After years of waiting, the end of the Legacy of Kain series finally released in November, 2003. While it answered nearly all of the questions raised in Soul Reaver 2, the main draw was having both Raziel and Kain playable, working together, incongruously. Though is wasn’t the most technically impressive game, from a fidelity or design standpoint, the story continued to be top notch. Let’s face facts, that’s the reason you’re playing anyways.
Defiance picks up immediately after Soul Reaver 2, with Kain searching for Raziel. The narrative switches between the two, each with his own chapters, moving the story forward. Kain is in the past (?), looking for Raziel, while Raziel is in the future, having been weakened and trapped by his former master, the Elder God, for 500 years. There was some trepidation with adding Kain to the formerly puzzle centric series, as Kain’s last outing was subpar to say the least. With the A-team back in control, those worries were quickly put to rest. Kain, who was more combat focused, was fun to play, featuring new battle mechanics to the series. Raziel, shied away from combat, leaning more on puzzle solving similar to the first Soul Reaver.
One of the biggest criticisms of the game was the camera. It seemed like nearly every game at the time had this flaw in common, as fully realized 3D worlds were still new. That doesn’t excuse Defiance, just making it anachronistic. For me, this wasn’t a deal breaker. A detraction to be sure but, Nintendo quality gameplay wasn’t the reason I was here. It was the story.
Series writer Amy Hennig continued to deliver, adding layers to the mythology while simultaneously wrapping up many loose ends. Defiance is full on Back to the Future 2, with time travel, paradoxes and alternate futures. The two biggest questions are, how does it end and is the ending strong? Answering the former, go find out for yourself. As for the latter, yes, it does. Well, as strong as it can be. Endings are difficult, often times they don’t match the ethereal epic portrait painted by an energetic imagination fueled by grand moments from earlier in the tale. With the ending of Reaver 2, how could it compare?
The only thing the ending lacked was a sense of finality. Many threads were wrapped up, though one, possibly final conflict loomed on the horizon. It wasn’t nearly as well defined as the ones from previous moments in the series, but certainly one that deserved to be told. Unfortunately, nothing ever came of it. Over ten years later and nothing. This isn’t some fanboy rant mind you, I am perfectly content with what I have. These five games (more like four) are quintessential fixtures for modern story telling in games, or any medium for that matter. Do I want more? Of course, who wouldn’t, but I’m more than happy to have this. Now, if Defiance didn’t release, or left more threads dangling, then it would be a different story.
Kain and Raziel have been seen in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (a fun co-op game) as downloadable characters. Both Simon Templeman and Michael Bell reprised their roles as Kain and Raziel, respectively. Then there’s the Nosgoth MMORPG. I don’t understand why that exists. In an age where developers are looking to recycle anything and everything with the slightest bit of marque value, why not this? Reboot it, update it, I don’t care. Legacy of Kain shouldn’t languish.
Legacy of Kain: Defiance was a perfect end to a fantastic series. While it had some mechanical and gameplay problems, the most important element, the story, didn’t falter. What started in 1996 with the original Blood Omen, was taken in a completely different direction and finally finished here. Kain is easily my favorite vampire, and his story is one that has not only influenced my writing, but stuck with me from the moment I began my journey with him.
Did the ending satisfy you? Did the camera detract from the game? Comment below.
My only friend, the end.