The Sultry Dhampiress is Back in Bloodrayne: Betrayal! (Review)
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Rayne returns to us in the action packed rollercoaster of a hack and slash platformer, BloodRayne: Betrayal! The Brimstone Society is on the trail of a vampire gathering taking place, and while their truce with Rayne is an uneasy one, they must enlist her aid to take on the powers that be. Between her and the gathering are hordes of foes that she’ll need to hack, slash, stomp and explode through. Majesco and WayForward have really outdone themselves on this game!
BloodRayne: Betrayal takes place outside of the canon events of its PlayStation 2 predecessors, BloodRayne I and II. Instead, Majesco and WayForward have decided to go the route of a standalone adventure which is, in this gamer’s opinion, the best thing they could have done. The story is slowly revealed in cut scenes and text balloons about a vampire that’s gathering an army for the purpose of removing humanity as the dominant species on the planet. Cliché “vampire tries to take over the world” plot aside, it’s very well written and moves the game along nicely. However, the story isn’t what makes BloodRayne: Betrayal a fantastic game – not by a long shot.
Combat in Bloodrayne: Betrayal is as fast and furious as you can make a hack and slash without burning up your hands on the controller. With Rayne’s trademark arm blades and her firearm, you’ll slice, dice and blast your enemies to smithereens as they come at you from all sides. Fighting is very reminiscent of games like Devil May Cry where combos boost your points total to earn a score and rating at the end of each level. However, the minds at WayForward made the game smart in its simplicity by having a single button for attacking with your blades and using your directional pad as the primary method for implementing moves such as sweeps, heel-stomps, flinging your foes into the air, and leap kicking. Yet, your blades or pistol aren’t the only weapons available in your arsenal.
Rayne also has the ability to bite her foes to replenish her own health bar as they wither away into husks, or let them go so they become poisoned and will explode when she lets out a shriek. The exploding meat-case will cause collateral damage, either killing or damaging their comrades in the process. With such an abundant source of food, you would think that getting through the game relatively unscathed would be child’s play; that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Throughout the game, you’ll not only run into a never ending onslaught of opponents, but also environmental obstacles that will require precision and skill to navigate through as you make your way deeper into the castle. Some of these obstacles, such as giant saw blades, will need to be removed by hurling enemies into them or exploding them with a poisoned meat-bag. Many times, a certain hindrance will require you to perform one or more of these actions in order to proceed further. An additional challenge is that enemies will spawn endlessly around you, unrelenting until you solve the puzzle. Fortunately, in many areas, a hint with an action will be displayed at the bottom of the screen the first time you encounter these obstacles. This is likely to prevent frustration that you may experience, if you were left to your own devices.
The only real issue with combat is the AI. Enemies will come at you from both sides of the screen and often in groups of five to eight monsters at a time. However, I did notice that occasionally when dealing with only a couple enemies, they would just stand there for a bit and do nothing as though they were waiting for something. While this is a bit of a head scratcher, these moments are far and few between and don’t detract from the overall gameplay.
Throughout the game you’ll encounter the odd level boss here or there, and boy oh boy did someone take a page out of the old school level boss book! Most level bosses are enormous in size, sometimes taking up half a screen! While their weak points are usually pretty obvious (glowing orbs, big heart shaped gem, etc.), don’t let that fool you into thinking that you have an easy fight on your hands. In many cases, these bosses are accompanied by other enemies or falling debris to catch you off your guard while you’re busy dodging the boss’s attacks! In short, be prepared to die a lot.
BloodRayne: Betrayal encourages you to get the best point totals that you possibly can in a pretty brutal manner. The game takes into account your score from killing enemies (and the manner in which you dispatch them), collecting treasures and Red Skulls, the time it takes to complete an area, and your health. While in Devil May Cry I can usually skate through a level and attain a B ranking at the least, BR Betrayal is less forgiving. In many levels where I felt that I kicked a significant amount of ass, I only obtained an F ranking in a giant letter for all to see, and the game was nice enough to give me the title of Worm Chow. Ouch.
The collectible Red Skulls have another use. As you collect them, you can use them to increase your health bar or the amount of ammunition you can carry. This will help you greatly as you delve deeper into the depths of the mystery villain’s lair, as the levels only get harder.
I was fortunate enough to get my hands on BloodRayne: Betrayal at E3, but the small screen and crowded room that I was playing in did it little justice. While the graphics were beautiful on the tiny monitor I was playing it on at E3, it simply looks magnificent on my 42″ LG. They kept true to the general look of Rayne from the first two games, and the toon-shaded anime style is purely gorgeous. Our revenant red-head and monsters both take queues from vampirical classics such as Vampire Hunter D, with the environments and backgrounds taking the same tone. The architecture has a distinct mix of gothic tones from the same genre.
Most fascinating is the way they play with the light and shadow. At certain points in the game, the world falls into silhouette with shadowy figures trading fisticuffs in the dark with only the backlight to show their forms. Muzzle flashes only briefly show color and form during these moments. While the pace of the game never stops, you can’t help but pause and take notice of the effort that WayForward has put into BloodRayne: Betrayal to make it as much a work of art as it is an excellent game.
The soundtrack is by far one of the best I’ve heard accompanying a PSN/XBLA game in a long time. During the action the music is as fast paced and unrelenting as the combat you’re partaking in. The mood is noticeably shifted during quieter moments whether you’re in-game or in the menus. However, it seems to pull from many of the same artistic queues as the graphics, sounding very similar in form to Vampire Hunter D. There are so many homages to that movie that it might make even the solitary Dunpeal himself smile.
BloodRayne: Betrayal has it all. Solid gameplay, stunning graphics and music, and a simple plot make for a very enjoyable game that you’ll return to play, many times over. For fans of the Bloodrayne series (I know there’s more than one!), this game stays true to the spirit of the franchise while carefully treading around canon so as not to trample it. This isn’t a reboot of a franchise, but rather another chapter in Rayne’s saga. For those who are unfamiliar to the series, or weren’t fans, this game is still simply fantastic in its art and play mechanics. If you like a good hack and slash, this is most definitely the game for you.
BloodRayne: Betrayal receives a 4.75/5.
Editor’s Note: BloodRayne: Betrayal is also part of Sony’s Play promotion. Along with the game, you’ll receive a dynamic theme for your PS3. Furthermore, if you purchase all of the games featured in the Play promotion, you’ll receive a download code voucher for Payday: The Heist. But you only have until September 19th, so act now!
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