Review | Bloodrayne Betrayal

I don’t know about everyone else, but about 9 times out of 10 I listen to outside music when I’m playing games. Unless the music of a game really impresses me, I’ll put on iTunes. Well, while I was playing Bloodrayne: Betrayal, a song came on my shuffled playlist that more than anything else encapsulates how I feel about this game. What song was it? Hit the jump for a little insight.

I’m on my seventh consecutive life, and as I would later realize I wasn’t even halfway done, but my music starts blaring a solid drum beat, followed by a growling guitar. My eyes widen and I start to laugh out loud just as Joan Jett starts grunting to the music. “I Hate Myself for Loving You” is the song, and it more than anything else is my theme for this game. No other game has made me so frustrated, so close to throwing controllers, so unabashedly angry… and no other game has kept me saying “One more try.”

Bloodrayne: Betrayal is a departure from the first two games of the series, and a welcome one at that. After a decent first outing and a depressingly mediocre sequel, Bloodrayne was a character barely if at all remembered by gamers, except by Uwe Boll fans. Majesco went to Way Forward and asked them to revitalize this character, and they succeeded… for the most part. Bloodrayne: Betrayal is a solid first outing, but the way the game pulls you back and forth between rather simple combat (aside from a few cool mechanics) and the ridiculously hard, pixel-perfect platforming sections tends to leave a sour taste. Overall the presentation is just uneven. What works, works very well. What doesn’t… well… doesn’t.

First off, let me just say that the visuals in this game are STUNNING. Rayne, the enemies, and the backgrounds are all painstakingly hand drawn and animated, making the game look like the Bloodrayne anime we never knew we wanted. Attack animations and motions are all perfectly crafted and give the game a sense of fluidity. On the downside, this attention to detail also means things get exaggerated too far. Sometimes the run or walk animations make you overcompensate or fall off ledges, other times it’s hard to judge where to pause or change commands in combat. The music is similarly excellent, walking the line between classical piano and rocking, chiptuney guitar reminiscent of Castlevania.

On the downside is the wildly inconsistent difficulty. There are times where Rayne simply mows through enemies left and right, slashing mindlessly to complex, instict-driven platforming where a single mistake will mean instant doom. The worst part is that those two parts will be directly one after another, there’s no scaling progression, difficulty just spikes at random with no warning. Sometimes it’s criminally tough platforming, other times it’s wave after wave of enemies with little chance to recover between attacks, and at all times you’re stuck worrying about your next step. On top of that, there’s barely any story, and what little character progression there is gets lost behind hidden items. At the end of the day, Bloodrayne: Betrayal is a great game at times, and a terrible game at times. It’s this inconsistency that warrants this score. Overall, the good outweighs the bad, and I suggest the game highly, but only if you’re willing to deal with the frustration of trial and error, Bloodrayne: Betrayal is well worth the $15 asking price.

Pros

  • Amazingly beautiful visuals
  • Old-school platforming sensibilities on display and on point
  • Combat is simple to learn but entertaining to master

Cons

  • Story is so threadbare as to be nonexistent
  • Controls can be unresponsive and difficult to grasp
  • Difficulty spikes wildly without warning, making for frustrating, game-breaking patches

6.5

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