Sekiro meets Zelda-for-pacifists in this beautiful pixel art Samurai game

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The demo for Bloodless, a new game from 3D Realms and developers Point N’ Sheep, went live yesterday and its fresh approach to classic styles of both gameplay and pixel art has been turning heads, mine included.

It’s a pacifist hack’n’slash and the contradictions don’t stop there. Its palette is striking yet almost exclusively black and white, with exceptions here and there, and its protagonist, Tomoe, is a peaceful old lady, who we quickly learn once had the nickname The Slasher. Bloodless balances these novel elements, transforming them into strengths rather than tropes.

Bloodless’ unique take on pixel art reflections, captured by VideoGamer.

This is a top-down 2D action-adventure. You walk around Bakugawa, interacting with the environment, digesting dialogue and disarming enemies. Tomoe gave up being a samurai 20 years ago but is now back in her home region. Here, people largely treat her as a cowardly traitor though she is determined to teach them her new peaceful ways; her signature move, Disarming Dash, means that combat is true to form – bloodless.

It takes a while to get a knack for when to use it but is satisfying and rewarding when you do. What’s more, as the game goes on and you garner different crests and techniques, you develop your own style of gameplay and combat.

Bloodess’ vibrant yet muted colours, captured by VideoGamer.

At every stage, it feels like the developers have taken classic elements we know well, and added a subtle, but impactful twist. The pixel art aesthetic especially stands out, offering a simple toned-down palette with sudden explosions of colour, as Heading Out did in its recent release. These accents, not just visually striking, are intrinsically tied to a narrative, revealing and hinting at characters’ pasts and motivations.

The treatment of light is also creative, with beautiful handling of reflections and its depth added by dithering effects. These elements all work together to create a coherent aesthetic, that sets it apart from the indie crowd.

We’ve just played the short demo of the game that is available on Steam but it gave us enough of a flavour to get us excited for its Summer launch. Its storytelling, visual appearance, and combat mechanics all feel both familiar and new. Its elderly protagonist and non-violent restraint have a satisfying impact on both story and gameplay:

With every slash you dodge, and samurai you disarm, you are reminded of Tomoe’s pacifism and thus of the violent past which now motivates the character.

The full version of the game is set for release on the 29th of August. You can wishlist it, or play the demo, here.

About the Author

Rory Greig

Rory Greig works as a tech writer for Videogamer. He is a writer with a strong knowledge of gaming technology and an eye for detail. He is especially interested in graphics cards and generative AI.