Legacy of Kain Revisited - 5 Games 1 Review
Let's talk about - Blood Omen 1 & 2 | Soul Reaver 1 & 2 | LoK Defiance
The Legacy of Kain series is one of the infamous sagas told before the world of games sunk into a strange limbo where the main game companies are selling us shiny effects instead of actual storyline, well-rounded characters and good old fashioned enjoyable gameplay.
As one of the many vampire sagas out there, Legacy of Kain had a long way to go if it was to get the recognition it deserved. And that indeed it did. The storyline of this game is rightfully proclaimed as one of the most entrancing, breathtaking ones - enhanced only by the excellent writing, dialogues and fantastic voice acting.
The entire story of this series of five games revolves around two characters that are by their natures not exactly heroes; it would be better to call them antiheroes as it fits their very well displayed personalities (which you have to admire). The first of them is, of course, the title character, none other than Kain, once a nobleman murdered and now revived as a vampire to take his revenge upon his assassins. This is, naturally, nothing compared to the burden Kain is to bear during the games in order to defy his own fate that was already set in stone for him. The other main character, featured first in the second game, is Raziel, once a vampire and now a wraith, seeking to gain retribution for what has been done to him by his closest, most trusted ones.
The entire series is a combination of excellently balanced action-adventure gameplay, mind-boggling, highly entertaining puzzles, and almost Shakespearean dialogue in combination with possibly the best voice acting a series of games has ever offered.
The Legacy of Kain series encompasses five games, out of which two feature Kain, two Raziel, and the last installment switches the story between the two to conclude this epic in such a grand manner that it brings tears to the eyes of fans, enabling us to see this series unfold from their two respective perspectives.
The order in which the games were released is the following:
Blood Omen, Legacy of Kain, 1996
Legacy of Kain, Soul Reaver, 1999
Legacy of Kain series, Soul Reaver 2, late 2000, 2001
Blood Omen 2, 2002
And finally, Legacy of Kain Defiance, 2003
In the following parts, each of these installments will be discussed in more detail, in order to see the progress of story, graphics, gameplay and, of course, the reception among gamers. In the following parts you will also be able to read a bit more regarding the rumors about the Legacy of Kain series reboot that have been spreading among the fans of the series.
Photo Credit: Legacy of Kain Promotional Photo
Used under creative commons
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain
Photo Credit: Blood Omen
Used under creative commons
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, released in Japan by the title Kain the Vampire, was the first in the line of games of this series. This game was released for Playstation in 1996 and PC in 1997 and was produced by Silicon Knights in collaboration with Crystal Dynamics, and distributed by Activision and BMG Interactive.
The game is a two dimensional action adventure, and you control the character of Kain from the bird's eye perspective. It was designed to be a game for adults, and that it definitely is. The very beginning of the story shows us Kain, brutally murdered, in the process of resurrection and ready to find his assassins to torment them and then finish them off. Of course, the story is more complicated than that. Much, much more.
The story shifts to a more monumental segment of the plot, introducing us to pivotal character such as Vorador, Mortaneus, Moebius, Ariel and so on. All of them will be familiar to a person who played any of the installments of this series. The most important and the key aspect of this game is that this is the "young" Kain we are talking about, and the game is set very early in the Nosgoth timeline.
When it comes to gameplay, as Kain you explore a lot of outdoor and indoor "dungeons" such as temples, crypts, abandoned cathedrals, human houses etc. During the course of game Kain gains a lot of abilities and learns a lot of magic, and the most interesting parts are probably his transformations. He can transform into a bat, a werewolf, into mist, and finally, into a human villager or later on a nobleman. This makes the gameplay overall a very enjoyable experience.
The most interesting aspect of the game at the time of its release is definitely the main character - while definitely a hero in the sense that you control him, Kain is anything but - he is absolutely evil, brooding and antagonistic. Therefore, he was appropriately dubbed an antihero protagonist, and this was rare at that time.
In case you have not played this game, you should definitely pick it up if you have the opportunity. It is definitely a classic among classics.
Legacy Of Kain: Blood Omen
The first installment of the series was a bit different than the rest - but unforgettable nonetheless. You will be surprised by the prices this game can reach as a classic. I suppose it's to be expected.
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain: Official Game Secrets Strategy Guide (Secrets of the Games Series)
This is great for those who don't want to have their brain boiling at certain points in game. Anyway, a good strategy guide is a great thing to have with your favorite video game.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Photo Credit: Soul Reaver
Used under creative commons
Soul Reaver was developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos Interactive in 1999 when it came out for both PlayStation and the PC. The following year, it was released on Dreamcast as well.
The game switches from our last protagonist, the vengeful Kain, to a former vampire and now wraith, Raziel. Set in an entirely different timeline 1500 years after we leave behind the first chapter of Kain's story, we now tread the lands of Nosgoth that looks nothing like the one we remember. And not just graphics-wise.
