BloodRayne: Betrayal review

  • Looks luscious
  • Rewards badassery
  • Certainly won't fall down for you
  • Imprecise controls
  • Unreasonable challenges
  • Some terrible checkpoints

If you’ve been looking forward to a stylish, breezy 2D hack-and-slashing foray into the BloodRayne canon with Betrayal, the new XBLA/PSN release, get ready for a digital bitch-slap. BloodRayne: Betrayal is immensely difficult – so much so that I gave up trying to beat it, and I’ve beaten Hard Corp: Uprising and Demon’s Souls, so I don’t mind difficult games and I don’t give up easily. BB takes difficulty to unreasonable levels, but more than that it suffers from poor controls combined with absolutely cruel design choices, which means it stumbles into just being unfair instead of difficult. Difficulty alone is not a problem, but if you’re going to make a difficult game, you have to be extremely careful about balance, giving the player all the tools they need to succeed so that the challenge comes from the enemies and obstacles and not obtuse design and controls that leave player inputs inconsistent.

I was ready to love this game, too, because there are never enough 2D platformer/brawlers these days and the game looks gorgeous and has tons of stylish, nimble maneuvers to pull off. When everything goes well, you can look like a total vampire badass. For a tiny percentage of players, this will be the way of things during play of BB, but for the rest of us, we’ll be watching BloodRayne fail over and over in humiliating ways, and we’ll be cursing at the TV almost the entire time. If you choose to play this game after reading this review, you’ll think I’m full of crap at first, because Betrayal will lull you in with easy fights in the beginning. The difficulty takes a quick upward swing after the first couple of levels, though.

The gameplay concepts are good on paper: you need to dash to avoid damage, you have lots of cool combos, and you suck the blood of enemies to top up your health. You can also bite enemies and choose to infect them instead of sucking their blood, which turns them into a living bomb which you can then trigger with a special attack. As I said, when it works, it works well, but the game then throws so much ridiculous stuff at you, you have no time to properly learn all the techniques. That’s not really the problem with the game though. The big problem is a two-parter: the screen gets flooded with danger, but then the controls are imprecise.

I’ll give the best example in detail: there’s a sequence where you have to outrun a giant sawblade, jumping across platforms along the way. There is no way to outrun the saw unless you use the dash move constantly. This means you must use the dash in mid-air while jumping from platform to platform. The problem: the dash is inconsistent in the distance it covers in the air. You can sort of control the distance by letting go of the dash button, but it’s not precise. So you’ll over-shoot and under-shoot these dinky little platforms and fall to an instant death over, and over, and over. To make matters worse, BloodRayne tends to slide when she lands from a jump, so even if you manage to do these dash jumps perfectly, you might just slide to your death anyway. And then, the game has the nerve to present increasingly smaller platforms for you to land on with these sloppy controls, then moving versions of these dinky platforms, and then there’s one jump where you have to jump off the top of the screen, meaning you can’t see BloodRayne in order to judge your dash distance.

It probably took me forty tries to complete that sequence, and when I did beat it, it didn’t feel like some awesome victory over difficulty – it felt like luck, because of the aforementioned slippery jumping. That’s the main issue with BB: whenever I did finally surmount the odds, I didn’t feel triumphant, I just felt glad the exasperation was over. The game tries to alleviate your hundreds of deaths by giving you unlimited lives and fast respawns, but then it randomly has horrendous checkpoints, like one section where you have to fight literally fifty enemies in a room, and then in the next room you’re presented with a wall-jump where you have an inch of headroom to get it just right and if you don’t, the platform you thought you reached will actually allow you to fall through it because your feet didn’t quite make it. This means instant death, and fighting fifty enemies again before being able to try that one poorly designed jumping puzzle over again.

BloodRayne: Betrayal is for masochists, pure and simple. So is Demon’s Souls, but I loved that game – it was always fair and always made you feel like it was your own fault for dying. In BB, you’ll die because you slide randomly on the ground, or you can’t see what’s happening because enemies fill the screen, or because you got knocked on the ground and couldn’t get up before getting hit again, or that wall jump didn’t work even though it worked the last time you performed it the exact same way. If you absolutely love to be beaten into submission by a game, perhaps BB will serve as your cruel mistress, but you will have to wrestle with the controls. Anyone looking for simply some 2D action to pass the time should stay the heck away, unless you think you have a secret masochist inside.

