Defiance is the direct sequel to Soul Reaver 2, and picks up where that game left off. It also provides some background to the events of Blood Omen 2. For the first time in the series, both Kain and Raziel are playable, and their interwoven story is told in alternating chapters. Scores are settled, many questions are answered, and a major story arc is completed.
Raziel - now aware of his terrible destiny to become trapped in the Reaver - is stuck in the Spectral Realm with the Elder God. Kain, on the other hand, has returned to the Sarafan Stronghold, hoping to learn Raziel's whereabouts from Moebius. Although Raziel eventually gives the Elder the slip, his agenda does not compliment Kain's. While Raziel desperately wants to avert his fate, Kain is trying to reclaim his pre-ordained role as 'Scion of Balance'. He needs Raziel's help and free will to achieve it, but Raziel is still distrustful of Kain, and all the prophecies point to a final battle which only one - or neither - will survive.
The biggest change in gameplay from the previous games is the new camera angle which gives the game a more cinematic look. While the camera serves the purpose of making the game look better, it can become a hindrance in gameplay. Raziel still has the ability to shift in and out of the material realm at will and this serves as a major gameplay element, especially for solving puzzles. Players have to constantly choose the right realm to travel in to get past certain obstacles. Kain, on the other hand, can turn into mist and pass through doors easily.
As with all the other games in the series, most of the gameplay revolves around the Soul Reaver blade itself. In Defiance, Raziel starts with the basic Spectral and Material Reavers. All the temporary enhancements he had gained throughout Soul Reaver 2 have been lost or were otherwise made inaccessible by The Elder God. There was originally an explanation for this in-game - hinting that the Elder God had destroyed the crucial Elemental Fonts needed to activate the powers - but it didn't make it as far as the released version. Once Raziel escapes from the Underworld, he finds the means to re-forge the wraith-blade with new elemental properties, only permanently this time. No fonts are needed - he can switch between his acquired elemental Reavers at will. Each elemental Reaver has different strengths and characteristics.
There are forges spread throughout Nosgoth which help him reforge. They were less puzzle-oriented than the Soul Reaver 2 forges, but they did not all give up their power easily. The Fire, Air, Water and Earth forges were each guarded by two spirits: spectres of the Ancient Vampire Pillar Guardians. Raziel has to defeat them, and absorb their souls into the blade to gain the elemental enhancement aligned to their Pillars.
Kain starts off carrying the blood-devouring, physical incarnation of the Reaver. He presumably got it after saving Raziel in Soul Reaver 2. Like Raziel, Kain can enhance the Reaver throughout the game. He has to collect the five fragments of the Ancient Vampires' Balance Emblem to give the Reaver new magical attributes. These attributes are not all elemental; rather they are connected to the Pillars themselves - specifically the Balance, Conflict, Dimension, Energy and Time Pillars.
Aside from their varied elemental colors, the Reavers can also be distinguished by how they sound when used. The Dimension, Lightning, and Soul Reavers have the most distinctive making obvious sounds associated with their names.
Combos and Powers
Kain and Raziel start with a fairly simple range of attack moves, including a basic three-slash combo. As they progress and fight enemies, they gain combat experience. Their level of experience is displayed by the Reaver meter on the in-game status screen, and whenever the Reaver meter fills, they can unlock a new Special Attack. You gain more experience by performing more complex combos (by stringing together previously-earned Special Attacks), and filling up the charge meter during combat.
Both Kain and Raziel possess the power of telekinesis and often use it to move big objects or throw their enemies around. You can combine swordplaya with telekinetic powers in combat to pull off some rather satisfying combos and juggle your enemies in air.
Defiance starts right where Soul Reaver 2 left off with Raziel trapped in the spectral realm and Kain searching for the wraith. Unable to find him anywhere in his time period, Kain infiltrates the Sarafan Stronghold to interrogate Moebius the Timestreamer. His first meeting with the sorcerer, however, doesn't go according to plan as Moebius disables the vampire with his scepter and simply walks away; leaving Kain with nothing more than a wounded ego. On their next meeting, Kain ambushes Moebius and disarms him before he can use the scepter on him. After being thrown around the room like a toy, Moebius succumbs and reveals that Raziel is in another timeline and Kain can find him by visiting the area west of the Pillars.
Meanwhile, Raziel is some five centuries in the future, in the Blood Omen era. He is being held captive inside the spectral realm by the Elder God. In an act of defiance, Raziel escapes from the Elder God grasp. Bitter with his failure to keep the wraith captive, the Elder God disables all the planar portals in the world thus denying him an easy way to materialize in the physical realm. However, Raziel proves more resilient than he expected and reanimates existing corpses to materialize himself. As he makes his way out of a graveyard, Raziel comes across some of Moebius's vampire hunters. Realizing what time period he was in, Raziel resumes his old quest of finding the " Heart of Darkness" so he can resurrect Janos Audron. He travels straight to the Pillars to seek guidance from the ghost Ariel. The haunted spirit leads her to Vorador's mansion, buried deep inside the black forest. On reaching the mansion, Raziel finds the structure to be abandoned and rigged with traps to keep intruders out. He fights his way inside to finally meet Vorador. The old and bitter vampire shows him Janos Audron's preserved body and reveals that the "Heart of Darkness" must still beat somewhere. Following Vorador's advice, Raziel travels to Avernus Cathedral to find the black heart.
Kain explores the area Moebius talked about and finds an ancient vampire citadel. As he explores this ancient landmark, he finds several murals depicting the history of the Ancients and how they built the Pillars to imprison the Hylden. In return, the Hylden cursed them with vampirism. The murals show how the vampire curse drove them to madness and they had to rely on human guardians for their Pillars. These guardians would be converted into vampires when they reached a suitable age, until Moebius and Mortanius revolted against the vampires and claimed the Pillars for their own. This ignited the bloody war between vampires and humans, leading upto Kain's fateful decision in Blood Omen.(Unknown to Kain, the Elder God is responsible for both the wars as he first influenced his disciples,the Ancient vampires, into a religious war against the Hylden; who didn't believe in his teachings. Then as the vampires were cursed with immortality, he turned to the humans to get rid of the vampires. He was the catalyst behind Moebius and Mortanius's revolt)
In the old citadel, Kain comes across some murals predicting the future and showing the Hylden and Vampire champion locked in a duel. Clearly recognizing the swords they wield, he realizes that the champions are none other than Kain and Raziel themselves. As he continues to explore, he comes across a secret chamber deep within the citadel. Inside the chamber, he meets an entity who claims to be the Oracle of his ancient ancestors and offers his help in finding Raziel. Secretly, this entity is none other than the Elder God, who wants Kain dead. With no other choices available to him, Kain accepts the Oracle's help and is teleported five centuries into the future - where Raziel arrives at Avernus Cathedral.
In the meantime, Raziel explores Avernus in his search for the elusive "Heart of Darkness". Inside the long catacombs, he stumbles across a group of humans worshiping someone named Hash'Ak'Gik. Raziel faces the giant creature, only to find out its his long lost brother, Turel. The vampire was summoned here from the future and has been trapped here for centuries - being worshipped as a God and given regular blood offerings. Turel was actually being used a vessel by the Hylden and on sensing Raziel, they decide to take over and attack him. Raziel defeats the monster and absorbs his soul, increasing his power of telekinesis. Raziel makes his way out of Turel's pit and finds Mortanius. The necromancer reveals that he used the "Heart of Darkness" to resurrect Kain as a vampire. Mortanius was also possessed by the hylden who used him to kill Ariel and do other heinous acts. Repenting his actions, Mortanius finally lets go and destroys himself. Armed with the knowledge that Kain posses what he seeks, Raziel makes his way out of Avernus. As fate would have it, he meets Kain on the way.
As the chase finally ends, Kain tries to reason with Raziel. He informs Raziel that because of his unique remaking, he is the only one in all Nosgoth who truly has free will. He is not bound to the wheel of fate. But Raziel refuses to listen and influenced by the Hylden, he attacks Kain. Their battle ends in a stalemate as both the champions are equally matched in combat. As they struggle, Kain's material Reaver starts to absorb Raziel's soul. Taking it as a threat, Raziel rips out Kain's heart and banishes him to the demon realm. Having found what he was seeking, Raziel heads back to Vorador's mansion to raise Janos.
