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BloodRayne: ReVamped Review

BloodRayne: ReVamped is a remaster of the “Terminal Cut” of the original BloodRayne. It is a very different kind of action game compared to its sequel, which plays more like other action games from its era. Fully controllable 360 camera controls, z-targeting style combat, Prince of Persia-style gymnastics and a more story focused journey made it a very accessible sequel.

In its quest to be more like other successful 3D action games, BloodRayne 2 lost its identity. It became a homogenized beat-em-up with no reward for doing well. The only distinction it has is its impressive dismemberment and how Rayne was able to use a hook-shot to send foes into environmental traps.

The original BloodRayne may not look as impressive and is lacking the environmental fatalities, but it isn’t without its own unique qualities. While the sequel disappoints with its weak feedback and sloppy combat, the original excels at being a competent, fast paced run-and-gun, slash em-up.

BloodRayne: ReVamped
Developer: Ziggurat Interactive Inc.
Publisher: Ziggurat Interactive Inc.
Platforms: Windows PC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: November 18, 2021
Players: 1
Price: $19.99 USD

BloodRayne begins humbly, with Rayne and her hot Asian, girlfriend Mynce on a job in the Louisiana bayou, circa 1933. It was meant to be a basic investigation assignment that revolved around the appearance of a terrible disease that horribly deforms its hosts. Naturally, things go south and Rayne finds herself doing battle with a huge abominable creature.

These first few missions drop Rayne in compact, open ended environments that sometimes require multiple steps to progress to the next area. It is a far cry from very tightly controlled and director lead scenarios from its sequel; BloodRayne lets players off a leash to approach things at their leisure, for the most part.

After a showdown in the bayou, BloodRayne truly begins a few years later during World War II. Rayne is given a hit list of several high ranking Nazi officers and her goal is simple: kill them. Most of her targets are glorified enemies with more health, but some are full-fledged boss battles with a unique gimmick to their design.

The story is very thin and is merely a framework for the bloody action. BloodRayne is like an exploitation movie from the 70s in this regard. It has a sexy hook with promises of gratuitous violence and it delivers.

There is a lot of dismemberment and Rayne frequently makes pleasurable moaning sounds as she drains her victims of blood for health. The way she locks her legs around her prey is also very suggestive and is something that game developers would shy away from today.

There is a twist in the story as it unfolds, but it is hardly a revelation that will swell up emotions in gamers. A vast majority of the scenario involves Rayne completing her Nazi hit list and rumbling with a boss once in a while. Most fodder enemies won’t pose much of a challenge, but the later mutant abominations will put Rayne’s limited abilities to task.

BloodRayne is a very early third-person action game. Controls are like a first-person shooter; Rayne strafes as she maneuvers to the left or right. There is a tank-like control set-up which makes the game feel a lot like a Tomb Raider for the original PlayStation, but BloodRayne was designed to play more like a first-person action game.

The right-stick camera controls don’t measure up to what most gamers will expect for something that is so close to being like a first-person game. Turning left or right works as intended and so does looking up or down… but that’s all. Rayne isn’t capable of smooth, angular or diagonal camera movements. It is configured to a very rigid digital input method.

This makes controls feel weird and unnatural, but it won’t impact most gamer’s playability since Rayne auto targets he nearest foe. This trivializes the gunplay since accuracy is not a factor and the only thing players have to concern themselves with is doing fancy Matrix-like acrobatics and knowing the best time to feed.

All guns are disposable. Rayne probably doesn’t want to break a nail when reloading and would much prefer to rip-off the weapons from the dead. When a machine gun or repeater is depleted of its ammo, she will toss it. Not that it matters much; Rayne’s true means of offense are her blades.

With gun triggers mapped to the right bumper, the left bumper is tied to cutting up whatever is within Rayne’s reach. The hit-box for cutting up threats or environmental objects is very generous. Most impressively, is the extent the developers took to implement countless destructible objects and how Rayne is able to dice up people like Raiden in Metal Gear Rising.