Sep 7, 2011

More Info

Available Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating:
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending


  • Moondoggie1157 - November 13, 2011 9:20 a.m.

    I am not finished the game yet, just beat Chapter 8, the infamous saw chase Yeats is talking about in the review. Yes, the game is difficult, one of the more difficult I have played. BUT, it has not felt unfair at all. I find the controls to be great, Rayne's sliding can screw you here and there, but it isn't nearly as frustrating as the review says. To each their own though. If you are interested but cautious, you should definitely give the game a go. Even when it is super-difficult it looks too pretty to stay mad at, like most girlfriends. My own personal review? I would say 8/10 (so far) The animation is beautiful, GREAT music, the boss battles are crazy fun, and once you get used to the controls, you really do feel like a vampire badass. It is all worthwhile if you don't mind having your ass handed to you repeatedly. Barely any loading though, so it's not too much of a piss off haha.
  • camiwaits - September 9, 2011 1:52 a.m.

    I love Gamesradar, but this review is very misleading. The controls are not inconsistent and the difficulty is not as bad as the reviewer makes it seem. I would understand some people finding level 13 infuriating (jumping on flies, dodging saws, evading missiles in midair), but other than that the game is not that hard or frustrating.
  • BladedFalcon - September 8, 2011 9:41 p.m.

    Okay, so it's even doubtful that anyone will read this at this point, but I HAVE to comment about it. I just finished the game, I probably played a lot these two days hence why I finished it fast. But anyway, honestly? it IS a challenging game, but it's FAR from being the unfair, frustration monster this review painted it to be. And in hindsight, i now realize that a couple of things that Matthew Keast said, while not lies, are kinda exaggerated. Not once in the game I encountered a section where the game tossed more than 10 enemies at me, (And when it did toss out like ten, it was because 4 or more of them were small, easy to kill monsters like the mosquitoes or the toads.) let alone the 50 monsters Mr. Keast made mention of. Furthermore, the fights never felt truly hard or unfair, since more than half of the enemies allow you to easily suck the blood from them, and you're always invulnerable when you do so. In fact, I only remember two strong enemies that didn't allow this, and even then, they were scarce. And the platforming? again, the detection boxes for some of the platforms is inaccurate, but honestly the game always gave you a wide margin with jumps, specially if you used (and you should) the upwards air attack, which gave you a free boost, almost like a second jump. So no, i don't think this is a game for masochists. Not by a long-shot, I had more of a hard time with games such as mega-man 9 or Hard Corps Uprising than this game. (At least, if we talk about properly playing those games, as in, finishing HC:U in Arcade mode, not just the fairly easy and grind-able Uprising mode.)And overall, i had a pretty good time with it, it's slick, it's gorgeous, and it SHOULD be noted that it barely has load times, so even the frustration of dying is minimal, and again, the checkpoints really aren't that far away from each other. Of course, I-m fair from being a professional reviewer, and i don't claim to have more reason or Merit than the reviewer of this article. But in my very personal opinion, I had a very different experience with the game, and is seriously think that anyone interested in the game, but that felt disappointed upon reading this review should still give it a chance, specially if you like old school action games that don't hold your hand like I do.
  • DeathbyFira - September 8, 2011 5:17 p.m.

    i don't know i am hearing mixed reviews but i don't got the patience to die 50 times in one level but if all these guys can do it then i totally can too so i will get it and give it shot ^^ cuz if i can whip the piss outta the bosses from duex ex that everyone seems to have a hard time with then i can beat this game too lol i will take it like its prince of persa old school style or something cuz i need to play something that tests my skills as a gamer lol
  • InFeRnOg - September 8, 2011 1:26 p.m.

    IGN gave this a 9 and likened it to Castlevania. My gut tells me that this GR review probably isn't indicative of most people's experiences.
  • Boomaga - September 8, 2011 7:51 a.m.

