- "Given the choice - whether to rule a corrupt and failing empire or to challenge the Fates for another throw, a better throw, against one's destiny - what was a king to do?"
Legacy of Kain: Defiance is an action-adventure video game, the fifth and, thus far, final installment in the Legacy of Kain series. Developed by Crystal Dynamics (with support from Ritual Entertainment) and published by Eidos Interactive, it was originally released for the PlayStation 2 on November 11, 2003, and was subsequently ported to Microsoft Windows and the Xbox. Acquiring mixed to high reviews upon release, the game was praised for finally answering many questions posed throughout the series, but was criticized for its repetitive gameplay and awkward camera controls. It was preceded by Blood Omen 2, and is the first title to feature both the Vampire lord Kain and his lieutenant-turned-Wraith, Raziel, as playable characters.
Defiance picks up after the cliffhanger ending of Soul Reaver 2, and takes place in the consequential fourth timeline. After executing Raziel to be revived by the Elder God during the events of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Kain travels backwards through time and is followed by Raziel into Nosgoth's past, uncovering the conspiratorial events that led to the land being doomed to an eternity of corruption. After establishing his free will by refusing to kill Kain when prophesied, Raziel discovers that Moebius the Time Streamer had originally manipulated Kain into igniting a genocidal war against Vampires until he was the last of his kind. In manipulating Raziel (who has free will and thus whose decisions and actions cannot be foreseen by Moebius), Kain hopes to find a way to undo the consequences of his actions and restore Nosgoth to its former glory.
Backstory and setting
Defiance continues from where Soul Reaver 2 ended. In Soul Reaver 2, Kain saved Raziel's life by drawing the Soul Reaver from him - Raziel was meant to enter the blade and become its soul-devouring spectral half. This causes a paradox that changes time for the worse, and separates Kain and Raziel.
Kain's part of the game follows him seeking Moebius the Time Streamer, a time traveling mystic for answers to where Raziel is, how he has changed time, and later following a lead Moebius gives him to explore a Vampire citadel. During his quest, Kain finds and completes a broken talisman of Vampire construct known as the Balance Emblem. Kain discovers murals during his quest dictating an ancient war between the first races to inhabit Nosgoth, the Ancient vampires and the Hylden. After sealing the Hylden in an alternate dimension using the Pillars of Nosgoth, the Hylden cursed the Ancients with blood-thirst, sterility and immortality, turning them into the first Vampires. Kain discovers from the murals that it was prophesied that both races would have a champion arise - a Vampire champion wielding the Soul Reaver, and a Hylden champion wielding a flaming sword. Because he possesses the material Soul Reaver depicted, Kain comes to believe he is the prophesied Vampire champion. The outcome of the battle between the two champions remains ambiguous.
Raziel's part of the game begins five hundred years later during the time of Blood Omen. Held captive by the Elder God, Raziel escapes his master and travels about Nosgoth hoping to find a way to avoid his fate of being imprisoned in the Soul Reaver. After being told by the Reaver's maker Vorador that only the deceased Janos Audron can give him the answers he seeks, Raziel travels to Avernus Cathedral to find Janos' heart and revive him. Raziel also finds murals of the Hylden and Ancients, showing the Ancients committing suicide in horror of their immortality. Raziel later discovers this is because the Ancients worshipped the Elder God, who had decreed all souls had to spin in a cycle of life and death known as the Wheel of Fate. Because they were immortal, their souls could not follow this doctrine and the Ancients became the bane of the entity they once revered. Raziel also finds murals of the two prophesied champions, and discovers that the Hylden champion and its flaming sword resemble him and the spectral Soul Reaver.
As Raziel enters Avernus Cathedral to search for Janos' heart, in the past Kain explores the Vampire citadel's deepest chambers and is contacted by the Elder God who tells him of what Raziel plans. Knowing what Janos' revival would cause (see Blood Omen 2), Kain accepts the Elder God's assistance and is sent to Raziel's time. In Avernus, after defeating the last of his brethren Turel, Raziel discovers Mortanius, who admits having helped Moebius lead the original crusade against the Vampires, and used Janos' heart to revive Kain as a Vampire to atone for his mistakes. Raziel returns to the cathedral's chapel moments after Kain arrives. The two battle, with Raziel defeating Kain and tearing Janos' heart from his chest. Kain, seemingly dying, is engulfed by a portal and vanishes. Raziel returns to Vorador's Mansion and Raziel uses the Heart of Darkness to revive Janos, who leads him to the Vampire citadel.
Raziel stumbles into a side chamber, the place where Kain had met the Elder God, Raziel finds a forge designed to give the Soul Reaver its greatest power. However, the Elder God's tentacles emerge and attempt to bury the forge. Raziel fights off his master and has the Soul Reaver absorb the soul of Ariel, rendering the Reaver as pure of spirit. Ariel tells Raziel that this purified Soul Reaver is meant to be used by the Scion of Balance; however, evidence points towards Kain being the Scion of Balance, confusing Raziel as he returns to Janos.
