Released in 1996, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is a top-down action/adventure game developed by Silicon Knights. The game follows the story of the arrogant and charismatic vampire Kain as he seeks vengeance, and laid down a good platform for the following sequels to build upon. The gameplay involved puzzle-solving and RPG elements, along with traditional adventure elements like exploration. Blood Omen was well received in the media, and was praised for its high quality of voice acting and compelling storyline.
Kain was once a nobleman in the court of King Ottmar, Nosgoth's ruler. At the very start, players discover that he was assassinated and resurrected as a vampire by Mortanius. He only has one motivation : revenge; thus, he is easily manipulated by those around him. Disgusted by his dark gift, Kain seeks a cure for his vampirism and visits the Pillars of Nosgoth to meet the ghost of Ariel, the former balance guardian. She tricks Kain into thinking that getting rid of all the Pillar Guardians and cleansing the land will cure his condition.During his quest, Kain comes across the reclusive Vorador, one of the oldest vampires in the land. He tries to guide Kain by telling him how he needs to embrace his vampiric gift and stay out of human affairs. The arrogant Kain refuses to listen and continues to go about getting rid of all the Pillar guardians. He comes across Moebius, posing as an Oracle, who warns him about the impending invasion of Nosgoth and the threat posed by the Nemesis – a king formerly known as William the Just. Moebius also informs him that the only way to kill anyone in the Circle of Nine is by first getting rid of Malek, the undead paladin. Kain uses Vorador to deal with Malek and kills three Pillar Guardians in the garden of Dark Eden.
Kain's mission next leads him to Avernus Cathedral, where he finds the Soul Reaver, the Wraith Armor, and a time-streaming device. Kain tries to help King Ottmar's armies against the forces of the Nemesis, but ultimately fails as the old King is slayed. Using the time-streaming device he found in the Cathedral's catacombs, he travels 50 years into the past and comes across a young King William, who is also wielding the Soul Reaver. The presence of two Reavers in the same space/time creates a paradox which changes the course of history. Persuaded by Moebius's words, Kain murders the young king. On returning to his own timeline, Kain finds out that he has been betrayed by Moebius, and that his assassination of William the Just was used as a catalyst to ignite a genocidal crusade against the vampires. After Vorador's execution, Kain is the last vampire left in Nosgoth. Moebius sets a mob on Kain but the vampire escapes. Infuriated by Moebius's trickery and betrayal, Kain chases the timestreamer down and gets his revenge for beheading the sorcerer. As he returns to the Pillars, he finds Mortanius in argument with Anarcrothe, the last two Pillar Guardians.A brief battle commences where Mortanius turns into a dark entity and defeats Anarcrothe. Kain then confronts this demonic figure and tells him how he must die too to bring balance to Nosgoth. This “Unspoken” informs Kain how this had been the plan all along and that Kain played the role of his tragic hero. He also reveals that Kain is the Guardian of the Balance Pillar and that he too must die if balance is to be restored. After Kain defeats the dark entity, he is given a choice - to sacrifice himself and end the vampire race to save Nosgoth or refuse the sacrifice and rule a corrupting empire as its king. All the later games in the series are based on the assumption that Kain refused the sacrifice.
The gameplay in Blood Omen involves a lot of puzzle solving and there are many sections which test players' dexterity. The player has a top-down view of Kain and his surrounding world. Kain acquires a new power on killing any Pillar Guardian, thus adding a hint of RPG element to the gameplay. He can disguise himself to speak to common villagers and gather valuable information. A key mechanic, which would be used in all the later games as well, is Kain's blood thirst. His health goes down slowly over time and he must continuously feed on human blood to satisfy this hunger. Kain also has the ability to phase shift and turn into a wolf. He will weaken in the sunlight and his health will drain more quickly in the rain. He can jump across great distances in his lupine form. Kain has various armors and weapons at his disposal. Throughout the game, he collects valuable relics from various landmarks in Nosgoth, most significant of which is The Soul Reaver.
