Playing some Classics
Let’s talk about BloodRayne.
Over the course of the past year or so, I’ve gotten into playing older PC games and I’m loving it! Not only can I get good deals price-wise but I’m getting some fantastic stories too!
With that in mind, I thought I’d share my thoughts on a game that I completed recently and possibly start a series of reviews on older games. Let me know what you guys think of that idea. Real quick: if you’re into classic games, then check out the history of the Grand Theft Auto series.
Let’s get started with a game that I feel is largely overlooked nowadays: BloodRayne!
The Nocturne Sequel that Wasn’t
In 1994, a little studio called Terminal Reality was founded. Their first game, Terminal Velocity, was a flight simulator and was released in 1995. The game was very successful and it was followed by a few more flight simulators and a few racing games; which all met with success.
So where does BloodRayne fit in with a company that did simulators and racing games? Well, the answer to that is a little survival horror game from 1999 – Nocturne. The game had you playing the part of an agent for a monster hunting organization called the Spookhouse. Your job was to hunt werewolves, vampires, and other such beasties.
Nocturne was incredibly successful upon its release and the developers soon began to work on a sequel. This sequel ultimately never happened – which is rather unfortunate. The publishing company, Gathering of Developers, refused to green-light the project and the company soon closed their doors. This allowed a new publisher, Majesco Entertainment to step in and take over the publishing duties. Now, you’d think that the team at Terminal Reality would be stoked; they finally had a chance to do the Nocturne sequel!
Well, not quite; the developers were (understandably) wary of their new partners and were reluctant to sell the Nocturne IP to a company they didn’t yet know and/or trust. By that point, however, the project was sort of in the works already. As they’d already put some materials together, the team was reluctant to end the project and so they decided to re-package Nocturne 2 into an entirely new game: BloodRayne.
Release and Reception
BloodRayne was released in North America on PlayStation 2, Game Cube, and Xbox on October 15, 2002. The PC release came out on September 9, 2003 and was very positively received. The game spawned 2 sequel games, three live-action films, and a number of standalone comic books.
Terminal Reality, unfortunately, closed their doors in 2013 but on November 20, 2020, a remaster for games one and two was released and breathed new life into the BloodRayne IP. This came in the wake of a new publishing company, Ziggurat Interactive, acquired the publishing rights from Majesco Entertainment. These two remasters are called the Terminal Cuts and were freely available to people who had the original games in their Steam libraries. That sounds crazy and initially I was skeptical but then the two Terminal Cuts showed up in my library on the day of their release.
The Story of BloodRayne
In 1933, the Brimstone Society sends two half-vampire agents, Mynce and Rayne, to investigate some unusual occurrences in Louisiana. The mission is successful but at the price of Mynce’s life. 5 years later, in 1938, Rayne is sent on a solo mission to Argentina. The Nazis have been doing some strange, supernatural experiments and she is tasked with stopping their ‘supernatural ambitions’ before they get too crazy.
Upon arriving in Argentina, Rayne finds out that the Nazis are looking for a supernatural artifact: the eye of Beliar. The Brimstone Society instructs her to get the artifact before they do. As she goes about doing this; she encounters some really ugly-looking supernatural creatures which adds to the challenge of getting to the artifact.
From Argentina, Rayne travels to Castle Gaustadt in Germany in search of her last batch of Nazi targets and the final artifact.
What’s Good about BloodRayne?
So, what’s good about BloodRayne?
Soundtrack and Atmosphere
Well for starters; the soundtrack is awesome! It’s very ambient and dark throughout which sets the dark tone of the game quite well. BloodRayne also boasts some really creepy atmosphere – which works considering the subject matter. These two elements don’t change, they’re consistent throughout the game and I love it!
When BloodRayne came out initially, some criticism was leveled at the characters – Rayne in particular. That criticism was that she had no personality. Now, I respectfully disagree with that statement. Why? Because Rayne has probably the best personality I’ve seen in a video game protagonist since Tomb Raider. Yes, that’s a bold statement and I’ll stand by it!
Rayne’s personality comes out in the way she’s written; she’s constantly cracking one-liners but she does have a softer side which also manifests a few times.
Jurgen Wulf is a Nazi officer who’s in charge of the anti-ghost group and he’s just bad news all the way. He’s in charge of recovering artifacts to aid in the war effort. He’s also an absolute nuisance, he runs away a few times in the game and so you end up playing cat and mouse.
The final fight between him and Rayne is a real challenge and as such he’s definitely one of the more intimidating villains I’ve seen in a video game.
