[Review] Bloodrayne: Betrayal (PS3)
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Majesco Games; Developer: WayForward; Players: 1; Released: September 6, 2011; ESRB: Teen; Official Site
It’s always hard to envision an old franchise in new forms. With the recently released Deus Ex: Human Revolution, though the visual style and story had changed drastically, it was still a first person shooter with a heavy emphasis on RPG elements and seemed familiar to longtime fans. Some games go the other route; Bloodrayne: Betrayal takes the voluptuous vampire half-breed to the second dimension and trades in sex appeal for comic book-like visuals for an experience that proves neither cleavage nor top tier graphics are necessary.
Betrayal tries its damndest to get away from the unnecessary sexploitation tactics of its series’ previous incarnations, giving Rayne a slightly more cute look and coverage and thankfully so, though I never thought I’d approve of less boobage. Instead, we’re given the purest bloodlust experience available. Every enemy explosion and decapitation are a sight to behold and almost begs players to kill an enemy the same way twice just to see it again. It’s rare to see high-res 2D graphics done right and Betrayal gives sprite lovers exactly what they’ve been waiting for, considering the few 2D releases that grace us nowadays.
The gameplay itself is reminiscent of older titles, often featuring Rayne slashing through groups of enemies and dashing through levels at quick speeds. If you’ve ever played as Zero in the Mega Man X series – it’s like that. In addition to plain old sword slashing, Rayne has the ability to either infect enemies or use them for health. While the latter is pretty self explanatory, the former allows players to use enemies as remote control bombs and deal big damage to others. Learning to balance the two is crucial. While it may be tempting to blow up everyone and pass areas quickly, there’s no denying that dying will definitely impede progress. The fast paced nature of the game will have players’ andernaline pumping and drive them to finish levels as quickly as possible, though some aspects of the game do get in the way. Unlike the games of yonder, Betrayal’s controls feel slugish and imprecise, often leading to mistimed jumps or slips off platforms. This leads to an indescribable amount of frustration at times and lowered score.
The game’s difficult judging will leave most players with a failing grade, which may trigger flashbacks of some horrible, uncurved college math class for some. Mirroring the game’s grading system, both segments and boss fights can feel overwhelming at times, tossing obstacle after another toward the player. In an odd design decision, Rayne is still vulnerable to attacks while she’s down. In theory it sounds right, but compounding the cluster of things thrown her way onto this point means a world of trouble for a single mistake. Several times throughout my playthrough, I had only been hit by one gigantic, sharp wheel only to be done in by another two that followed before I could get up. Unlimited continues and a hefty amount of checkpoints abate the problem, but leaves players feeling cheated.
Old school fans will love Bloodrayne: Betrayal for its throwback style and platforming goodness. However, it’s held back by some faulty design decisions that ultimately mars the experience and holds it back. If you don’t mind “cheap” designs that artificially injects difficulty into a game and are craving some old-school action, Betrayal will be right up your alley.
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.