Review: BloodRayne: Betrayal

BloodRayne wasn’t always a stylized, comic book-inspired adventure. No, the series has a very different background, having evolved from a third-person action/adventure game (three-dimensional, mind you) to the gorgeous side-scrolling slasher you see in BloodRayne: Betrayal. Frenetic, fluid, and positively gushing with decapitations, geysers of blood, and vampire antics, this retro throwback is an exciting new direction for Rayne. And while its sometimes finicky controls mar its attempt at fast-paced platforming, it’s still a satisfying play, even on its lowest difficulty.

Rayne, femme fatale/vampire extraordinaire, is as usual off to fight through hordes of supernatural creatures as well as Nazi soldiers. However, in BloodRayne: Betrayal, I ultimately felt a little quizzical when it came to following a cohesive story. Though I am familiar with the series, such small tidbits of plot are revealed through snippets of comic book dialogue that I found myself scratching my head at every turn — why exactly were we fighting, again? I suppose it doesn’t really matter too much, as hacking and slashing through Nazi soldiers, venomous bloodsuckers, poisonous frog-like creatures, evil temptresses, and Necromorph-like monstrosities without a cause is just as fun as fighting with a mission.

In this masterful tribute to the olden days of classic platformers, you’ll dash, bound, backflip, and climb through fifteen side-scrolling levels of gorgeously designed Gothic architecture. Gameplay is often seamless, requiring you quickly dash to a higher level, then quickly backflip (which I found more than a little difficult to perform at times, requiring quick turns and maneuevers you may not have space for) to reach higher areas, all the while fending off attackers. Rayne will also be damaged by the light, so it’s always prudent to remove any prominent light sources in each area.

You’ll have Rayne’s trusty blades as well as a revolver with which you can plow through the enemies waiting at every turn — and there are plenty. If you’ve ever played Muramasa: The Demon Blade, you might be able to get a feel for the frantic pace at which the baddies will spawn to raise a little hell. For one-hit kills I preferred the revolver, which you should save for “special occasions” such as enemies who spray projectiles and are much more trouble to kill at close quarters. Fallen soldiers often drop more ammo, though it’s still a precious commodity, as the revolver does business. If enemies prove too much for you to handle, you can always stun one and hop on with the B button to do a little blood-sucking, which will raise Rayne’s HP, seen in the top left of the screen. If you time it correctly, you could kill one enemy in a mob, then hop to the next, regain health, and then repeat without taking any damage at all. That quickly became my lifeline, as virtually any enemy is up for grabs for Rayne to feed on, and Betrayal can get downright difficult.

It’s the trail of crimson you leave as you cut through those who stand in your way, though, that kept me playing long after crippling boss encounters (you’ll keep pushing yourself to defeat just one more), and Betrayal’s sense of classical platforming and adventure. This is a fantastic addition to what was a mediocre action game at best, and WayForward has created an excellent, solid platformer. I hope I’m not alone in wishing for additional BloodRayne titles to fall under this same umbrella. If so, we could be looking at a glorious rebirth of a series that was previously a bit of a slog being completely revitalized. And that’s something we can all appreciate.

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