The gore gets amped up further as the “blood rage” meter fills; a crude attempt at a devil trigger. While blood raging, Rayne becomes a walking wood-chipper. She flays everyone who gets within range of her blades, leaving a juicy and pulpy trail of viscera like some kind of blood-slug with diarrhea.

The combat is very basic and shows just how old BloodRayne’s mechanics are. High level play demands players focus on evading and kiting enemies and attacking them strategically. Gunplay is too limited to be relied on extensively and late game enemies get big HP pools to absorb most bullets.

Meanwhile, Rayne’s melee upgrades are earned at specific story thresholds. This isn’t Devil May Cry, so don’t expect Rayne to juggle enemies or do any elaborate attacks that launch. Combo upgrades merely extend Rayne’s attacks to do more damage quicker.

BloodRayne’s simplistic combat mechanics are a product of its era and can’t be faulted for how it turned out. There was a lot of effort put into making this the best it could be at the time and where it shines is with its level design.

Stages in BloodRayne range from compact labyrinths to open ended locations that allow exploration. No matter happens, expect to dash all over during the battles and trying to get cover for a blood suck. The frantic pace of the action and the rate Rayne loses health, gives the impression of “boomer shooter” gameplay.

There can be a lot of enemies at times- so much so that the already unstable frame rate of this Switch version of BloodRayne: Revamped can drop even more dramatically. Staying in one place is a sure way to give Rayne a dirt nap and playing keep-away while whittling away at the baddies means staying mobile in these dense stages.

Rayne will be able to jump up to very tall vantage points due to her absurdly high leaping ability that got cut down in the sequel. She can cover a lot of ground easily and can jump from house to house without even trying; thus reinforcing the premise of Rayne being a dhampyr.

The remastering for ReVamped is consistent with the sequel’s remaster. The approach is very restrained and subdued, with lighting being the most notable and obvious change. Image quality on the Switch version is very crisp and details stand out nicely.

The overall narrative presentation is the same as it has ever been; which can be best described as limited. There is a very polished pre rendered CGI cutscene that makes a great impression, but after that introduction, it’s all up to the real-time cutscenes to draw the gamer in.

Sadly, the real-time cutscenes can be best described Disney animatronics talking at each other. Characters barely move and have no expression at all. Camera work is also lazy; relying on shot-reverse-shot angles during dialogue for every scene.

The voice acting has to carry the load for the lack of cinematic flair for BloodRayne. The cutscenes barely have any expressions in faces or body language. Characters stand in place and the camera hardly moves. There is no style with the lighting at all and scenes play out very flatly.

Before she was a voice in every game ever, Laura Bailey began her video game voice acting career with BloodRayne. This is her first role for a video game character and she struck gold with Rayne and a lot of it has to do with all the material she gets to work with.

Like always, Rayne is a seductive and violent dhampyr. Bailey is at her best when she plays roles where she can play a sexy character who makes a lot of lewd sucking sounds and moan loudly. She sells her edgy dialogue as well; often coming off as a dominatrix. This is a character she was born to play.

The visuals obviously show their age, but there is a nostalgic charm about early 2000s graphics. Hardware was just about where it needed to be to allow artists to get their vision across while also pushing the boundaries of technology. It was an era for creativity and vision- a time before developers relied on an algorithm to generate assets or buy them from a store.

BloodRayne manages some innovative sequences despite its rough edges. Fighting a towering arachnid and having to dismember its long legs by way of the game’s dismemberment mechanic made the action feel more visceral and real. There is less emphasis on simulation in games today and BloodRayne still carries some of that spirit of innovation in it.

When adapting to its aging mechanics, BloodRayne: ReVamped is very playable and is much more enjoyable experience than its sequel. It is because it is a simpler game, it has less to fumble and is a more focused action game.

BloodRayne ReVamped was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by Ziggurat Interactive Inc. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

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The Verdict: 7

The Good

  • Bloody and visceral combat
  • Focused and fast paced action
  • Creative scenarios and stages
  • Appealing art direction supports the retro graphics
  • Dense labyrinthine level design

The Bad

  • Massive frame drops
  • Controls and mechanics show their age
  • Real-time cutscenes lack cinematic flair
  • Very simplistic gameplay

About

A youth destined for damnation.