QCF: BloodRayne: Betrayal

It's been a wonderful couple of years for fans of retro video games, and I've personally played many exceptional 2D tributes dedicated to the classics of yesteryear. At the same time, however, many of these throwbacks never really challenged me. Don't get me wrong, we've had plenty of releases like Contra 4 and Hard Corps: Uprising, but these specifically cater to a group of masochistic fans who adore the punishment. Finally, after searching so long for a game that wasn't too challenging, BloodRayne: Betrayal came knocking on my door with the good word.

Unlike other BloodRayne titles, WayForward's BloodRayne: Betrayal feels more like a Castlevania side-scroller -- Specifically Symphony of the Night or Dawn of Sorrow – merged with a game like Muramasa: The Demon Blade. The game does an excellent job of blending elements from the Castlevania series with invigorating hack-and-slash tactics, which makes for an excellent combination of new challenges and retro mechanics.

Jumping right into action, you'll fill the boots of Rayne, a dhampir assassin who's looking to uncover the purpose of a massive vampire gathering in an underground castle. Working with operatives from the Brimstone Society, who don't seem to last long at all, you'll start out in a dark moonlit forest as you venture into the underground where you'll encounter ghastly beasts, grotesque abominations, and mechanical nightmares with desires to take you down before you reach their hideout.


The first thing most players will notice about this game is the artistic layout. From the beginning you're greeted with rich backgrounds paired up with superbly animated characters, which both do a fantastic job of complementing one another. If you're a fan of blood and guts, you'll squeal in joy while using special moves and combinations to destroy enemies. You can slice, shoot, decapitate, detonate, and even jump on monsters while maneuvering through chapters. You'll also want to make sure to blood-suck as many enemies as you can since this is the only way to regenerate health aside from checkpoint fountains. Unfortunately there isn't much in the way of power-ups or interactive items, but collecting red skulls will grant you health and ammunition bonuses over time. As you look for more ways to rack up points, shattering additional objects and collecting treasures will also increase your score.

BloodRayne: Betrayal is a game to die for... literally. Novice players will croak multiple times before completing certain stages. But like any side-scroller classic, most accomplishments depend on your understanding of the environment. When you're not dodging circular saws and moving spikes, you'll simply scramble to stay alive as the enemies keep coming. There are also instances where you'll assume the form of a raven in order to navigate through more narrow passages and avoid danger. 

The fast paced difficulty of this game will invite many challengers while also keeping casual contenders at bay. You won't get far if you simply dash through levels and avoid more essential mechanics like dodging and blood sucking. It's also wise to master moves with the D-pad instead of the analog stick, as conventional hack and slash tactics may easily turn you into a bloody monster meal. On the plus side there's a skill menu -- handy for both novice and veteran gamers alike -- to access right away if you wish to start memorizing moves and combinations early on.

With lavish backgrounds, bewitchingly pleasant sprites, and a level of difficulty just hard enough to keep you motivated, BloodRayne: Betrayal is one of the most unique and spectacular presentations in both the BloodRayne series and the 2D side-scroller genre. If you're looking for a trip down memory lane followed by a brutal beating, you can't go wrong for just $15.00 on PSN or 1200 Microsoft points on Xbox LIVE Arcade.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go back and find inventive ways to get my scores above a "worm chow" ranking on each level.

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