Kain's blood meter also represents his health, but he has a magic meter as well, representing the power of his soul. This meter fuels the myriad of magic attacks Kain has at his disposal, as well as allowing the mighty Soul Reaver to instantly kill normal enemies as long as there is appropriate energy remaining. Stronger enemies require more magic to instantly kill. He will also collect cards that represent items which can be used as weapons whose effects vary based on the card; or a health boost in the case of the Heart of Darkness.
If Kain comes across humans chained to a wall, he can feed on them at will, otherwise he must incapacitate them first, at which point they'll begin to pitch and reel and Kain can either feed on them or kill them outright. Humans chained to walls don't respond per se, but their ghosts reappear if Kain returns to the room they were in. As with other specters, feeding on ghosts will replenish Kain's magic gauge. There are also demons whose black or green blood is deadly poison to Kain and if he feeds on them rather than executing them, his blood meter will decrease.
Kain: A haughty nobleman from Coorhagen, Kain ventured into a bar for a drink and to get out of the cold. When he emerged, no drink or room having been acquired, he was set upon by brigands who proceeded to murder him. Tormented by his thirst for vengeance in Hell, he is approached by the necromancer Mortanius, who offers him a chance at a new life and thus revenge. Kain takes the offer and is resurrected as a vampire.
Ariel: The former Guardian of Balance, now only a tortured spirit, Ariel sets Kain on the path to kill the Circle of Nine and cleanse Nosgoth, convincing him this will rid him of his curse. She was murdered by Mortanius who was, at the time, possessed by the demonic Unspoken. The murder drove her lover, Nupraptor mad, thus leading to the corruption of the Pillars of Balance as his madness infected the other Circle of Nine.
Nuprapator the Mentalist: The Guardian of the Pillar of the Mind was driven mad when his lover was assassinated. This caused his pillar to be corrupted, which caused the other guardians to go mad, also corrupting their pillars.
Vorador: An ancient vampire, advanced in his mutation, Vorador recognized the corruption of the Circle of Nine and killed them all while Malak was waging his crusade against vampires. Vorador promises to help Kain should the neophyte vampire every have need, and the need, of course, comes up when Kain confronts the ghost of Malek. Vorador is summoned to defeat the paladin as he did before, and he succeeds. Vorador, however, meets his fate after Kain changes time by killing William the Just.
Bane the Druid: The guardian of the Pillar of Nature, Bane immersed himself in his element, dressing in animals skins, wearing a deer's head and having control over nature. He was one of the three founders of the twisted Dark Eden, using his mastery over plants to create the strange plant-life.
DeJoule the Energist: Guardian of the Pillar of Energy, DeJoule could absorb and project energy in any way she wished. She helped Bane and Anarcrothe found the twisted country of Dark Eden, using her power over energy to give life to the twisted inhabitants.
Anarcrothe the Alchemist: A powerful scientist who dabbled in forces he didn't fully understand. He was driven to madness along with the other pillars members and founded Dark Eden as a place of twisted perversions of nature with the help of Bane and DeJoule. Anarcrothe's face was hideously disfigured in an unnamed experiment that ended poorly for him. His pillar was the Pillar of States (as in "of being" not governmental bodies).
Moebius the Timestreamer: Originally the Oracle of Nosgoth, Moebius' motivations are dubious at best, but he at first helps Kain find a way to defeat Malek. He later reveals himself to the Guardian of the Pillar of Time and also able to manipulate the timestream with his device (the Timestreamer), which Kain eventually acquires and uses to attempt to prevent William the Just from becoming The Nemesis.
