Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is a top-down action-adventure video game with role-playing game elements. It is the first game in the Legacy of Kain series, and the only one developed by Silicon Knights and published by Crystal Dynamics. The game was first released in 1996 for the PlayStation, and later ported to Microsoft Windows. A Sega Saturn version was announced during production but later cancelled before release. It was followed by four sequels, which were all developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos Interactive.
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain introduces the fictional setting of Nosgoth. In the game, the player takes the role of Kain, a human nobleman, who is murdered and given the chance to exact revenge on his assassins by becoming a vampire. He travels Nosgoth, slaughtering the corrupt sorcerers of the Circle of Nine 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.
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. This led to the 1999 release of a sequel - Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.
Backstory and setting
- "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."
In the fictional land of Nosgoth, which resembles Medieval Europe, the health of the world is inextricably tied to the Pillars of Nosgoth, nine columns of "marble and other indescribable materials" which reach infinitely into the sky.[Blood Omen/3][Blood Omen/12] Each Pillar is linked to a fundamental principle: Mind, Dimension, Conflict, Nature, Balance, Energy, Time, States and Death.[Blood Omen/3] Equally, each Pillar is represented by a Guardian, culled from Nosgoth's human population; together, the Guardians form the Circle of Nine, an oligarchy of immortal sorcerers dedicated to serve and protect the integrity of the land.[Blood Omen/2][Blood Omen/9] When a Guardian dies, the Circle remains temporarily broken, until their successor is found.[Blood Omen/9][Soul Reaver 2/2] Since the times before Nosgoth's recorded history, it has been the responsibility of the active Guardians to locate, apprentice and induct new members.
Hundreds of years before the events of the game, Nosgoth's vampire population increased. In response, the Circle of Nine formed, and sponsored the crusades of, a monastic brotherhood of fanatical, vampire-hunting warriors, known as the Sarafan.[Blood Omen/5][Blood Omen/6] The Sarafan vampire purge devastated their enemies, prompting the vampire Vorador to retaliate. Vorador stormed the Circle's domain, and slaughtered six of the Circle of Nine before defeating Malek, the leader of the Sarafan and appointed defender of the Circle. The Circle recovered, but one of its senior members - Mortanius the Necromancer - damned Malek for his failure, condemning him to serve the Circle for eternity as an unliving wraith.[Blood Omen/5][Blood Omen/6][Blood Omen/1] Since then, the Sarafan have long since been disbanded, and humans and vampires co-exist in a state of relative, if uneasy, truce.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/Miscellaneous] Humanity is pre-occupied with a new threat: the encroaching Legions of the Nemesis from the north.[Blood Omen/9][Blood Omen/Miscellaneous]
Decades ago, Ariel, the Balance Guardian, was murdered by an unknown traitor within the Circle.[Blood Omen/2][Blood Omen/1] When her lover, Nupraptor (the Mind Guardian), found her corpse, his anguish was too much to bear; vowing vengeance, he turned his powers against his fellow Guardians, irrevocably poisoning their minds with relentless waves of hatred.[Blood Omen/3][Soul Reaver 2/2] The magical onslaught left the nine active Guardians insane: some rave like madmen, whereas others remain maliciously in control of their actions. Regardless, Nosgoth is at their mercy. Reflecting the mental state of their servants, the Pillars visibly darkened with corruption, fractures crawling across their surfaces.[Blood Omen/1] Kain is obligated to kill each of the insane Guardians, thus restoring their Pillars, in exchange for a cure to his curse.[Blood Omen/2]
- "Oh, little vampire, the game grows interesting. But with so many pawns, can you find the true player?"
The characters of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain were devised to accommodate the developers' ambition to create "a world where you had to kill innocents to survive and a world that you are the ultimate pawn", aiming to offer a story with no real "good guys" or "bad guys" (including the protagonist). Silicon Knights said that "we wanted to ask the questions of "What is evil? Perhaps it is merely a perspective".
- Kain (voiced by Simon Templeman), "an ambitious young noble whose lust for vengeance overrides his sense of judgment", is the protagonist of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Conceived by Denis Dyack, he was partially modeled upon William Munny, the lead character of Clint Eastwood's 1992 film Unforgiven. Moral ambiguity is a central theme in Kain's story, and the developers wished to put the player "in the position where everyone believes you are evil", hoping to introduce "a game were [sic] everyone in the world was your enemy (including yourself)" in an attempt to challenge the monomyth. Silicon Knights explicitly identified Kain as an anti-hero, a non-archetypal lead character whose personality can be perceived as being villainous and heroic at the same time. Initially, Kain is obsessed with finding a cure to preserve his humanity, but this hope declines over the course of the story as he comes to accept, and even embrace, his vampiric gifts, forsaking the machinations of the living. Kain narrates events, his surroundings and his thoughts through the literary device of retrospective soliloquy.[Blood Omen]
- Mortanius the Necromancer (Tony Jay) is Kain's enigmatic benefactor, responsible for resurrecting him as a vampire after his seemingly-inexplicable murder at the hands of assassins.[Blood Omen/1] Though arguably the most potent wizard in Nosgoth, his incredible power is tempered by a sense of mercy and judgment. He is also one of the most senior members of the Circle of Nine - the Death Guardian - although this fact is not made clear until the final acts of the story.[Blood Omen/11] Mortanius periodically guides Kain throughout the land, but his motivations are somewhat murky and ambiguous.[Blood Omen] After the game's release, Silicon Knights explained that he is the victim of possession by a Dark Entity determined to bring down the Pillars. "In constant conflict" with this being, Mortanius seeks to "correct the imbalance" in Nosgoth, and "as the game progresses, some of Mortanius's actions are his own, some are him being controlled".