    I dunno if I agree with this review, it seems I'm running into different opinions on this game on a reviewer-by-reviewer basis. Most outlets are giving it a 9 out of 10, but I've seen a few lower scores too. This one is shockingly low. I'm only about 8 chapters in, so I don't have a grasp on the whole experience, but so far I'm not really finding it that hard. Anytime I die certainly feels like it's more my fault than that of the game being too hard or cheap. I'd certainly say Hard Corps: Uprising is much harder and cheaper than this game so far.
  • Clovin64 - September 8, 2011 3:42 a.m.

    I always thought this game looked pretty sweet, but I'm a total pussy when it comes to difficult games. I might try the demo out first, and see what I think.
  • shinkeidei - September 8, 2011 12:25 a.m.

    I dont know matt... we are probably palying 2 totally different games...up to this point I havent gotten stuck...actually I havent died that much, I dont feel control are imprecise. some hit detection problems probably but I havent encoutered the problems you described so far. Please reader give this game a chance...
  • HaVoK308 - September 7, 2011 10:21 p.m.

    I really wanted to enjoy this game too! I was ready to buy it right off the bat with my Plus discount, but I decided to grab the Trial off of XBLA first. Glad I did. Immediately I noticed the imprecise controls and awkward mechanics. Like mentioned in the review, when they work it awesome. The visuals and animations are fantastic in my opinion. I read early reviews that mentioned the difficulty spike so once I had those control issues I realized I would end up hating the game by the end. Which is a damn shame, I was really looking forward to this title. Time to turn my sights to Crimson Alliance or Renegade Ops.
  • BladedFalcon - September 7, 2011 9:50 p.m.

    Um... Hey Keast, not to Raine on your parade. (Hur hur) But i got this game game before your review was up. And started playing it today, got up to level 8 (Into the ballroom, it's called), which is where I think is where you encounter the section with the giant saw blade... I passed it on my 4th try XD To be VERY fair though, i got lucky in the sense taht it turns out there's a hidden passable roof after the first section of moving platforms, (the ones with the spikes below)I was dash jumping high in there, and suddenly got stuck up there, at first i thought, "WTF, game bug???" But it was actually a shortcut ala Super Mario Bross in the first underground stage XD That DID pretty much allow me to walk above and reach the end without a problem. Still... even if that shortcut saved me from a couple more retries.. i really gotta disagree about the aprt of the game being unfair and the controls responding poorly. So far, my biggest complaint might be the iffy hit detection in some enemies/platforms but NOT the controls. The dash always has the same length and speed as long as you keep it pressed down, and when i always hit "Jump" the character immediately jumps. So no, when I die in this game, i don't think it was the game or controls that screwed me over, i did. I'm not saying what you wrote are outright lies, but i seem to have encountered not many of the complaints you've given about the game so far. So maybe you'd like to give this game another chance? Same thing for all you guys here, if you don't dig the gameplay, fair enough, but you should at least give the demo a try to see for yourself if you think the game is unfair or the controls wonky. Is all I'm saying.
  • Darkhawk - September 7, 2011 6:27 p.m.

    This is better than Brett Elsto -- oh, wait, I think I'm confusing my site-specific in-jokes. Anyway, good review: I love (and am quite good at) Ghosts 'n Goblins, Contra, etc. If Keast says no dice, I believe him.
  • Tikicobra - September 7, 2011 5:56 p.m.

    So every other website gives this game a good score, but because GamesRadar doesn't like it you guys aren't going to get it?
  • DualWieldingIsNotFeasible - September 7, 2011 5:09 p.m.

    Well, crap. Elston had talked this game up so much, and I was so in love with the visuals. Oh, well, there's still that 'Aliens' game from WayForward to look forward to.
  • n00b - September 7, 2011 4:08 p.m.

    i miss you brett but good points Keast. kinda disappointed, was looking forward to this game.
  • meh - September 7, 2011 4:08 p.m.

    Damn Matt a 5? this game looked so good too. Ah well, all that shimmers is not gold I guess...
  • kingsmikefan - September 7, 2011 9:53 p.m.

    Using the whole scale; nice, Matt.
  • Shanetexas - September 7, 2011 4:06 p.m.

    I got up to the final boss of Hard Corps. Demon Soul's...didn't have the patience.
  • taokaka - September 7, 2011 3:54 p.m.

    this is the only bad review I've seen of bloodrayne betrayel so I'll probably wait for more reviews to come in from other sites to determine whether I should get this.

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