Hey guys! Luke here. Today I’m going to give you an overview of one of my favorite game series and one that I think should see a return, either as a remake, continuation or a full blown reboot. That series is the Legacy of Kain series.
Starting in 1996, the Legacy of Kain series consists of five action adventure games (Blood Omen, Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2, Blood Omen 2 and Defiance) created by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos that emphasize puzzle solving, action and a… tricky narrative. The main characters are Kain, who is the focus of Blood Omen 1 and 2, and Raziel, who is the hero of Soul Reaver 1 and 2. The themes of the series are destiny vs free will, manipulation, redemption and morality all delivered with absolutely amazing voive acting by the cast. Now i’ll give you a brief overview of each game.
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, the first entry in the series, was developed by Silicon Knights and published by Crystal Dynamics. . First released in 1996 for the PlayStation, it was later ported to Microsoft Windows in 1997.
In the game, the player assumes the role of Kain, a human nobleman, who is murdered and given the chance to exact revenge by becoming a vampire. He travels the land, slaughtering the corrupt sorcerers of the Circle of Nine and restoring the Pillars of Nosgoth in hopes of discovering a cure for his vampirism, but gradually begins to view his transformation as a blessing over the course of the story. The game is prehaps the most different due to the RPG elements that aren’t in the following games such as armor, a bigger focus on exploring and upgrading yourself.
Though praised for its scope, high-quality voice acting, moody atmosphere and rich, compelling storyline, the game was criticized for lengthy loading times. During development, Crystal Dynamics contributed several staff members to aid production. After the release, a dispute arose between Silicon Knights and Crystal Dynamics concerning ownership of the game’s intellectual property rights, with Crystal Dynamics ultimately retaining permission to continue the series.
One thing that is very interesting about this game is, after killing the last of the Nine, Kain discovers that due to events before the game, he is the last member and to restore Nosgoth he must kill himself, thus also ending the last of the Vampires. Or he could say balls to that and rule a crappy world. What does he do? Well…
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is the first third-person game in the series, and was developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos Interactive. Also originally released for the PlayStation and Microsoft Windows in 1999, it was ported to the Dreamcast in 2000.
The story opens 1500 years after the events of the first game, and chronicles the journey of the vampire-turned-wraith Raziel, lieutenant to Kain. Raziel is executed by Kain, but is revived by the Elder God to become his “soul reaver”, reap the vampires’ apostate souls, and exact revenge against his former master and brothers. Raziel shares this title with Kain’s sword, the Soul Reaver, which he acquires during the game.
Crystal Dynamics began development of the game in 1997, creating a revolutionary data-streaming engine to support its mechanics, but delays forced material originally planned for Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver to be excised or reworked into later entries in the series. The game was well received by critics, attaining a score of 91 on Metacritic, and being praised for its Gothic story and high-quality graphics. However, it was criticized for simple and repetitive gameplay and an unsatisfying climax.
This one has probably aged the worst and, dared I say, is very bare bones. However The voice acting itself is tremendous. For this game and the next i’ll copy and paste my favorite dialogue.
The abyss has been unkind.
(Kain rises and begins to approach Raziel, casually but menacingly.)
I am your creation, Kain – now, as before. You criticize your own work.
What have you done with my clan, degenerate? You have no right–
What I have made, I can also destroy, child.
Damn you, Kain! You are not God! This act of genocide is unconscionable!
Conscience…? You dare speak to me of conscience? Only when you have felt the full gravity of choice should you dare to question my judgment!
Your life’s span is a flicker compared to the mass of doubt and regret that I have borne since Mortanius first turned me from the light… To know that the fate of the world hangs dependent on the advisedness of my every deed — can you even begin to conceive what action you would take, in my position?
I would choose integrity, Kain.
Look around you, Raziel – see what has become of our empire. Witness the end of an age. The clans, scattered to the corners of Nosgoth…
This place has outlasted its usefulness — as have you.
As Kain utters this last line, he draws the Soul Reaver from its scabbard; its energy leaps to life.
The Soul Reaver, Kain’s ancient blade – older than any of us, and a thousand times more deadly.
The legends claimed that the blade was possessed, and thrived by devouring the souls of its victims.
For all our bravado, we knew what it meant when Kain drew the Soul Reaver in anger – it meant you were dead.
Fucking amazing. Major props to Simon Templeman (Kain) and Micheal Bell (Raziel).