- Vorador (Paul Lukather) is "a proud, arrogant and long lived vampire", who has witnessed the world's transition from being young and vibrant to sour and corrupt over the eras. Though outwardly portrayed as an "arrogant, egotistical braggart", he is privately tormented by the past loss of many of his friends, children and lovers to the crusades of the Sarafan. Renowned but reclusive, he fiercely despises the living, whom he regards as nothing more than cattle.[Blood Omen/6] Vorador represents what Kain is to become if he allows his curse to consume him, and serves as a father figure of sorts of the younger vampire, assisting him in the quest to destroy the Circle, but staunchly warning him to stay out of human affairs.[Blood Omen/6][Blood Omen/7]
- Ariel (Anna Gunn), the former Balance Guardian, directs Kain from the Pillars of Nosgoth.[Blood Omen] "Her magic influenced the regulation of the other magic in Nosgoth", and her prowess was rivaled only by her beauty. Murdered decades prior to the events of the game, she now haunts the Pillars as a disembodied specter, doomed to linger there until the land receives its salvation. Although an ally to Kain, her sincerity is questionable; she leaves him ignorant of his true destiny to ensure he fulfills his duty as the scourge of the Circle.[Soul Reaver 2/5]
- Moebius the Time Streamer (Richard Doyle), operating under the alias of the Oracle of Nosgoth, is the malevolent Time Guardian.[Blood Omen/11] Intensely devious and conniving, Moebius is not trusted by many of his peers in the Circle, and constantly abuses his unique ability to forecast Nosgoth's time-stream. Passing himself off as a wise hermit, he was viewed as wise and benevolent by pilgrims, but by the events of Blood Omen is noted for "predicting omens and horrific events" - a puppeteer, manipulating others for his own ends. The character of Moebius was partially based on Adolf Hitler, and some of his actions - particularly towards the end of the story - were modeled upon fascism, Nazism and the Nuremberg rallies.
- Malek the Paladin (Neil Ross) is the Ward of the Circle, the Conflict Guardian, and an antagonist.[Blood Omen/4] Once a ruthless warrior-priest and leader of the Sarafan, he was condemned for his failure to defend the Circle of Nine, and is now a wraith deprived of the "pleasures of the flesh".[Blood Omen/1][Blood Omen strategy guide] Thus purged of his humanity, his "hate has been entirely focused on exacting revenge upon the vampire that caused him to be damned for eternity". The "endless struggle" between Malek and Vorador is representative of the conflict between Kain's sense of humanity and his newfound vampire nature.
- Anarcrothe the Alchemist (the States Guardian; Doyle), Azimuth the Planer (the Dimension Guardian; Gunn), Bane the Druid (the Nature Guardian; Lukather), DeJoule the Energist (the Energy Guardian; Gunn) and Nupraptor the Mentalist (Doyle) collectively form the remainder of the corrupted Circle of Nine, acting as bosses fought throughout the game.[Blood Omen] As Kain kills each Circle member, he collects their Pillar token, necessary to restore their respective Pillar.[Blood Omen]
Other notable characters include King Ottmar (Ross), the melancholic ruler of Willendorf, whose assistance Kain elicits to fight the Legions of the Nemesis.[Blood Omen/9] The Nemesis himself, otherwise known as William the Just (Jay), is a mighty warlord whom Kain is forced to contend with towards the conclusion of his quest.[Blood Omen/9][Blood Omen/10] Elzevir the Dollmaker (Ross), a minor antagonist and boss, must be killed in order to gain Ottmar's favor.[Blood Omen/9] Lastly, the Dark Entity (Jay) - a malevolent being also known as Hash'ak'gik - is an otherworldly creature desperate to destroy the Pillars, whom Kain must defeat at the conclusion of the game. Despite appearing only briefly in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, the Entity's role is greatly expanded in later entries in the series, in which he becomes a major character.[Blood Omen/11][Blood Omen 2][Defiance] The infamous vampire Janos Audron, who likewise becomes a significant presence in future games, is occasionally mentioned, but does not appear in the game.[Blood Omen/Miscellaneous]
- "What, no mug of ale for a weary traveler from distant Coorhagen? I can reward you well, for I am of noble blood."
