It’s been a number of years since I experienced BloodRayne Betrayal. Back in 2011, I played a demo of the game on the Xbox Live Arcade. It seemed fun, but it was quite difficult, even at the beginning of the adventure. Now, WayForward has updated the title for Nintendo Switch, and I was able to review the newly christened BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites. With added voice acting, better visuals, and a rebalanced difficulty level, the platformer is certainly better than it was before. Though there are still some issues that weren’t ironed out.
Rayne of terror
BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites puts you in control of the titular Rayne. A half-breed not unlike Marvel’s Blade, Rayne forms an uneasy alliance with the vampire-hunting Brimstone Society. She is on a mission to find her vampire dad Kagan’s secret underground castle and destroy him in battle. It’s a very light story for a short game. (Your playtime should only last a few hours.) Thankfully, the plot is enhanced by some nice voice work from Laura Bailey and Troy Baker. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough there to really give these characters some growth, but such is the shortcoming of a brief expedition.
The real meat of BloodRayne Betrayal is its combat. Rayne can slice up enemies with her blades in a variety of ways. She can charge attacks, launch foes into the air, and stomp them when they are on the ground. Rayne also has access to pistols with limited ammo. These pack quite the punch and are great combo enders. Later on, she manages to grab a Sun Gun. This beam toasts enemies, can be aimed to activate switches, and is quite useful as an oar to swim across deadly acid on the corpse of an adversary.
What really makes BloodRayne Betrayal shine, though, is the strategy involved with its battles. Rayne has the ability to suck an opponent’s blood after an attack, which refills her life bar. Not only that, but if she stops in the middle of the feeding, she ends up poisoning the rival instead. This turns them into a bomb that Rayne can detonate at will. As the fights ramp up and multiple foes are on the screen at once, it pays to set off these explosions for massive chain combos. In addition, Rayne’s ability to dodge through attacks is key to surviving all the onslaughts the game throws at you.
The good of platforming…
Platforming in BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites is a mixed bag. On the positive side, environmental obstacles are awesome. There will be times Rayne will have to infect enemies and smash them into walls to blow up debris. Other times, she will have to open passages with a blood sacrifice. And as I mentioned earlier, some enemies must be thrown into acid to become a makeshift boat.
On the exploration side, each of the 15 chapters has a certain number of Red Skulls to discover. When Rayne collects five of these, she can opt for a health or ammo increase. I love being rewarded for discovery!
…and the bad
As much as I like some of the platforming elements in BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites, there are others I do not. For starters, I hate the lack of a double jump. The game forces you to do this side high jump in order to reach tall areas. It’s awkward to use because you essentially have to build up a little speed and leap backward to get high up. And while I appreciate the ability to fly as a raven later on, it comes too late in the title to really make a difference.
Other headaches include some challenging sections. When Rayne has to jump long distances, she has to use her air dodge to make up the lost ground. It’s not terrible, but it’s hard to stop once you initiate the maneuver, leading to Rayne falling off platforms due to skids. Also, there are some levels where impressive background effects hinder gameplay. Areas that bathe everything in shadow or flame make it hard to see what is going on.
On a final note, some enemy and boss encounters seem a little cheap in design. Regular vampire baddies love to shoot you from far away, and their windup animation can be tricky to read when determining your dodge input. In addition, the boss fights can be maddening. The final encounter, in particular, had me knocked to the ground and getting spammed with attacks without giving me a chance to roll out of the way.
Bloody good, not great
Don’t get me wrong — I had a fun time with BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites. The rebalanced difficulty is great, and there’s even an option for sadists that enjoy the original. Combat has some strategy I appreciated, especially with figuring out when and where to detonate infected enemies for maximum effect. (I still received many C grades for my time and life scores at the end of levels, though.) It’s just that I wish some of the platforming were better and the characters were given more personality. Hopefully, this re-release will garner interest in BloodRayne, and a fleshed-out sequel will head our way one day.
A Nintendo Switch review code for BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites was provided by the publisher.