The BloodRayne series doesn’t seem to have the best reputation. The movies aren’t exactly masterpieces, and the games themselves have proven mediocre at best. I love the concept of Rayne’s character since she’s essentially the female version of Blade, yet for a long while she was just reduced to sexuality and… sexuality. So when I first heard of another BloodRayne game, I was severely skeptical. Then WayForward let me see what BloodRayne: Betrayal was all about, and it turns out the series may still have a chance after all!
The first thing that caught my eye was how beautifully drawn BloodRayne: Betrayal was. I love the 2D comic-feel of the entire game, as it gives Rayne her feminine figure without striping away her badassery. The dialogue is presented in speech bubbles, and the soundtrack for the game makes it feel like a comic book brought to life.
The game is a hack-and-slash sidescroller. The controls are fairly simple to grasp from the moment you encounter your first elegantly-clad vampire, but you can’t just make your way through the game mindlessly smashing buttons. Rayne is able to kill creatures the normal bloody way (blades and such), or suck their blood to gain health. As you get further into the game, you can even make enemies into walking dynamite by sucking their blood long enough to poison them. She does have a gun, but with a limited number of bullets, which seems to indicate you should only use it when extremely necessary and not all “willy-nilly.” Yes, people still say “willy-nilly!”
There are checkpoints (blood fountains that rejuvenate your health) to make sure you revive somewhat close to where you may have died, but the checkpoints are not so frequent that you can be careless. The game is challenging, as the enemies are plentiful and quick, and a lot of them like shooting and throwing discs your way. Since this game does not hold your hand – it prefers to bite it – it can also get frustrating.
For example, although Rayne’s moves are fast, flexible, and full of fury, when you’re knocked out it takes one second too long to get back up. It sounds a bit petty to point out, but when you’re being attacked by 10 enemies at once, sometimes the animation when Rayne falls down becomes a hindrance. That’s not the only thing that makes the game challenging, but it is part of it since you have to be constantly moving.
You can bounce off enemies, while damaging them at the same time, and this sometimes becomes integral to maneuvering over obstacles. You can also dash through the air in short bursts and slide slowly down walls for extra boosts in your platforming.
The platforming portions are fun, especially with the mix of a few puzzles, but sometimes they become one of the more infuriating parts of the game. One moment it’s a breeze, then later on you’re crying foul. You might get tempted to throw your controller at the screen after a small missile knocks you off a very skinny moving platform you miraculously landed on that’s looming over acid… for the 15th time. Try to resist, it’s part of the challenge!
The bosses in the chapters are tougher to deal with, and I died plenty of times before finally getting the upper hand on a lot of them. You have to employ some strategy and keep a watchful eye on what’s going on to keep up. For me, all it took was persistence and a lot of soda.
As for the story, it begins with Rayne tracking down her father Kagan with the company of a few soldiers. As she gets closer to the castle, she realizes she’s the only one strong enough to make it to the end. However, throughout her journey she also receives assistance from some helpful mysterious creatures.
Oh, and none of the vampires glisten in the sun, in case you were worried. They fry in the light like vampires are supposed to.
The game has 15 chapters for you to play through, and if you’re very skillful it won’t take you long to complete (6 hours or more). You tally up a score as you progress, and earn a grade at the end of the chapters. There’s some replay value to that system if you don’t like seeing “F’s” in every run. There’s also collectibles in the game like red skulls which give you an upgrade for traits like health (a very useful upgrade indeed).
BloodRayne: Betrayal is fun, and it’s definitely something for those of us who want a challenge every now and then in a hack-and-slash. At times the game does have its faults (platforming-wise mostly), but they’re minor in the grand scope of things. This is a great game you should sink your teeth into if you get the chance (ba dum tish).
Esmeralda received a review code for the game from Majesco for the Xbox 360. BloodRayne: Betrayal is available now on Xbox Live Marketplace for 1200 MSP and the PSN Store for $14.99 (or $11.99 for Plus subscribers).