Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

BloodRayne: Betrayal

Review: BloodRayne: Betrayal

2:00 PM on 09.09.2011 // Jim Sterling

Very few people can claim to love BloodRayne as a franchise, and there's a reason for that. The original titles were critically derided, the series of Uwe Boll movies are particularly grotesque, and the comic books are obscure as Hell. However, when someone's looking for fans of BloodRayne, they need look no further than myself. 

So, when news of a new BloodRayne game dropped, I was beyond excited. The fact that it appeared to be taking its cues from Castlevania was an added bonus, and the stage was set for a game that would finally make BloodRayne a respectable series as opposed to an eternally guilty pleasure. 

However, this game's name -- Betrayal -- is stunningly appropriate, because I feel like I've been stabbed in the back.

BloodRayne: Betrayal (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360)
Developer: WayForward
Publisher: Majesco
Released: September 5, 2011
MSRP: $14.00, 1200 Microsoft Points

BloodRayne: Betrayal is a sidescrolling platform/beat 'em up game that aims to take the old school approach to difficulty in games. Unfortunately, the "old school approach" means taking gameplay from a time when challenge wasn't about tight design and strategy, but about using broken mechanics to artificially inflate the danger, while lazily throwing as much crap at the player as possible. If that was WayForward's goal, then it passed with flying colors.

The biggest problem with Betrayal is that its controls are entirely too sloppy for a game that requires very precise commands. A big part of this problem lies in the art style. Games that take a hand-drawn visual style often feel "floaty" due to the indulgently animated characters and lack of distinct attack boundaries. There's a lacking sense of tactility to the fighting when compared to something that uses sprites or polygons, and if Betrayal's combat was insistent on being such a chaotic mess, it really ought to have sacrificed the pretty comic book aesthetic in order to take a graphical approach that complimented, rather than directly hindered, the gameplay.

This problem is exacerbated due to the fact that Rayne controls like garbage. For a start, she can't simply walk, instead breaking into a full sprint the moment you nudge the D-Pad (and you have to use the D-Pad, because analog sticks confuse her). She also cannot stop running without a lengthy "skid" animation, which makes her utterly useless for the game's myriad, ridiculously punishing platform sections. To give us a character that can't move without sprinting and can't stop without skidding, then throwing her into platform sections where moving ledges are thinner than she is, seems almost to satirize the problems inherent in games that put style over substance.

Betrayal's awful lack of appreciable control is carried over into the combat, which can quite accurately be described as a cluster of the purest fuck. There's a fairly predictable formula to the game, with each level splitting itself evenly between platform sections and miniature "arena" areas where a pre-set number of enemies spawn. I'm having a hard time deciding which section is the least fun. 

As stated earlier, WayForward took the Battletoads approach to game design, where a developer feels it can just throw a ton of enemies around and exploit broken design elements in order to call itself tough. For starters, Rayne can't block attacks, and her only means of defense is a worthless dash move that propels her a pathetically short distance and usually just throws her into fresh trouble. Whenever Rayne gets knocked down, she takes too long to get back up, allowing the half-dozen enemies on-screen to ready a new attack. It's not uncommon to get knocked down, then get knocked down again as soon as Rayne recovers. In fact, this can happen repeatedly, all because WayForward thought a lengthy recovery animation was more important than creating a protagonist that was halfway useful. 

Rayne is laggy due to the extra hand-drawn animations, unresponsive for reasons unknown to me, and seems willing to fight the player's commands to her own detriment. Even something as simple as turning around to face an enemy behind you seems impossible to do in a swift and efficient manner. She has some contextual attacks that usually just get her hurt -- for instance, she'll stomp on a downed enemy, which is rather useless when you want to attack the opponent that's still standing up and happens to be stood next to the grounded one. Rayne can hit an enemy, then hold a button to suck its blood for health, but if the potential victim is stood next to a creature that cannot be drained, Rayne invariably attempts to grab the one that blocks her attacks, which opens her up to a counter-move from the foe player's really wanted. Don't even get me started on the random attacks that have forward moment even when Rayne's stood still, which is great for sending her off ledges and toward her doom.

