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Video Game Review – BloodRayne

BloodRayne_Videogame_CoverBloodRayne (2002)

Developer: Terminal Reality
Publisher: Majesco Entertainment/THQ
Platforms: PlayStation 2, PC, Mac, Game Cube, Game Boy Advance

Allow me, for a moment, to take you back in time to 2002. Sony had just released their then “next-gen” console and thematically, gaming had taken a darker, more mystical turn. From SCE Cambridge’s tarot-inspired tour-de-force Primal to Konami’s personal hell survival horror Silent Hill, horror—or, at the very least, the supernatural—were all the rage.

While both these examples were more serious fare, there was one game that chose to cash in on the supernatural craze but harken back to a day when people played video games for fun. That game was BloodRayne.

Plot

The game begins in 1932 with you as the game’s titular namesake as she, a “dhampir” (a half vampire/half human) embarks on her first mission for a group of paranormal investigators known as The Brimstone Society. With the help of her mentor; a Tibetan dhampir named Mynce, she investigates and eliminates a strange virus that has been afflicting a small Louisiana town only to find it is connected not only to the occult but the burgeoning threat of the Nazis.

Skip ahead three years, and Rayne is assigned the task of bringing down the Nazis via their “Gegengheist Gruppe”; a fringe group of Nazi occultists who plan  to resurrect a demon called Beliar and use him to bring Hitler and the Third Reich to power. Being that this game falls under the “hack and slash” category, what follows is death, destruction and lashings of blood as Rayne tears through Nazi goons with a pair of silver blades attached to her arms and drinks their blood to replenish her health.

bloodrayne1-2
See what I mean? (Goretastic.com)

The deeper into the Nazi outpost that Rayne gets, the more it becomes apparent that something horrible is going on as soldiers are taken over by what can only be described as a disembodied spine with a head that has the skin removed. There is a plot to use said beings (called Daemites) as slaves in the coming war. As one would expect, Rayne puts a stop to this, uncovering along the way the true purpose of this expedition; the eye of Beliar.

bloodrayne_04
You do that, officer. (Aoi Anime)

Moving then from the outpost in Argentina to a German castle reminiscent of id Software’s Wolfenstein games (and there are nods to Wolfenstein throughout) we are introduced to the notion of different kinds of vampires who thus far had not really featured and are more of a foreshadowing to the game’s sequel as well as given all the powers needed to get to the end of the game.

It is at the end that Rayne (spoiler alert!) is informed that her father—a vampire overlord she has been hunting since before joining The Brimstone Society—has been found. A neat set-up for the game’s sequel, BloodRayne 2.

Gameplay

I played this on the PS2 and while the controls seem a little clunky in comparison to current gen games or even the “next gen” of the PS4 and Xbox One, there is still a lot of fun to be had with this game. It is refreshing at times that there are no quick-time events to bog down gameplay or drawn out cut scenes that make it feel less like a game and more like a playable movie.

Despite all its twists and turns in order to reach the game’s dénouement, the story is fairly straightforward and while the level design is largely linear, there are certain times where it allows you to approach a task (usually the assassination of an officer) in a variety of ways.

Don’t, however, expect any sort of stealth sections, this game is balls to the wall action. After all, who needs stealth when everyone is dead? Overall BloodRayne is a bloody good time, a tongue in cheek horror that brings the fun back into gaming. I rate it 8.5/10.

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