Review – BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites
I am starting to like the concept behind publisher Ziggurat Games’ vision. Their whole schtick is to revive long forgotten franchises from twenty, thirty, or even forty years ago by remastering and re-releasing them to modern platforms. One of the most notable titles in their portfolio at the moment is BloodRayne, an edgelord-as-hell action franchise that spawned a handful of games and even a terrible Uwe Boll movie back in the day. It also spawned a 2D side-scrolling spinoff called BloodRayne Betrayal in 2011, one that just got remastered by WayForward, and re-released to modern systems as BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites.
I had never played BloodRayne Betrayal back when it first came out. I vividly remember it being panned by critics, so I decided to avoid it at launch, even though dumb schlock action is my bread and butter. Still, I was still confused and curious as to why it was so disliked. WayForward, even at their worst, are still capable of delivering a mediocre-at-best platformer with some of the company’s trademark characteristics, namely good level design and excellent music by Jake Kaufman. BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites features that, and more. Honestly, I actually enjoyed this game a lot. Now I’m wondering if the original was just misunderstood or if WayForward fixed whatever kind of problem the game had back in the day.
BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites is a 2D action platformer. Its source of inspiration is pretty damn obvious: it wants to be old-school Castlevania. It’s a traditional level-based action platformer, filled to the brim with enemies, occasional jumping challenges, and a ton of traps meant to give you hell and learn from your mistakes. The main differences being that your main weapon has a smaller reach (you do have a sidearm, though), you can hop onto enemies’ heads for some freaking reason, and, well, you’re a vampire. Wanna recover some health? Suck blood out of your victims. Oh, and make sure to avoid streams of light or else you’ll be cooked alive.
I really liked the combat. It’s fast-paced and visceral. Even though it’s mostly centered on mashing the X button like there’s no tomorrow, you can do a bit of air juggling by throwing enemies in the air, as well as use some of the objects scattered on the environment to cause some extra damage, like barrels and explosives. Performing stylish combos akin to Devil May Cry is important in order to increase your overall score and give you a better rank at the end of each level. BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites isn’t afraid of calling you a worm and giving you an F even though you think you’ve done a good job.
Now, not everything in this gameplay loop is perfect. The problem lies in the platforming, most specifically the way you have to handle jumping to higher ledges. The titular Rayne cannot perform a double jump. In order to reach higher platforms, you basically need to perform the same button combination from Super Mario 64‘s backward somersault. Even though you can get used to this weird mechanic, I still don’t understand why it was implemented to begin with. It looks really stylish when you pull it off, though.
However, what I liked the most about BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites was its presentation. Not only does the game feature a superbly well-animated comic book art style (even though the usage of Comic Sans is iffy at best), but it sounds great. It features a hard rocking soundtrack that is easily identifiable with video game composing extraordinaire Jake Kaufman, as well as some excellent voice acting, featuring the likes of Laura Bailey and Troy Baker, to name a few.
Am I missing something? I have always been told that BloodRayne Betrayal was a really bad game, one of the worst titles made by WayForward. But I’ll be honest with you, despite being a bit janky and a bit unfair at times, I really enjoyed it. Either this is a case of a underrated gem or the remaster fixed a ton of the original game’s issues. Whatever the case, BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites might suffer from some occasionally questionable gameplay choices, but it’s a great little platformer that’s perfect for fans of old school Castlevania.
Even if some character designs are a bit simplistic, the look features an excellent comic book art style with superb animations. The usage of Comic Sans, though… oof.
The controls are a bit unresponsive at times, and the platforming is confusing, to say the least. With that being said, I really enjoyed the combat and the game’s overall combo system. It’s janky, but competent.
Not only does the game feature an excellent Jake Kaufman-penned soundtrack, but its voice acting is way better than I was expecting, with some high profile names in its cast.
Fun Factor: 7.0
BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites is very flawed, but I thought it was a pretty robust action platformer with an excellent presentation and occasionally interesting gameplay choices. It’s also a lot less punishing than I initially expected, considering the bad reputation garnered by the original 2011 release.
Final Verdict: 7.5
BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch. The original version is available on PS3 and Xbox 360.
Reviewed on PC.
A copy of BloodRayne Betrayal: Fresh Bites was provided by the publisher.