It's been since 2004 that the seductive yet deadly dhampir has seen the limelight in her own videogame. With a new developer at the helm, how does a 2D/anime/Arcade rendition fare?
It fares as much as you would expect.
Story...what story? I don't know, a couple of cutscenes with some soldiers and a guy trying to be some mysterious swoon bait that is really a bird...evil guy trying to take over the world and I think there may be a betrayal or two throw in for legal purposes. Honestly, the story is just there to drive the game and place you in the levels. I had little care on how the story progressed.
For the real (bloody) meat, we have the gameplay. Hack N' Slash that involves slight button mash, slight skill, and slight memorization. You have a blade attack that you can push to do simple combos, a jump, a shoot button, a dodge, a grab (bite) ability, and finally a button solely dedicated to making people explode. You can send opponents into the air, juggle them around cut them to pieces and suck their blood for health. Following up on that last bit about the explode button, yes you can bite a blood filled enemy to make them poisoned with explosive fluids. If you push the explode button then any poisoned baddie will ...
Most evil dudes follow the general same pattern: Try to get close and do a melee move, or use a simple ranged attack to knock Rayne off her guard. Almost all encounters can be bum rushed with little to no consequence. The dodge ability is where the skill comes in as with precise timing, Rayne will negate all damage done to her. There are a few bosses thrown in and all of them are actually pretty unique and fun in their own way. Finally your magnum is Rayne's trump card which decimates enemies. Most will be knocked down and killed in 2 shots and even the most toughest foes will go after 4+ shots. This leads to the upgrade system.
In each level you can find hidden skulls that when you collect enough allows you to upgrade your health or ammo. What I like about the upgrade system is you may find the game hard so you think health is the obvious choice, but later you will realize just how crucial an extra bullet can be. Considering most skulls are out of the way and dangerous to get, makes you decide which ones are worth searching for and which can be left behind. Without the upgrade system, this game would have fell flat.
I do have to discuss a really sore spot in the game however: Obligatory platforming
Think a dash of Super Meat Boy, only simplified and not with tight controls. Also if you slip up you may go back a couple of fights or annoying sections as opposed to just retrying from 20 seconds in the past. This was the worst part of the game and at one point I got close to leaving this game for dust. I am glad I continued but it is not too far away to say that the platforming can make players uninstall the game.
Always easy to go on and on but I'll end with replayabliity. You get graded (very strictly) for each level. Grading exclusively depends on how much health you lost, the time it took to beat the stage, hidden treasures found and how stylish you were in combat with the latter having the least impact. The grading is very unforgiving and on a normal playthrough you'll most likely see F grades across the board. Trying to get S ranks on all the levels may quite possibly be one of the toughest challenges to achieve in a game...good luck if you decide to go on that masochistic endeavor. I beat the game, looking for secrets and replaying a few levels to gather more skulls/up my grade finishing with about 5 hours of playtime.
If you can't get enough Blood Rayne or you want an old school 2D hack n slash then give this game a try. It's hard to recommend at the asking price of $10 but at $5 or less it is worthwhile!