There's not even a lot of depth to the game. Combat is only slightly more advanced than Streets of Rage (and half as tight), and despite taking some cues from Castlevania, it lacks anything that made Konami's games so great. There are no real upgrades or level gains (outside of the option to boost your gun ammo or health with every five hidden skulls collected), the expertly designed maps are replaced by dull left-to-right levels, and the precise controls are replaced by something far too watery to deserve a place among the sidescrolling greats. 

The only things that Betrayal copies verbatim from Castlevania are a range of small, annoying enemies that bob up and down while traveling across the screen. Yes, of all the things to steal from Castlevania, BloodRayne: Betrayal decided to steal Medusa Head enemies -- universally considered among the worst enemies in gaming history. The fact that WayForward had such a rich variety of excellent games to draw from, and came away with only Medusa Heads under its arm, confirms to me that the developers were far more eager to create an unfair, frustrating trainwreck of a game above all else.

I will at least say that some of the boss fights, as hard as they are, actually approach something resembling conscious gameplay design. They're pretty tough, and often just as chaotic as regular combat, but the addition of appreciable patterns and worthwhile tactics make for a brief respite from the absolute garbage circus that makes up the rest of the game. Defeating the boss monsters actually manages to feel satisfying, which is about the only time BloodRayne ever deigns to encourage positive emotions. 

The final straw came for me in Chapter 13 of 15, a level already considered by many to be the point where Betrayal crosses a very real line. Rayne has to fight ghosts while head-stomping on a bunch of respawning flies. One false move and she falls to her death. These ghosts can apparently attack without requiring attack animations, and the laggy controls means that it's incredibly difficult to transition from attacking the ghosts to stomping on the flies. Not to mention, you get hit just once and you'll die. Add that to the already worthless control scheme and it becomes the point where I decided Betrayal had thieved enough of my time, and I bid adieu to what is, without a doubt, one of the most deeply unpleasant and miserable experiences of my gaming life. 

I have no regrets. I'm sure there'd be some twisted, prurient sense of pride in completing the game, but it's not worth it, especially with the brutal scoring system that docks points for everything and delights in slapping an "F" grade on anybody but the most practiced and perfect of players. It's quite fitting that an already mean spirited game would go out of its way to discourage players and tell them that, even though they just finally beat a difficult level and should rejoice, they still technically failed because they didn't beat it quick enough. Some gamers will celebrate such a harsh and punishing game, but the less perverse among us do not believe that fun is measured by how much of your time and energy is thoroughly wasted on busted, lazy gameplay. 

All of this is punctuated by the complete lack of personality that BloodRayne features. The game certainly looks gorgeous and there's plenty of blood, but the gore seems a cynical and shallow mockery of the sassy silliness that made the series what it was. Rayne's original personality is completely gone, replaced by a flat and featureless character. The story barely exists and tells a rather boring story about a man who turns into a bird, and there's just no raunchy, ridiculous humor to any of it. It's a po-faced, bland affair, and the beautiful graphics only serve to contrast the ugliness apparent in everything else. 

I've had my ass kicked by many games over the years. Sometimes, such as with Demon's Souls or Metal Arms: Glitch in the System, I loved it. Other times, as with many of those crippled "old school" games, I've not been a fan. However, BloodRayne: Betrayal is the only game I've played where I've actively been put in a lasting bad mood. Betrayal is a game that actively alters my disposition, to the point where I don't feel happy for quite some time afterwards. It's an obnoxious experience that goes out of its way to make players feel bad, proudly reveling in the kind of gameplay that's considered old fashioned for a very good reason.

There are those out there that will join Betrayal in its revelry -- the kind of people who claim Battletoads isn't difficult and expect adoration for their gaming prowess. The kind of people who think that members of their preferred gender will find them intensely attractive because they find Ninja Gaiden to be so easy. Those people are a dying breed, and BloodRayne: Betrayal is a vestigial relic from an ignorant age, despite its graphics attempting to make one think otherwise. Its gameplay is ripped straight from the NES era, and it's high time everybody recognized that 95% of the NES' games were shit. If Betrayal was released in the eighties, it would not be in the rarer 5%. 

