Modern gaming is an impressive history of trial and error. Even if there are proven models, there are games that challenge the status quo in one way or another. This resulted in Monster Hunter, Demon’s Souls, Disgaea, and a number of other titles that found varying levels of success. One such game was BloodRayne Betrayal. Giving BloodRayne a new look, setting and experience helped modernize the franchise, while trying to spice up 2D games. With some time since the original release, BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites hopes to offer players another chance to see what this experience has to offer, but was it worth reviving?
While there is a small bit of story that gives context to BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites, the story itself is pretty shallow. Essentially Rayne goes through a number of locations to defeat a shadowy society that is doing wrong. Naturally, this leaves gameplay to do the heavy lifting.
What makes BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites unusual is a strong emphasis on acting and reacting. Waves of enemies can quickly kill Rayne, forcing players to make use of her gun, draining enemies for health, and melee attacks. Despite having very few commands, this actually takes a number of forms.
Enemies and stages provide a plethora of challenges to overcome
Typically enemies spawn on both sides of the field to prevent players for boxing them in. Instead, skilled players need to beat one side while keeping an eye on the other. Waiting with a well-timed dodge or gravity-defying leap can swing the odds in your favor, as can a bullet across the screen. Often times the right choice depends on the situation.
Every enemy changes they encounter in its own way. For example, some enemies can be dropped by a single bullet, whereas others can withstand multiple shots or aren’t tall enough to get hit. As a result, players need to juggle both threats, oftentimes with things going south.
Part of this is due to the number of enemies or the actual location. It isn’t uncommon to have four or more enemies or have half the screen be inaccessible. These small quirks make it extremely easy to mess up and take damage. These can be fun to learn, adapt and overcome, just don’t expect every challenge to be fun.
What killed the original release and the newly rebalanced difficulty that doesn’t resolve is bad design choices. I don’t just mean having to do a backward leap to get more height or the tutorial spread over a very large percent of the game, there are just some frustrating sections.
Players need to know how to approach a situation if they want to survive
Many of the raven sections can be needlessly frustrating. Since you need to flap to maintain altitude, there will be narrow sections with spikes on both sides, and an enemy that can hit makes it extremely difficult to avoid. Mistakes happen, except many of these areas are just a negative loop. You’ll need to flip multiple times to actually progress, except sometimes you don’t go high enough, overcorrect and fly into the ceiling spikes or simply take another enemy hit. That small mistake can easily cost you 50 percent or more of your health, which is simply not fun. There are also jumps that cause a wipe, traps that can kill you in seconds, plus so many other things.
It’s a shame too since the animations are quite nice. It’s simple enough to make all the mechanics work while being graphic enough to keep it engaging. Similar things can be said about sections where it just flows. Rayne can go from seeming like an unstoppable killing machine to taking every potshot, leading to an uneven experience. One that doesn’t have enough content to make the gameplay choices work.
BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites Review Verdict
I don’t want to say BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites is a bad game because it really isn’t, it just caters to a very specific group. Unless you’re extremely good at thinking three moves in advance or are willing to put in the time, it will likely be a frustrating experience that frequently punishes players. However, those willing to invest the time can get a rather unique hack-and-slash game that offers untold potential through high scores.
[Editor’s Note: BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites was reviewed on PlayStation 5 and a review copy was provided to us.]