Due to the long weekend, the VGL took a bit of a break, but we’ll more than make up for it in this bumper edition. In this week, we will not be discussing a single game, but in fact an entire series. A series that takes place in a very dark fantasy setting (something that Darryl is very familiar with). In a world rife with vampires and demons, humans and pillar guardians of every shape, colour and creed, comes the story of Kain.
Legacy of Kain to be exact. All in all there have been five Legacy of Kain titles released (and a multiplayer title hinted at in 2013), each telling a story that has settled into the hearts and minds of many a fan. Initially under the helm of Silicon Knights and later moved to Crystal Dynamics after an internal dispute, the Legacy of Kain series has grown to exponential heights. Below, you will find a little bit of info on each of these massively popular titles.
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (1996) – Sony PlayStation
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is a classic top-down Action-Adventure RPG set in the fictional land of Nosgoth. It tells the story of a noble human, killed violently by a vampire, and then resurrected as a fledgeling vampire. Kain has one goal, one purpose, which is to track down and kill those responsible for his death and vampiric curse. He is then tasked to track down and kill the guardians of the Pillars of Nosgoth, a corrupt council of godlike humans who are imbued with magical powers. The title explored various morally grey and, at times, downright evil themes, which continued throughout the remainder of the series.
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain introduced players, for the first time, to an RPG title that was built specifically to draw in an adult audience. It consisted of copious amounts of blood and gore, which was not as big a staple then, as it is now. Themes of a very dark nature was explored in the form of vampirism, evil actions and numerous areas that was to be considered moral grey areas in the days and years to come. An anti-hero was born in the form of Kain and this idea was further explored in later titles.
“Vae Victus — suffering to the conquered. Ironic that now I was the one suffering. Not anything as pedestrian as physical pain. Rather the cruel jab of impotent anger — the hunger for revenge. I didn’t care if I was in Heaven or Hell — all I wanted was to kill my assassins. Sometimes you get what you wish for. The Necromancer Mortanius offered me a chance for vengeance. And like a fool, I jumped at his offer without considering the cost. Nothing is free, not even revenge.” – Kain (Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain)
The gameplay was very standard for a game out of this era, and introduced players to the ability to drain blood from their victims once they were in a weakened state. The standard red blood, from live targets, which replenishes health (which gradually decreases over time, and of course goes down quite quickly in combat situations), blue blood, which replenishes Kain’s magical abilities (including shape shifting and various other spells), and green blood, from undead targets, which may have some adverse effects on him. Something else that set this title apart was the puzzle-solving and navigation hazards, which included moving blocks, destroying elements and other similar feats. Throughout the course of the game, certain items and abilities could be found to enable Kain to travel to various areas which are not part of the main story in order to upgrade his health and magic bars, and thus cause him to become more powerful.
Visually Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain was quite beautiful for its time, and has garnered many fans for its moody graphics and immersive story, however many gamers and critics complained about the excessively long loading times which was prevalent in the PlayStation version of the game. The 1997 PC version of the game somewhat alleviated this problem but did not completely resolve it.
I have to say at this point that one of the most striking features of the Legacy of Kain series is the superb audio department. From a well orchestrated soundtrack by Steve Henefin, to some of the best voice acting (with talents ranging from Simon Templeman to Tony Jay) that you may possibly ever hear in a video game, this series really set the bar high. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain really set the bar high, even at this point of the story.
All in all Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is one of the mostly superbly put together games of the late 1990s. With a strong story, a unique combat system, visually stunning graphics and audio that is incomparable to other games of its time. It truly is one of the best games of all time. And it only got better from there, as you will see.
See where the series went to next, with Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.