Video Game Review: “BloodRayne”

BloodRayne is a hack and slash action video game developed by Terminal Reality and published by Majesco Entertainment. (and about a million others…)

I have several different reasons about why I decided to review this. Like a select few of the other titles that I’ll be reviewing this month, this isn’t exactly horror but it carries enough of the themes for it to make the cut. Besides vampires frolicking around slicing baddies, there are a lot of horror elements in there. After all, BloodRayne was initially developed as a sequel to Nocturne, a survival horror. Of course, the franchise blossomed by itself, evolving into a moderately successful franchise. Three films, albeit infamous, a comic book series, and of course, two sequels. (BloodRayne 2 and BloodRayne: Betrayal)

     I bought both BloodRayne and BloodRayne 2 back-to-back not only because I needed content to review for Overkill this month but also because I was interested. The film industry may do them to excess, but there’s a scarce about of strong vampire titles available.

    Besides Castlevania, Bloodrayne was one of the very few that were tangible to me. I didn’t really know anything about it and so it might prove difficult to gauge what I was expecting. However, I can tell you that I was at least hoping for a fun and worthwhile experience that would make me want to continue into the franchise with the later titles. Did it succeed?

   The story begins in 1933, and vampires are among us. People are afraid with crosses on their doors and windows. Meanwhile, a dhampir named Rayne has started her first mission for the Brimstone Society looking for the outbreak of unidentified creatures roaming about the area. Everything skips a couple years in the second Act and sooner or later there’s the inclusion of the Nazi Party. And honestly, it’s all very minimalistic and inconsistent. I can’t really tell you any truly driving themes throughout the thing. Rayne is looking for her father. After being torn apart by Mephisto, Beliar’s powers have been scattered throughout into relics.

     Also, there’s a Nazi leader looking to find all of the relics for Hitler.

     I can’t think of anything in-particular that I would pull from that. Nothing I think stood out as well-done or done terribly. I think that it’s enough to say the premise makes sense of the atmosphere. Which is what a lot of video-games look to accomplish. Not demonstrate strong story or character development but to showcase the game-play in a colorful arrangement of maps. The atmosphere is dark and definitely does well at bringing together something enjoyable. I liked the graphics. I thought they depicted a realm for Rayne to explore. There are a couple annoyances with them, here and there, like how during cut-scenes, Rayne and friends have breasts that bounce in ways that don’t make a whole lot of sense but other-wise, I thought they were inspired and left the game-play with a decent start to build on.

     Sadly, Rayne’s character is difficult to connect with. She doesn’t have any traits that I’d consider as relatable. That’s fine except she doesn’t have much of anything else either. It looks like they want her to be a sexy badass female heroine, like so many others, but she never really comes into her own. Her one-liners that she spouts during fights are horrendous and only cheapen the character as feeling more second-rate than anything else. They aren’t well-done and they aren’t done with the best delivery.

    The game-play isn’t always the best either. I think there is moments of brilliance in there but I don’t think that it’s highest coefficient throughout. For example, I liked some of the boss-battles in there and I also liked some of the where you had to jump around to find your way. Like I said though, a lot of it is something to be desired. The fighting mechanics aren’t exactly the best. There are aimless attacks that aren’t very satisfying, but are effective. The melee is at its funnest when you are able to build the momentum to do use your stronger abilities. All of your powers aren’t extremely useful. The ability to slowdown time or the ability to enhance your vision are all examples of novelty that expires very fast. I think the worst aspect of the fighting is the shooting. Aiming isn’t really an issue but the weapons seem less effective than regular melee and more importantly bullets can often be scarce, but since they are so insignificant I almost wish they would have pulled a Tomb Raider and make at least the handgun as infinite.

     I think this would have been especially useful for the final boss where you are dealt with an enemy that requires a lot of ammo. The best aspect about it or at least the aspect that I had the most challenge with was the health. The health depleted very fast so I had to jump to different enemies to suck their blood and regain health. I think some moments were nuisances but I ultimately thought that added an interesting dynamic to it all. I think I should also mention how repetitive the game-play becomes. It all seems to be dong the same thing over and over again with a different coat of paint added each time. All of it has moderate tweaks but the fact is that it wasn’t even initially engaging. I do remember one level in-particular that I despised where you have to use a mech. I feel like everything had a lack of polish. A lot of it felt like, when it came to level progression, I felt like some of it was more like it would lead to some secret area than anything else. It also is very short. I finished it in less than seven hours. I am not always that avid of a gamer. I consider myself slightly above-average but I definitely don’t think I am what I would call a “Good” gamer. I get by most challenges, but I know for certain that others could finish this off easily in less than five hours. I feel like that’s worth mentioning.

    Another thing is the fact that there are no checkpoints at all whatsoever. I would consider BloodRayne to be challenging. Not very challenging, but at least somewhat. However, I feel like this aspect made it more frustrating than anything for most parts. The levels are mostly short so it isn’t a huge problem but it feels so frustrating after forty minutes to die and realize you have to do it all over again, especially when dying is so easily done.

     In an effort to summarize my thoughts, Bloodrayne isn’t bad. I think the best comparison I can make is by comparing it to a book. When you write a book, you have your first-draft and then you have several drafts after it. Bloodrayne feels like it wasn’t proofread. I think they needed to flush out some of the ideas a little more.

    The controls are sketchy, the game-play can be a little tedious, and the storyline feels only par for the course. However, from the graphics and at least the idea of it, I think I would at least call it “Decent”. There’s fun to be had with some of the boss-battles and fighting, which is why it’s so unfortunate when it fails.

    I was at least left interested in the second one after playing.

    Thanks for reading…

Rating: – 2.2 out of 5.0