When I first booted up BloodRayne Betrayal, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. I had seen a trailer for it, which looked great. Like most people seeing the game for the first time, I instantly thought, “Castlevania“. I had been waiting for a current-gen 2D Castlevania (or really, any great 2D side scroller) for a while now. But Castlevania is a big name to live up to; and with the name BloodRayne attached, which certainly has a stigma attached to it (thanks in no small part to Uwe Boll’s desecration of the material onscreen), I grasped the controller optimistic, but with slightly lowered expectations. Luckily, BloodRayne: Betrayal is an awesome game, completely worthy of its Castlevania DNA.
BloodRayne: Betrayal harks back to the 16 bit days of yore. The moody piano instrumental on the game’s front end menu, and the bleeps heard when you make a selection instantly bring you back to the Symphony of the Night mindset. This feeling never left during my playthrough of the game; everything from the fast and fluid 2D gameplay, to the beautiful comic-inspired animation and moonlit landscapes, to the teeth-gritting toughness of the game just bleeds Castlevania.
It should be noted that you cannot button mash your way through this game. Completing each of the game’s levels at any grade above Worm Food- F requires undying patience, and practice and understanding of all of the game’s techniques. The challenge can at times be slightly infuriating, but it gives a grand sense of accomplishment upon completion of a level. I’ll also say this: do not buy this game solely for trophies/ achievements, as they are all tough to get.
The gameplay is deceptively simple. There aren’t a ton of different attacks, and you only have your sword and a gun to attack enemies with. However, as stated earlier, you must learn to take down swarms of enemies with your long and short range attacks- all the while dodging enemies that can fly at you, shoot at you, dash at you, explode on you and more, while finding enough time to keep one enemy barely alive, to suck the blood from them and refill your health just enough to make it to the next checkpoint. It’s not easy.
Visually, the game is stunning. The entire game looks like a modern day comic come to life, and all the characters animate fluidly. The camera even zooms in under certain circumstances, which can admittedly be a bit of a bother when being swarmed by enemies, as it obstructs the view a bit. The soundtrack was very cool; it’s not for everyone, but the metal/ orchestral songs certainly fit the game well and sound like they were ripped from a lost Dethklok album (sans Nathan Explosion).
Casual gamers and anyone who has seen the Bloodrayne movie will likely be turned off at the thought of this game, but you should check out the demo and give it a chance. The hardcore, old-school players I’m not worried about; they’ll surely love it. If you like a challenge and you loved Castlevania, make sure you pick this up.