Awful design, a counter-intuitive art style, and an obscenely cheap approach to difficulty makes BloodRayne: Betrayal a game that should be avoided by all but the most masochistic and deranged of gamers. The deep revulsion that this game inspires within me cannot accurately be described, but it is measured only by the intense, burning disappointment I feel as a fan of the series. WayForward can do so much better, and better is what BloodRayne needed.



BloodRayne: Betrayal - Reviewed by Jim Sterling
Painful - This game made me feel actively disgusted most of the time. Like a disease. It might not kill you, but anything is possible.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
BloodRayne: Betrayal

  Apr 30

BloodRayne: Betrayal takes a bite out of Steam today

The dhampir femme fatale returns with an enhanced PC release

  Apr 24

BloodRayne: Betrayal is slicing up dudes on PC next week

Wait, weren't we just talking about this game?

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Top 5 Reasons Star Wars Battlefront KICKS ASS!

Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Little Slice of Childhood

Top 5 Reasons Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 IS AWESOME!

Cblogs of 11/26/15 + Combat Heropon-isms

Video games go mainstream

I’m Not a SJW, I’m an Anthropologist: Making the Case for Diversity in Games

Insidia REVIEW - A whole dark, gloomy, and kinda creepy world to explore

DS REVIEWS: Trace Memory

Things I'm Thankful For

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Huh. Apparently even Japan has a Black Friday sale going on on PSN right now.
Lawman avatarLawman
Yes, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I know that somebody has 2,625 more medallions than me. No, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I don't really care.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
This fucking Bloodborne DLC, jesus. I'm on new game+, about level 90, and shit just tears my dick off. I don't know if I want to start another guy just to avoid NG+ and level him up, etc. sigh....
Shinta avatarShinta
Wii U, top selling black friday item on Take that you anti-Wii U people.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I am pretty hyped for when I get a laptop because I'll be able to have a good enough connection to stream XbOne/soon PS4 games to it along with natively rendered Steam games. Hype!
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Got a PS4 that came with SW Battlefront this week, and planning on picking up the FFX/X-2 remake. Hype is through the roof, especially for FFX. If I were to get one other game, what should it be?
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Did a google maps search around my parents house for bars and there isn't one in like 25 miles, so I picked up an Intel compute stick and South Park: Stick of Truth on Steam. That's more or less the drunken screaming I'm in the mood for at about the cost.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Do you ever have that moment of clarity when talking to someone and suddenly realising: You're just a skull, and they're just a skull, with fucking eyeballs and a sac of skin being the only comparative difference between you visually? ..just me then?
Nathan D avatarNathan D
After quitting for two days out of frustration, I beat Ludwig on my first try of the night. I'm on cloud fucking nine right now.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
When I did my retail shift today, we were moving more Smash/Splat Wii U bundles and the Gears/Rare Replay/Ori XB1 bundles than Uncharted and Battlefront PS4s. I think Nintendo and MS have better value on their side this holiday. Sony got lazy.
Confuseddalek avatarConfuseddalek
I found this weird game called Samurai Heroes for 8 dollars today. Its not bad.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Got Deadpool, Arkham Asylum and BioShock 1 and 2 all for 30$. Not to bad for going Black Friday shopping late.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If you haven't played Tales from the Borderlands yet, GO BUY IT! By far the funniest game I have ever played, and the characters and narrative are incredibly well written. Very few memes unlike BL2 by the way.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Played all of Life is Strange today in one sitting. Bloody hell. You should all play it. Only game this year to make me cry. Bravo developers. Possibly the most valuable thing I've ever bought for £10.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Last night, got farther than ever in Wasteland 2. This is my third playthrough-once thru beta, once through the orig version, now on Directors cut. Worth the restart, and it speaks highly of the game that I like it enough to do this. DAMONTA HERE I COME!
KeithTheGeek avatarKeithTheGeek
GUYS HELP I KEEP BUYING MORE AMIIBO. Today it was Little Mac, since he went back up on Gamestop's website. I probably would have gotten Captain Falcon as well if I wasn't already running a little short on cash.
BigDoniel avatarBigDoniel
50 hours in and I can safely say that Xenoblade is the best JRPG I've played in years. Should hopefully be finished in time for X too!
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -