Legacy of Kain
|The Legacy of Kain series|
"A story beyond time.
|Games|| Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (1996)|
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (1999)
Soul Reaver 2 (2001)
Blood Omen 2 (2002)
Legacy of Kain: Defiance (2003)
The Legacy of Kain series primarily comprises five action-adventure video games released between 1996 and 2003, the majority of which were developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos Interactive. Each entry incorporates elements of action and puzzle-solving in its gameplay, and all are set in the fictional land of Nosgoth, united by the character of Kain, the series' vampire anti-hero. Although technically a pentalogy, the series is effectively made up of two duologies telling the separate stories of Kain (Blood Omen) and Raziel (Soul Reaver), with both culminating in Legacy of Kain: Defiance.
Chiefly marketed under the genre of dark fantasy or Gothic fiction, their developers have described the games' collective core tenets as their mature, original storyline, complex characters, strong writing and voice acting, and fresh approach to vampire mythology. Recurring themes include destiny versus free will, tragedy, the questioning of morality, propaganda, manipulation and redemption. The games have enjoyed critical success, and - despite their present dormancy - continue to be widely praised and highlighted for their voice acting, storytelling, and visuals.
- 1 Games
- 2 Other media
- 3 Overview
- 4 Development
- 5 Reception
- 6 Continuation
- 7 See also
- 8 References
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, the first entry in the series, was developed by Silicon Knights and published by Crystal Dynamics. It is an action-adventure game, with role-playing game elements. First released in 1996 for the PlayStation, it was later ported to Microsoft Windows in 1997.[BO1]
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.[BO1]
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.[BO1]
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.[SR1]
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.[SR1]
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.[SR1]
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.[SR2]
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.[SR2]
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.[SR2]
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.[BO2]
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.[BO2]
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.[BO2]
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.[DEF]
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.[DEF]
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.[DEF]
The single-issue Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver comic was created by Top Cow, with supervision from Crystal Dynamics, as part of the promotion campaign for Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. It depicts a short original storyline, starring Raziel as a vampire just prior to the events of the game.[SR1-Comic]
Another single-issue publication, the Legacy of Kain: Defiance comic, was created by Top Cow to help promote Legacy of Kain: Defiance. Again, the storyline is a short narrative, this time featuring Kain as the central character. It summarizes the events of the four previous games.[DEF-Comic]
Each of the games is complemented by an official English-language guide/walkthrough (sold separately), created by various authors under the auspices of Prima Games. Additionally, both Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and Soul Reaver 2 were supplemented by similar German-language guides ("Das Offizielle Lösungsbuch"). Some of these contain some exclusive material, including the Vorgeschichte comic.
- "And so I left - cold of heart and soul. Forced to the road, and the long, bitter night."
The series features an extensive storyline, which is expanded by each game. The uniting element of the story is the unlife of the vampire Kain, but players are introduced to many other characters and sub-plots in each title. Depending on the game, the story is narrated in past tense by either Kain, Raziel, or both. The entirety of the story takes place in a fictional universe with fantasy elements, focusing exclusively on a nebulous region referred to only as the Land of Nosgoth.[BO1][SR1][SR2][BO2][DEF]
Though its marketing and advertising focuses strongly on its Gothic and vampire-related traits, the series more broadly explores a massive power struggle between immortals, manipulating each other throughout history. It is supplemented by core themes of destiny, morality and redemption, among many others. In general, no character can be described as truly good or evil; each one is always portrayed with strong flaws and convincing motives, and their actions correspond to their belief system.[BO1][SR1][SR2][BO2][DEF]
The dialogue of each of the games is structured in the style of a teleplay, drawing inspiration from period pieces such as Becket, The Lion in Winter, and A Man for All Seasons. Consistency is also a strong suit of the games - the principal voice cast largely reprises their roles throughout the series, and, in each installment, many characters, locations and events are re-visited or referenced in callbacks to previous entries.[BO1][SR1][SR2][BO2][DEF]
Each game explores multiple time periods in Nosgoth's historical timeline, and time travel and temporal paradoxes entail that the chronology of the series is not strictly linear. The "correct" order of play if following the storyline, however, is also the order in which the games were released. For instance, it is ideal for Blood Omen 2 to be played after Soul Reaver 2, as the former game's events are a direct consequence of the latter's. Although the ending of Blood Omen 2 is chronologically the latest point in the series, the ending of Legacy of Kain: Defiance represents the latest point in Kain's existence, and in the storyline as a whole.[BO1][SR1][SR2][BO2][DEF]
- "Destiny is a game, is it not? And now you await my latest move..."
Though the five games differ substantially in terms of play-style and mechanics, some features recur. All five fall into the action-adventure classification, and incorporate traditional elements of puzzle-solving and action, influenced by other games in the genre. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver are comparable to The Legend of Zelda, whereas Legacy of Kain: Defiance was inspired by Devil May Cry. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Blood Omen 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance also feature some role-playing game characteristics.[BO1][SR1][SR2][BO2][DEF]
Gameplay features which are particularly emblematic of the series include declining health; the protagonists are constantly required to replenish their health by defeating, and feeding upon, their enemies. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver also pioneered a plane-shifting mechanic which was considered revolutionary at the time, and returned in Soul Reaver 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance. To progress through the game, Raziel is required to shift between two planes of existence, each with their own unique physical rules and interactive aspects.[BO1][SR1][SR2][BO2][DEF]
- "But does one ever truly have a choice? One can only match, move by move, the machinations of Fate, and thus defy the tyrannous stars."
The health of Nosgoth is inextricably tied to nine edifices known as the Pillars of Nosgoth, a manifestation of the strange power that preserves and gives life to the land.[SR2-C1] In the centuries before Kain's birth, the Pillars are preserved by an oligarchy of sorcerers known as the Circle of Nine, each of whom served as the Guardian of an individual Pillar.[BO1-C3] When a Guardian dies, the Circle briefly remains broken, until a successor is born to assume their place.[BO1-C9] However, these protectors of hope were compromised by dark forces, and Ariel - the Balance Guardian - was cruelly murdered. The resulting chain of events drove her fellow Guardians to irrevocable derangement; the Circle poisoned the land with their sorcery, and the Pillars were left abandoned, doomed to decay.[BO1-C1][BO1-C2]
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain begins thirty years after the corruption of the Pillars.[SR2-C1] Kain - a young human nobleman - is mysteriously murdered. He is resurrected as a vampire by Mortanius the Necromancer, who instructs him to destroy the insane Circle of Nine in exchange for vengeance and a cure to his unlife.[BO1-C2] Kain begins to eliminate the Guardians, but finds that a growing disaffection for humankind is blossoming within his soul as he adapts to his newfound immortality. On his journey, he lays claim to the Soul Reaver - an ancient, soul-devouring blade - and a time-streaming device.[BO1-C8] He rejects the counsel of the elder vampire Vorador, and travels back in time to prevent the Nemesis - a tyrant king - from coming to power.[BO1-C6][BO1-C10] Playing into the hands of Moebius - the Time Guardian - he succeeds in altering history by killing the Nemesis, but the result is a present day in which Nosgoth's vampires have been hunted to extinction.[BO1-C11] Kain kills the remaining Circle members, and all but one of the Pillars are restored; he realizes then that he is the final Guardian, Ariel's successor - having been corrupted at birth - and that his cure is death.[BO1-C12] Left to decide between sacrificing himself to restore the world (but thus destroying the vampire race) or ruling Nosgoth in its damnation, Kain chooses the latter option, having fully embraced his powers.[SR1][SR2-C2]
By the time of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Kain has established an all-powerful vampire empire in the dystopian ruins of Nosgoth. In the 1500 years since the collapse of the Pillars (triggered by his refusal), he has raised a cadre of six vampire lieutenants; Raziel, his first-born son, transgresses against Kain, and is executed as a consequence.[SR1-C1] Resurrected five centuries later by an ancient entity known as the Elder God, Raziel returns to Nosgoth, reborn, to reap the vampires' souls and exact revenge.[SR1-C2] He quickly confronts Kain, who wields the Soul Reaver against him; when the Reaver strikes Raziel, it shatters, and the captive spirit formerly within the blade inextricably binds itself to Raziel's arm.[SR1-C4] As he systematically murders his lieutenant brethren, one by one, Raziel discovers a long-forgotten truth; he and his brothers were members of the vampire-hunting Sarafan brotherhood in their human lives, resurrected by Kain a millennium after their deaths in an act of deliberate, ironic blasphemy.[SR1-C3][SR1-C5][SR1-C6][SR1-C7][SR1-C8] Galvanized to even deeper hatred by this revelation, Raziel pursues Kain to the Chronoplast, Moebius's long-abandoned time-machine.[SR1-C9] Justifying his actions and discussing the nature of free will, Kain lures Raziel through a time portal into Nosgoth's past.[SR1-10]
In Soul Reaver 2, Raziel initially conspires with Moebius to destroy Kain, but - after listening to Kain's rationales, and learning that Moebius serves the Elder God - his lust for vengeance is tempered by a higher quest for enlightenment and freedom.[SR2-C1][SR2-C2] On advice from Vorador, he seeks out Janos Audron, an infamous, long-dead ancient vampire who apparently holds the key to his destiny.[SR2-C3] He learns that fatalism and predestination are a reality within Nosgoth, and assists Kain in triggering a temporal paradox which changes Kain's fate - a major step on the road to reclaiming his destiny as Balance Guardian. Subject to further manipulation from Moebius, the Elder God and Ariel, he travels Nosgoth's history, and is eventually swept back to the era of the Sarafan.[SR2-C5] As the story progresses, and as he beholds their crusades in person, his reverence for the Sarafan wanes. Beginning to unearth the secrets of his past, he briefly meets with Janos - a pedagogical and pastoral figure - but realizes too late that his own, human self murdered Janos.[SR2-C8][SR2-C9] He slaughters the Sarafan lieutenants, and murders his own former self, thus becoming the catalyst not only of Kain's future empire, but of his own dark destiny.[SR2-C9][SR2-C10] In a final, horrific epiphany, Raziel discovers that he is the ravenous spirit destined to become imprisoned in the Soul Reaver - that the hellish cycle of his fate will never end. At the last minute, however, Kain temporarily saves Raziel from this terrible destiny in recompense and claims the empty Reaver, but the temporal paradox that this causes changes history for the worse.[SR2-C10]
Soul Reaver 2, Blood Omen 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance heavily expand the backstory of the series. Initially, alongside the humans, two other major races existed in Nosgoth's distant past: the ancient vampires and the Hylden.[SR2-C2][BO2-C9][DEF-C12] The noble yet righteous vampires exalted the spiritual, whereas the more prosaic Hylden were technologically-inclined beings.[BO2-C9] Whereas the vampires worshipped the Elder God, the Hylden rejected this deity and his Wheel of Fate, and the vampires declared war in response to this blasphemy.[DEF-C10] Using incredible magic, the vampires erected the Pillars of Nosgoth, banishing the Hylden into another dimension, and forged the Soul Reaver as the key to this Binding.[SR2-C2][DEF-C12][SR2-C4][DEF-C4] The Hylden retaliated by afflicting the vampires with a blood curse, which transformed them into immortal, sterile predators of humankind.[SR2-C2][DEF-C4][SR2-C6][BO2-C11] Divorced from the Wheel of Fate and their god, many vampires turned to suicide, and as their race died out, the humans of Nosgoth seized control of the Pillars.[DEF-C10][DEF-C7][DEF-C13] Over the centuries, the Hylden strained against the barriers of their prison, possessing humans and seeking to topple the Pillars.[DEF-C13] Kain's spiritual corruption hinders him from realizing his destiny as Balance Guardian - he seeks to somehow resolve the dilemma he faced at the end of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain by both restoring the Pillars and returning them to vampire rule.[DEF-C4] Raziel's execution was necessitated - his unique, cyclic destiny affords him free will, enabling Kain to defy history.[DEF-C13]
Blood Omen 2 pursues a younger Kain in the altered timeline created at the end of Soul Reaver 2.[BO2] After the collapse of the Pillars, Kain collaborates with Vorador to revive the vampire race, but is opposed by the Sarafan Lord (whose true identity is the Hylden Lord), a warlord who has similarly resurrected the order of the Sarafan.[DEF-C12][BO2-C1] Kain's armies are defeated, and the Soul Reaver falls into his enemy's hands.[BO2-C1] He awakes two centuries later in Meridian, the capital of the land, where he assists the Cabal - a vampire resistance movement - in their efforts against the Sarafan, and eventually unearths the truth behind his enemy.[BO2-C9][BO2-C1] The Hylden Lord was able to enter Nosgoth after the collapse of the Pillars, and now plots to eliminate the human and vampire races entirely.[BO2-C9][BO2-C11] Assisted by Janos Audron, the Cabal invade his headquarters and are able to stem the Hylden invasion, but Janos falls into the Hylden prison. Kain kills the Hylden Lord, and departs, to eventually establish his empire from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.[BO2-C11]
Legacy of Kain: Defiance covers earlier points in the same timeline, directly after Soul Reaver 2. Temporally separated by five hundred years, the Elder Kain and Raziel each discover evidence that the ancient vampires and Hylden had prophesied two champions - one representing each race - who would decide the fate of Nosgoth.[DEF] Whereas Raziel is bent on resurrecting Janos Audron to escape his destiny, Kain strives to stop him, and the two are drawn into battle.[DEF-C9] Raziel learns from Mortanius that Kain was raised using the Heart of Darkness - Janos' heart - and rips this from Kain's chest in a final battle, ostensibly killing his former master.[DEF-C12][DEF-C10] Disillusioned, and taunted by the Elder God and Moebius, Raziel resurrects Janos, who guides him to a final trial. Though he succeeds, receiving spiritual powers, Raziel witnesses the collapse of the Pillars. The resulting cataclysm enables the Hylden Lord to possess Janos (leading into Blood Omen 2), and Raziel is defeated is the ensuing battle, trapped by the Elder God.[DEF-C12] He begins to conclude that the Elder, sustained by the souls of Nosgoth, is the ultimate cause of all the conflict and strife throughout history, and realizes that he, himself, was both the vampire and Hylden champions; Kain was neither. His free will, and his destiny to enter the Reaver (consuming himself), ensures that neither champion can win.[DEF-C13]
Kain miraculously awakes, despite the loss of his heart. He encounters Raziel, and they reconcile; Raziel enters the Soul Reaver willingly, but first uses his spiritual powers to cleanse Kain of the corruption he had inherited at birth as a member of the Circle of Nine.[SR2-C2][DEF-C13] Thus healed, Kain is able to perceive the Elder God for the first time. They skirmish briefly, and Kain wounds the Elder with the Soul Reaver, but is unable to destroy him. As he looks out over Nosgoth, he contemplates Raziel's sacrifice, and the first bitter taste of hope it has given him.[DEF-C13]
The intellectual property which would eventually become the Legacy of Kain series was conceived by Denis Dyack, the president of Silicon Knights, under the working title The Pillars of Nosgoth. Silicon Knights sent this proposal to then-publisher Crystal Dynamics, along with two others; producer Lyle Hall was "instantly taken" by it, and instrumentally assisted in greenlighting the game. Determined to deliver a product with a big budget and bigger expectations, both parties intended to evolve the genre, discussing how a strong narrative and artistic cinema could considerably improve a console game. The project eventually became Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, released in 1996; Crystal Dynamics expended "Herculean efforts" to complete it, sending several of their own staff members (including Amy Hennig and Seth Carus) to assist in the development.[BO1] It proved highly successful and critically-acclaimed, and a sequel was quickly considered.
The earliest concepts for a sequel, only known as Kain II, were initially commissioned by Activision and eventually grew to include competing proposals from both Crystal Dynamics and Silicon Knights, but this practice ultimately led to a deteriorating relationship between the developers and the cancellation of both projects. While Silicon Knights contemplated continuing what they described as the "Blood Omen series", management in Crystal Dynamics requested that their team members who had worked on Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain develop a successor. This team, led by Amy Hennig and Seth Carus, had already conceived a stand-alone concept named Shifter, and reworked it into the Nosgoth universe. The result was Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, which was strongly promoted and heavily-anticipated, despite several delays. After learning of this sequel, Silicon Knights filed an injunction against Crystal Dynamics to stop them from publicizing the game any further, but the issue was privately resolved, enabling Crystal Dynamics to use the franchise and its characters for future sequels. Despite its turbulent development process, which required the team to excise or scrap some planned and produced content in order to satisfy their 1999 deadline, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was hailed as a technical achievement for its data-streaming game engine, and became highly-successful, both critically and commercially.
Blood Omen 2 entered production before Soul Reaver 2, and was worked upon by a separate team within Crystal Dynamics with creative autonomy, whereas the Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver crew began to produce their direct sequel. Both games were marketed under the banner of "The Legacy of Kain Series", for the first time.[SR2][BO2] Soul Reaver 2 was released first, shipping in 2001 despite a switch from the PlayStation hardware to PlayStation 2 early in the project; many planned features were scrapped due to its accelerated development cycle.[SR2] Though successful, it did not eclipse the sales of its prequel. Blood Omen 2, meanwhile, had a longer development period, and was released six months later in 2002.[BO2] Some of the Soul Reaver 2 developers, despite raising issues to their counterparts, resented the contradictions introduced by the Blood Omen 2 plot - characterized by more overtly sexual elements and a simpler story than previous games - and would reflect that the lack of collaboration between teams ultimately hurt the series and both their products.
The project which started life as Soul Reaver 3 was renamed Legacy of Kain: Defiance early in pre-production, in an effort to refocus the two sub-series into one, with both Kain and Raziel playable characters. In the middle of development, director Amy Hennig knew she would be departing Crystal Dynamics to join Naughty Dog. This, coupled with the game's commercial disappointment in 2003, the exit of two of her successors as Legacy of Kain leads (Richard Lemarchand and Jennifer Fernández) and the death of her third (Kyle Mannerberg) incited belief that it was the last Legacy of Kain title, despite its open ending. It was later discovered that a sequel did enter production, but was cancelled in 2004 before its announcement. Since then, Crystal Dynamics have been entrusted with the development of the Tomb Raider series, which they continue to work on to date, and Eidos Interactive has been absorbed by Square Enix (becoming Square Enix Europe); there has been no confirmation that Legacy of Kain will be revisited.
The series features a large cast of recurring characters, whose voice actors almost universally reprise their main roles in each title. Throughout the games, with the exception of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, voice direction was provided by Gordon Hunt, and casting by Kris Zimmerman. The principal cast includes:
- Simon Templeman as Kain
- Michael Bell as Raziel
- Anna Gunn as Ariel
- René Auberjonois as Janos Audron
- Neil Ross as Malek
- Richard Doyle as Moebius
- Tony Jay and Alastair Duncan as Mortanius
- Tony Jay as the Elder God
- Earl Boen and others as the Hylden Lord
- Richard Doyle and Gregg Berger as Turel
- Paul Lukather as Vorador
The music of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain was composed by Steve Henifin of Silicon Knights.[BO1] Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was composed by Kurt Harland of synthpop band Information Society, with input from Crystal Dynamics' audio engineer, Jim Hedges.[SR1] Harland and Hedges collaborated again on Soul Reaver 2, and Hedges composed Blood Omen 2 alone.[SR2][BO2] Legacy of Kain: Defiance's soundtrack mainly consisted of remixes from previous games, primarily arranged by Hedges, as Harland was busy working on Whiplash.[DEF]
Major influences and themes
In Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, Silicon Knights attempted to "address morals, evil and good, propaganda and fate in ways that have never been explored in a computer game before", and latent themes included "issues of trust, manipulation and betrayal; questions about the nature of good and evil; and most important, man's struggle for free will against the immovable forces of fate". Denis Dyack described the game's central dilemma as "is evil simply a matter of perspective"? Inspirations included The Wheel of Time, Unforgiven, Necroscope and The Pillars of the Earth.
On the game's gory elements, Dyack commented that when William Shakespeare "wrote a play he targeted his story at several levels. For the drunken commoners in the front rows he would insert dirty jokes to keep them entertained but for the aristocracy in the balconies he would write very cerebral metaphors. For Silicon Knights the gore is our dirty jokes, but for those who want more there is a real story behind Kain. A story that you can sink [your] teeth into and one that you can learn something from".
For Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance, the main theme "revolved around the question of free will in a universe apparently ruled by fate. [Hennig] saw both Kain and Raziel as Oedipus figures (Sophoclean, not Freudian), being railroaded by fate and all the while fighting for their free will. They are heroes because they refuse to submit, even when all the odds are stacked against them". Themes of hope, despair and illumination were drawn from T. S. Eliot's and James Joyce's works, and Joseph Campbell's works also assisted the developers in subverting the monomyth to create original, memorable characters. Considerable research into real-world vampire lore was undertaken, to avoid replicating previous works - Paradise Lost was one influence. In terms of visuals and atmosphere, The City of Lost Children, steampunk, goth culture, Dracula, the Batman films, the works of H. P. Lovecraft and Biblical stories were all acknowledged. Gnosticism was a major resource in developing Raziel's story, in that "the hero's goal is knowledge, enlightenment, and the exposure of the truth".