This Nosgoth is destroyed, tainted and tormented, infested by creatures that are deformed and vampiric-like in nature, but horribly disfigured and detached from any morality they might have accidentally had before. Raziel mirrors this - he is also destroyed, but destroyed intentionally by Kain, his vampire lord, who threw his lieutenant and right hand man straight into the abyss. But revived by the Elder God, Raziel returns from his 500 year long death and is ready to revenge and redeem himself. Elder God pits him against Kain, and so commences one of the greatest game of cat and mouse in the history of gaming. Raziel swears - he will destroy Kain and restore the balance of Nosgoth!
As for the gameplay, well... The game shifts back and forth between the spectral and the material realm, and as Raziel, the player can notice the world change from gruesome to ghostly and back. The graphics are amazing for the day and age, and offer a lot more than expected from an action adventure game. The gameplay is riddled with puzzles, ranging from the ones that make you figure out mechanisms to open distant gates, to the rotation of huge blocks and cubes in order to progress further. However, the main puzzles are solved by observing the differences between the material and the spectral realm.
Throughout the game, Raziel acquires a variety of abilities, each gained either by defeating bosses and devouring their souls (the mandatory ones) and the bonus glyphs and magics found throughout the ruined Nosgoth by solving optional puzzles. The fighting, gliding across areas, magic, and every other aspect of the game runs smooth and the game is overall well balanced between the action and the puzzle solving.
The last things worth mentioning are the music and the voice acting. The music of this game is not simply good, it is monumental. Most of it is very ambiental and pulled off so cleverly that each theme sends chills down your spine and transports you to the point in game perfectly. Other themes are orchestral and beautifully dark and Gothic. Secondly, we have for the first time the brilliant voice acting of Simon Templeton as Kain, Michael Bell as Raziel, and many other famous voice actors. The dialogue is even better than that of its predecessor's and now enhanced by the voice acting, which in effect makes this game not just relaxation for a while, but an experience.
In case you have not played Soul Reaver, you have missed out on a lot. Pick it up as soon as you can, especially
if you are a fan of great action adventure games that will make you think.
Moving on to the next one.
Soul Reaver game, comic, and toys:
Until recently, I was unaware of the Soul Reaver comic, but as I have read it, I admit that I missed out. This epic game sold a lot of merchandise like toys and posters, which is only a confirmation of its success, if you ask me.
Legacy of Kain: Soul ReaverCHECK PRICE
Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver [Comic]CHECK PRICE
Legacy of Kain - Raziel's Reaver SwordCHECK PRICE
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2
Photo Credit: Soul Reaver 2
Used under creative commons
Soul Reaver 2 is the third game in the series, and was developed by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Interactive in 2001. Although intended to be released for PlayStation and Dreamcast, the project was reworked and finally released on PlayStation 2 and PC.
Soul Reaver 2 had a challenge to meet because of the high expectations that were now set by the previous installment, Soul Reaver. To add even more atmosphere into it, the creators of this game researched theology, books about time travelling, vampiric lore and came up with a narrative that continues to entrance many today with its poetic and yet cutting use of language. The story drags you in, whether you want it or not.
Regarding gameplay, not much had changed since its predecessor. There was no need, really. You continue playing this action adventure game as Raziel, the once vampire lieutenant and now a soul devouring wraith, on the quest to destroy Kain and restore the balance. The visuals are amazing, better than ever, and the puzzles and fighting fall no shorter on quality. Raziel still has all of the abilities he gained in Soul Reaver, and now continues to gain more power, new power - all to bring an end to Kain.
But something unexpected happens during the plot of this installment. Raziel, now seeing Nosgoth himself for what it is, begins to realize that there is more to Kain's plan than he thought and his quest slowly starts shifting from a quest to destroy to a quest to obtain knowledge of things as they actually are. Not forgetting his vengeance, Raziel begins to learn the truth and the story begins to swallow the player.
From the point of music and voice acting, the series only begins to shine on this one. With a fantastic score composed by Kurt Harland and Jim Hedges and the brilliant voice acting of Michael Bell, Simon Tempeton, Tony Jay, Anna Gunn and many others, this series begins brings the experience of Soul Reaver up a notch.
The game ends in an unexpected way though, leaving us wanting more.
But then comes Blood Omen 2 and we go back to Kain.
Soul Reaver 2: The Legacy of Kain Series
The continuation of Raziel's story is so astounding graphics-wise that I believe all of the gamers were in awe when it just came out. Currently, we have more polished games, but Soul Reaver 2 is Sould Reaver 2.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 (Prima's Official Strategy Guide) [Paperback]
I wish I had this guide when I was playing this game a long time ago.
Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2
Photo Credit: Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2
Used under creative commons
This sequel was, unlike others before it, released for PlayStation 2 and PC, but also for GameCube and Xbox. Developed by Crystal Dynamics and Nixxes Software, the game was released by Eidos Interactive in 2003. Despite being the fourth installment, chronologically it should have been the second one, because it happens long before the events of Soul Reaver. The odd thing is that this game is actually an instance of what actually happened as consequence of events in Soul Reaver 2 and the history shifting time travelling. Of course, that makes it harder to determine which is the correct order of the installments - chronological or consequential - but we are here to enjoy the game, and not to debate which is older, the chicken or the egg.
Again, we play with Kain. The young one, of course, and not the Kain as he becomes further down the timeline and during the events of both Soul Reavers. Kain was asleep for gtwo hundred years, and lost much of his power. He does not know how, does not know why, but he begins to piece things together and sets out to get his revenge and return his sword, the Soul Reaver, from his enemies - the Sarafan.
Gameplay is now a bit different. In contrast to the gameplay we had in Soul Reaver 1 & 2, now we have substantially more puzzles to solve and a lot of interesting cutscenes that show us another side of Kain. The amount of puzzles, oddly, does not take away from the game even a bit, and in fact adds a good thing, because the puzzles range from the very simple ones (pull the lever and the gate will open... somewhere far away) to the ones that make you really think a bit before trying to solve them. This is definitely a good thing.
The combat is excellent, Kain hacks and slashes, and uses his powers and magic to smash gates, throw enemies, and so on. A particularly fun power to use was telekinesis.
This game prepares the path for the final installment with its excellent narrative, engrossing plot and enjoyable gameplay. But no one was prepared for the last part of the series and what it did to the fans.
And now we move on to the final game, Legacy of Kain Defiance.
Blood Omen 2
This game takes us back to Kain, and it's worth to have it in your collection even if you don't like the spin-off-ish plot. The gameplay is addicting, at least for me.
Legacy of Kain - Soul Reaver Vampiric Sword
Though it isn't the real Reaver, it would be cool to have this if you're a big fan, don't you agree?
Legacy of Kain: Defiance
Photo Credit: Legacy of Kain: Defiance
Used under creative commons
Defiance is the fifth and the final installment of the Legacy of Kain Series. The game was created by Crystal Dynamics and Nixxes Software, and was published by Eidos Interactive in 2004. It came out for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC.
This game is specific in that it allows us for the first time to control both Raziel and Kain, and enables us to see the epic unfold from both their perspectives, giving us an overall much more enjoyable experience. In this installment, a lot of questions posed in the previous games finally get their answers and the player can see at last what was actually happening from the beginning of the series. The impressive storytelling does not cease to amaze even at this point in the series.
The gameplay is better than ever - the hack and slash combat style is faster than ever, with possibilities of unlocking many cool combo attacks during the course of the game. You can now attack grups of enemies simultaneously by powerful magics or swift swordsmanship - whichever you prefer. You will enjoy it, anyway.
The gameplay switches between the two characters constantly - as Kain you cut down your foes with the Material Reaver, and as Raziel you slash them back into the spectral realm using the Spectral Reaver. The plotline falls into place little by little, and the gameplay keeps you wanting more and more.
The sountrack and the voice acting are just as before, top notch. Hiring the same voice acting cast and composers, the creators of this game left nothing to chance. Why change a winning recipe, after all?
The game reception was fantastic, especially among the fans. The story ends in such a way that it brought tears to the eyes of anyone who loved these characters. All of the questions were now answered, but people wanted more. More!
That is most likely the reason for the rumor about the reboot of the series to spread. But is this true? Let's hope so.
In case you have not played Defiance, or any of the Blood Omens or Soul Reavers, and you have the chance to get them - by all means do it. The Legacy of Kain Series is not simply a story, it is an epic with such a narrative and gameplay that it would be a shame to miss out on it.
Legacy of Kain Defiance
This game gives you the possibility to play with both Kain and Raziel, and the gameplay is really improved. I especially enjoyed the extras of the game, including the voice acting sessions and bloopers, the artwork, music and the info you can read about the plot and Nosgoth in general.
Legacy of Kain / Fighting Force Collectors' Edition
This is a nice way to get two Legacy of Kain games at once, and more.
Soul Reaver reboot? Right on!
This was the announcement dating to 20 of March 2012:
"Crystal Dynamics is working on a reboot of Soul Reaver, VG247 has been told. Details are anorexic, but our source has claimed the game is a full reworking of the vampire action classic, and includes a new art direction. Earlier this month, God of War II director Cory Barlog joined Crystal Dynamics to work on a yet to be announced title."
Sounds good, right? Hopefully, the entire series will be redone, but even if not, the entire series is already brilliant, so there is no reason not to play any of these parts and wait for a reboot.
It would be great if the reboot of this series rises to glory like the new Tomb Raider, but it's up to all of us to have the patience and see what Square Enix wants to make of this game.