Daily Archives: August 11, 2011

30 Days of Gaming, #26 – Best voice acting

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is infamous for its truculently long loading times, but I actually really liked the game, especially its voiceover work. If anything, that’s what I remember most, Kain narrating his own journey to the Pillars of Nosgoth. Now, I know the topic train for today’s meme entry calls for the “best voice acting,” but there were really too many choices to pick from these days, as the bar has been raised and re-raised over the last few years thanks to titles like L.A. Noire, Mass Effect, and Bioshock. So, instead, I went with a game that had great voice acting though I’m positive nobody would back me up if I called it the best.

As will soon be revealed, I love The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It’s a game I’ve played and replayed, discovering new things in it each time and just losing myself in the world and its characters. I can still remember how confused I was when Link switched between the Light World and Dark World, turning into a bunny elf thing, a sad reflection of his inner self. And when he…wait, no. I’m not here to talk about Link’s journey to rescue Zelda from Agahnim, as well as get the Master Sword and three mystical pendants. That’s another blog post, definitely forthcoming.

Transitioning on, when Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain came out in 1996 for the PlayStation, it was like getting an adult version of A Link to the Past. There was blood and violence and cruelty and creepiness, all played in a top-down perspective with a journey across an expansive land where collecting items and power-ups would help the hero explore even further. Plus, you drank blood from unsuspecting humans to regain health. I don’t even remember how I was able to buy it at the sweet age of 13, but I had. Or maybe someone else had for me. Can’t really picture that happening, as the only times I used a neighbor’s help was for getting discounted games from the now extinct Kay Bee Toys, such as Suikoden and Wild Arms. Either way, I had a copy of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, and I played it night after night, my best friend over, stretched out on the floor, wide-eyed at the crazy beheadings and bloody swordsmanship. It was crazy times back then.  And while FMVs were a new and cool thing at the time, they were bereft of voice acting. For that glorious work, you had to play the game and discover.

Going back, it’s amazing to hear how similar Kain narrates his journey in an almost Bastion-like way, commenting on items he picks and locales he passes by in real time. It’s hard to say what was more exciting: gaining a new power or hearing Kain’s description of it. Simon Templeman‘s confident, scorned voice does wonders to bringing Kain to life, and that’s saying a lot considering he’s undead. The soundtrack also plays ally, backing Templeman with bells and choir harmonies and ominously held notes. If medieval times had a soundtrack, this is it. Kain is certainly the star of the show in Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen, but there’s some other spectacular performances to call out, such as Paul Lukather as the ancient and reclusive vampire Vorador and Tony Jay as the cunning puppet-master Mortanius.

Some of my favorite quotes from the game follow. Naturally, they do not read as well as they are heard, but whatever. I’m not in the mood to link to a bunch of YouTube videos. Those interested can certainly seek Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen out to see and hear what it’s like. Right:

“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.” – Ariel

“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.” – Kain

“The world had changed to my eyes. I had not expected such cruelty from the light. For in the embrace of the sun, I could find no comfort, only malice. This would change in time for the worse, along with other thing.” – Kain

I never got to play any of the other games in the series, like Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, but it seems like some of the same voice actors carried over. Might have to try and find a used copy or two. Y’know, just to hear my friends again.

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