The customer is always right, so the saying goes. But when BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites presents to you its wares, it’s not quite ready to concede that much. If the customer thinks there’s actually a few too many monsters on screen, well, they’re wrong. If they think those platforms are a bit too narrow, that’s also incorrect. You can by all means offer an opinion about checkpoint spacing, but it will be ignored. BloodRayne may not provide the friendliest customer service, but you will definitely get served.
This is the core of the BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites proposition: a vampiric, cartoon-gory, 2D, side-scrolling platform slash-em-up, refreshed from 2011, that’s old-school in genre, style and aesthetic. It’s also old-school in what it demands of the player and in how it treats you when its demands are not met.
The scenario is part of the extended lore of the BloodRayne media franchise, which grew from the first game in 2002 into a movie, comics and more games. If that’s not your bag, then it won’t affect your enjoyment of Betrayal. Taken purely as vampire schlock with cheesy gothic evildoers, the setup does all that’s required to get you into the action. For those following along, there are the added voice talents of Laura Bailey and Troy Baker for this Fresh Bites release, bringing the characters to life – or undeath if that’s more accurate.
Rayne, the half-human dhampir and star of the show, has a substantial moveset of slashing, jumping, dashing, shooting, more slashing, infecting, wall kicking, blood-sucking, slashing again, exploding, launching, combo-ing, stamping, decapitating and a bit more slashing to make sure. These tag together with complexity and creativity to make an absolute bloodbath of the screen.
Enemies somersault in from the foreground, hatch from sacs on the ceiling, leer from behind the deep parallax backdrops and just generally pop up round and about the place ready for a slashing. You can practically fly indefinitely by chaining aerial hits across the hordes. Racking up the points as you clear your path is a buzz – as is the amusingly extended pause in the action as you suck a neck completely dry to regain some health.
This whirlwind blade-whizzing is set out like a dynamic comic book, with the action growing to fill the frame in red, gloopy, balletic detail, all characters silhouetted against moonlight as river rapids of blood churn across the screen. The play feels visceral, kinetic and sensual; it sounds confident and charismatic against soft classical piano or rock-metal guitar. Rayne is a character just made to slice across screens of baddies with flamboyant swoops.
Which is where a problem comes in. Rayne is indeed made for whizzing and slashing – both words for weeing but that’s not what we mean – she’s made for that, but she’s then asked to do a bit of platforming on the side. More than a bit, actually, and it can be infuriating. There is a standard platform height that is just higher than Rayne’s jump. It’s perfect during a battle because it creates a layer of action that you won’t move to without intentionally doing a higher flip jump, but for platforming it’s a little mindboggling. It’s like the world has been built specifically not to be climbed on, and yet that’s what you’re asked to do.
Another common platform type – a moving one, no less! – is about the size of a kneecap. Rayne’s stance is so wide that she can comfortably place her feet either side of the target and rest “on” it while floating in mid air. In fact, that’s almost the only way to do it. Enemies and their corpses also regularly overhang ledges, balancing horizontally by just one toe, like a sheet-covered lady in a Victorian magic act.
Finally, the scenery does not do well to signal what is a floor and what is a hole; what is a spike and what is a wall; or what is a blocked path and what is an open corridor. Put all that together and you can get a sequence like this: cross checkpoint, kill several waves of bad guys, traverse excruciating platforming section, reach the end on attempt 200 but misread where the floor is, ow, acid, commence attempt 201 from back at the checkpoint, which was before the waves of enemies, not even at the start of the platforming...
There are flashes of potential in BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites’ platforming. When you’re permitted to find a rhythm and it plays to the strengths of Rayne’s killer moveset, it’s thrilling. But they are rare. It’s the boring, artless, unfair sections you’re repeating ad infinitum.
WayForward told Nintendo Life they’d sought to identify “features and additions that had good ‘bang for the buck’” when remastering BloodRayne Betrayal. The “standard” and “classic” difficulty settings are a great example – rebalancing damage and health values to let more casual players enjoy the combat while keeping the skill ceiling very high. Addressing the platforming issues would have provided a lot more bang, but presumably at considerable extra buck. It's testament to the quality on show in other areas — the inventive combat, the gorgeous visuals, the fantastic audio — that we left satisfied with the experience.
The customer is always right, so the saying goes, and as customers of this game, players can have some legitimate complaints about the service. The platforming is not fun: sadistic design choices are realised with lacklustre materials. But BloodRayne doesn’t care. The combat, when you’re allowed to play it, is unique and raucous and deliciously convoluted, with a skill ceiling as high as a gothic cathedral. BloodRayne isn’t here to take your order; it’s here to suck your blood.
I remember playing this on PS3 and finding it was just okay. Disappointed to see the re-release doesn't add much, but hopefully Bloodrayne fans will enjoy it.
@Meteoroid Have you checked out the 3d remasters yet? I think they came out earlier this year but they are pc only. All I remember is they were offering a heavy discount if you owned the originals on Steam. Called Bloodrayne Terminal Cut I believe.
I don't think WayForward were the same after some of their core members left to form Yacht Club Games. They haven't made a truly outstanding game in years.
@RainbowGazelle lol no.
Shantae and the Pirate's Curse came out after Yacht Club Games was founded, and that's one of their very best titles.
Seven Sirens is highly decent as well.
Oh, and the Mighty Switch Force games.
