We've got questions about the upcoming remaster and WayFoward has answers.
As you good people may or may not have heard, the old PS3/Xbox 360 game BloodRayne Betrayal will soon relaunch in a "New Bites" remaster on the Switch. For those unfamiliar with the series, Terminal Reality's BloodRayne began its life in 2002 with the PS2's BloodRayne, got a sequel two years later (Bloodrayne 2) before going into a vampiric dormancy until 2011, when WayForward resurrected my favorite dhampir in a 2D action platformer. Ziggurut Interactive holds the license now, and already re-released slightly-updated versions of the first two games on Steam. In case you're wondering, the sequel is the better of the two. The BloodRayne series is also well known for a trilogy of terrible Uwe Boll films, which you should avoid at all costs, and was the first video game character to pose for Playboy which, I mean, let's just say that CG renders have improved a lot since 2002.
At any rate, I recall having a lot of fun with BloodRayne Betrayal and will be looking to revisit it in early September. WayForward's own Adam Tierney was good enough to answer my (and Neal Ronaghan's) questions about the upcoming remaster. Enjoy!
Nintendo World Report (NWR): Was BloodRayne Betrayal always going to be so combat-focused? Given Rayne's abilities, I can certainly see an alternate universe version of Betrayal with Metroidvania tendencies.
Adam Tierney (AT): I think so, as far as I can recall. It’s true that WayForward does produce quite a few Metroidvania games in addition to brawlers and action platformers like this one. But given Rayne’s arm blades and unique style of attacking from the first two games, I think it was decided pretty early to go heavy in on the combat for this game.
NWR: What’s the process like for planning, animating, and iterating on the animation of a character like Rayne? Unlike Shantae, who basically has a hair whip, Rayne has a seemingly bottomless supply of flashy melee attacks.
AT: I would characterize Shantae as more of an action platformer, where the emphasis is on moving your character around the environment, timing jumps between platforms, and looking for the right path out of each area. But BloodRayne features a deeper system for combat and mobility, at the expense of some platforming complexity, at least in the earlier stages. The process for any of our games is deciding what sort of a mix between exploration and combat feels ideal for the brand, and then we’ll start planning out unique animations and attacks to support that style of play.
NWR: I will always and forever love the fact that Sean Velasco directed innocent, feel-good platformer A Boy and His Blob and then turned around and directed gothic gore-fest BloodRayne Betrayal. Historically, how has WayForward been able to balance between happy/cuddly/cute worlds and darker more violent fare? Are some teams focused more on different styles? Is there a lot of cross-pollination?
AT: Yeah, there’s no real consistency. I think every director at WayForward has done their share of all-ages kid games and darker fare as well. At WayForward, our guiding light is to go after the kinds of brands that excite us, and craft gameplay that feels like the best fit for each brand. That said, I think if you look at the kinds of games that WayForward developed back in the early 2000s versus today, we’re now moving away from kids games for the most part, other than kids brands that we personally love (like Trollhunters, TMNT, or Adventure Time) and most of what comes out from our studio as we head into 2022 and 2023 will be mostly action game brands or original titles aimed mostly at older gamers.
NWR: WayForward has made a variety of side-scrolling games. What makes Betrayal stand out from the rest of WayForward's library?
AT: BloodRayne Betrayal is one of our most complex and nuanced games in terms of character mobility and combat flow. It takes more getting used to than many of our games to really master the combat and mobility, but the payoff is one of the most aggressive, satisfying playable characters we’ve ever built for a game. And of course, it goes almost without saying, but BloodRayne Betrayal is the bloodiest game WayForward has ever produced. We even developed a dynamic fluid blood system for the game to accommodate all the gushing red that sprays from Rayne’s enemies in the game.
NWR: One of the new features of this remaster is that you brought in veteran BloodRayne voice actors Laura Bailey and Troy Baker as Rayne and Kagan, respectively, to provide voice work. Was said voice work ever planned for the original?
AT: It was briefly discussed, but back then we were still really getting our legs under us for VO work in games. Nowadays, it’s pretty much expected for any major WayForward title. And though we had quite a bit of VO in our Batman game on Wii a few years earlier, that was all recorded via WB, so we didn’t really know how to spearhead VO ourselves as a studio yet. It was fantastic to get Laura and Troy involved with this game, though, especially because Rayne and Kagan were two of their earliest performances in video games. And the game always had plenty of dialog, it was just text-only. Hearing that dialog fully voiced now, it’s hard to even remember the game without it, it’s such a natural addition.
NWR: How did that collaboration come about for the remaster? I imagine it took a little practice to get back into character for them—BloodRayne 2 was in 2004, after all!
AT: Not for pros like them! Within about a minute each, Laura and Troy found those voices again. We’ve worked with each of them a few times over the years and they never fail to impress us. We were also lucky enough to fill out the VO cast with Patrick Seitz and Todd Haberkorn, two of our favorite and most frequent voice actors, and they did a great job as well voicing all of the game’s minor characters.
NWR: I think when most people—myself included—think back on BloodRayne Betrayal, they think of two things: the jaw-dropping 2D animation and the absolutely brutal difficulty. I’m excited to see how good the game looks on modern HD displays, but I do have to ask whether you’ve tweaked the toughness at all. I recall the original crossing the line from “this is really hard, but doable” to “this is frustrating and masochistic” in several places.
AT: Yeah, we have. We’re not afraid of putting a brutally tough video game out there, but we’ve been told by some fans over the decade since Betrayal was originally released that a few areas felt so tough, they just weren’t that fun, or had become a huge dropoff point for people unable to complete the game. So we tweaked a few of those areas, and also slightly adjusted Rayne’s health and damage values, for what felt to us like a fairer gameplay experience. That said, all of these adjustments are on a toggle in the menu. So if you want to play the game with none of those changes, just as tough as it always was, that’s still an option for gamers.
NWR: Any tips for getting a good grade in each stage?
AT: You’ve really just gotta get into that perfect flow of combat and mobility. My advice would be to watch speedruns of the game on Twitch or YouTube, see what gameplay methods those experts are using, and try to learn some of those yourself.
NWR: Aside from the voice work and HD-ified graphics, any other bells and whistles you can tempt us with in this remaster?
AT: The added VO, HD visuals, and difficulty adjustments were the major adjustments, beyond console-specific features such as HD Rumble on Switch and Activities and DualSense controller features on PS5. We really didn’t want to tinker with too much because we still feel the game is great as-is, so we tried to limit adjustments to areas of clear benefit. I can say that there is a physical edition of the game planned with some very cool bonus items, though, so keep an eye out for that.
NWR: One of the nice things about the ten-year gap between the original release and now is that Betrayal will undoubtedly find a new audience. Might this be the first in a franchise resurrection? My favorite dhampir’s only been in three games, and I was surprised Betrayal never got a successor.
AT: Cross your fingers! It is not lost on Ziggurat and WayForward that there hasn’t been a new BloodRayne game since Betrayal. If the response from gamers toward Fresh Bites is positive, we would all love to work on more, brand-new BloodRayne adventures in the future. As for bringing WayForward’s older, licensed catalog games back to life, we gave a similar treatment to Double Dragon Neon this past December. And there are a few more beloved, classic WayForward games currently being updated for modern consoles, but you’ll have to wait and see to find out more on those…
Well, color me intrigued. I'm pretty thrilled that the difficulty's been revised, but even happier that it's a toggle.I also really look forward to hearing voice acting; I had actually misremembered that the original release did not have it. Fresh Bites drops on September 9th, ya'll; I'm excited to revisit it. Thanks to Adam Tierney and WayForward for granting us this fun interview!