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E3 2011: BloodRayne Betrayal hands-on

E3 2011

Known for their stellar sprite work on the DS and Wii, WayForword’s BloodRayne Betrayal was supposedly going to mark two firsts for the developer: their first HD title, as well as their first M rated game; only one of those happened.

Speaking with Sean Velasco of WayForword, he noted the developer’s desire to reimagine Rayne for this resurrection of the franchise; BloodRayne is not a game, nor a series, that people hold dearly to heart. Ditching the trashy, hyper-sexualized vampire of the previous entries, the new Rayne is a more classical, elegant interpretation of the blood sucker.

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Sticking with what WayForword does best, Betrayal is a sidescrolling action game. Rayne can dash, wall jump, perform combos, cause enemies to explode, and, quite naturally, chew a few necks. Before being handed the controller, Sean warned me that Betrayal was quite challenging; he wasn’t joking.

Gameplay in my demo was fairly evenly divided between acrobatic platforming sections and combat. Matching the elegance of Rayne herself, WayForward has provided tons of lovely animations to bring the deadly mercenary to life. Rayne can chain a number of sword strikes together, eviscerating enemies and triggering some spectacular blood geysers. Enemies tend to either keep their distance from Rayne on either end of the screen, taking pot shots at her, or move in for some swordplay. Having these two layers of enemies required me to constantly keep track of close range attacks, but also on ranged fire arms.

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After mashing out combos and biting enemies for a while, it became clear that Rayne has to remain on the move. Her dash renders her invulnerable and even more handily, has a unique analogue function to it, allowing finer control on the length of your dash. Utilizing this dash instead of a parry, block, or similar counter based system keeps BloodRayne Betrayal dialed up at all times; if you aren’t moving, you’re dead.

As I made my way through the level and got more comfortable, I started to experiment a bit more with my attack patterns. Like many other sidescrolling action games today, Rayne’s attack arsenal allows her to create some pretty outlandish and over-the-top combinations; the game reminded me of Klei Entertainment’s Shank. Rayne has a dive kick which allows her to hop from one enemy to the next, dealing low damage to anyone she lands upon. She can also launch enemies, perform air combos and set up some rudimentary wall based juggles, which is great for core players looking to push the combat engine.

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Despite Betrayal’s difficulty I managed to gut the entire demo stage out, dying three or four times in the process. The stage’s pacing was solid and there were enough interesting touches, including a silhouetted combat area and spotlights that burn Rayne, to engage throughout. Betrayal still may not be enough to completely change your mind on the titular character, but WayForward is determined to deliver one high-octane, exhilarating vampire action game. And it’s looking like they’ll do exactly that.

Look for BloodRayne Betraya, which has somehow been rated ‘T for Teen’ by the ESRB, on both Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network later this year. Hopefully, Rayne’s return will find its mark, if for no other reason than to see Sean Velasco’s dream of a cyborg-Hitler filled sequel.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in April 2008. Get in touch on Twitter @_seankelley.

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