|PS1|| Metacritic: N/A|
|PS1|| Metacritic: 91|
|PS2|| Metacritic: 80|
|PS2|| Metacritic: 67|
|PS2|| Metacritic: 75|
The Legacy of Kain games have generally been critically successful. Review aggregating website GameRankings assigned Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain an average score of 83.25% on the PlayStation. Also concerning its PlayStation release, Metacritic and GameRankings rated Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver at 91 (critical acclaim) and 88.16% respectively. On the PlayStation 2, Soul Reaver 2 was scored at 80 (generally favorable reviews) and 80.90%, Blood Omen 2 at 67 (mixed or average reviews) and 73.33%, and Legacy of Kain: Defiance at 75 (generally favorable reviews) and 77.72%.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver represents the series' peak in this respect; the scores of later games trend downward, but - with the exception of Blood Omen 2 - remain relatively high. Ported versions of the games on other consoles and Microsoft Windows tended to be slightly-less well-received than their original releases.
Following their releases, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2 and Blood Omen 2 entered Sony's Greatest Hits range, having sufficiently satisfied high sales criteria. As of 2007, the Legacy of Kain series as a whole had sold roughly 3.5 million copies according to an annual report from the SCI Entertainment Group Plc, and was hence the fifth-strongest-selling IP under Eidos Interactive's full control. It had commercially outperformed many of Eidos Interactive's other franchises (such as Deus Ex and Thief), but was inferior to four others (including Tomb Raider and Hitman). More recent sales figures have not overtly been released.
Since the release of Legacy of Kain: Defiance in 2003, the possibility of a sixth, future game has frequently been raised by fans and gaming industry journalists, but Square Enix Europe have not committed to the completion of such a project. The Legacy of Kain Wiki features an updated article devoted to the examination of the prospect of new games in the series entering development.
Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy (alternative title: Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 3) was the planned sixth title in the Legacy of Kain series. It entered development at Ritual Entertainment sometime in 2004, but production was cancelled after three to six months of work, and it was never officially announced by Eidos Interactive. Evidence of the project's existence was externally discovered on Ritual Entertainment employees' portfolios by Legacy of Kain community members from 2008 onwards.
Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun was the second known attempt at creating a sixth title in the Legacy of Kain series. The title was developed by Climax Studios, with supervision from Crystal Dynamics, and included multiplayer components delegated to Psyonix. Pre-production began in 2009, and the project spanned multiple targeted formats before being finalized as a PlayStation 4 launch title. However, it was secretly cancelled in 2012 by publisher Square Enix Europe, still unannounced, despite a significant amount of completed work. Evidence of the project's existence was externally discovered from sources within Climax Studios by Legacy of Kain community members from 2013 onwards.
Nosgoth (alternative title: War for Nosgoth) is an upcoming multiplayer title in the Legacy of Kain series, to be published by Square Enix Europe. In the wake of various leaks, its existence and continued production was confirmed in June 2013. It is set to establish a new, ongoing branch to the Legacy of Kain franchise, in the same vein as the Blood Omen and Soul Reaver sub-series. As of yet, no specific details have been asserted regarding its development team, release date, or storyline.
- Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain
- Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
- Soul Reaver 2
- Blood Omen 2
- Legacy of Kain: Defiance
- Sixth game
- Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy
- Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun
- Legacy of Kain Wiki:Nosgoth/Nosgoth (game)
- Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver comic
- Legacy of Kain: Defiance comic
- Chapters/walkthroughs/transcripts of the games
- Legacy of Kain at Wikipedia.
- Legacy of Kain: Dark Chronicle (fan website).
- Nosgothic Realm (fan website).
- Legacy of Kain: The Lost Worlds (fan website).
