Game Review: Bloodrayne: Betrayal (PSN)
Available Platforms: XBLA, PSN
ESRB Rating: Mature
Considering the pedigree of the Bloodrayne franchise, you can hardly blame those who rolled their eyes at the mention of a new game in the series being developed. But, once specifics started getting out there- hardcore platforming, pinpoint-accurate attacks and timing, WayForward, 2D animation… well, suddenly Bloodrayne seemed a whole lot more interesting. As the fall releases start rolling in, it’s funny that a small downloadable title is leading the way, both in terms of production quality and sheer fun.
Bloodrayne: Betrayal plays as you would expect from a side-scrolling platformer. You progress from left to right, leading a group of soldiers for hire on a quest to take down Kagan, endearingly stereotypical vampire baddie (and Bloodrayne’s father). His castle fortress is one giant death trap, filled with vampire thugs, blade-arm mutant freaks, bug sacks, and more. In addition to mowing down wave after wave of vamp-fodder, there’s also several attack-specific environmental puzzles. Meaning, it’s sometimes not just about killing an opponent, but doing so in a way that will throw a switch or take down a wall in order to progress. It can be a lot to take in.
Getting a handle on all this means putting on your combo cap and mastering the art of repetition. Betrayal is very much the type of game that rewards competent play, and punishes button mashing. To be blunt, mashers need not apply. You will get your butt handed to you again and again until you start to learn what you’re doing. While the game may be easy on the eyes, it’s hell on the thumbs.
Speaking of, the first thing that’s going to hit you is the title’s presentation. Betrayal is just plain beautiful to look at. The 2d animation is crisp, fluid, and a welcome change of pace from the more modern, traditional 3d animation we’ve all become so accustomed to. Besides it’s looks, what makes Betrayal so great is that it not only wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve, but it pushed them forward as well. You’ll see bits of Bionic Commando: Rearmed, a dash of Super Meat Boy, and healthy helpings of Castelvania and Shank all under the hood. Placed together and refined, these elements combine to make a game that could not be more compelling.
Before you get the impression that this review is going to be nothing but gushing, let me be clear: there are a few issues with Betrayal. And while minor, they’re still there. First and foremost, considering the amount of work WayForward put in to making the general public actually care about a new Bloodrayne release, the story seems more than lacking. I realize we’re talking about a platformer, but I still feel it could have done with a bit more weight. Also, the lack of an upgrade system (save for collecting difficult-to-find-and-reach skulls that grant more health or ammo) was kind of missed the further I progressed. Being able to do more, heavier damage to foes in later levels would have been nice. Lastly, I get the hardcore nature of the game, but seriously… even the achievements in Super Meat Boy were do-able. This game has some of the hardest Trophies I’ve seen since BC: Rearmed.
For those looking for the hardest challenge I’ve seen since last fall’s Super Meat Boy, I highly suggest you give Bloodrayne: Betrayal a shot. It’s everything you could want in a downloadable release: beautiful, challenging, brief, and worth the money. I look forward to future releases from WayForward, both in the Bloodrayne universe, and wherever else they may find themselves. With a short list of great releases, they’ve proven themselves to be major players in the industry, and Betrayal is their best yet.
-Beautiful 2D animation
-Grueling high-level difficulty may turn some off
-Short, but well worth the price of admission
9 out of 10