The first game in the series, created by Silicon Knights
of Eternal Darkness
and Too Human
fame and the only one to play as a top-down action RPG in the style of The Legend of Zelda
: The story begins with Kain, a then-unknown nobleman, being assassinated by a group of thugs on the way home from a pub. Mortanius the Necromancer offers him a chance for vengeance by resurrecting him as a vampire, and as soon as Kain avenges his own death, he begins to seek a cure to his own vampirism. The ghost of Ariel, the former Balance Guardian, points him to the direction of the Circle of Nine, the Guardians of the Pillars of Nosgoth and her former colleagues, who have all been corrupted when Ariel's former lover, Nupraptor the Mentalist, went mad with her death. As long as the Guardians remain alive, their corruption infects the Pillars that govern the world's well-being and so the world is doomed. Only if Kain kills them and brings tokens of their power to their Pillar will he be cured and the world saved.
In his quest, Kain also finds himself in the middle of a war between the noble King Otmar and the cruel Nemesis (formerly known as King William the Just), and with the Soul Reaver blade in tow, travels back in time with the use of Moebius the Timestreamer's witchcraft, and defeats the young King William. However, upon his return he discovers that his round-trip in time triggered a genocidal hate-campaign against vampires helmed by Moebius, who tricked Kain into killing William so he could begin his anti-vampire war. He returns in time to watch Vorador, the oldest living vampire and in this alternate timeline their last besides Kain, be decapitated before a cheering crowd. Kain continues on and finds that Mortanius was the one who killed Ariel and set the Circle's corruption in motion. He fights Mortanius, who transforms into a monstrous demon called "Hash'ak'gik", and kills him. At this time Ariel reveals she has deceived Kain—the final Guardian he must kill is himself, for Kain is the next Balance Guardian, born to take her place. Thus Kain is given a choice—sacrifice himself to purify Nosgoth, but as the last living vampire their race will be extinct. Or, remain alive and rebuild the vampire race at the cost of Nosgoth's damnation.
The first game to be developed by Crystal Dynamics, who went on to handle the rest of the series. The game starts roughly a millennium after Blood Omen, after Kain refused the sacrifice and instead chose to rule Nosgoth as its vampire king, wiping out the human race with the help of his six vampire lieutenants. Over time, Kain and his fellow vampires began to evolve, with Kain evolving first and the other vampires following suit, until Raziel, Kain's first-born lieutenant, surpassed his master by sprouting a pair of wings on his back. For his disobedience, Kain has Raziel thrown into the Lake of the Dead, where he was burnt to death and laid for centuries, before being unexpectedly resurrected as a wraith. The Elder God then makes his presence known to him, and tells Raziel that the widespread reproduction of the vampires has stalled his Wheel of Fate, a cycle of souls critical to the world's health—as their souls are immortal vampires stall it. The Elder God grants Raziel the inability to ever be destroyed in return for killing Kain and his brethren and allowing the Wheel to turn again.
Raziel travels through the land of Nosgoth, facing his former vampire brothers, and eventually Kain, who shatters the Soul Reaver blade on Raziel's head in the heat of battle, and disappears, with the apostate soul previously trapped in the Reaver joining itself with Raziel's, granting him the Soul Reaver as a "wraith blade" of spectral energy. Quickly afterward, Raziel discovers the Tomb of the Sarafan, where he finds a series of empty coffins etched with the names of his vampire brethren and his own, realizing that he himself was a Sarafan vampire hunter in life. Fuelled by this revelation, Raziel chases Kain to Moebius' grand time-streaming chamber, where Kain vanishes into a portal back in time, with Raziel following suit.
Soul Reaver II
Raziel chases Kain through a portal into the past, 30 years before Blood Omen
, where Kain explains he wants to Take a Third Option
to his fatal choice in the first game. As he travels he discovers his time travel has broken the Elder God's link to him, and Moebius is a servant of the Elder God. He also find that Moebius's staff, which incapacitates vampires, has no effect on him but instead causes the Soul Reaver to dissipate. Sensing his actions in this time are being watched, Raziel finds the observer to be Vorador. In his pursuit of him he finds shrines that grant the Soul Reaver Elemental Powers
, and these shrines are decorated with murals of winged beings who were the first vampires. These Ancient Vampiures were the builders of the Pillars of Nosgoth, which sealed a mysterious enemy of theirs away, and the Ancients worshiped the Soul Reaver as some sort of holy relic. When he finds Vorador, he implies Raziel is more than he realizes, but that he is "too late"—the one who awaited his arrival, Janos Audron, the last of the Ancients shown in the murals, died centuries ago.
