The BloodRayne series has been one that has been poorly received by critics since its original incarnation. Can BloodRayne: Betrayal breathe new life in the series or is it destined for failure?
Find out how it stacks up after the jump!
Admittedly, I’ve never played one second of the BloodRayne series before Betrayal. It just wasn’t something I was ever interested in, but when I had the chance to get to play Betrayal; I just couldn’t pass it up. The series hasn’t been well-received and I wanted to find out for myself if Betrayal could break out and bring something new to the table, and it did just that.
The story is very simple. The protagonist, Rayne, is transported to a castle via a coffin rocket to destroy her father. To do this, she must go through a myriad of vampires, monsters, traps, bosses, and other obstacles. The first thing I noticed about the game right off the bat is the great art direction that the developers went with. It has an anime/manga feel that I wish more games had; considering how most try to go with the realistic look approach. The music brought this together too with a gothic sound over classical music and guitar riffs depending on the level. In addition to the actual artistic direction though, I thought the levels were greatly varied featuring different environments and elements with both indoor and outdoor scenes. There was a lot of detail put into all the different objects in the environment to create dynamic levels.
The entire moveset is available to you right from the beginning. Meaning no unlocks and a large amount different combos that you can do with Rayne’s swords are available as well. I loved this because you could learn and use different ways to finish off your enemy at your own pace. In addition to the combos, there were some interesting abilities such as Dash, Backflips, Wall Slide, and more. There’s also a pistol with ammo and a flamethrower that has unlimited ammo; which makes disposing of masses of enemies an easy experience.
The great thing about the combat system is that nothing was impossible to do and there were really no impossible button sequences to pull off. It’s a game that tries to be accessible as possible. The combos are very useful at times doing anything from sweeping your enemy’s legs out from under them to throwing them in the air to toss them into an environmental hazard. There are a lot of tools at your disposal and you can use them to your advantage. There are things like falling spikes, lasers, and TNT barrels to destroy groups of enemies at once, or you can always simply infect them with the simple press of the ‘O’ button and blow them up whenever you wish which eliminates all enemies in the vicinity. A nice thing that they added to the game was the potential from time to time to fight in shadows; it creates a new element of difficulty that you don’t normally see in games of this nature although this isn’t used often.
The gameplay is fast-paced and you actually get score bonuses for completing sequences in the allotted time, which creates a nice challenge to yourself to get the best score possible. However, the scoring system is downright unforgiving as the targeted time in most cases is hard to achieve. That doesn’t take away from the fun though as the leaderboards are a very small part of the game and high scores aren’t needed to progress through the game.
It’s not an easy task to beat this game though. The difficulty for each level gets quite frustrating as you progress. Numbers in enemies are increased, traps become more common and even the checkpoints begin to happen less. Boss fights are quite enjoyable, since they become more and more challenging. Through every struggle you have with Betrayal, it will make the completion that much more satisfying.
I have some criticism for the game that goes beyond the score multiplier. Why is there no multiplayer option in this game? Increase the difficulty a bit, add more enemies on screen and you could have a blast with some split-screen or online co-op play. The length is also somewhat concerning considering the title is $14.99 and the game can be completed by a skilled player in around 6-8 hours depending on if they’re going for collectibles. Sure, there are skulls to collect; however that can be quite tedious.
The only incentive for skulls is for extra health and ammo which you might not care so much about if you’ve already completed a playthrough. There are also spots in the game where trial and error is mind-numbingly frustrating which was a big annoyance. The biggest thing to me however had to be the placement of Chapter 14 and 15, I thought they should have been reversed as Chapter 15 was a far easier level to complete than 14 and there was no end boss. It felt like the ending just started out of nowhere.
Overall I felt the game was a great experience and a complete rebirth for a dwindling BloodRayne series. I would recommend this title, especially for old-school Castlevania fans as this title takes a lot of elements from the series and creates many of it’s own. It’s a linear game and frustrating at times, but if you have the patience and you love this genre then this game is right for you. It has a lot of variety, beautiful visuals, and is overall quite enjoyable.
For more information on how we review games check out our criteria here. A copy of this game was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes.