Game developer WayForward is back with yet another gaming hit in Majesco’s BloodRayne: Betrayal for both PSN and XBLA. Based around the same BloodRayne universe from past 3D games, there’s not too much of a story here, as the half-human, half-vampire Rayne works for an organization that hunts down vampires and other monsters. With her trusty arm blades and a magnum pistol, she gets sent in to take out anything that gets in her way. There’s no getting around that this title is heavily inspired by Konami’s Castlevania and Nintendo’s Metroid series, as it plays a lot like the classic 2D side-scrolling action-platformer. Another thing it borrows from the original Castlevania game is its difficulty, which I’ll get into later in the review.
You have two methods of attacking, the arm blades and the magnum pistol. The blades are used for hacking and slashing enemies up close, while using the gun will take out bad guys from afar, as long as you have ammo. You can also mix things up by using the dash and jump buttons with the blade attack to make new attacks. Rayne is also able to heal herself by biting the necks of most enemies, which you’ll find yourself doing a lot to survive. She can also poison her foes and turn them into living bombs, which is a nice attack that comes in handy for taking out large groups of enemies.
There’s 15 stages for you to work through, which all take place in, around and below a castle. Getting through them will certainly test all your abilities and patience, as the enemies become harder while also increasing their number as you progress. You’ll also have to contend with extreme platforming elements, random puzzles, and vicious bosses that spice up the gameplay. Luckily there’s red skulls you can collect that give you the option to upgrade your health meter or the maximum amount of ammunition you can carry for every five that you find.
For those who really like to do things up, there’s online leaderboards and a grading system that will push you to get through the stages quickly, kill as many enemies as you can, and sustain as little damage as possible to work your way to the top. Despite the game being really tough, there’s something about it that’ll make you want to keep trying until you win.
As with most of WayForward’s titles, this one is quite easy on the eyes with its simple yet beautiful graphics and animation. Sometimes the camera will occasionally get crazy and zoom in too closely, but there’s crisp animations and great character designs all around, complete with nice looking environments to fight through. The sounds are also spot on, as you slash your way through baddies that spew plenty of blood and gushy sound effects all over the place, while metal-inspired music gets you into the carnage filled gameplay.
While its brutal difficulty won’t be for everyone, BloodRayne: Betrayal is a great looking, hardcore gaming experience that’ll push you to the edge with its addicting gameplay. Yes, it borrows more than a little from the Castlevania/Metroid games, but WayForward has crafted yet another beautifully drawn experience that looks incredible, and while I’m not a fan of the toughness and a $15 price tag that sucks the blood out of people’s wallets, hardcore gamers will make it rain blood as they hack and slash their way through this adventure. Casual gamers and those looking for a routine romp will definitely want to look elsewhere, as this game packs quite a bloody bite. While it suffers from some punishing difficulty, hardcore gamers and fans should find plenty to sink their fangs into.
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