Malek the Paladin: The guardian of the Circle of Nine, as well as the Pillar of Conflict, Malek is defeated by Vorador after the vampire lord kills six of the Circle of Nine. For this failure, Mortanius strips him of his mortal flesh and confines his soul to his armor, thus leaving him only one purpose: serving the Circle for eternity. Kain encounters him after finding a way through his bastion but finds he cannot defeat the mighty warrior. It would be at the second encounter, after the Paladin was summoned to protect the creators of Dark Eden, that Kain would summon Vorador to defeat Malek.
Mortanius: Kain's mysterious benefactor and Guardian of the Pillar of Death, Mortanius has been unwillingly possessed by the Unspoken and was forced to set the events leading the Circle to madness in motion by murdering Ariel. He gives Kain new life so that he can kill the Circle of Nine and cleanse the land of corruption.
William the Just: Originally a benevolent leader, William became corrupt after possessing the Soul Reaver and christened himself The Nemesis. He led his hordes against the land of Nosgoth, with the only army able to stand against him the legions of Willemby led by good King Ottmar. Kain travels back in time after the battle between the two armies to kill William before his corruption. This act has horrible, unforeseen consequences, however and Kain is forced to deal with a world much more hostile than the one he left behind.
King Ottmar: The only hope of Nosgoth to defeat the Nemesis, King Ottmar is at first paralyzed with grief due to his daughter's illness brought about by Elzevir the Dollmaker's curse. He is roused after Kain breaks the curse and takes to the battlefield against the Nemesis. Something goes horrible wrong, though, and Kain is forced back in time to attempt to rectify the problem at its source.
Elzevir the Doll-maker: King Ottmar announces a doll-making competition to celebrate his daughter's birthday, and Elzevir makes the finest one. However, the doll has a sinister use: it steals the poor girl's soul and allows Elzevir to possess it. Kain goes to the doll-maker's hut and hunts him down. Elzevir dies, wailing that he only wanted the princess' love.
The Unspoken: A massive demon responsible for Nosgoth's current state, The Unspoken (as called by Ariel) resides in Mortanius, coming out only at the end of the game for Kain to battle to the death as his final obstacle.
Kain will come across numerous weapons in his quest for vengeance, something that separated the game from it's contemporary puzzle RPGs with only a few weapons throughout the game.
Iron Sword: Kain's starting weapon, and as expected not a very powerful one. The steel sword offers neither benefit nor hindrance and so is useful in situations where it's unknown how enemies will respond to certain weapons.
Spiked Mace: This weapon will allow Kain to stun human foes in two hits (including the towering hulks of the Nemesis' army), thus leaving them vulnerable to feeding. The downside is it has incredibly low attack and thus is useless against anything but human opponents. The mace can also break open "breakable" objects in the environment, such as stones and chests.
The Axes: Called Havoc and Malice, Kain wields the twin hatchets that he can use to attack rapidly, and if he continues to attack will begin to whirl around, damaging all the enemies surrounding him. However, the blades are two handed weapons, which prevents Kain from casting spells or using items while he has them equipped. He can also use them to chop down trees blocking his path.
Flame Sword: This sword has high attack and will set foes ablaze. Kain can use his standard combo that he uses with his Steel Sword, thus making the weapon incredibly powerful. It is of course useless against enemies with fire resistance, but more importantly the foes are burned away, thus depriving Kain of feeding. It's best use is when Kain's blood meter already high, or against bosses who can't be drained anyway.
Soul Reaver: The massive blade screams as it slashes through entire ranks of enemies and even bosses. So long as Kain has magical energy, the Reaver will plow through entire hordes of normal foes and deal out massive damage to bosses, but the moment that meter is emptied, it becomes as powerful as the iron sword. The Soul Reaver is a two handed weapon and subject to the same limitations as the axes.
Every great vampire warrior out for revenge needs protection against those that would stop him. In Kain's case he has a veritable wardrobe of armors to choose from.
Iron Armor: The armor Kain was killed and resurrected in, the iron armor offers decent all around protection, and a slight bit of fire resistance.
Bone Armor: Weak undead units, such as wandering zombies and skeletons, will mistake Kain for one of their own when he wears this armor, thus allowing him safe passage.