The story begins in Nosgoth's early history, during the age of the Sarafan.[Blood Omen/5][Blood Omen/6][Blood Omen/1] The sun is setting in Nosgoth's killing fields, and Sarafan warriors are hoisting a vampire onto a stake, amongst countless others. Four members of the Circle of Nine observe this event from a magical basin in their headquarters, observing and guiding the movements of their loyal vampire slayers.[Blood Omen/1] Suddenly, an older, green-skinned vampire - Vorador - bursts into the room, his sword ripping through one of the Guardians in a flash. Using a variety of powers at his disposal, he murders five further Guardians before defeating Malek, their protector. Malek awakes in a darkened chamber, and is addressed by Mortanius, who condemns him for his failure by fusing his spirit to his armor.[Blood Omen/5][Blood Omen/6][Blood Omen/1]
Many years later, in the history preceding Blood Omen, Ariel is conducting her duties, oblivious to the distinctive - but unknown - shadow moving purposefully towards her. She realizes its presence too late, and is fatally stabbed, screaming as she dies.[Blood Omen/1] Her murder sets a number of events in motion which result in the decay of the Pillars of Nosgoth; the nine great edifices visibly crack and crumble, turning gray and dark with emblematic corruption.[Blood Omen/3][Blood Omen/2][Blood Omen/1] Decades later, in the Blood Omen era, a young nobleman - Kain - stops at a bar to sate his thirst, but, to his dismay, the Barkeep refuses to serve him, noting the time and the looming danger the night brings. Disheartened, Kain leaves the bar to resume his journey, but is immediately set upon by a large group of armed brigands.[Blood Omen/1]
Unable to fend off his attackers, Kain is quickly knocked to the ground, and one of the assassins finishes the job by stabbing him in the back with an Iron Sword. Kain's soul emerges in the Underworld, still transfixed by his enemy's blade, and struggling to escape. Mortanius approaches, and twists the Iron Sword loose from Kain's back, freeing him of his captivity; he has been offered the chance to exact revenge. Peering with contemplation into the roaring fires behind him, Kain jumps at this chance for vengeance, heedless of the profound cost.[Blood Omen/1] He accepts the Iron Sword from Mortanius, and coruscating magic ripples across his body, transforming his living skin to dead, vampiric flesh. Mortanius laughs as Kain strides away, promising him the Blood he hungers for.[Blood Omen/1]
A Dark Covenant
- "There is no greater release than that from vengeance sated. With my assassins dead, my quest was over."
Waking in a crypt, Kain begins his odyssey, and makes his way out of his mausoleum, into the Cemetery. His "new existence" is revealed; he is a vampire, unable to expect comfort from the sun - "only malice" and "cruelty". At the edge of the graveyard, he tracks down those who killed him, and exacts bloody revenge, sending his slayers back whence he came. For a moment, Kain is relieved, believing his quest is over, but Mortanius soon corrects him, hinting that "these fools were merely the instruments of [his] murder, not the cause". He must travel to the Pillars of Nosgoth in search of further enlightenment.[Blood Omen/2]
Kain passes through the small human town of Ziegsturhl, where his murder took place, and crosses the forestlands, heading north to reach the Pillars. There, at night, he finds a specter haunting these solemn sentinels - Ariel, the murdered representative of the Pillar of Balance. She informs Kain that the salvation of Nosgoth would be in his best interest; Kain is quick to assert that he seeks only a cure, and cares little for the fate of the world, but agrees to undertake the duty on the pretense that he will "realize peace" if he succeeds. Ariel warns him to "beware the Unspoken", and tells him of Nupraptor, her love, driven mad by her murder.[Blood Omen/2] The Mind Guardian is to be his first kill.[Blood Omen/3][Blood Omen/2]
Pressing northward, Kain bypasses the towns of Nachtholm and Steinchencröe before making it to Vasserbünde, a city adjacent to Nupraptor's Retreat. He navigates Nupraptor's traps and hazards, and eventually finds the Mentalist himself, guarded by Malek. However, Nupraptor dismisses the Paladin, sure that he will simply "fail the Circle once more", and combats Kain personally. Kain is victorious over Nupraptor, and beheads him. He returns with the head to the Pillars, where it dissolves into the stone of the Pillar of the Mind, cleansing the Pillar of corruption. Ariel congratulates him, and instructs him to defeat the Circle's "shepherd" - Malek.[Blood Omen/3]
For the Blood is the Life...
- "‘Twould seem Malek’s destiny with my blade was postponed. Perhaps Ariel could offer further guidance."
On his journey to Malek's Bastion, Kain is forced to revisit his hometown of Coorhagen, which has been infested with the plague since his departure.[Blood Omen/4] Battling his way through the undead in the settlement's narrow alleys, he reaches a mountaintop from which he can observe the clifftop Bastion. Though Malek's stronghold is bitterly cold and deprived of life, Kain succeeds in dodging the wraith's traps and disabling his mechanisms, and fights the Conflict Guardian. Initially, they prove evenly matched, but Malek gains the advantage, unleashing a wall of deadly magical force against Kain. Left with no choice but to flee, Kain escapes the Bastion empty-handed. Ariel advises him to seek out the Oracle of Nosgoth for aid.[Blood Omen/4]
The labyrinthine Oracle's Cave in the arctic wastes leads Kain to a larger enclave, where an old man stands by a roaring fire, cooking something. He welcomes the "nobleman", and digresses into musings on the Legions of the Nemesis and King Ottmar. Irritated, Kain demands information on Malek. The Oracle mentions that "his vanity led to the slaughter of the Circle at the hands of the vampire Vorador", giving Kain a lead. At the Oracle's instruction, he "follows the glow of the Ignis Fatuus to the Termogent Forest", where Vorador dwells.[Blood Omen/5][Blood Omen/6] Its swamps are perilous, but he manages to access Vorador's Mansion, and soon finds the elder vampire.[Blood Omen/6]
Kain is initially repulsed by Vorador, who considers him "something worse than Hell" - a vision of what he is becoming. Vorador, though, warms to the fledgling, and imparts his philosophy: that vampires are gods, and that mortals offer their blood as sacrifice so that they can enjoy their supernatural powers. To his dismay, Kain realizes that, deep down, he knows Vorador is right. Pondering this, he listens to Vorador's "boorish account" of the slaughter of the Circle, punctuated when he orders Kain not to concern himself with the "affairs of man". Kain acknowledges this only very slighty, and Vorador gives him his Signet Ring, to summon his newfound ally when the need arises.[Blood Omen/6]
- "The specter of Ariel led me to Willendorf. If I was to defeat the next member of the Circle, I needed to understand his machinations. With this vague advice in mind, I set forth on the road to Willendorf."
Before he visits Uschtenheim, Kain is notified by Mortanius that "a triad congregates at the roof of the world" - three wizards of the Circle of Nine, plotting to reshape Nosgoth from Dark Eden, their "garden of horrors" in the north. Allured by the promise of vengeance, Kain fends off the mutants created by these three corrupt Guardians, and breaches the sanctuary of Anacrothe the Alchemist, Bane the Druid and DeJoule the Energist, the three conspirators. Anacrothe flees, summoning Malek, but Kain uses Vorador's Signet Ring to call his own ally in response. While Vorador deals with the Paladin, Kain chases down the other two. The vampires are successful, and Bane, DeJoule and Malek are destroyed in the duels.
Returning to the Pillars with Bane's Antler Headdress, DeJoule's Insulating Cloak and Malek's Helmet, Kain restores the Pillars of Nature, Energy and Conflict. Ariel next sends him to the city of Avernus, where Azimuth the Planer dwells. He complies, but finds the city in chaos; Azimuth, now a raving lunatic due to the Pillars' corruption, has unleashed Demons on the place. In Avernus Cathedral, where the boundaries between the planes of existence are blurred, Kain discovers, and claims, the legendary Soul Reaver sword, and the Wraith Armor. With these implements, he easily slays Azimuth, and returns her Eye to the Pillar of Dimension.
Before leaving the Cathedral, Kain discovered a time-streaming device; Ariel cryptically comments that "it will deliver [him] in time". She also explains that he must stop the Nemesis - once known as William the Just - and his legions, or all shall be lost. If Kain is to defeat the next member of the Circle, she says, he needs to understand his machinations. This vague advice leads Kain to the somber kingdom of Willendorf, ruled by the despondent King Ottmar. Kain infiltrates the Provincial Mines and drinks blood from the tomb of one of Ottmar's forefathers, which enables him to Beguile the living and thus interact with them. With this ability, he enters Ottmar's court, where the monarch relates his story in person.
The Last Stand
- "In the distance, I saw the Nemesis armies march forward, a black tide that would soon wash over the Armies of the Hope."
To celebrate his daughter's birthday, Ottmar held a contest bidding his subjects to produce the finest doll in the realm; the victor would be granted a royal favor. Of the hundreds of submissions, the winner was obvious - Elzevir the Dollmaker "created a toy of such beauty that all were captivated by it". He took a lock of the Princess's hair as payment, but, soon after, she became lifeless. Ottmar proclaims that whoever restores her to her former self will be given rulership of Willendorf, and Kain seizes the opportunity. He successfully tracks down and kills Elzevir in his abode upon the Lake of Lost Souls, and finds a second doll, with the Princess's soul imprisoned within.