And, while I've not played it, I've heard very good things about River City Girls.
If anything, they've made fewer mediocre games since 2011.
@RainbowGazelle Vitamin Connection? Shantae and the Seven Sirens? RIVER CITY GIRLS??
I learn so much about British slang on this site. I never knew slashing meant urinating.
@NESlover85 ‘slashing’ actually isn’t British slang. People might say I’m going for a ‘slash’ but they never use ‘slashing’ in that way so I’m not sure where you’ve come to that conclusion?
@HamatoYoshi from the review;
"Which is where a problem comes in. Rayne is indeed made for whizzing and slashing – both words for weeing but that’s not what we mean..."
A decent game for a decent franchise. Will wait for a sale on this one.
Ah dang, the combat wasn't what needed tweaking, it was the platforming.
I may still get it, if the game ever ends up on sale. I try to support games that feature attractive female leads as they seem to be fewer and further between these days, and there are worse titles than this.
I wanted this game to rate better 😕
The Windows version I played was boring, I doubt I Will get this on my Switch.
@Meteoroid that would be great...
Was Bloodrayne ever a good series to begin with, though?
If I remember, each game hasn’t gotten anything over mediocre to okay reviews at best. 🤔
@EriXz you don't play games with a decent rating like this?
Got this on preorder at LRG!
I’ve actually never played a game in this series. The visuals alone her is making me consider picking this up though.
@Whitestrider I do, in fact I play games that review worst than this, just not on launch window, usually I'd wait for a sale
@EriXz wise move...in fact I don't think this game is worth the price they're asking, maybe not more than half than that!
Reads like a mixed bag to me. Infuriating platforming is not tha same as hardcore difficulty. Besides that, sounds swell.
May be a deep discount purchase.
Thanks for the review.
@CharlieGirl one of those games was great, yes
@somebread All 3 are mechanically sound, good games.
@RainbowGazelle I thought River city girls and half genie hero were really good idk what your idea of outstanding should be but it is not like they are incapable or just spewing out mediocre schlop
This is a port of an old game afterall.
I really wanted this game but good platforming is fairly make-or-break for me. I wish this one had a demo so I could feel the controls myself.
@khululy @CharlieGirl @Ralizah
Okay, I definitely got my timings mixed up a bit. I loved Shantae and the Pirates Curse. Half-Genie was overpriced, but fun. Seven Sirens was pretty good, too.
Other than Shantae though, I've seen little from them recently that wasn't mediocre or downright bad. This Bloodrayne game sounds like it has serious problems, they made that terrible Bakugan game, and River City Girls was awful, at least on Switch.
Sounds about right. Loved the first 2 games, I’ll hold off on the third one, maybe they will remaster it again and get it right this time.
The more i see it, the less i want to actually play it.
There is something about this art style that really really turns me off. And negatives all gameplay related...nah, pass.
The game doesn't interest me to be honest, just not my preferred themes, but the MC is cute.
@RainbowGazelle River City Girls is fantastic in my opinion, it runs pretty well on Switch in my experience.
@roy130390 See, I know loads of people love it, but when I tried it, the framerate stuttered in places, there were missed inputs, and wonky hit detection. Pretty inexcusable for a brawler, imo.
@RainbowGazelle The framerate sometimes stuttered at the start of a scenario when a character is running but aside from that I never suffered any of the other things. I don't want to diminish your experience, but I played the game for almost a hundred of hours and have made long combos and there were no missing imputs or wonky hit detection. There's also many videos of people having fluid, unstoppable combos with no issues on that. Aside from Fight N' Rage, I haven't played any beat' em up that felt better and that included Streets of Rage 4 and previous Kunio games.
@roy130390 I loved Streets of Rage 4, Fight'N Rage, and The Takeover. But just couldn't seem to get on with River City Girls. :/
@HamatoYoshi how do they justify using slash for urination? Like where is the logic? It's very hard for me to understand how that comes about, lol.
@RainbowGazelle i didn't like river city girls at all. I like some side scrolling fighters, but haven't played any of the recent ones you mentioned to completion. I liked the ones u mentioned, also, except never played fight n rage. Almost bought it on sale a half dozen times, tho, lol.
@roy130390 on OG Xbox one it wasn't that smooth for me, fwiw. Never played any of those on switch, tho.
@twztid13 I’m not sure, there’s lots of weird slang words we use and many don’t have traceable origins. For example, some Londoners call a television ‘the custard’ but not every Londoner, it’s a slang word only some of them of a certain age use…..completely bizarre!
@HamatoYoshi ahh, i see. I'm sure all countries, or English speaking ones at least, have similar issues w slang terms like that not necessarily being logical to those outside the region. I just didn't know if i was missing something, lol. Thanks for explaining.
Tried this game out. The gameplay is in a kind of way frustrating. The animation movement is out of its way and it takes time to defeat enemies, what makes it a little bit harder to take out enemies. This game could have been much more better if it was made like a 3D scrolling platformer or something like Alice madness returns, it wouldve suited the game much better. The New Warioware game is more entertaining than this game. For me this game is a solid 5/10
One thing that drove me nuts when I played the Ps3 version was these platforms that would fall if you stood too long on them. However if she's knocked down, her get up animation is actually longer than the platform sinking animation, meaning you couldn't get up fast enough to jump off. Not sure if it's the same now but man that made me mad.
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