Proving that not even Uwe Boll can keep a good vamp down, the sexy dhampir Rayne is back in action with her new downloadable adventure, BloodRayne: Betrayal. The game released this month from developer WayForward, and it presents a new take on an old favorite while weaving some retro charm into the presentation.
You don’t need to have played either of the previous BloodRayne games or (God forbid) seen the movie adaptations to be up to speed for BloodRayne: Betrayal. Rayne is a dhampir (half human, half vampire) who dresses in tight leather and vinyl and cuts bad guys with big blades. That’s really all you need to know in order to enjoy this latest outing, which has the vampire-hunting Brimstone Society calling on Rayne for help. They are raiding a large gathering of vampires, and they send her in to take out the baddies that are too tough for their soldiers. Having a paramilitary group recruit a creature of the night to help kill vampires is a story very reminiscent of Hellsing, and indeed much of BloodRayne: Betrayal‘s look and feel owe a lot to anime.
The flavor of the graphics and animation make this game stand out from the pack, as it really does feel like you’re playing an animated series most of the time. From Rayne’s idle animations to her over the top fighting to the spectacularly bloody ways in which her enemies die, the whole package is an anime dream. At the same time, the game looks and plays similarly to classic 2D sidescrollers like Castlevania. Going 2D with BloodRayne, a classically 3D franchise, is a novel approach for this series, and it really pays off in the accessible but challenging gameplay. Accompanying the bloody slaughter is a great instrumental score that loops through the various levels as you fight your way through the vampiric mansion. The music is very appropriately reminiscent of the Castlevania school of exploration hack and slash games, and it enhances an already great atmosphere for this retro-but-new game.
Rayne has a lot of abilities at her disposal, and you can use pretty much all of them from the very beginning of the game, even though the tutorial trickles instructions out to you over the course of several levels. The meat and potatoes of her arsenal is Rayne’s basic attack, which is a variety of blade-based combos you can unleash by pounding the X button. The basic attack alone is enough to finish off most of the bad guys you’ll encounter, but you also have Rayne’s handgun at your disposal. Firearms are extremely powerful in BloodRayne: Betrayal, and you can take out a whole row of vampires by firing once at them, using the right trigger. Ammo is a precious commodity you’ll frequently run out of, balancing the power of Rayne’s gun with the scarcity of its resource. Bullets occasionally drop from vampires you’ve killed, so you will have opportunities to reload throughout the levels.
You’re sure to take a lot of damage yourself as you fight your way through the undead masses, but in true vampiric fashion Rayne can heal herself by drinking blood. It’s a simple process of stunning an enemy with a single basic attack and then grabbing them to drink up by holding the B button. While feeding on a victim, Rayne’s health will refill, and she can’t be harmed while drinking. Her mid-drink invulnerability is sort of a strange mechanic that allows for some strategic escapes from danger whenever things get too hairy. Another benefit of Rayne’s vampirism is her ability to infect others with her curse. If you just tap B instead of holding it to drink, Rayne will bite her victim, turning them green with the infection. Once one or more enemies carries the infection, you can hit Y to blow them up. Yes, that’s right… blow them up. I didn’t know vampires or dhampirs could do that, but I’m in full support of it in this game.
Level traversal offers a lot of options and abilities as well. Rayne will do a lot of standard running and jumping with the A button, as could be expected in this genre. She can cling to and slide down certain wall surfaces, allowing her to do some catch-and-jump techniques that will get her higher and over the occasional obstacle. She also can do a backflip that will give her a decent amount of additional height over her standard leaps. Throw a forward dash via the left trigger into the mix, and Rayne has a full suite of fun traversal mechanisms. The precision of where she jumps and lands takes some getting used to, and occasional imprecision can be frustrating, but overall it comes together into a fast and fun component of the game.
There’s a lot to the game beyond just running, jumping, and stabbing bad guys, but it would be a disservice to spoil any of the story or the additional game mechanics that unlock later on. BloodRayne: Betrayal is a welcome return for a modern gaming icon who had fallen on hard times due to some bad movie adaptations and an absence from the video game scene for far too long. The game scratches the retro sidescrolling itch with fun but challenging levels and offers some great replayability for collectors and top scorers.