After Kain returns to Willendorf with this and Elzevir's head, Ottmar is overcome with gratitude. Kain refuses the kingdom, but accepts control of Ottmar's army. Ottmar leads the Army of the Last Hope into a skirmish with the Legions of the Nemesis - the Battle of the Last Stand. Kain participates, sating his thirst "on warriors of Horde and Hope alike". Advancing northward, he realizes that the Nemesis armies were far more skilled than he had predicted - they show no signs of subsiding. Ottmar is killed, begging Kain to destroy the Nemesis with his dying words, and the tide of battle turns in the Legions' favor. The Army of Hope flees, and Kain is quickly cornered. Desperate, he uses his only means of escape; the time-streaming device he took from Avernus.
The landscape morphs around him, and the battlefield disappears, replaced with greenery. After killing a Man-at-Arms, Kain reads his victim's thoughts, and receives a vision of Moebius the Time Streamer, rallying crowds in preperation for an onslaught. It becomes clear that Kain is now stranded in the past, during William the Just's reign, fifty years before the Battle of the Last Stand will take place. Realizing that he can save Nosgoth by eliminating William in this time period, Kain ventures through Stahlberg, and north to William's stronghold. Within, he overhears as Moebius provides William with weapons, and assures the king of his good intentions by warning him of an encroaching vampire assassin.
- "I found myself once more in the Nosgoth I knew. The carnage from battle was gone. Yet there was something amiss. From the distance, I heard cries and a breeze from the south carried with it the faint odor of vampire blood."
- "I am the last Pillar. The only survivor of the Circle of Nine.
At my whim the world will be healed or damned. At my whim."
- "In his life he was unknown. A petty noble.
In death he was unknown. Yet by choosing oblivion he restored Balance to the land.
Shades cast no shadows."
Blood Omen is a two-dimensional action-adventure game. The game camera is fixed in a bird's eye view position and follows Kain as the character travels the world of Nosgoth. Gameplay is divided between outdoor exploration and visiting internal structures, including crypts, houses, castles, cathedrals and temples. The game screen constantly displays three features, being the sun gauge, and health and magic meters respectively. The sun gauge monitors the passage of time via the use of icons (e.g. sun and moon), with the screen also becoming lighter or darker to accurately reflect the time. Certain doors, or "Moon Gates", possess a "time trigger" and only open when a full moon occurs. A full moon briefly occurs once every two hours of real time. The health meter is a red blood vial that monitors Kain's current level of health. By finding small vials throughout the game it is possible to increase the size of the vial. The magic gauge is signified by a series of blue glyphs, and by finding additional glyphs the gauge increases in length.
During the course of the game, the character Kain acquires a variety of abilities, weapons, armor, magic and items. Kain acquires four additional forms, being "werewolf" (enhanced strength and speed), "bat" (instant travel to other locations such as Bat Beacons), "mist" (used to bypass solid objects and water) and "human peasant", later "nobleman" (to fool enemies and townspeople into talking to Kain). Weapons include an iron sword, a mace, twin battle axes (called "Havoc" and "Malice"), the Flame Sword and the Soul Reaver, with each having benefits and drawbacks (e.g. the use of the battleaxes prevents the use of magic and items, while use of the Soul Reaver drains the magic gauge). During the course of the game certain weapons are required to enable progression to new areas. Five different types of armor can be found, being iron, bone, chaos, flesh and wraith respectively. Each suit of armor has its own distinctive advantages.
Magic can be used as either a spell or an item, with several of each being hidden throughout the game. There are 13 spells in total, being practical (e.g. "Light"), offensive ("Lightning") and on occasion functional (e.g. "Mind Control"), being necessary to allow game progression. Throughout the game numerous colored orbs can found that will replenish the character's magic levels. There are also ten items in total, which can be found in hidden "Spirit Forges". Like spells, these vary in effect, and include both offensive (e.g. "Flay") and support (e.g. "Heart of Darkness") options. There are 100 "secrets" hidden in the game, which can be found when the character performs actions such as activating hidden switches, pressing buttons, entering Moon Gates or finding items such as Spirit Forges, but finding all of them won't change the ending(s).
Items, equipment and power-ups
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain originated circa 1993 as The Pillars of Nosgoth, an original RPG concept conceived by Denis Dyack, whose "complex story was outlined in a document full of sketches and concepts". Dyack and writer Ken McCulloch developed and finalized the "details and twisted story". The designers "wanted to create a game where there was no ultimate weapon and armor. A game where you had to use your head as well as your reflexes" - a mature title "which adults would want to play". For six to eight months, Silicon Knights worked on the game's design without a particular hardware platform in mind. While they were completing Dark Legions, Crystal Dynamics producer Lyle Hall met Dyack at a developer conference, while sourcing third-party developers with talent and ambition. Hall and Dyack agreed that games of the day should be given higher budgets and deliver on bigger expectations. Among other publishers, Crystal Dynamics were sent the concept, and two others, including one for Too Human; Too Human was almost pursued, but Crystal Dynamics "thought fantasy would go over more then Sci-Fi", and chose to create the game for the 32-bit marketplace. Hall was instantly taken by the "unbelievable character and epic story", and impressed by Silicon Knights' passion about delivering an artistic, cinematic experience. The Soul Reaver, which was originally intended to be a weapon in Too Human, was transplanted to the "vampire action RPG", which Hall and Dyack felt could truly evolve the genre.
