I came into BloodRayne: Betrayal only knowing that it was a 2D sidescrolling revival of the series. At first glance it's a slick looking game with some fast paced slicing and shooting, gore and a plethora of gothic flair.
The fact that the game contains vampires and other creatures of the night — along with the 2D style of gameplay — makes it easy to compare Betrayal to the Castlevania series. However, what you get is something less like Symphony of the Night with its role-playing game mechanics, and something more akin to the Super Nintendo days of the series: there's a lot of platforming dangers (saw blades and spikes) and enemies that will crush you.
They will crush you, maim you, cut you and whatever else needs to be done to kill you. A lot.
Betrayal's brutal in its difficulty, though not so much as Mega Man platformers are. You'll have to be careful to not take too many hits when guiding Rayne, a dhampir or halfblood vampire, through her adventure to find a castle and put a stop to a nest of vampires waiting to suck the blood of the unsuspecting.
Things are made a bit easier with her move repertoire: Rayne has two blades for melee attacks, a revolver, acrobatic leaps to reach higher areas and the ability to also suck blood and replenish her health. A fun move also allows her to bite and infect enemies to then explode on command. Aside from mastering how to skewer enemies is the need to master the dash move so you can avoid enemy attacks and land on hard-to-reach platforms.
These moves actually make the game more combat or action oriented. Rayne has a number of combos and ways to dispatch enemies that go far beyond those Super Nintendo Castlevania games I mentioned earlier, and you will find yourself having to smite enemies before you can move on on more than one occasion.
The game is broken up in stages, and Rayne will find herself trekking through creepy woods, caves and into the castle. Each area — just like the characters and enemies — are visually stunning. The graphics are crisp and the art style has an anime flavor to it that comes to life with smooth animations.
On the downside, controlling your character through these areas can get a little frustrating at times thanks to the Xbox 360's inability to have a good directional pad for 2D games. The analog fares better, but too many times I would mess up an attack or a jump because the controller just wasn't up to it. That's frustrating for a game that demands quite a bit of precision.
None of the levels stand out as anything too out of the ordinary; much of what you'll see as you scroll from left to right has been done before. Even the boss battles — as nice of a change of pace they are — aren't too exciting. They do offer more than just the smack-it-until-it-dies encounter, but it's still nothing new.
But not adding anything new isn't detrimental to the game, Betrayal just serves as a fine addition to the genre — and the best entry in the BloodRayne series. Going back in time to 2D gameplay to create a superior title to the first two 3D titles is kind of odd, but that's what Betrayal has accomplished in spades.
If there's a 2D sequel to Betrayal, the series is only going to get better and become quite the gem amongst downloadable action platformers.