Everyone’s favorite nazi fighting, half human-half vampire femme fatale, Agent Rayne, is back in a new game that is more of a celebration of gore then either of her two previous games, or any of her three movies. That’s right, Bloodrayne: Betrayal is now available on Steam for $9.99, and this time around has some major changes from the first two classic titles.
So what did Abstraction Games change with this latest addition to the Bloodrayne canon? Firstly, and also most importantly, Betrayal is a 2D side scrolling game, whereas Bloodrayne 1 & 2 mirrored popular titles of the time like Tomb Raider as a third person action adventure. Betrayal’s focus on skill-based fighting makes it much more similar to such classic title’s as Ghosts’n’ghouls or the Megaman X series.
This is the most important difference with the game because this format has allowed Abstraction Games to focus on the fast-paced violence that Agent Rayne is so well known for. It’s a much more natural medium for the series, where the first two games felt clunky due to control schemes, camera angles, and the technology of the consoles themselves, Betrayal enjoys being able to offer visceral action and seamless animation to showcase just how much of a badass Rayne can really be.
The visuals in the game are another ingenious stroke by Abstraction Games. Though the original titles try to play off of a stylized realism, Betrayal embraces its more stylized roots and plays almost like a living comic book. Every move is beautifully animated, to the point that it almost looks like a rotoscoped animation style similar to what The Banner Saga or the early years of Disney relied on. One of the initial and most intriguing draws to this game is the animation alone; every attack, jump, slide and hit taken is fluid, and every enemy looks like something out of a McFarlane comic.
This fluid animation mixed with the almost comic-inspired graphics of Betrayal allows them to make a frenetic, unique combat system which initially only relies on maybe 2 or 3 moves that the player has to learn to survive. Your basic attacks slice and dice enemies literally to pieces, the limited use of your pistol can easily clear a room with its piercing shells, and being able to feed on nearly every enemy (including giant mosquitoes) keeps you nice and healthy throughout the game. Using all three of these in tandem is where the game really starts to flourish, as the combinations you can execute with a little forethought on how to approach every situation is where the real meat and potatoes comes out of the game.
This is how you will spend 85% of your playthrough of Betrayal, and you’ll find that this is where most of the fun is to be had; later into the game other combinations open up, as well as interesting new moves, and further ways to use old moves. One of the most interesting mechanics in the game is a type of ‘door’ mechanic where you come across two spinning blades in between you and the corridor you need to go down to advance, the only other thing in the room is a constantly spawning enemy. In this situation, you have to use your basic attacks to knock the enemy into the air, and then into the spikes and literally grind him through the gears until they break, allowing you passage into the newly opened corridor.
The last part of this high octane equation is Betrayal’s soundtrack, which is intense to say the least. With moody, melodic tones overtop of thematic synth’s, click drums, and face melting guitar riffs, I can only conclude that this style of music would be referred to as ‘Fantasy Deathcore’. The soundtrack of this game feels like the fuel that drives the pace of all the action, it perfectly reflects the pacing of the game and drives you to keep going, even in the face of some of the more difficult arena’s and puzzles in the game.
It is important to point out that this game is not perfect, it does have some issues with its own difficulty curve; there are spikes in some of the levels where at one point you’re breezing through every fight until coming across one room where, seemingly for no reason, there are four times as many enemies and the fight is nearly impossible. The same can be said about some of the puzzles or skill tests in the game; where you start off with the most simplistic of jump puzzles, every now and then, again seeming almost randomly, you’ll come to one point of a level that makes you wish you were playing something simple like Super Meat Boy. It’s not a mistake to have these high skill puzzles and fights in the game, however there needs to be more of a ramp up leading to them, rather then having them stick out like difficulty walls in the level design.
The narrative is there, though it could use some fleshing out, and continued from the first two games (if you haven’t played them before, you will be lost in the narrative very quickly). They do introduce some new characters, which is refreshing – one of them is even playable – which goes a long way in breaking up the game’s pacing nicely, and keeping the levels feeling fresh.
Overall, Bloodrayne: Betrayal is well worth its modest $9.99 price tag on Steam, and offers much more entertainment then a ten dollar ticket would normally afford you. If you’re a fan of the high octane action games that’ll keep your knuckles white and your blood-lust sated, this game might be for you.