For a long time, both parties planned to develop the game for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, but Sony announced the PlayStation "just at about the time when [they] could not wait any longer". Although Crystal Dynamics was heavily leaning towards using the Sega Saturn for all of their products, Dyack and Hall convinced them to choose the PlayStation, impressed by its streamlined architecture and graphic abilities. In 1993, anti-heroes were uncommon in video games, especially outside of Japan, and Dyack later vividly recalled hearing that "this is too ambitious" while discussing the idea. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain was featured at E3 1995; Silicon Knights were adamant that they receive credit as the game's developers, arguing that "if Kain was a book (which is a linear form of entertainment), we would be known as the authors", and were thankful to Diehard GameFan for recognizing them as such in a preview. Following considerable analysis, it was decided to substantially increase the size of the development team, with Silicon Knights doubling in size, and Crystal Dynamics flying staff out to Canada (including Amy Hennig and Seth Carus) to assist in design for over six months. This delegation was left to procure their own off-site accommodation, resulting in "great personal sacrifice".
Working with 486 and Pentium 90 computers, the developers were forced to compromise on the quality of the game's cinematics, which were developed in 3D Studio (v4), Animation Master (Playmation) and Animator Studio. These were also used to construct and animate over 170 characters, creatures and monsters, as was Adobe Photoshop. Bat flight sequences were developed in VistaPro; "seamlessly integrating Nosgothian cities and mountainous castles was a painstaking task for [the] artists". Sound effects were mixed in Digidesign using Silicon Knights' only Macintosh. The game's code was written in C, and designers assembled levels using an internally-developed mapmaker program. Loading times were considerable in the final release: Dyack explained that "the Sony has 3 meg of RAM. 1 meg is dedicated to video and 2 Meg is dedicated to data (V RAM and DRAM respectively). The problem with Kain was that we had 2.5 megs of graphics (best in VRAM) and .5 meg of data (best in DRAM). This meant that we had to store graphics in the Sony were it did not belong. This accounted for most of the slowdown."
In developing the character of Kain, Silicon Knights deliberately veered away from following the monomyth despite being advised that a brooding anti-hero would not appeal to gamers. Silicon Knights adopted the vision of a character whom everyone believes is evil, partially inspired by William Munny, the protagonist of Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, as opposed to a stereotypical "totally kick-ass" protagonist.
The world of Nosgoth was created by using a combination of high fantasy and vampire mythology as a template. Influenced by the Necroscope and The Wheel of Time series, the creative team attempted to ensure no character fell into a simple "good" or "evil" typecast. Cover art for The Pillars of the Earth served as inspiration for the Pillars of Nosgoth themselves. Content director Ken McCulloch, who co-wrote the storyline and the majority of in-game texts, was urged by marketers to use more accessible names late in the design process, with Mortanius and Hash'ak'gik considered "Names from Hell" that were difficult to get past the "marketing censor".
Simon Templeman provided the voice of Kain, and prior to recording Dyack expressed concern that the actors would be unable to convey McCulloch's complex dialog. Dyack, however, stated their performances "blew him away", and commented that "after five minutes with Simon Templeman [...] we knew that there was no problem."
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain was well-received by critics, with an average review score of 83% as determined by Game Rankings. IGN cited the story as "the best of many strong features in the game", praising the voices and atmosphere. Although the game's CD-based load times were described as long and "agonizing", IGN commended the developer for keeping them from interfering with the game.
Specific sales figures were never released, but Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain was described as "immensely successful" by a Crystal Dynamics employee. Denis Dyack stated that "all parties involved [were] very pleased" when it shipped, and Amy Hennig later revealed that it had "sold remarkably well for its time", but that its profits were not comparable to the standards of 2000's blockbuster games.
A 2011 court filing revealed that the game sold at least 320,082 units historically while Silicon Knights claimed it had sold 2 million copies in its lifetime, but did not substantiate this figure.
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain was re-released on the Playstation network for PS3 and PSP owners in 2011 but did not see a re-release on PC due to rights issues which persisted for some time. In 29 September, 2021, the game finally saw a digital re-release for Windows PCs on the GOG store, 26 years after its original release.