At this time during the events of Blood Omen, Kain's past self refuses to sacrifice himself to restore the Pillars of Nosgoth, weakening the Ancients' seal enough for the Hylden Lord to possess Janos. The possessed Janos strikes down Raziel's physical body and causes him to shift to the spectral realm where he is again held captive in the Elder God's lair. Kain awakens trapped within the Demon Realm of the Hylden, and fights off their Demons to return to Nosgoth. Entering the Vampire citadel, Kain finds Moebius the Time Streamer reporting to the Elder God. Kain kills Moebius, causing his soul to shift to the Spectral Realm where Raziel impales him on the spectral Soul Reaver. Raziel then considers all he has learned, and realizes that, through starting the war between the Ancients and the Hylden, and the war between humans and Vampires through Moebius, that the Elder God has been the cause of almost every hardship the land has faced in an attempt to keep its Wheel of Fate turning. Raziel uses Moebius' corpse to manifest in the Material Realm and tricks Kain into stabbing him with the material Soul Reaver before the manifestation completes. Although Kain is horrified, Raziel submits to his destiny and enters the blade, granting Kain a Soul Reaver of highest power. This gives Kain the power to defeat the Elder God and the entity warns it cannot be killed and will return before being buried under the rubble of the collapsing Reaver forge. As the game ends with Kain looking out on the Pillars of Nosgoth his past self had just corrupted, he silently thanks Raziel for "the first bitter taste of that terrible illusion - hope", ending the game, and the Legacy of Kain series on an unresolved cliffhanger.
Items, equipment and power-ups
Defiance is the only game in the series where both Raziel and Kain are playable: previous Soul Reaver installments focused on Raziel while the Blood Omen series focused on Kain. Unlike previous games where Raziel and Kain could acquire different types of weapons, in Defiance the only available weapon for either of them is their respective versions of the Soul Reaver - Kain possesses the material Reaver while Raziel possesses the Reaver's spectral form. However, they do acquire Elemental versions of the Reaver, as Raziel did in the previous games. By killing enemies, Raziel and Kain learn new combat techniques, including uppercuts, mid-air slashes, and firing orbs of telekinetic energy. Some techniques are shared by the two, others are unique to them, such as Kain's "Cadaverous Laceration". Raziel and Kain can also acquire various elemental powers that give them new abilities - the Flame Emblem lets Kain use his telekinesis to light torches while Raziel's Dark Reaver lets him turn invisible and pass certain obstacles and enemies without being noticed. When an enemy is weakened, Kain and Raziel can either absorb their blood/soul to replenish their health, or slay them with the Reaver, gradually filling up a meter that lets the Reaver unleash an area of effect spell to attack groups of enemies. Both Raziel and Kain can acquire various runes to increase their health and allow them to use their telekinetic powers more often. A menu system is used to display the character's combat experience, the runes they have collected and the various combos they have learned to execute.
The game begins with players controlling Kain, but at set intervals they will acquire control of Raziel and play as him for a time before switching back to Kain. Both possess similar powers, including climbing walls, gliding in mid-air and phasing through certain gates. However, both also have abilities exclusive to them: Kain can jump large gaps, transform into a swarm of bats and cannot swim, while Raziel swims and can shift into the spectral realm to bypass enemies and obstacles before finding an appropriate place to shift back into the material realm. Kain is also able to use his telekinesis to pick up enemies and either throw them into obstacles or pull them towards him, an ability Raziel lacks at first and must acquire during the course of the game. Enemies include Sarafan warrior-priests, Vampire hunters, Hylden-possessed corpses called Revenants, and various types of Demons.
- Director: Amy Hennig
- Lead Programmer: Jason Bell
- Programming: Dan Chao, Scott Krotz, Hong Park, Gary Snethen, Anthony Thibault, Alex Bartholomeus, Patrick Den Bekker, Jurjen Katsman
- Lead Designer: Riley Cooper
- Design: John Dumala, Mike Ellis, Richard Lemarchand, Kyle Mannerberg, Joe Ching, Nate Franklin
- Art Director: Mark Daniel Cabuco
- Lead Artist: Jacob Wendler
- Artists: Jennifer Fernández, Stephane Gaudette, Kory Heinzen, Jesse Johansen, Jeff Johnsrude, J. R. Jones, Isabelle Lemay, Matt Abbott, Joel Bouquemont, Sundeep Dass, David Gustlin, Darren McKinsey, Daniel Neuberger, J. R. Vosovic, Gavin Wood
- Lead Animator: Brandon Fernández
- Animation: Jeff Wilcox, Kam Yu
- Audio Lead: Jim Hedges
- Audio: Kurt Harland, Mike Peaslee
- Senior Producer: Matthew Guzenda
- Producer: Rosaura Sandoval
- Studio General Manager: John Spinale
- Design Assistant: Jacob Rohrer
- Additional Design: Adam Bellefeuil, Jon Guilford, Jared Hefty
- Additional Art: Wyeth Johnson, Nick Pappas
- Additional Animation: Treanor Brothers Animation, James Guilford, Rungy Singhal
- Additional Audio: John Baker, Kristoffer Larson
- Additional Production: David Goodwine
- Production Assistant: David Cuccias
- Story & Dialogue: Amy Hennig, Carol Wolf
- Recording Director: Gordon Hunt
- Casting Director: Kris Zimmerman Salter
- Voice Talent:
- Michael Bell as Raziel
- Simon Templeman as Kain
- Tony Jay as the Elder God
- Richard Doyle as Moebius
- René Auberjonois as Janos Audron
- Paul Lukather as Vorador
- Anna Gunn as Ariel
- Alastair Duncan as Mortanius
- Gregg Berger as Turel
- Additional female voices by B. J. Ward
- Additional male voices by Phil Proctor
- Recording Studios: Salami Studios AP
- Original SR1 & SR2 Intros: GlyphX, Inc.
- Test Manager – Crystal Dynamics: Chris Bruno
- Lead Tester – Crystal Dynamics: Benny Ventura
- Testers – Crystal Dynamics: Chappy, Billy Crippen, Tennessee Dave, Matthew Ellison, John "GROMKEY" Fields, John Hsia, Winston Ishigo, Joe King, Eric Masyk, Johnathan Brown, Wesley Catanzaro, Patrick Connor, Wilfredo Dimas, Barry Kearns, Scott Matt, Angel Marquez, Joe Quadara, Gregg Stephens, Alex Vaughan
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