Soul Reaver 2
Soul Reaver 2 was developed by the Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver team, and was published by Eidos Interactive. It was the first Legacy of Kain game to debut on the PlayStation 2, being released in 2001, and was ported to Microsoft Windows in the same year.
A direct sequel to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2 continues Raziel’s pursuit of Kain, but expands the mythology of the series. Raziel’s lust for vengeance gradually gives way to a quest for knowledge and freedom as he treks across Nosgoth’s history, and explores the truth behind the Pillars of Nosgoth, the Soul Reaver, and the vampire-hunting order of the Sarafan which he once served. We also learn that Kain isn’t as big a douche as we think, because he’s trying to find a way to save Nosgoth, not kill himself or Vampires and screw destiny. Quite a tall order
Initially developed for the PlayStation and Dreamcast, Soul Reaver 2 was reworked into a PlayStation 2 exclusive during early production. Although its graphics, involved storyline, atmosphere and voice acting were highly praised, Soul Reaver 2 was criticized for simplistic gameplay and linearity. A second Crystal Dynamics team had been working on Blood Omen 2 during its development, impelling director Amy Hennig to accommodate their plans when writing the plot.
Quotes time again. My favorite exchange in the series now.
Kain: Thirty years hence, I am presented with a dilemma… let’s call it a two-sided coin. If the coin falls one way, I sacrifice myself and thus restore the Pillars… but as the last surviving vampire in Nosgoth, this would mean the annihilation of our species… Moebius made sure of that. If the coin lands on the reverse, I refuse the sacrifice and thus doom the Pillars to an eternity of collapse. Either way, the game is rigged.
Raziel: We agree then that the Pillars are crucial and must be restored.
Kain: Yes, Raziel, that is why we’ve come full-circle to this place.
Raziel: So after all this, you make my case for me. To end this stalemate, you must die so that new Guardians can be born.
Kain: The Pillars don’t belong to them, Raziel… they belong to us.
Raziel: Your arrogance is boundless, Kain.
Kain: There’s a third option, a monumental secret hidden in your very presence here. But it’s a secret you have to discover for yourself. Unearth your destiny, Raziel. It’s all laid out for you here.
Raziel: You said it yourself, Kain… there are only two sides to your coin.
Kain: Apparently so, but suppose you throw a coin enough times… suppose one day, it lands on its edge.
Blood Omen 2
Blood Omen 2 was released in 2002, again published by Eidos Interactive. It was released on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, and was ported to Microsoft Windows and the GameCube. Contrasting with Soul Reaver 2, it focused more strongly on action and combat than exploration and puzzle-solving.
Despite its title, Blood Omen 2 is not a direct sequel to Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. It takes place in the era between that game and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, but in an altered timeline created at the end of Soul Reaver 2. A young Kain begins his conquest of Nosgoth, but is defeated by the Sarafan Lord. Two centuries later, he awakens in an unfamiliar city, and reluctantly allies with the Cabal in an effort to achieve vengeance.
Blood Omen 2 was developed by a secondary team in Crystal Dynamics, which accepted little input from the creators of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and Soul Reaver 2. Among critics and fans alike, it is considered the poorest game in the series; though its combat system and level design were praised, technical issues, mediocre graphics, repetitive gameplay and misrepresentation of the series’ established characters, themes and mythology were cited as problems.
Never played this one. I’ll get around to it eventually. I think i’m put off because it doesn’t contribute anything to the overall story apart from the fates of a few characters
Legacy of Kain: Defiance was developed by members from both Crystal Dynamics’ Soul Reaver 2 and Blood Omen 2 teams. It was released in 2003, consolidating the Blood Omen and Soul Reaver series into one, and making both Kain and Raziel playable. Originally released for the PlayStation 2, it was later ported to Microsoft Windows and the Xbox.
After the events of Soul Reaver 2 and Blood Omen 2, Kain desperately hopes to find Raziel, whose free will holds the key to restoring Nosgoth to its former glory. However, Raziel follows his own agenda, seeking to escape the shackles of his fate. While their adversaries plot their destruction, both anti-heroes must embark on a dark odyssey, from which only one of them can survive.
Acquiring mixed to high reviews upon release, the game was widely praised by fans for finally answering many questions posed throughout the series, but was criticized for its repetitive gameplay and awkward camera controls. It concluded with an open ending, and its developers intended to continue the series with at least one more game. However, its sales were underwhelming, and no sequel has seen fruition.
There we go then. The series was well loved, had a great story and characters, had an open ending and nothing? The hell?