Art (alphabetical order):
- Lead Artists: Darren Cranford SK, Kevin Gordon SK, Ken McCulloch SK
- Senior Artists: Scott Collie SK, Scott Derby SK
- Artists: Ryan Andrews SK, Tony Ascroft SK, Al Grace SK, Clint Green SK, Brad Ryan SK, Phil Tauro SK
Code (alphabetical order):
- Lead Programmer: Denis Dyack SK
- Senior Programmers: Clint Lipczynski SK, Andrew Summerfield SK
- Programmers: Andrew Bates SK, Rick Goertz SK, Doug Tooley SK
Design (alphabetical order):
- Lead Designers: Seth Carus CD, Armando Marini SK, Ken McCulloch SK
- Designers: Albert Alejandro SK, Riley Cooper CD, J Epps CD, Chazz Geiwitz CD, Jack Meier SK, Rodney Rapp CD, Kenny Reeves CD, Josh Rose CD, Eric Simonich CD, Ted Traver SK, Caroline Trujillo CD, Jaime Wojick CD
- Product Marketing Manager: Jim Curry CD
- Director of Marketing: Scott Steinberg CD
- Kain Concept: Denis Dyack SK
- Blood Omen Story Line And Mythology: Denis Dyack SK, Ken McCulloch SK
- Original Cinematic Script: Ken McCulloch SK
- Cinematic Script Edits & Additions: Jim Curry CD, D. G. Chichester
- Original In-Game Scripts: Ken McCulloch SK
- Revised In-Game Script: Sheatiel Sarao CD, Seth Carus CD, Jim Curry CD
- Design Manager: Amy Hennig CD
- Producers (alphabetical order): Rick Goertz SK, Lyle Hall CD, Joshua Marks CD, Mark Wallace CD, Jeff Zwelling CD
- Executive Producer: Jonathan Miller CD
- Activision Producer: Jason Kay
- Supplementary Art: Ross Cutler SK, Mike Tweedle SK
- Programming Support: Adrian Longland CD
- IGOT Tool Support: Sean Vikoren CD
- Music: Steve Henifin
- Additional Music: Scott Shelly
- Cinematic Sound Effects: Dave Nelson, Outpost Studios, Jim Lebrecht
- Cinematic Foley: Dave Nelson, Outpost Studios
- In-Game Sound Effects: Denis Dyack SK
- Additional Sound Effects: Earl Vickers
- Cinematic Voice Director: Todd Bonzung
- In-Game Voice Director: Maddy Bascom
- Kain: Simon Templeman
- Mortanius, William the Just: Tony Jay
- Vorador, Bane: Paul Lukather
- Ariel, Azimuth, DeJoule: Anna Gunn
- Moebius, Nupraptor, Anarcrothe: Richard Doyle
- Malek, Ottmar, Dollmaker: Neil Ross
- Sound Support: Mark Miller CD
- Test Manager: Alex Ness CD
- Lead Tester: Sheatiel Sarao CD
- Assistant Lead Testers: Rich Krinock CD, Steve Papoutsis CD
- Testers: Ron Allen CD, Greg Becksted CD, Tony Borba CD, Attilio Brandi CD, Jeremy Bredow CD, Mike Brown CD, Chris Bruno CD, James Cabot CD, Shun Chang CD, Ed Chennault CD, Rolef Conlan CD, Casey Craig CD, Scott Crisostomo CD, Joe Damon CD, Jim Delgrosso CD, Kris DeMartini CD, David Dao CD, Mitch Giampaoli CD, Karl Hagemann CD, Scott Hill CD, Billy King CD, Kevin Kwan CD, Doug Leslie CD, Craig Locicero CD, Samson Maciel CD, Sean MacGrath CD, Scott Matt CD, Dan Miley CD, Billy Mitchell CD, Matt Prescott CD, Bret Robbins CD, Kenny Reeves CD, Jim Reuter CD, Narcisse Roze Shields CD, Jason Sinclair CD, Sam Villanueva CD, Pat Walsh CD, Jeff Wilkinson CD, John Yanik CD, Matt Young CD
- Manual: Carol-Ann Hanshaw
- Thanks To: Karyn Depetris SK, Ross Lillo SK
- Special Thanks: Tom Carey, John Mitterer, Lyle Hall, Coffee Guy, All The Digital Widows Made By This Project
- Lead Artists: Darren Cranford, Kevin Gordon, Ken McCulloch
- Senior Artists: Scott Collie, Scott Derby
- Artists: Ryan Andrews, Tony Ascroft, Al Grace, Clint Green, Brad Ryan, Phil Tauro
- Lead Programmer: Denis Dyack
- Senior Programmers: Clint Lipczynski, Andrew Summerfield
- Programmers: Andrew Bates, Rick Goertz, Doug Tooley
- Lead Designers: Seth Carus, Armando Marini, Ken McCulloch
- Designers: Albert Alejandro, Riley Cooper, J. Epps, Chazz Geiwitz, Jack Meier, Rodney Rapp, Kenny Reeves, Josh Rose, Eric Simonich, Ted Traver, Caroline Trujillo, Jaime Wojick
- Marketing Manager: Jim Curry
