Tag Archives: Blood Omen

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH: Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain

Kain, the once nobleman from Coorhagen, just beheaded Moebius, and I was on the floor tucked up against my bedside, a PlayStation controller cradled on my lap, a wired phone shoved awkwardly between my head and neck, waiting for my best friend down the road to pick up on his end. When he did, I recounted what happened, going so far as to imitate Kain in his moment of triumph where he proudly–and ironically–stated that he was already dead. There was little time for chit-chat, just straight to the details.

“Oh wow, wish I could’ve seen that!” Willie exclaimed, a hint of disappointment there. The last time he saw Kain in action was earlier on in some dungeon.

“Can you sleep over this weekend?” I asked. “I’ll save my game and wait for you. I don’t know how much further I have to go.”

“Yeah, definitely.”

Together, we saw Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain to its end, lapping up all the over-the-top violence, sinister ways, cruel spells, and amazing voicework. At its conclusion, a choice is presented: have Kain sacrifice himself and end the vampire race to save all of Nosgoth or refuse the sacrifice and rule the empire with total power. For us, the decision was easy, though not something I’d make now, some sixteen years later. We gave in to the power, and allowed Kain to slip into the darkness he constantly seemed teased by, ruling with blood-red eyes and unrelenting disdain. I have to believe that we both didn’t want to see Kain go, especially not after all the time we spent with him, helping him on his path of revenge and righting. He was our friend, no matter how silly that seems, and a friend of my friend is my friend and so on.

This connection to Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain later blossomed into some franchise love, as Willie picked up Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver three years later, and we’d go through the same routine, just with the roles reversed. Now it was me riding my bike over as fast as I could on Saturdays before the sun set to see what latest puzzle he was stuck at. I never got to play, but I watched enough, even if the game itself was pretty different.

Today, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is remembered as a darker The Legend of Zelda clone, one with terrible loading times. And yes, that all rings true. Though the loading times at that point in videogame history did not seem atrocious, just something to deal with. I think Suikoden had pretty long load times, too. But we all moved a little slower back in the day, and Willie and I just learned to fully explore a place before moving to the next screen to prevent needless backtracking. Reflecting now, it actually added to the overall experience.

But I remember this game differently, as an adventure and triumph shared, one with dramatically gory moments to ooh and ahh over while bouncing on a trampoline in the backyard. I miss it, and I miss what opportunities it used to give me.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.

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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.