Ah Hedrox! Probably the most interesting antagonist of the game, this guy has the ability to regenerate even after being killed. This, of course, means that no matter how many times you kill him; he just keeps coming back for more.
As far as personality goes, this guy is hard to describe. He has a quirky speech pattern and very cool look but he’s only around for a short time before Beliar gives him the axe permanently at the game’s climax. I was rather sad to see him go.
The Voice Cast and Dialogue of BloodRayne
The dialogue, and I’ll talk about this again in a bit, is great. Rayne’s quirky one-liners are really entertaining and the numerous NPC victims’ screams of terror gave me a few good laughs too. Speaking of the dialogue, I think now’s a good time to talk about the cast.
Laura Bailey voices Rayne and she does a phenomenal job bringing the character to life. She gave Rayne a nice balance between tough and vulnerable while also granting her dialogue some humorous notes. One of my personal favorite lines was:
“Quiet baby, what would the neighbors think?”
The many German soldiers and other baddies are all given a great amount of screaming and moaning sounds and some of the later enemies have a pretty intimidating growl.
This is probably more subjective to each player but I liked the visuals. Dated as the graphics are, the game still looks good some 18 years after its release; that’s very impressive. the use of light and shadow in conjunction with the ambient sounds and music add to the creep-factor which I think we can all appreciate.
Now, the graphics could use a major upgrade but, all things considered, the game is still beautiful to look at.
The combat in this game is admittedly a bit clunky in places but it’s a lot of fun! The various guns that Rayne can use are all fantastically useful in-game and the melee combat is probably my favorite element because you can get some really cool, gory kills out of it.
Rayne is also given a few different powers like blood rage which, as its name implies, drives her into a battle frenzy – giving the best kills. Time dilation (slowing down time) which makes combat much easier and a few others.
What Doesn’t Work in BloodRayne?
Okay, so as much as I loved this game; there were some issues with it.
There are so many cool ideas in BloodRayne and unfortunately they’re largely underused. One example, and probably the biggest culprit of this problem, is the big baddie – Beliar.
He’s described as being a resident of Atlantis who was torn apart by an enemy and scattered to the four winds before the ocean reclaimed the city. Now, that’s really cool; but the game does nothing with it.
The same can be said about character motivations – they’re not too well-developed.
We have an idea of what Wulf wants to do; presumably aid Adolf Hitler in some crazy plan for world conquest. What about Rayne? Why does she work for Brimstone? Now, to be fair; we do get a little bit of background on Rayne and her motives in the second game but I think a bit of background would’ve helped.
Okay, the ending wasn’t that bad but it felt really, really, random. Rayne defeats Beliar and Jurgen Wulf and then gives them both the finger and fiddles with her corset for a second. Now, like I said; it wasn’t a bad ending but it just doesn’t have any major kick to it. There’s no…no…gravitas to it; it’s just kind of like: Double boss fight, cool pose, okay, game’s over!
Best and Worst bits of BloodRayne
Now, before I close out this article with my final thoughts, I’d like to share what I consider to be some of the best and worst bits.
Best Level: Argentina, Daemite’s Lair
Picking the best level was tricky but I feel like the Daemite’s Lair is the most interesting one. Aesthetically, there’s a lot of weird shapes and environmental quirks which make navigation something of a challenge. The combat is a bit more varied between the droves of Nazi soldiers and the numerous demonic creepy crawlies.
Worst Level: Germany, Mobile Armor Battle
Okay so, the final act sees Rayne running around a German castle and at one point she finds, and I wish I were making this up, a German mobile armor – basically a giant robotic suit of armor. She commandeers one of these things and thus begins the most frustrating level in the game! The controls are all wonky, movement is slow and clunky; it’s a struggle even on the easiest difficulty setting! I was glad when I finally got through it.
There are a number of boss fights but my favorite one is the doppelganger fight because it’s one of the more interesting fights. It shows a more human side of Rayne when she gives her name to the dying doppelganger that she’s just defeated.
Overall, BloodRayne is a lot of fun to play. It hasn’t aged too well but like I said before; I liked the visuals. The remasters for BloodRayne and BloodRayne 2 were released last November but the update was largely to the software requirements for modern systems. An update to the visuals would’ve been cool to see but I think it’s great regardless of which version you play. It’s definitely worth playing – especially if you like classic games.
As per usual, I’d love know your thoughts on BloodRayne. Have you played it? What did you think of it? Hit me up on Facebook and let me know!