I remember, way back in the mists of time when I was young and impressionable, playing Bloodrayne on my PS2. I don’t remember much else about it, to be honest, but I certainly recall enjoying it. What this is leading up to is the release of a remaster of the game from 2011 – Bloodrayne Betrayal. Simply by adding the words “Fresh Bites” on the end, the developers, WayForward, have created a new game, and this time we can play it on our swanky new Xbox consoles. The question is, is BloodRayne just a pain in the neck, or does it have something to offer the discerning platform gamer?
The story of BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites, is to be honest, pretty thin and almost entirely superfluous. The Brimstone Society, who sound like a fine, upstanding group with only the betterment of mankind at their heart, have Summoned Rayne for one last mission. She has to lead a group of soldiers into an underground castle to do battle against her father, Kargan. Before you can say “daddy issues”, the soldiers are in pieces and only Rayne herself is left to carry on. Can she put an end to her father’s reign of terror? Will anyone ever care? These and fewer questions will be answered in the run time!
Featuring the voice talents of Troy Baker and Laura Bailey, apparently what BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites provides is a distillation of all the best bits of the BloodRayne series of games into a “ bloody, twitchy, action-packed 2D hack ‘n slash adventure through fifteen challenging stages”. Basically, what the developers have done is make a version of Castlevania featuring more blood, more violence and shinier graphics, all as they hope to hold a candle to the daddy of all vampire games.
It’s only right that we take it from the top and first off, BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites looks nice, although Rayne herself looks more like a teenage girl than a kick ass vampire, with strong Emo overtones. However, when she is moving, and fighting more to the point, the animation is silky smooth, whilst the gore on display is staggering, unless of course when Rayne drains her victims to refill her health. A nice side effect of feeding like this is that Rayne seems to be invincible while she is drinking, so it’s worth doing it as often as possible. It does lead to other weird questions though, such as when she’s fighting the third boss, literally knee deep in blood, why she can’t heal.
Sonically there is nothing to complain about either, with crunching impacts and gun fire all catered for. The voice overs are very well done indeed too, but you’d kinda expect that with video game A-listers in the house.
Combat in BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites is also quite satisfying. There’s only so far that button mashing will get you (although it is a fair distance, to be sure) and after this you have to start paying attention to what the game wants you to do. As an example, there is a bit where you have to make your way through two spinning, grinding wheels. Hitting them does nothing. Neither does shooting them. It turns out that you have to hit the enemies into the wheels to break them, and to do this you need to launch them (using up and X) and then hit them sideways (using right and X). Other weapons in Rayne’s arsenal revolve around her biting an enemy but not draining them, allowing the chance to make them explode with a quick press of the Y button. This is extremely handy for blowing up destructible walls, and ensuring you’re able to go toe-to-toe in at least one boss fight. Largely however, mashing X and occasionally pressing RT to shoot will see you through what BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites has to offer.
Platforming is another massive part of the game, and it’s here that the scene isn’t quite so rosy. Unlike every other platform game hero ever, Rayne doesn’t have a double jump, and so if you want her to jump higher than normal, she has to run in the opposite direction, before changing direction and jumping at the same time. And yes, it is as fiddly as it sounds. Rayne also seems to have come equipped with a pair of ice skates for footwear, as each time you stop moving, she slides just a little bit – usually enough to slide into a trap or a pit, which isn’t helpful.
And don’t even get me started on Raven; a bird with which you have to essentially Flappy Bird your way through a level full of spikes and grinding cogs with. I nearly stopped playing at this point, I have to confess, as the knock back from getting hit is truly ridiculous. And why, in the name of all that’s (un)holy, are there no invincibility frames when you do get hit? Should you fall into a pit of spikes after getting hit, you’ll struggle to get Rayne out as she is knocked back onto more spikes until she is dead. You don’t need me to tell you how frustrating that is.
What this means is that BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites is a game that is a lot of fun to play; it’s fast, bloody and violent, and in terms of combat at least is right up there. The platforming is where things take a turn for the worse though, and the sections where you are trying to keep her alive via pixel perfect jumps are extremely frustrating. I’m inclined to come down on the side of the good here though, mainly because you can learn to get around the jumping issues, and so will grudgingly recommend BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites, especially to fans of emo vampire ladies who like hitting baddies with blades.
Got a thirst for BloodRayne? Get over to the Xbox Store