On his return to the mansion, Raziel finds that Moebius and his mob have already captured Vorador. Cunning as ever, Moebius escapes by setting his vampire hunters on Raziel. The wraith deals with them and makes his way to the secret chamber where Janos Audron's body is stored. He uses the heart of darkness to resurrect the ancient vampire and retells the events of the past five centuries. Shocked and horrified, Janos decides to find some answers by teleporting the pair to the vampire citadel. Raziel explores the ancient monument and to his surprise, finds the Elder God underneath. He notices the Elder trying to hide something. Curious, he attacks the creature's giant tentacles to reveal a Spirit Forge. He plunges his wraith blade into the forge to activate it. This summons the souls of all the balance guardians to the forge, including Ariel. She informs Raziel that this forge will purify the blade with the spirits of all the balance guardians. As Raziel released her soul, she leaves him a final cryptic message saying "You have done well, Raziel. But there is one more trial for you to bear. You must unite that which has been set asunder... only then will the Scion of Balance be armed for his true endeavor. Only then... ".Unable to make sense of these words, Raziel heads back to Janos for counsel.
Raziel returns to find an anxious Janos, as the bindings of the Pillars is about to break down. Janos tells Raziel to seek out the Scion of Balance, just as the Pillars breakdown and the Hylden come through to possess Janos. They reveal how Raziel had played right into their hands and acted like their champion. Realizing that he must stop this threat, Raziel attacks the hylden Janos and defeats him in combat. However, he could not bring himself to finish the task of killing his one and only friend. The Hylden take advantage of this and banish the wraith back to the spectral realm. There, as always, he finds the Elder God waiting for him. The Elder God tries to break Raziel's will, calling his actions insignificant. He summons Moebius to the citadel to set his plans in motion.
Inexplicably, Kain is still alive in the demon realm and wakes up to find a gashing wound in his chest and a hollow gap where his heart once was. He comes across some Hylden who were banished here by his ancestors ages ago. Kain defeats them as he makes his way out of the demon realm through a portal and goes back to the vampire citadel.There he finds Moebius in conversation with his God. Surprised to see his mortal enemy still alive, Moebius tries to use his scepter against Kain but fails as the heart which was once effected by it is no longer present inside Kain. Seeing that there is nothing he needed from the timestreamer, Kain impales Moebius with the Soul Reaver - killing him once again. In the spirit realm, Moebius prays to the Elder God for his life but is interrupted rudely by Raziel's blade; as he too impales Moebius with the wraith blade. Raziel's spirit reaver purifies Moebius's sight and he sees his precious God in its true form (a giant squid) for the very first time. Raziel devours his soul, thus ending Moebius's existence for all time.
Seeing how the spirit reaver purified Moebius's vision and allowed him to see the Elder God for the first time, Raziel realizes what he must do. He alone could end the conflict. As Raziel reanimates Moebius's corpse, Kain jumps forward and impales him in a reflex reaction. As Raziel completes his transformation, Kain realizes his mistake and tries to pull the Reaver out. As the Reaver starts to absorb his soul, Raziel refuses to let go and reveals his true purpose. He was meant to purify Kain and the Reaver of all corruption. By sacrificing himself, Raziel cleanses Kain of the corruption inflicting him since his birth. As Raziel fades away, Kain is finally able to see the vampire's true enemy - the Elder God.
Armed with the purified Soul Reaver, Kain defeats the Elder and leaves him buried inside the citadel. As he reflects upon Raziel's final act of redemption, Kain realizes how his sacrifice provided with something far greater than the sword which now held his soul: Hope.
Like most games, a lot of content was left out of the retail version of the game. A few of the rumored elements which didn't make the cut are as follows:
- Raziel's Shield - There were design documents which showed something similar to a shield on Raziel's left arm. It could have helped make Kain and Raziel more distinct in combat.
- Addition Balance Emblems - More additions were planned for Kain's Reaver
- Umah - There were plans to provide more backstory for Umah's character and maybe explain Vorador's presence in Blood Omen 2.
- Sanctuary of the Clans - It is rumored that the game was supposed to end in the future, back in the timeline where Soul Reaver takes place.
- Avernus - Avernus Cathedral and its catacombs were originally designed as much bigger areas but had to be cut short due to time constrains.
PC System Requirements
- OS:Windows XP/ Windows Vista / Windows 7
- Processor:1.8Ghz processor
- Memory:1 GB RAM
- Graphics:3D graphics compatible with DirectX 9
- Hard Drive:2 GB HD space