- Vice-President of Marketing: Scott Steinberg
- Activision Marketing: Henry Siegel, Marc Metis
- Kain Concept: Denis Dyack
- Blood Omen Story Line & Mythology: Denis Dyack & Ken McCulloch
- Original Cinematic Script: Ken McCulloch
- Cinematic Script Edits & Additions: Jim Curry, D. G. Chichester
- Original In-Game Script: Ken McCulloch
- Revised In-Game Script: Sheatiel Sarao, Seth Carus, Jim Curry
- Design Manager: Amy Hennig
- Producers: Rick Goertz, Lyle Hall, Joshua Marks, Mark Wallace, Jeff Zwelling
- Executive Producer: Jonathan Miller
- Activision Producer: Jason Kay
- Supplementary Art: Ross Cutler, Mike Tweedle
- Programming Support: Adrian Longland
- IGOT Tool Support: Sean Vikoren
- Music: Steve Henifin
- Additional Music: Scott Shelly
- Cinematic Sound Effects: Denis Dyack, Dave Nelson/Outpost Studios, Jim Lebrecht
- Cinematic Foley: Dave Nelson/Outpost Studios
- In-Game Sound Effects: Denis Dyack, Earl Vickers
- Cinematic Voice Director: Todd Bonzung
- In-Game Voice Director: Maddy Bascom
- Kain: Simon Templeman
- Mortanius, William the Just: Tony Jay
- Vorador, Bane: Paul Lukather
- Ariel, Azimuth, DeJoule: Anna Gunn
- Moebius, Nupraptor, Anarcrothe: Richard Doyle
- Malek, Ottmar, Dollmarker: Neil Ross
- Sound Support: Mark Miller
- Test Manager: Alex Ness
- Lead Tester: Sheatiel Sarao
- Assistant Lead Testers: Rich Krinock, Steve Papoutsis
- Testers: Tony Borba, Attilio Brandi, Jeremy Bredow, Mike Brown, Chris Bruno, James Cabot, Shun Chang, Casey Craig, Joe Damon, Chris DeMartini, David Dao, Mitch Giampaoli, Karl Hagemann, Billy King, Doug Leslie, Craig Lonciero, Sam Maciel, Sean MacGrath, Scott Matt, Dan Miley, Billy Mitchell, Matt Prescott, Brett Robbins, Jim Reuter, Jason Sinclair, Sam Villanueva, Pat Walsh, Jeff Wilkinson, John Yanik, Matt Young
- Manual: Carol-Ann Hanshaw
- Thanks: Karyn DePetris, Ross Lillo
- Special Thanks: Tom Carey, John Mitterer, Lyle Hall, All the "digital widows", "The Coffee Guy"
- Lead Artists: Kevin M. Kutsch, Jamie Clark
- Artists: Joseph Kelley, Linda Stapleton
- Legacy of Kain
- Blood Omen chapters, transcripts and walkthrough
- Blood Omen characters
- Blood Omen locations
- Blood Omen items and equipment
- Blood Omen abilities
- Blood Omen enemies
- Blood Omen glossary
- Blood Omen cast
- Blood Omen crew
- Blood Omen cut content
- Blood Omen gallery
- Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain at Wikipedia.
- Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (1996) at Dark Chronicle (by Ardeth Silvereni).
- Blood Omen at Nosgothic Realm (by Wolf Reven and Tenaya).
- Blood Omen at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln).
- Blood Omen at the GOG store.
- Soul Reaver 2: Background Story at Dark Chronicle (by Ardeth Silvereni)
- The Pillars at the Soul Reaver 2 official site
- Soul Reaver 2: Historical Timeline at Dark Chronicle (by Ardeth Silvereni)
- The Players at SK: The Complete Guide To Legacy of Kain (archived at Dark Chronicle)
- Recreated PSXnation.com Interview with Denis Dyack at Nosgothic Realm Cite error: Invalid
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- Behind the Scenes at SK: The Complete Guide To Legacy of Kain (archived at Dark Chronicle)
- Miscellaneous Questions & Answers at SK: The Complete Guide To Legacy of Kain (archived at Dark Chronicle)
- Theme Outlines for Cinematics at SK: The Complete Guide To Legacy of Kain (archived at Dark Chronicle)
- Legacy of Kain: The Plot at SK: The Complete Guide To Legacy of Kain (archived at Dark Chronicle)
- Playing Catch-Up: GEX's Lyle Hall at Gamasutra (by Alistair Wallis)
- Previews: Legacy of Kain 2: Soul Reaver at SegaWeb (by Craig Hansen)
- The epic Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain joins GOG.COM