Archive.png Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain in Electronic Gaming Monthly issue 86

  • September, 1996
  • By Denis Dyack and Electronic Gaming Monthly

Profile[edit source]

Haven't gamers saved enough princesses? Ever since Link rescued Zelda, the save-the-princess plot formula has been beaten into the ground by console role-playing games, while PC RPGs have become famous for delivering much more immersive story lines.

It seems fitting then that Silicon Knights, a company that previously developed PC RPGs only, is creating one of the most epic console RPGs ever – Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. This PlayStation title, published by Crystal Dynamics, is expected to offer at least 120 hours of gameplay, and the game's plot is complex–and gory–enough to satisfy even the most die-hard RPG player.

Legacy of Kain is set in the not-so-scenic land of Nosgoth, where peasants huddle in villages for protection from vampires, zombies and other horrors roaming the world. The player controls Kain, an arrogant noble who walks the land in search of glory.

A band of sword-wielding thugs murders Kain at the beginning of the game, but the hero's adventures are far from over. He winds up in hell, where a powerful necromancer grants Kain the chance to return to the world of the living and seek vengeance against the murderous mob. Ignoring the consequences of his decision, Kain quickly accepts the offer.

He awakens in a crypt and quickly learns the price of his resurrection: He has become a vampire. Kain spends the rest of the game trying to rid himself of his curse. In the meantime, however, he has to survive just like any other vampire: feeding on the living.

Kain's bloodthirsty quest, therefore, makes for a very gory game. After he slices open victims with his sword, Kain can chug the blood from their bodies. This blood fills Kain's life meter, which diminishes when the hero is attacked or goes too long without feedings. Kain's blood-draining power is very visible in the game: A stream of the red stuff can be seen flowing from the victim's neck to Kain's mouth every time he tanks up on blood.

But Kain can't go around sucking the life from every human or monster he sees, since not all blood is healthy for vampires. Undead monsters have black, rancid blood coursing through their rotting veins. This foul fluid will drain Kain's health if he drinks it. Some monsters are full of green blood, a potent poison into which Kain should never dip his fangs. Still other creatures gush blue blood, and this mix replenishes Kain's magic power.

Like in nearly all RPGs, magic is a crucial part of Legacy of Kain. As Kain gains power, he'll be able to conjure up some spectacular – and explosively gory spells. (For instance, one particular spell, the Implode spell, will turn enemies inside out and blow them to bits!) Kain will also discover how to morph into mist and several different animals, such as a bat and a wolf. Once he's a bat, Kain can soar above Nosgoth and take shortcuts over the land's mountains and forests.

While these flights are portrayed through cinemas, and more than 20 minutes' worth of other FMV sequences are scattered throughout the game, most of Legacy of Kain is played in a top-down perspective. As Kain wanders through Nosgoth, he stumbles over special floor panels that trigger audio sequences. These sequences feature dialogue that's spoken while Kain continues his adventures, so the action is rarely interrupted.

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is loaded with sword-swinging action. However, it is the game's non-linear plot, which is loaded with everything from demonic hordes to time travel, that will make this PlayStation RPG really stand out.

Electronic Gaming Monthly[1]

Gamer's Edge[edit source]

No doubt about it: Legacy of Kain is loaded with carnage. However, gamers should restrain themselves from killing every man and beast in the game just to drink the poor victim's blood. The developers have programmed the game so that every violent action can potentially have a negative repercussion. For instance, if you kill everyone in a village just to gorge on their blood, these villagers won't be around later when you need to feed. You should, therefore, only feed on villagers when your blood meter is low. When you get really hungry, you'll want to avoid using overly powerful spells and weapons to dispatch enemies. Weapons such as the Shuriken and magic attacks such as the Putresce spell may yield spectacular deaths to monsters, but they also leave no remains on which you can feed. Obliterating too many bad guys can quickly lead to starvation.
Electronic Gaming Monthly[1]

Behind The SCREENS[edit source]

Players won't have to read a word of text to follow Legacy of Kain's story; conversations and narrations in the game are conveyed through digitized speech that's spooled off the CD. This heavy reliance on voice actors may scare gamers who've come to expect bad acting from console games (look no further than the laughably lousy voice-overs in Resident Evil). Fortunately, Legacy of Kain's developers didn't get cheap when they sought actors to give voice to the game's large cast. They listened to audition tapes sent in by scores of Hollywood voice actors. They then flew to Los Angeles and hired the best of the bunch, including an actor whose voice can be heard in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The result of this talent search can be heard in the game, which features hours' worth of well-acted dialogue, all of it delivered in a thick, mood-setting English accent.
Electronic Gaming Monthly[1]

Behind The SCREENS[edit source]

Legacy of Kain is a huge game. It spans an entire world, stars more than 100 characters and features a plot as complex as–and much darker than–any RPG from Square.

"This game has a big, epic feel to it and we don't think that's ever been done before on the consoles," said Denis Dyack, president of the game's developer, Silicon Knights.

Dyack co-wrote the game's story line, a project that began more than two years ago. He drew on many sources for inspiration, but Legacy of Kain's vampire theme was based mainly on the works of novelist Brian Lumley, who wrote the Necroscope series of vampire books, and Robert Jordan, a fantasy writer.

For the character of Kain himself, however, Dyack turned to an unlikely hero–one from the Old West.

"We wanted to build Kain up a lot like the character from the film The Unforgiven, where it's really difficult to tell whether this character's good or bad," Dyack said. "Kain might be doing bad things on the surface, but in the end he's really trying to save the world."

He added that the game's plot doesn't become completely clear until the end of Kain's adventure. Even then players can play through the game again to find new meaning to its cinemas.

Electronic Gaming Monthly[1]

Captions[edit source]

  • Blue blood builds up magic, but avoid green blood–It's poison!
  • Don't feel bad about drinking the blood of these guys. They're the same band of bandits that murdered Kain in the first place.
  • You can save your game when Kain stumbles upon a crypt.
  • Kain's bat flights over Nosgoth are shown as rendered cinemas.
  • Throw away your graph paper; Legacy of Kain's automap feature shows your surroundings. It won't reveal secret areas, however.
    Electronic Gaming Monthly[1]

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References[edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Archive.png Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain in Electronic Gaming Monthly issue 86

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