BloodRayne has always been a series that had rough times. With the two BloodRayne games prior to Betrayal scoring some mixed reactions from reviewers and the three movies that completely bombed (you can thank Uwe Boll for that), it would be hard to really bring people’s attention towards this new title: BloodRayne: Betrayal.
I almost did pass it up until I learned that it was developed by WayForward Technologies, the guys responsible for Contra 4, Shantae, Sigma Star Saga and a few other games that I enjoyed and loved. I don’t blame you if you know much about these titles but I will blame you if you don’t hear me out about this game.
BloodRayne: Betrayal stars the titular character (and I do mean TITular) Rayne. As a sexy dhampir, you’re placed in a Devil May Cry 3 world where everything kicks your ass and eventually ends with you throwing your controller all over the place. BloodRayne: Betrayal is a world of frustration, hate, anger and fear. You won’t be able to button mash your way to victory and you’re probably… no, you will die many times.
However, anyone who has played a game like this will find themselves in familiar territory. This is “that” type of game where it will test your abilities and skills as a player and it does so in a simple manner as most of what you see and most of what will happen is not as convoluted as you would experience in other games of this category. This is a 2D action game that keeps it simple for that type of difficulty.
With that said, this isn’t a game for everyone. The game is hard but simple: Use Rayne to kill off enemies, destroy objects and reach the end of the stage. This is very much like the original Castlevania games before it went all Metroidvania. Thankfully, your moves aren’t as stiff as your fellow Belmont but that is not to say that Rayne moves very gracefully either. Rayne’s arsenal is simple as all you have are a small set of melee combos, a gun with limited ammo, the ability to regain health by sucking blood or infecting your enemies to explode them for massive splash damage. Defense? All you have is a dash that will evade attacks but cannot be used to cancel your attacks, meaning you must finish your attack animation before you can evade. Many would see this as flawed, a combat system that requires too much effort from the player to try to wrestle with. I feel the game exploits the flaws of the player’s inability to be patient and, well, telling you that you suck at playing games.
Within the 15 chapters, there are segments of platforming and segments of combat where you have to clear up all the enemies before progressing. While in these segments of platforming, you can find these red skulls that will upgrade your health or ammo count. You can also find breakable treasures and still find enemies along the way that will help up your score or horribly detract you. In these battle segments, enemies will come spawning in waves and you are given a time limit. Don’t worry, you can take your time but if you really want the high score, clearing the enemies by that time limit will give you more score. At the end of every chapter, you will be graded based on your score, how fast you cleared the chapter and how much damage you took. Your grade can go from F all the way to S and for the first few times you play this game, you will most likely get F’s.
The gameplay will ultimately decide if you love or hate this game. This game is, again, hard. All of your attacks and combos have a reason to be used depending on the situation. This gives you a lot of freeform as to how the combat goes and that finesse will be important to your survival and to your score. The dash is a huge saving grace but you must plan around it and know your enemy’s attack animation to make proper use of it. Hitting that attack button mindlessly will lock you into animation and unable to avoid the enemy’s attack in time. This game is fairly strict on button inputs and it won’t automatically assume that you’re trying to do one thing when you’re really doing another.
The enemy AI is not really smart or even dumb, it just that they have attacks that will hurt. It’s all about being able to attack as much as you can without getting hit. This is where the challenge lies and this is where most of the frustration comes in. You’ll find yourself getting really irritated because you have no one to blame but yourself for screwing up. The enemies and traps are not cheap, even though there are unavoidable attacks but those are usually because of a previous mistake. The controls are very responsive and it will do exactly what you tell it to. Which, again, can be a problem if you just mash everything out.
The platforming isn’t bad if only due to the fact that you are able to dash out of a lot of things or cancel your movement by attacking. Dodging enemies and obstacles is not a problem unless you’re mindlessly pressing buttons without giving it a forethought. You might end up with accidental backflips from time to time but that’s all pretty much avoidable if you just stay patient with your hands.
Final Verdict: The amazing gameplay that takes a long time to learn and master is perfect for this 15 dollar package. But, if you’re looking for an easy going weekend game with a fulfilling story and a wonderful message like Bastion, you won’t be finding it with Bloodrayne: Betrayal. This game is meant to kick your ass and the only solution is to kick its ass harder. Otherwise, anyone who has played a good classic hard game will definitely fall in love with this one as it further solidifies the phrase “Why don’t they make games like this anymore?”
This review of BloodRayne: Betrayal is based on the Xbox 360 version with a review code provided by the game’s publisher Majesco. After a few dents on the wall and loud grunts of anger, managed to good through the majority of the game and spending waaaayy too much time trying to S rank previous chapters. I swear, I got so close to S rank in Chapter 1, I wanted to cry afterwards.