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Bloodrayne: Betrayal Review

Review; Oct. 11, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
Old school design makes for a fun, if uneven, game

You might have heard that Bloodrayne Betrayal is a hard game. So hard that it provides many hair-pulling moments rivaled only by Demon Souls and its spiritual sequel Dark Souls.

Bloodrayne: Betrayal

While Betrayal is indeed a difficult game with some challenging platforming and combat sections, it is nowhere near either of the Souls' difficulty level. For old-school fans of platformers, this will be a love letter to an earlier, simpler time in gaming. For those new to the genre, or for fans of XBLA and PSN platformers, this is a welcome addition to the lineup.

Betrayal stars the sexy bloodsucking protagonist, Rayne, as she infiltrates a cult's castle and, over the course of 15 levels, battles a variety of enemies, bosses and obstacles as she progresses toward the castle's final boss. If this sounds familiar, it completely is. The mood, environments, and enemies recall the settings of the famous Castlevania series right down to its gothic architecture and environments.

Despite what screenshots might show, this is not an open-world, labyrinthine Metroid-Vania title that the most recent Castlevanias have become. Instead this plays very much like the older titles, in which you guide your character through a series of separate levels, battling enemies, surviving the environment, and defeating the bosses. It's a decidedly old-school, linear design that works very well.

The game's environments, enemies, and animations look gorgeous in motion. Enemies move and attack with fluidity, and bosses often take up the entire screen and feature numerous animated attacks and movement. Even Rayne herself is a joy to watch in motion as she dashes through the air and eviscerates enemies who get in her way.

If there was one flaw to the game, it's not the difficulty that many would lead you to believe -- rather, it's the controls. Old-school games were famous for throwing enemy after enemy at the players, requiring them to navigate and defeat each one, often only allowing a few hits before being defeated. Despite this huge level of difficulty, the game made up for it by allowing you to move effortlessly through enemies and utilize an entire arsenal of combat moves. It was difficult, and sometimes unfair in its expectations, but always reliant on your skills of a gamer. If you died, you were the one to blame most of the time.

Bloodrayne: Betrayal Screenshots
Click the image to view game screenshots

That's not the case here. Rayne's elaborate animations are also one of the biggest hindrances to the controls. Rayne has an annoying one-second stun animation when she is hit or knocked off her feet. She slowly stumbles back to her feet, but the animation doesn't stop enemies from attacking. Often I was cornered, knocked down, and then knocked down again as soon as I finally got back up. Rayne also has an annoying sense of inertia when running that, again, involves a one-second delay before coming to a complete stop. There were numerous instances when I would be dashing across platforms and suddenly needing to come to a complete stop -- but falling to my death instead.

Even the combat suffers due to this. When dealing with a small handful of enemies or bosses, it's not a problem. The controls perform smoothly and allow for some creative combos. Once Rayne becomes surrounded, the combos and juggles go out the window as you are constantly moving to avoid enemies and, combined with the recovery time, just survive. The difficulty from the game doesn't come from the game itself; it comes from the clunky controls.

Despite the control flaws, Bloodrayne: Betrayal is an extremely fun and extremely good-looking game. The very generous checkpoint system ensures that even if you die, you'll respawn nearby, ready to bounce back, and try again. And despite being fairly straight forward, there are secret red skulls to be found throughout the levels to upgrade your weapons and health. If you can get past the awkward controls, you're left with a challenging and fun platformer that recalls the best and the worst of the old school with the tech and beauty of modern consoles. It's a fitting tribute that is most certainly worth your time.   

*Editor's Note: OMGN received a free review copy of the game for this article.

Comments

Review Score
8.0

Teen

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