Enter developer Wayforward, placed with the task of trying to once again raise interest on a series that potentially has so much entertainment value which has unfortunately always missed it’s mark in other movie and video game forms. WayForward introduces BloodRayne: Betrayal which is now available across Playstation Network and Xbox Live as a downloadable title.
BloodRayne: Betrayal quickly throws users into the capable high heels of a most elusive and agile blood sucker, Rayne. Recruited by the vampire hunting Brimstone Society, Rayne eventually teams up with a mysterious new friend to stop an evil vampire massacre.
With an old-school retro 2D playing style mixed with HD visuals that keep you staring at the screen, initially tackling Betrayal feels quite similar to playing with other over-the-top characters. Of course Devil May Cry’s Dante immediately comes to mind as well as Marvel characters Spider-Man and Wolverine which makes for a great time performing acrobatic maneuvers mid-air, slicing, dicing and shooting your way through some of the most challenging scenarios in gaming, period.
BloodRayne: Betrayal never really captures you with it’s story or plot, not that you would mind however, it certainly would have given the experience more to grab onto aside from mastering the cool combative style of Rayne. Betrayal oozes with style in each level. From a large and bright moon artistically surfaced from beneath a blood-red lit backdrop sky, along with caves, castles, green lava lakes, flourescent lighting fixtures which cook your vampiric flesh with a single touch, a mysterious raven which is also playable, developer Wayfoward pull out all stops with their design and visuals. Nevertheless, as beautiful as the game presents itself, the core of the gameplay eventually pokes it’s unpleasant head to reveal a trial and error experience which plays tug of war with actually having fun.
BloodRayne: Betrayal is not easy and that’s saying it very lightly. While some games offer increasingly difficult challenges, there is oftentimes much reward that comes associated with becoming a better user of your playable character ala Ninja Gaiden II or Vanquish. Of course gameplay design and execution play a major part in adapting to these many challenges. I almost laugh reminiscing over the level designs in Betrayal as they almost seemed intended on making the play through seemingly impossible. There is a thin line between making a game fun and challenging and with a bit too much weight in the challenge department, Betrayal becomes a game with an acquired taste which might not be to everyone’s liking.
Rayne comes equipped with a vicious playing style that fans of the aforementioned characters will immediately love. Upon dazing an enemy Rayne can perform a grab move bringing in her victims as she depletes them of their blood adding move life to her regenerative appetite. After she is done with her victim a slick animation where she wipes her mouth is performed. These added touches were great throughout. Rayne performs mid-air dashes quickly removing her from harms way where timing has to be quite precise. Rayne even has the ability to partially bite a victim which then gives Rayne the ability to explode enemies. At the end of most levels Rayne is introduced to a complex boss battle which certainly add much reward to completing an already brutal and chaotic level.
There were also some touches to the gameplay that could have been useful to the overall experience such as the ability to simply walk instead of always running. Due to the level designs walking to prevent numerous deaths by mistep would have helped dramatically in the frustration department. During those more complex scenarios where Rayne faces off against what seems to be as many enemies as can be fitted into the screen, you never really come to a point where you believe you can be untouchable. Get knocked down by an enemy and upon getting up you are quickly knocked down again as the recover animation takes it’s sweet little time bringing you back to your feet amist these brutal encounters. With the ability to do a super jump allowing Rayne to leave the ground at great heights, in order to execute this maneuver you have to be in a position of running one way and then while stopping in a sliding fashion you can super jump in the opposite direction. Upon doing this a few times it becomes quite easy yet, as the levels offer more and more of a challenge, executing this superjump becomes almost a chore with so much happening on the screen at one time. The ability to superjump should have been as easy as pressing a button.
I do understand the push for style and while this maneuver was cool, oftentimes it was of no real use to the games design. Even when completing these insane levels, dependent of your own appetite for being a hit dummy, you may not see yourself returning as much of the stylized shoot’em up slicing and dicing gameplay gets swallowed up by the progressive difficulty found in each level, eventually arriving to a point of ridiculousness. Don’t get me wrong, Bloodrayne: Betrayal is a fun however, once it arrives at a point where you begin to question the level of gameplay design as balancing becomes a problem with the experience, it seems all down hill from there.
BloodRayne: Betrayal was high atop my personal list of must play title after my brief hands on and now walking away there is only disappointment as this could have been such a great experience. Rayne’s playing style and animations are no doubt great, even the world found in this 2D adventure offers much imagination. Earlier levels while quite manageable to complete seemed to have a feeling of build up as though something great was forming only to be reduced to a trial and error experience that defeats the purpose of controlling an all-powerful, awesomely cool vampire chick who moves and plays like a close relative to Sparta and his kid Dante. I only hope the series is refined in an universe befitting to the amazing playing style Rayne now offers.