Bloodrayne hasn’t had a good track record, with lack luster past entries and three terrible Uwe Boll movies. I didn’t know Bloodrayne Betrayal existed until a couple of months ago, when I saw it at E3. The art was intriguing but I wasn’t interested until a couple of days ago because of the series checkered history. Previews made it look to be a classic Castlevania style side scroller with a bit of promise, which it delivers on to some extent, but finds hard to sink it’s teeth into you with unresponsive controls and bad platforming.
Bloodraynes Betrayals strongest, and weakest point is its gameplay. Combat is the games main aspect, especially in the early levels, and this is the part that shines through. Combat consists of slicing and dicing with Rayne’s twin baton style blades and combos are thrown out by moving the analog or D-pad in different directions. Pushing up will launch enemies into the air along with Rayne while pushing down will sweep kick. She also has a pistol from the start of the game, as well as a weaker, but more useful weapon later in the game. While the combat is good it often feels too easy fighting the cannon fodder enemies who are thrown at you in different combinations and only gets slightly more challenging towards the end of the game. However boss fights are much more difficult, requiring trial and error to find the patterns, knowing when to dodge, making it very satisfying to kill a boss you have spent thirty or more minutes trying to maim.
However Bloodrayne Betrayal has a darker side, like many Dhampir. The platforming is frustrating and difficult halting the flow of the game. Many sections require you to move extremely quickly or alternatively time your movements precisely to avoid moving obstacles. Like the bosses this can take many retries and more shouting at the television. Making the segments more difficult are the unresponsive controls. While serviceable for the combat which doesn’t require as much precision, the platforming can be a nightmare with controls not recognizing directional commands, dashes and the oh so evil head bounce, and when these segments of gameplay are brought together they can become nearly impossible.
Unfortunately to add insult to injury, checkpointing, which in my opinion can make or break a game is sometimes terrible, making you repeat easy but drawn out combat sequences over and over just to fail at the platforming areas. Luckily the game has quick load times, usually around half a second to two seconds making these deaths more bearable. Though if you wish to stop half way through a level because the difficulty has become too much, or you need to go out then you have to start the entire level again.
Graphics are a rather mixed bag for this title. The character models are crisp and clean and they animate rather well, however they are, for the most part, un-detailed and cartoony, which can take away from the implied gothic feel of the game. Environments are detailed and the backgrounds move with the character which looks nice, but when the environments get busier it can be hard to pick out platforms, leading to more infuriating retries. The soundtrack is the best ascetic part of Bloodrayne Betrayal, which moves from powerful operatic metal to somber piano tunes that often suit the settings well.
The game, at times can be extremely fun, slicing up enemies, sucking blood and/or infecting enemies and exploding them among larger groups, then seeing this repeated on a larger and larger scale can be rather funny to watch, unfortunately after these parts the platforming takes over again and the game takes a horrible turn. Your experience with the game thoroughly depends on your patience, or if you’ve played similar games like classic MegaMan or Castlevania.
In the end Bloodrayne Betrayal is competent game that has some really good qualities, yet these are completely overshadowed by some striking flaws that should have been ironed out by 2011. If you are a gluten for punishment, like a challenge or have a lot of patience, then Bloodrayne Betrayal is worth picking. For the rest of us? Let Rayne and her game rest in peace…