Once again rising from the dead, Rayne is back in an all-new over-the-top 2D side-scroller hack-n-slash adventure developed by the seasoned team at WayForward — the same team behind some of gaming’s most critically acclaimed brand reinventions. The vampire hunting Brimstone Society has recruited Rayne, the sexy dhamphir with superhuman strength, speed and agility, to help fight a new evil that has risen in a castle deep within an unnatural forest. A dhamphir, the resulting offspring of a male vampire and a female human, is inapt at detecting and hunting down vampires, which makes Rayne all too perfect for this task.
At first glance, some one may take this game as a Castlevania game. It looks the part being a beautiful 2D side-scrolling game, but it never played or felt like a Castlevania game to me. Fighting the new evil that has awoken takes Rayne through 15 challenging chapters across various locales. Challenging might be an understatement, as the game will slap you across the face and not call you the next morning because it is a bitch. Some people will enjoy the challenge of BloodRayne: Betrayal, but there will be those that will be frustrated very early on in the game. The overall difficulty is not the true issue here; it is the exponential increase in difficulty after the first couple chapters.
Rayne has no set amount of lives, so dying as many as 10 times or more per chapter can be quite a common occurrence. Jumping across platforms skinnier than Rayne herself, all the while hovering over acid pools attributes to most of the deaths in the game. These sections require perfect timing with ZERO, and I stress zero, room for error — which is cause for concern, as Rayne doesn’t control as precise as she needs to be. The controls feel sluggish at times, with a very slight input delay — from when the button is pressed to the action on screen. Some of the platforming sections seem more luck-based than skill-based and you don’t get a feeling of accomplishment afterwards, but that of relief.
As for being a dhamphir, the only way for Rayne to regain her health is to suck the blood out of her enemies to replenish hers. For her main weapons, Rayne still has her two signature blades, but now also carries a pistol for when she gets into tight situations. Rayne can use her blades and pistol to launch them across the screen, up in the air, and all around; all with the purpose of creating combos to receive the most amounts of points. At the end of each chapter you receive a letter grade so performing multiple linked attacks and combos across multiple enemies is a must to get the best grade on each chapter. In lieu of a double jump, Rayne can perform a high flip jump to reach high places. As helpful as it is, you are unable to control it mid jump, so making slight adjustments is impossible. Dashing helps you cross places you cannot cross by jumping along, but also allows you to avoid most enemy attacks. Seemingly missing from the game is the ability to block, but even weirder is that fact Rayne cannot duck.
Players will no doubt replay chapters while competing with friends to get the best score on a chapter and to find all the hidden red skulls. These red skulls are more than collectibles: finding a set amount will allow you to upgrade Rayne with more health or better weapons, but it is all up to you.
Visually the game is simply gorgeous with sharp, vivid artwork drawn throughout the game from the characters to the backdrops. WayForward is the new king of 2D side-scrollers. At times the camera will zoom in to give you a close up on the action. It can be a bit wonky at times, and seemingly happens at random. Why does the game look this good, yet fights me all throughout from admiring it. The hard-rock music blends well with the all the carnage on the screen. The music changes tone and tempo when Rayne loses blood, her health, as it becomes more of a somber classical piece until she is able to feed on an enemy and recovers her health.
Even with its faults, BloodRayne: Betrayal is a great old-school game, that should be a must download for all gamers that are fans of side-scrolling action.Note: BloodRayne: Betrayal was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.