- Prima Games / Ian Osborne. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain: Official Game Secrets. (1996)
- Prima Games / Mel Odom. Prima's Official Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver Guide. (1999)
- Prima Games / Demian Linn and David Hodgson. Prima's Official Soul Reaver 2 Guide. (2001)
- Prima Games / Mark Androvich. Prima's Official Blood Omen 2 Guide. (2002)
- Prima Games / JDP and Gerald Guess. Prima's Official Legacy of Kain: Defiance Guide. (2003)
- Soul Reaver 2: Background Story at Dark Chronicle (by Marie Tryhorn)
- Soul Reaver: Background Story at Dark Chronicle (by Marie Tryhorn)
- Defiance: Background Story at Dark Chronicle (by Marie Tryhorn)
- Behind the Scenes at SK: The Complete Guide To Legacy of Kain (archived at Dark Chronicle)
- Recreated PSXnation.com Interview with Denis Dyack at Nosgothic Realm
- Playing Catch-Up: GEX's Lyle Hall at Gamasutra (by Alistair Wallis)
- Previews: Legacy of Kain 2: Soul Reaver at SegaWeb (by Craig Hansen)
- A post-mortem of Silicon Knights (research thread) at NeoGAF (by Mama Robotnik/Divine Shadow)
- SILICON KNIGHTS, INC. v. CRYSTAL DYNAMICS, INC. at Leagle
- Shifter at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Something interesting Denis Dyack once said. at IGN (by HGLatino)
- Highly-Anticipated `Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver' Looks to Take a Bite at the Electronic Game Charts This August; Television, Magazine Ad Buys and a Retail Promotional Onslaught Put the Word Out on Eidos Interactive's Sequel to `Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen' at The Free Library
- This news just in: Legacy of Kain ships tomorrow! at IGN
- Knights Fight for Kain at GameSpot (by Chris Johnston)
- GLoK Interviews with Amy Hennig at Nosgothic Realm (by Raziel Fan)
- The Art Of Making Games at IGN (Matt Casamassina)
- Soul Reaver Response at GameSpot (by Chris Johnston)
- Soul Reaver at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Soul Reaver 2 exclusive to the Sony PlayStation 2 at GameZone
- Legacy of Kain: Defiance Designer Diary #1 at GameSpot, page 1 (by Richard Lemarchand)
- Blood Omen 2 at DCabDesign (by Divine Shadow), post #2 (by Daniel Cabuco)
- Soul Reaver 2 at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Eidos plc: Fifteen month results at eidos.co.uk
- Legacy of Kain: Defiance Designer Diary #1 at GameSpot, page 2 (by Richard Lemarchand)
- Interview: Amy Hennig on Making Uncharted 2, Maximizing PS3, and More at IndustryGamers (by James Brightman)
- A farewell message from Amy at the Square Enix Forums (by blincoln)
- Question and Answer with Jen, Richard, and Kyle at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Eidos plc: Preliminary Results for the Year to 30 June 2004 at findarticles.com
- FAQ at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Answers to questions from the Defiance team at the Square Enix Forums (by Chris@Crystal)
- "Kyle Mannerberg Sadly Passes Away" at the Square Enix Forums (by Joshorty)
- So Kyle Mannerberg is dead at GameFAQs (by ThePreacher)
- Legacy of Kain - Cancelled Sequel at NeoGAF (by Divine Shadow)
- Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy (cancelled sequel to Defiance) at Nosgothic Realm (by Divine Shadow)
- Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy (Cancelled) at the Square Enix Forums (by Divine Shadow)
- Eidos Unveils First Details of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend at GamersHell.com
- Defiance interview with senior game designer at C.D. at the Square Enix Forums (by KainSyndrome101), post #10 (by Cynyc)
- The Influence of Literature and Myth in Videogames at IGN (by Douglass C. Perry), page 5
- The Influence of Literature and Myth in Videogames at IGN (by Douglass C. Perry), page 3
- Vampire's attire in Nosgoth at DCabDesign (by majinkura), post #4 (by Daniel Cabuco)
- Blood Omen 2 Designer Diary #1 at GameSpot (by Steve Ross)
- The Influence of Literature and Myth in Videogames at IGN (by Douglass C. Perry)
- Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain for PlayStation at GameRankings
- Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver at Metacritic
- Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver for PlayStation at GameRankings
- Soul Reaver 2 at Metacritic
- Soul Reaver 2 for PlayStation 2 at GameRankings
- Blood Omen 2 at Metacritic
- Blood Omen 2 for PlayStation 2 at GameRankings
- Legacy of Kain: Defiance at Metacritic
- Legacy of Kain: Defiance for PlayStation 2 at GameRankings
- PlayStation Greatest Hits: Complete List at IGN
- SCi Entertainment Group Plc: Annual report and accounts 2007 at miranda.hemscott.com