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BloodRayne: Betrayal Review

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On 09/07/2011 at 02:15 PM by Jesse Miller

A bloody good time.

For those looking for an old school inspired challenge.

Usually the thought of having to write up a BloodRayne review would induce crippling migraines and the erratic uttering of various four letter words that I can’t type here for obvious reasons; so bad have the previous installments been. But in this particular case I must admit I was intrigued and even a bit excited to get my hands on this particular title. Why you ask? Well because this game was made by WayForward Technologies, the California based developer responsible for bringing Contra back to its roots with Contra 4 on the Nintendo DS.

It would be nice to say that, like in the case of Contra, WayForward brought the BloodRayne series back to its roots. Problem is, the series didn’t have much in the way of roots to begin with and even if it did, that certainly isn’t a place you’d want to visit. The two previous games were clinics on how to improperly execute a decent idea for a game. What WayForward has done is show us what the game should have been in the first place.

Betrayal is an old school styled, side scrolling hack-and-slash bonanza. Some may see this as a step backwards for a series that started its life in three dimensions, but this is hardly the case. Developers sometimes forget that the most enjoyable games are those that are easy to learn but difficult to master -- a lesson well learned by BloodRayne in this title.

Its influences are immediately apparent: the game is a marriage between the original Castlevania’s side scrolling action and macabre sense of style and Contra’s hardcore difficulty level. There’s even a nod to Golden Axe in the form of a hand drawn map that shows you progressing from chapter to chapter.

The story of Betrayal follows Rayne as she kills a bunch of people and creatures for no real defined reason. Let’s be honest, no one has ever played a BloodRayne game for the story and Betrayal doesn’t try to dress itself up as particularly deep experience via unnecessary story complexities. This game is all about the action and there is plenty to be had.

When you first start playing you’ll likely find yourself doing a lot of button mashing. The game lets you get away with this for the first couple of chapters, but you’ll soon find that in order to progress further, your play style will have to evolve to be more deliberate and tactful. Rayne has a nice variety of moves to master and there are even small portions of the game that serve as tutorials for different move sets; these are not optional, so you’ll have no choice but to complete these in order to proceed. Even though these segments can get annoying, you’ll undoubtedly emerge from them a better and more well rounded player as a result of them.

Oh, and the game is gorgeous. Rayne has never looked better than she does in her anime inspired 2D debut. Characters practically pop off the screen and at times the animations are so smooth you may forget that you’re playing a video game. My only real criticism aesthetically speaking is the lack of enemy character models. Like in most hack-and-slash games you’ll find yourself pummeling the same handful of enemy types over and over and over, but it seems to be even more limited than other games in the genre. While this doesn’t detract much from the fun factor of eviscerating them, some more variety would have been nice.

The boss battles are pretty fun, but generally they are rather simple when compared against the levels that precede them. This isn’t to say that they’ll go down easily -- pattern recognition and timing are paramount to beating any boss in this game, but once you memorize their move set, it doesn’t prove too hard to bring them down.

Through the course of playing this game you’ll no doubt find that you die a lot. Betrayal is not a game that can be simply breezed through. Your skill and patience will both be challenged, but the game is actually quite fair. While the game is intended for a more “hardcore” audience, the fact that Rayne has infinite lives means that anyone can get through it. Those looking for a deeper challenge will turn their attention to getting the coveted grade of “Dhampir” on every chapter, a task that is certainly not for the faint of heart. Initially I found it difficult to get anything above the lowest grades, but practice makes perfect and it pays off in spades here .

A good solid evening of playtime will see you through the entirety of Betrayal. Though the game is short there are plenty of reasons to come back again and again, such as reaching higher chapter grades, collectibles, and a challenging trophy/achievement list that will test even the most dedicated of gamers. WayForward has packed a lot of punch into their first (and hopefully not last) BloodRayne game and finally delivered to us the title that our favorite Nazi killing Dhampir deserved.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




09/07/2011 at 02:42 PM

Awesome review... Can't wait to get my hands on this game. A good hack-and-slash has been absent for quite some time and it's most certainly welcome.


09/07/2011 at 03:15 PM

Jesse, great review! You've successfully alleviated the trepidation I had toward the game. Gonna give the demo I dl'ed last night a whirl, and if it's up my alley i'll buy. Good work on the review, again!!

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

09/07/2011 at 03:25 PM

I just played the demo on my PS3, and I have to say that I'm glad WayForward just keeps on pumping out awesome, and fun hand drawn games like this one.

Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

09/08/2011 at 01:19 AM

Great review, Jessie. The game looks like a lot of fun and I was intrigued when this title was announced. However, I problem with this is by the style of the graphics what gameplay is constructed and what you've said in your review, it seems like the game lacks an identity. The only reason this game seems good and lots of fun is because it's like a lot of other games I've played. Castlevania, Contra, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, the list goes on. However, it REALLY reminds me of The Dishwasher on XBLA. Did you feel this game lacked something to distinguish itself?

Jesse Miller Staff Writer

09/09/2011 at 12:04 PM

@Colorwind - The game does wear its influences on its sleeve, but I don't think that it lacks for identity as a result of that. This thoroughly felt like a game all its own, even though it is thoroughly an genre game. You could say that Insanely Twisted Planet was a lot like Metroid, but that didn't make it only "seem" fun - it's still a fun game even though it's clearly influenced.


09/14/2011 at 08:15 PM

(From Broken at 1up)

I agree 100% Jesse! I hope "Betrayal" is appreciated enough to get a well deserved shot at a sequel. I was pleasantly surprised how much I got into it though it did make me grit my teeth in frustration a couple of times. To any fans of "Old Skool Castlevania" and games like "Devil May Cry" I cannot recommend this enough.

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