Bloodstroke Review (iOS)
Director John Woo’s trademark is his kinetic visual action style, as he usually litters his world with two-gun toting heroes and a plethora of doves. You’ll get those touches with this blood soaked endless runner, and if you’re a fan of Woo’s cinematic ouevre this mobile release won’t disappoint.
As special agent Mai Lee, aka Lotus, you are a one-woman killing machine, adept at dispatching your enemies with firearms or melee weapons. Lotus has the constitution of an indestructible super heroine, but she’s tasked with protecting a doctor who is way too easy to kill. Your job is to keep him alive as you traverse the streets of Beijing and Hong Kong.
Each level gives you a target score to achieve, and if you meet those requirements you will attain three lotuses. To increase your chance of reaching the desired score, use your melee weapons as much as possible. Since running towards your enemy and slashing them in half is much harder than pointing your gun and shooting from a distance, melee kills give you higher points during combat.
To move Lotus as well as employ your melee weapons, a virtual joystick is featured on the lower left section, and it disappears whenever your fingers are not swiping or sliding on your device. Shooting your guns, using a health kit or throwing a grenade is achieved by tapping the buttons on the right.
Although the controls are easy to navigate, the endless runner aspect of the title will eventually lead to missing out on killing a few villains. Backtracking and going against the action’s momentum to dispatch a few bad guys gets a bit cumbersome, so although Lotus is great at moving forward with her kills, retracing her steps requires more than a simple slide of your finger. It’s an obvious method to add a bit more difficulty to Bloodstroke, but considering the title succeeds as an adrenaline fueled beat ‘em up, a few seconds of inconvenience isn’t worth a choppy break in the action.
That’s a minor complaint that quickly washes away once you get to drown in all of Bloodstroke’s inspired, brush stroke design and comic book-inspired cut scenes. They are a true sight to behold, and like most of John Woo’s movies, the beauty of the image overshadows a few minor missteps.
If following Lotus’ storyline gets a bit wearying, arena levels will open up after successfully completing different levels, and although the dynamic of protecting the doctor stays intact, you won’t have to run around shooting enemies behind cars or eviscerating snipers seeking shelter behind a building. Under arena mode, the enemies come at you wave after wave, and the longer you keep your client alive, the more money you’ll attain in the process. Having that extra option enables this title from wearing out its welcome like many endless runners.
Bloodstroke is an endless runner that clicks on all cylinders, and it contains the heightened action one has come to expect from a John Woo picture. If you’re looking for any kind of narrative depth or meaning to this game, then you’ve come to the wrong place. At its core, Bloodstroke is an unapologetic and noirish journey through Woo’s universe. Its streets may be bathed in black and white, but after a few rounds as Lotus, all you’ll be seeing is red.