“Look alive, here she comes!”
Nine years after BloodRayne first graced the original Xbox, Way Forward Technologies have brought the series back to life through a radical overhaul. You play Rayne, a vampire half-breed (or Dhampir to use the political correct term), who excels in hunting down and annihilating vampires. Sexy as hell, and equipped with arm blades, a gun and a sharp set of teeth, Rayne must traverse 15 levels in and around a vampire stronghold in order to save the day. Betrayal comes in the form of a 2D hack ‘n’ slash platformer, with stunning anime-style graphics. A rapid departure in style and gameplay makes this title a completely new beast rather than just another sequel.
Betrayal may look the part, but it is far from flawless. The combat and platforming segments don’t always seem to fit together snugly, with a handful of jumps often proving more troublesome than a vampire horde. Rayne is certainly a force to be reckoned with, but the fragility of the character means all but the most masterful players will find themselves dying repetitively as they climb the steep learning curve. With a wide selection of moves available, the game meters out the tutorials at an agonising pace. If you leave it up to the game to teach you the moves, you’ll find yourself highly ineffective and unsure of how to proceed. With many of the moves being fiddly at best, you’ll need the patience of a saint to see this game through. The puzzle pieces are there, it’s just a shame no one checked the picture on the box.
Gameplay consists of charging around levels as quick and safely as possible to rack up the points. Along with your gun and blades, Rayne can also infect enemies with her fangs; either draining their blood in order to heal herself, or turning them into a walking bomb. Ammo is limited so some degree of supply management is required. Along the way you can collect red skulls – when you’ve got five, you get a token for upgrading your health or your ammo. Bear in mind with the lack of mid-level savepoints, paired with vicious difficulty spikes, this will lead to a lot of unnecessary tension as a small skirmish suddenly turns into an agonisingly cheap boss.
The cute Japanimation style has done wonders to make Betrayal look fresh and interesting. But with no voice acting and music so dull it may as well be absent, the game feels positively old school. This isn’t necessarily a fault, merely an observation. With the predictable boss fights, high-score battles and difficulty spikes, this is not aimed at gamers who prefer today’s… less stressful style of gaming.
For a 2D game, I can’t think of one that oozes with such style, but unfortunately this has been taken at a cost to the substance. BloodRayne: Betrayal feels although it might reward multiple playthroughs, but the gruelling trip the first time round means it’s unlikely that you’ll stick around long enough to find out. If it’s 2D action you’re after, there’s plenty of more player-friendly arcade titles out there. So much potential, but BloodRayne can’t deliver.