All gamers carry a dark secret: we have games in our history that we’re embarrassed to admit we played. This embarrassment may be for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s because the game was so bad that we don’t want to associate with it (Aquaman anyone?). Sometimes it’s because the genre isn’t something that normally conforms to our gaming image (a Call of Duty fan playing Kinectimals?) Or maybe the game itself just has a bad reputation. You may even like the game, but are hesitant to admit it.
I’m no different. So for my first voyage into my dark gaming past, I decided to discuss the game (or rather series) that first pops into my mind: Bloodrayne.
For those of you who’ve never played Bloodrayne 1 & 2, the story follows a dhampir (half human/half vampire) named Rayne. In Bloodrayne, Rayne is working for a secret organization known as the “Brimstone Society” that hunts down supernatural threats. She’s tasked with stopping a Nazi group hunting for the Skull of Beliar, an ancient demon. If this sounds a bit like Raiders of the Lost Arc, you’re right. Bloodrayne 2 takes place some 60 years later, with Rayne hunting down her estranged half-siblings who are trying to revive Rayne’s father & turn the world into a vampire paradise.
The selling point of the games is Rayne herself. Rayne is a buxom female decked in red & black leather who wields various firearms in addition to her signature wrist blades & harpoon. And of course, being a half vampire, to heal herself she feeds on the blood of her enemies, which she usually extracts by jumping on them & wrapping her legs around their waists.
The games themselves aren’t bad. Most reviews place them just on the positive side of average (65-75%). They’re just pretty basic hack-&-slash games. Gunplay is fast & acrobatic, & limbs fly in all directions with satisfying amounts of blood when you slice them up. Bloodrayne 2 is definitely the better of the two games. It adds new abilities such as controlling the direction you throw enemies with the harpoon, allowing you to throw them on environmental hazards. You can hang upside-down from poles to shoot enemies. The stories are pretty basic, not bad but nothing groundbreaking. But you really don’t play a hack-&-slash for the story, right?
The reason I’m embarrassed to tell most people I’ve played these games is because of the main character, Rayne. Even the developers have admitted that Rayne was specifically designed to appeal to their target market of males 17-34. Per usual, this means tight, revealing clothes & highly sexualized moves. The most prominent example is in Bloodrayne 2, when Rayne feeds off some of her victims, they make very sexual noises. Of course, it’s only the female enemies who do this, once again catering to the target market. This always struck me as strange, because once you get past the sexy exterior & sultry voice, Rayne really doesn’t come across as a sexual person. I can’t recall her behaving in overtly sexual ways. Really, her personality seems more like an angry bad-ass. Everything else just strikes me as pandering to the male fantasy.
However, when I tell people you’ve played Bloodrayne, & they see the cover or other artwork, they look at me funny. There’s nothing wrong with a straight woman playing as a hot bad-ass red-head who shoots people, slices them to pieces & throws them into fire pits. If I avoided games for pandered to men, I’d never get to play anything but puzzle or strategy games. And Bloodrayne does have its entertaining moments. I enjoy over-the-top gore as much as the next person, & Rayne does have a few lines of dialogue that made me grin.
So there’s my dirty little secret: I played Bloodrayne & didn’t half mind it.