|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: WayForward Technologies|
|Pub: Majesco Entertainment|
|Release: September 6, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Violence, Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, Mild Language|
by Becky Cunningham
Rayne is a dhampir, the daughter of a human woman and a vampire. She's not exactly dealing with divided loyalties, however. In BloodRayne and BloodRayne 2, the two 3D action adventures in which she's already starred, Rayne has shown herself to be firmly on the side of the humans, even hunting down her own vampiric father and half-siblings.
The BloodRayne series has been absent from the scene for a few years, only showing up in a number of unfortunate Uwe Boll film productions. That's about to change, as Majesco has entrusted WayForward Technologies to take the series in a new direction. Rather than a 3D action game, BloodRayne Betrayal will be a downloadable 2D side-scrolling hack and slash/platforming game.
While it may at first appear that BloodRayne is treading upon the sacred ground of the Castlevania series, there are a few key differences that set BloodRayne Betrayal apart. It appears much faster-paced than Castlevania, with an emphasis on combat over platforming. It's also a great deal bloodier. In the gameplay footage available so far, blood spurts liberally from everything that Rayne carves up with her trademark wrist knives, Rayne regains energy by drinking blood, and the game's traps and puzzles seem designed to create maximum carnage. Betrayal certainly doesn't seem to be going for old world charm or atmosphere, evoking instead the feel of the very American grindhouse flick.
The story, such as it is, is that Rayne has been recruited by the vampire-hunting Brimstone Society to stop a vampire massacre. The vamps are pretty out of hand in Rayne's world, so she's been doing this kind of work for a while. Rayne has a partner this time, who is apparently a mysterious shapeshifter. This has led to speculation that Betrayal could feature co-op gameplay, but there's been no official word that the game is anything but single-player.
After the likely-brief story setup, BloodRayne Betrayal will be getting down to its action-packed business. There will be fifteen levels in the game, with such names as The Forest, The Attic, and The Freaky Ballroom. All will feature evil bloodsuckers and their allies, which Rayne will carve up using a large arsenal of weapons and various vampire-themed combat moves such as Infection and Bite. There will be platforming and environment puzzles involved; the trailer showcases a number of deadly-looking circular saw blades that Rayne must avoid while navigating the area and fending off bad guys.
From what we've seen so far, BloodRayne Betrayal's graphic design is top-notch. The background and creatures in the game appear reminiscent of the work of Hellboy artist Mike Mignola, which is a high compliment for a game featuring things that go bump in the night. In motion, it looks like a graphic novel come to life, which is especially exciting to those of us who think that quality 2D visuals have been sadly rare in the Western gaming market lately.
Overall, BloodRayne Betrayal looks like a sleek entry into a neglected gaming subgenre. It takes the fast-paced platforming popularized by recent indie games like 'Splosion Man and Super Meat Boy, melding it with over-the-top hack and slash combat. In place of the series' former mediocre 3D graphics, it features some very stylish 2D work that will especially appeal to comic book fans. If Betrayal's gameplay is as good as its graphic design, fans of side-scrolling action and platforming games should be in for a good time.
CCC Contributing Writer