barrel, for instance, can be knocked over and ridden, turning it into a deadly steamroller. A handy ladder, meanwhile, can turn you into a whirling dervish of destruction. A lot of items seem to have unique properties and attacks, which can then be strung together to create an endless—but easily broken—combo.
So you can ride the barrel, squash some dudes, and then use the barrel to bounce you over an obstacle, where you then grab a ladder, spinning it around and killing some more baddies, before using said ladder to boost you over a wall and onto your next victim. It's acrobatic and blessed with a fantastic rhythm. And conventional weapons are just as satisfying, too. Using a sword, for instance, flings you forwards towards your target where you can kill them in one bloody slash.
You can grab weapons mid-air, burn down buildings, smash through walls, use wagons to crush enemies and even knock down trees—there's a lot going on. It's empowering stuff, at least when you don't mess up an attack. Time one perfectly and you'll be treated to a brief animated clip showing you brutally taking out the trash.
It feels looser than Hotline Miami, where you have discrete rooms and can treat it like a methodical puzzle. This is more slapstick and brisk, but it's just as easy to make a mistake and be greeted by a blood-red death screen. All it takes is one hit. It took a few attempts for me to finish the demo, though they flew by thanks to the unrelenting pace.
If Bloodroots' demo mission is representative of the rest of the game, we're in for a treat when it launches this summer. In the meantime, you can get your hands on the demo by subscribing to a newsletter here.