By TerraMantis 10 Comments
Is Legacy of Kain making a comeback?
Back when vampires were the predatory masters of the world and did NOT sparkle like they’re covered in glitter when walking in sunlight they used to use telekinesis to stream the blood of their fallen prey to their mouth. This was the fantasy world of “Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen”. Hitting the scenes 1996 for the Playstation the Legacy of Kain franchise has been absent from the gaming world since 2003. Is Legacy of Kain making a comeback though?
In the beginning there was “Blood Omen”. This game supported far too often and lengthy load times, but that couldn’t stop this game from etching its way into my memory as one of my favorite games of the PSone generation. Blood Omen had an isometric top-down player view like games such as Diablo and Bastion. You play as the anti-hero Kain of Nosgoth and you seek revenge against the ones who have murdered you. You are resurrected as a vampire by a necromancer to exact that revenge. Kain later discovers that there is a much darker and super natural force pulling the strings behind the scenes. Your adventure feels a bit like a “rated M-ature” version of Zelda. As your adventure goes on you gain more suits of armor with different abilities, weapons, and spells. Kain also wields the fabled Soul Reaver. The Soul Reaver is possibly one of the most famous weapons in gaming second only to perhaps the Master Sword or Blades of Chaos (I might even throw a Lancer into the mix). “Blood Omen” had that action adventure feel and tittered on the edge of RPG just the way Zelda games seem to do.
Most recently was “Legacy of Kain: Defiance” in 2003. In this tale you played as both Kain, the wielder of the physical Soul Reaver, and Raziel who by this time in the storytelling has become known as the Soul that inhabits the physical form of the Reaver which makes the sword overpowering and have a soul lust. Complex and intelligent storytelling take these characters whose fates seem to be intimately intertwined through many spans of time throughout their dimension. As they are both entities that are immortal they have both been told throughout their stay in reality that they have a fixed destiny and that even trying to defy fate will only lead to its inevitable conclusion that would had always and always will be only one inevitable outcome no matter how long they live. Kain, on the other hand, has a different idea about so-called destiny. Kain states that even a coin could be considered to have only one of two outcomes, but once in a million it could land on its side.
The Legacy of Kain franchise as a whole has always had several different factors that stapled the mood and penchant of this game. The mood was always atmospheric and medieval fantasy in nature. The penchant’s narrative was complex and mature while simultaneously being simple and primal. Both Kain’s and Raziel’s humble beginnings take place with their murder and then their primal instinct for blood lust ensues with a simple revenge tale, but the intricacies of time travel and underlying nuances of physics, destiny, fate, and freewill come into play with a more mature and sophisticated story to tell. The atmosphere of Legacy of Kain has always been dark, bloody, labyrinth sewn, and torturous.
So where is this franchise’s stapled mood and penchant been for the last eight years? Where has its atmosphere and mood gone? This atmosphere and mood which was medieval fantasy in nature while simultaneously being simple, primal, complex, and mature? Hopefully you can see it too but I believe it has been here in essence since 2007.
The action RPG franchise “The Witcher” has embodied all of these qualities from day one. Geralt’s and Kain’s aesthetic appearance is not where the similarities stop for these two video game front men.
The clichéd beginnings of Geralt’s tale with being plagued by amnesia are no telltale signs to this game’s penchant of delivering a simplistically rooted beginning story while simultaneously being primal, complex, and mature in a darkly twisted, bloody, and torturous medieval fantasy setting. Similar to the way Kain's and Raziel's tale is not only a simple story of revenge. Geralt is not an anti-hero like Kain per se, but he is not “black or white” and he isn’t even gray. Geralt simply seeks the truth. With amnesia Geralt doesn’t span through time physically but rather he is taken there with his occasional rebirth to sections of his memory. Kain, Geralt, and even Razeil were all human at one time or another and they have undergone and struggled with this change. Whether it is being transformed at the hands of a necromancer into a vampire or undergoing mutation through an alchemical process and being forever altered these protagonists are or have been human at their core. These characters show the complexities, depths of the darknesses, and the perseverance of the human atmosphere.
The ambiences of both games are extremely similar. They both contain a level of deep immersion and environmentally capture the player’s mind and drag them into their world. All though, I do have to say that “The Witcher” series has learned how to deepen that immersion by basically having no load times unlike the “Legacy of Kain” release of 1996. “The Witcher” and “Legacy of Kain” both take you to places that are environmentally darkly twisted and construed to a carefully crafted and realized medieval fantasy world. From water reflections that cascade over the grime covered stone sewers of Vizima to the eerily lit supernatural luminescence of the catacombs of Nosgoth both game’s mood and atmospheric qualities grip you and drag you in giving them a feeling of two games that are kindred spirits not only through narrative personas but also through their physical world.
The Witcher franchise does not titter on the edge of the RPG genre the way games like “Blood Omen” did; instead The Witcher series is a full-fledged action-RPG-adventure of great quality and execution. So if you’re looking for a game that can take you to some of the same places, mentally and spiritually, that games like the Legacy of Kain series seemed to embody then you need look no further than the deeper RPG action experience of the adventures of Geralt in “The Witcher”.