Review: BloodRayne: Betrayal
A fresh take on the BloodRayne series is something that I don’t think anyone would object to, considering the critical reception the series has gotten in the past. This entry is a 2D side scrolling beat’em up/platformer and man is it something. Whether your experience with the game is positive or negative, it will leave a big impression on you and this is because it just may be one of the most difficult games of this kind ever devised. Does that justify the money spent though?
Being entirely new to the BloodRayne series, I had no idea what to expect here, though I assume playing prior games wouldn’t have meant much in this fresh, new take on the series. I am however a fan of just about all things 2D. BloodRayne: Betrayal will snatch your attention from the very beginning with its graphics. The animation is cartoony, unbelievably so. Rayne looks like she stepped right out of a Marvel or DC TV show, and so do most of the enemies. It really threw me for a loop because games that look like this are not usually so detailed.
The character and enemy sprites are all great but the stages are a little underwhelming. I assume there wasn’t an awful lot they could do in this regard, but oh well. The developers did try to inject some variety into the levels and they succeeded mostly, though after you reach the castle things become rather banal until close to the end. The combat animations are fluid and fast, and every stroke of Rayne’s curved twin blades sends blood flying across the screen. Grisly decapitations turn enemies into geysers of blood and combat on the whole is one violent, blood soaked carnival. Then there are scenes where only Rayne and her enemies’ shadows are visible and these are exciting and entertaining. In terms of appearances, Betrayal is something of a stunner.
The music in the game is decent. The music that plays during most of the actual game-play is a mixture of hard rock or metal with chilling organs and string instruments which gives it a Devil May Cry or Castlevania feeling. Not too fantastic. The music that plays during dialogue sequences, chapter select and at the main menu is much better though, leaning entirely on dark piano solos and dramatic string arrangements. The soundtrack on the whole isn’t impressive but it certainly has its shining moments. There is no voice acting, and all other sounds in the game are sufficient.
The story in the game is pretty throwaway. There are about four or five dialogue sequences in the game where the main villain divulges his motives and then, at the end, you put a stop to it. It’s really as cut and dry as that. You are, of course, Rayne, the half vampire half human warrior and the main villain is your father. You have a single ally over the course of the game and you will also learn why the game has that subtitle. There is no epic climax, no shocking twist, none of this or that. Some may find this approach cheap and or lazy, others may find it refreshing in its simplicity, either way there isn’t a lot offered in the story department. Besides, the game is fifteen dollars. If you want a title to tell you an epic, tear-jerking, 30+ hour tale, then you’ll probably have to spend more than that.
And now we reach the game-play, the devilish, sadistic and mind-numbingly challenging game-play. BloodRayne: Betrayal is a difficult game. Let that statement marinate in the oven that is your mind for just a moment. It has no problem slamming a dozen enemies on the screen at once or mixing together traps to multiply their difficulty or piling enemies into situations that would already be difficult without the enemies. This is a gamer’s game and it does not hold hands, feel remorse or even care that you complete it. It simply challenges you to do so.
The combat is fast and furious. Rayne has access to her speedy twin blades and a firearm to help her dispose of demon fodder. A small array of different attack strings allows variety in the combat, although there is sadly no real combo system in place. The blades are only useful in close quarters situations while the gun provides you with some well needed range. I found the controls to be simple and responsive. The face buttons make up the jump, attack, taunt and bite buttons. You shoot and dash with the triggers.
The enemies in the game are wonderfully aggressive, attacking accurately and often. The most common enemy type will slash you if you’re in arms reach and shoot at you if you aren’t. This aggressiveness makes the combat very challenging. One enemy type stands far away from Rayne and chunks powerful bombs at her, forcing you to close the distance. A mix of enemy types on the screen requires you to think fast to adequately defeat all opposition. While there are no combos, several feats can be attained in battle to yield bonus points. These feats include killing multiple enemies in quick succession or at the same time, decapitating an enemy or using one of the many traps against them.
Rayne can also use her vampire abilities to drain the blood from her enemies and increase her life or infect them and then use them as a living grenade with her taunt. The blood draining aspect is necessary and definitely not broken, as it may sound. You are free to snatch up the most common enemy types and drain their blood to increase your health. This is because there is no other way to increase your health, save for checkpoints. No roast beef or chicken to be found, no bottles of blood to drink, it’s either steal blood from enemies or be killed. This quells the fear of being killed in combat, but in all honesty, the majority of your deaths from this game will not come from the enemies.
The platforming in the game is nightmarishly difficult. I’m talking ‘get up and throw the controller in frustration’ difficult. The game hurls traps at you: acid, saws, rockets, and so on. Situations with multiple traps are unbelievably challenging and completing the game at all requires a surplus of patience. As you fail repeatedly, each try will bring you closer and closer to completing a task. Rayne cannot walk, meaning she must run constantly. However, this is countered by the fact that you can choose how long her dash lasts. I find that dashing as opposed to running is best in certain spots, especially considering how many instances in the game mandate certain movement to proceed.
There is a part where you must hop across these tiny, quickly moving platforms without falling into the acid below or being hit by various flying rockets as you jump. At some points the game seems so difficult that you just kind of step back and wonder what the developers were thinking when they included some of it. I’m not the type of gamer that lets a game defeat him though, and if you aren’t either then the difficulty will just keep you playing.
There are hidden red skulls throughout the game and finding them will net you upgrades to ammo capacity and health. You’re probably gonna want to spring for health. You are scored on your performance at the end of each level. You’re graded on speed, efficiency and things like that. To me, just finishing a level was a big enough accomplishment and I was happy with every ‘F – Worm Chow’ rating I received. I can’t imagine going through the hellish stages trying to be quick and trying not to die and stuff, and this is from someone who nets S ranks on DMC games.
Rayne can also transform into a raven for some of the platforming sections. I viewed these as refreshing breaks from the game-play and while they provide a level of challenge as well, it does a good job of breaking up the monotony in the progression of the game. This combined with the rest of the game helps to fill it out as a complete and total package. There’s no denying how solid the game-play in Betrayal is.
In terms of replay value, the only reason that I think anyone would replay the game is to net higher scores. The game is fun enough to play again for the sheer enjoyment, don’t get me wrong, but in terms of actual motivation to see everything again, there isn’t much. Completing the game will unlock an art gallery packed with over seventy pieces, a nice treat indeed. One also might wish to collect all of the red skulls in the game, I don’t know, maybe if that’s your thing.
I’ve heard that there are severe issues with the game’s controls in application to platforming and I simply don’t agree with this. Any difficulty I encountered with the game I felt was by design, except for not being able toA load to checkpoints within chapters. You have to either finish the chapter before you turn off the game or start from the very beginning of the chapter, even when you were just a few steps from the end of it, which is flat out lame. Other than that, I have no complaints.
All said, BloodRayne: Betrayal is a five hour trip to the gaming inferno and back. Each play session will leave you on the brink of tears and with smoke coming from your ears and that happens to be the kind of engagement I can get jiggy with. Rayne’s cry as she loses the last pixel of her health will forever ring out in my mind. This isn’t the type of game you see get released every other day. With addictively challenging game-play and a good sense of overall quality, BloodRayne: Betrayal is $15 well spent.
- Title: BloodRayne: Betrayal
- Platform Reviewed: PS3
- Developer: WayForward
- Publisher: Majesco Entertainment
- Release Date: September 7, 2011
- MSRP: $14.99, 1200 Microsoft Points
- Review Copy Info: A download code for this title was provided to DualShockers, Inc. by the publisher for the purpose of this review.