Chaos Amor: More powerful defensively than the Iron Armor with the added bonus of inflicting any enemy that struck Kain with the same amount of damage. This could even be used to stun them without Kain actively attacking.
Flesh Armor: The flesh armor will drain blood from enemies with every strike completely automatically, however one must use caution as it will also drain the poisoned blood of demons automatically. It also has lower defense than the iron or Chaos armors.
Wraith Armor: This armor has an interesting effect: it spreads any damage Kain recieves evenly through his blood and magic meters, thus allowing him to take more damage overall, but also decreasing his ability to shift forms or cast spells.
Kain will acquire spells as he goes through his quest. Some are essential to continue with the game, and some are strictly optional. All of them consume at least some of his magic meter with the exception of Sanctuary.
Sanctuary: Casting this spell enables Kain to instantly teleport back to his mausoleum, where he'll be completely restored, but he will have to battle his way back to wherever he was at the time of using the spell.
Light: As suggested, this spell merely illuminates an area, allowing greater visibility.
Energy Bolt: Kain hurls a bolt of chaotic energy that can be used to either damage enemies or flip switches across impassable hazards.
Repel: Casting this spell puts up an impenetrable barrier around Kain, keeping him safe from any form of damage for a very short time. It's short duration and high cost make it extremely impractical for regular use.
Inspire Hate: This spell will turn all enemies in the area against one another unless Kain approaches too close or attacks them.
Stun: Using this spell on human foes will cause them to be stunned and easy pickings for feeding. It has no effect on non-human enemies.
Incapacitate: This spell creates a homing projectile that will go straight to the nearest enemy and freeze them in place for a few seconds. It can be used on any type of normal enemy.
Blood Gout: Using his own blood as a fuel source, this spell sends out a projectile that, upon striking an enemy, causes blood to flow back into Kain, thus replenishing him.
Mind Control: Kain displaces a human enemy's soul from its body, enabling him to take control and manipulate it in any way he sees fit. His own body is protected by a shield for the duration and the enemy will die after Kain releases his hold on it. This spell only affects humans.
Blood Shower: Kain would draw blood from any four enemies onscreen at once upon casting this spell. Any other enemies in the area still die, and the spell will also draw poisonous blood out.
Spirit Death: This spell causes the victim's soul to immediately be torn from the body, thus killing any enemy (save bosses) instantly.
Spirit Wrack: Similar to Mind Control, this spell will affect any normal enemy instead of just humans.
Lightning: Only usable outdoors, the lightning spell would hurl down destructive bolts upon all normal enemies in the area, killing them all instantly and spectacularly.
These are miscellaneous items that can be found in the world or at special Spirit Forges. Kain can carry 99 of any one item.
The Heart of Darkness: Supposedly torn from the chest of Janos Audren, the greatest vampire ever to live, the Heart of Darkness will either refill Kain's health greatly if used manually. If Kain is struck down and possesses at least one, it will be automatically consumed and he will be revived with some health.
Flay: These small, sharp discs will home in on enemies and cause them damage, eventually leaving nothing but a red skeleton.
Implode: Much more powerful than Flay, these items lack homing capacity, but they will instantly and horrifically kill most normal enemies on contact.
Slow Time: All enemies in the area move at a quarter of their normal speed for a brief time.
Font of Putrescence: Another homing item, but this one reduces a single enemy into a pool of toxic sludge. Any enemy, or Kain himself, caught in the pool will take damage.
Pentalich of Tarot: One of five horrific deaths will be visited upon every normal enemy in Kain's vicinity upon using this powerful item.
Anti-Toxins: If Kain should become poisoned, by either enemy attack or consumption of green blood, this will cure him instantly.
Energy Bank: This item will make Kain's magic reserves limitless for a brief time. After it expires, Kain's magic meter will be completely drained and have to recharge on its own.