BloodRayne: Betrayal

2.0 Overall Score

Written by on September 30, 2011 in

 

We live in a world of vampires, zombies, and witches. Zombies have games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Island, and Dead Rising. Witches have games like Bayonetta and Bullet Witch. Vampires on the other hand don’t get a lot of love from video games other than the occasional Castlevania or BloodRayne game. It has been years since we saw a good BloodRayne game, but thanks to the folks at WayForward we have been reunited with our old dhampir friend. Does BloodRayne‘s transformation to the arcade in a 2D side scroller help the series at all? Or has BloodRayne run out of life essence?

For those of you unfamiliar with what a dhampir is, simply put it is a person who is half human, half vampire. In BloodRayne: Betrayal you play as Rayne, a dhampir whose mission is to escort human soldiers into a castle in hopes of killing her father, Kagan. Talk about family love, right? The story isn’t told very well and there were times where I was confused as to what the purpose of my actions were, but the story isn’t what attracts people to BloodRayne. Rayne travels by way of coffin rocket and each level ends with her reaching the next coffin. Simple enough, right? Wrong. The parts in between are what makes me want to throw my controller. BloodRayne: Betrayal is one of the hardest arcade games I have ever played. It borders on unbeatable. I find it ironic that I last wrote an article about how I wish games were more difficult, only to play BloodRayne and suffer through watching myself die dozens of times per level.

At its core, BloodRayne: Betrayal is a hack-n-slash game. Equipped with blades, guns, and your own dhampir fangs, you are a killing machine that will stop at nothing to bring justice to armies of vampires, demons, electric frogs, mummies, and blood-sucking bugs alike. Along your journey you will unlock one new weapon and gain the ability to transform into a bird.  Like every good side scroller, your character has a life meter, and as Rayne gets damaged the only way she can increase her life is to find a blood fountain, or stun an enemy and then suck them dry of their crimson blood. Early on I found this to be a difficult process, stunning an enemy and then grabbing them, but as time when on it became second nature to me. Not all enemies can be drained though, so you have to be lucky and conservative when it comes to killing an enemy or sucking their blood. The blood fountains act as checkpoints, instantly increasing your health. These fountains come in handy, especially in the puzzle sections where there are few enemies to absorb health from. In addition to sucking blood you can also infect enemies with your dhampir venom to make them glow green and explode. It really comes in handy when you are fighting a big group of enemies, but I still think sucking their blood is a better alternative.

To break up the monotony of killing wave after wave of enemies, BloodRayne: Betrayal has time challenges and a point system within each level. Certain sections challenge you to defeat waves of enemies in a time limit to earn points, while others are hard just trying to survive. These points are then combined with all your points from the rest of that level to give you a level score. As the game progresses you will fight more difficult enemies and more waves at a time. This can be challenging because it is often you versus six enemies at the same time. Boss battles are also a big part of this game and throughout the course of the game you will fight four big bosses that give you a sense of satisfaction when you defeat them. I hate you Crab Puncher.

Getting a high score is nearly impossible in my opinion. If you finish a level quick enough or without losing a significant amount of health you will be rewarded with a health or time bonus. In my time with this game I received no bonuses whatsoever. Every level I played I received an “F” grade and was labeled “Worm Chow”. It’s defeating to know that after struggling through the levels I was still labeled as a loser. Shouldn’t the game make me feel good about finishing a level? Get an “A” grade on all chapters and you get an achievement, which I doubt I will ever come close to getting. You can also compare your progress and points to others on your friends list via the online leaderboards. Even with these options though, the replayability is low. Why would you want to play through an already insanely hard game and put yourself through all the stress and frustrations just to collect skulls? You should enjoy playing the game, not just want to beat your friends’ high scores.

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Each of the 15 levels has collectible red skulls for you to find on your journey. For every five skulls you collect, you’ll be given the option to upgrade either your health meter or the maximum amount of ammunition you can carry. I don’t see a reason to upgrade your ammunition, seeing as how health is the most precious resource in the game. Scattered around the levels are also jars full of blood and vases for you to shatter which will net you anywhere between hundreds and thousands of points.

Visually, this game is beautiful. WayForward really outdid themselves with this piece of art. The colors in the game are dark and emotional, but every now and then you will view a gleam of bright colors that give you a sense that not all is lost. The enemies are well animated and die cinematically, especially when you suck their blood, and the textures in the castle background are almost distracting. BloodRayne: Betrayal has a cartoony feel to it which helps desensitize the player from seeing continuous blood on the screen. The audio is heavy metal which isn’t something I normally listen to, but give the game a nice Gothic feel to it.  When you start the game the credits pull you in with intense guitar followed by piano, making this game feel really epic, but alas the audio isn’t enough to support the game. The only downside is that when you die, the track starts over, so after my 10th death in a level I begin to get tired of hearing the opening guitar part and would much rather play with the tv muted.

BloodRayne: Betrayal may only be 15 levels long, but for being such a difficult game I felt like it was 100 levels long. I cannot tell you how many times I got stuck on sections where I had to escape instant kill sawblades, or jump over instant death green goo, or fight robotic crabs in which I ended up dying without even damaging it. This game made me depressed and I couldn’t play more than 2 levels at a time without feeling like I hated my gaming life. The controls in the game are also a little awkward when it comes to manuevering around danger. For being a dhampir, Rayne sure doesn’t move very quickly or gracefully. I found it hard just to turn around at times while in the heat of battle! Often times I would try to backflip up to a ledge only to jump forward to my death. She also has a terrible habit of skidding instead of stopping on a dime. The frustrating part is that many of the platforms you have to jump to are just small enough to send you skidding off the edge.

Another annoyance was the fact that Rayne can’t block, which meant that the only way I could avoid an attack was to either dash through an enemy, or jump in the air and flail my weapon in hopes that I was out of the enemy’s range. When Rayne takes a hit she will also fall to the floor leaving her vulnerable for more hits. Rayne gets up way too slow and by the time I would get up, the enemies would be attacking me again. It really frustrated me to watch as Rayne fell to the ground repeatedly because WayForward decided that Rayne needed to be a punching bag for the baddies.

BloodRayne: Betrayal isn’t a game I would recommend to everyone. Hopefully this is the one and only BloodRayne title I will have to suffer through. Only those who love the BloodRayne games of the past, what very few of you there are left, will get enjoyment out of this hellish experience. If you aren’t familiar with the intensity of retro games like Contra or Battletoads, then I suggest you stay away from this brutally difficult game. BloodRayne: Betrayal is out now on the Xbox Live Marketplace for only 1200 Microsoft points, as well as on the Playstation Network.

A download code for BloodRayne: Betrayal was provided to TMG for the purpose of evaluation and review.

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Author: Loren Nikkel View all posts by
Hardcore Xbox and occasional PC gamer. I love to play multiplayer and co-op games where strategy is key.

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