During a confrontation with Kain as he seeks a way to travel to the past, Raziel picks up the Soul Reaver's past material form, and when the spectral Reaver coils around the physical, is suddenly stricken with the urge to kill Kain. Kain tells Raziel this is destiny in action, and that he has been foreseen to die here at Raziel's hands as a result of Moebius changing both their fates during the events of Blood Omen
. With Kain's pleading for Raziel to resist fate, Raziel narrowly averts the killing blow. This changes history with Kain no longer dying when he should have, and establishes that Raziel is able to defy destiny and therefore defy Moebius's predictions. This act also augments the Soul Reaver, causing Raziel to fight it for control as it drains his energy to sustain itself. Raziel eventually finds Janos in the era of the Sarafan, having come to see the Vampires of the past were not the monstrous hunters he believed, nor were the Sarafan the noble warriors he thought either.
Janos reveals he is the tenth Guardian, who has kept the Reaver safe through the years. Raziel is strangely drawn to the Reaver, and the temporal distortion he felt when he took up the Reaver against Kain is not present, causing him to be suspicious. Suddenly the Sarafan storm Janos' home, using the path Raziel has opened for them to infiltrate the otherwise impenetrable fortress. Janos teleports Raziel to safety, and he returns in time to see his human self cut out Janos' heart. Janos dies in Raziel's arms, urging him to reclaim the Reaver they have stolen. Raziel invades the Sarafan stronghold and is stopped by Moebius, who uses his staff to negate Raziel's spectral Soul Reaver. Raziel instead picks up the material Reaver and uses it to cut his way through the Sarafan, eventually killing his brothers and his past human self. At this moment, the spectral Soul Reaver reawakens and coils around its material self, then the two impale Raziel. At this moment Raziel realizes that the soul-devouring spirit of the Soul Reaver that bonded to him when the material sword broke is his own soul, brought back in time to this moment and drawn into the blade. Kain emerges from the shadows and watches, and eventually draws the sword from Raziel, saving his life and changing history again. Kain suddenly gains new memories from the altered timeline and tries to warn the weakened Raziel about the "Hylden", but Raziel slips into the spectral realm out of Kain's reach. There he finds the Soul Reaver still on his arm, and realizes his destiny has not been averted, merely postponed.
Blood Omen II
A midquel, taking place a few centuries after the end of Blood Omen
, and showing the results of the newly altered timeline from the end of Soul Reaver 2
. In the process of conquering Nosgoth, Kain's army is destroyed by the newly formed Sarafan Order, and their leader, the Sarafan Lord, defeats Kain personally and claims the Soul Reaver as his own. Two centuries later, Kain re-awakens to find that Nosgoth has become vastly different, and he himself has little recollection of his past self. Recruited by Umah, Kain joins a Vampire resistance to the Sarafan lead by Vorador to fight the Sarafan, who are also aided by several of Kain's lieutenants turned traitor. After rescuing Umah from the Sarafan she tells Kain that she saw the Nexus Stone, a stone used to open portals between dimensions, under the use of the Sarafan. The stone also grants the wielder immunity to the powers of the Soul Reaver, so Kain tracks it down and claims it.
With the knowledge gained from Sebastian, Kain learns of a powerful device beneath the city the Sarafan plan to activate and heads there to stop them. He finds a beast there being drained of energy to fuel the machine, and with its aid finds the builder of the machine who tells him it can destroy all life in Nosgoth except for what its masters decide may live. Kain shuts the machine down, and the beast powering it transforms into Janos Audron. Janos reveals that the leaders of the Sarafan are Hylden, and the Sarafan Lord is actually the Hylden General (revealed in Defiance
to be the same "Hash'ak'gik" entity from Blood Omen
). The Hylden are the enemies that the Ancients sealed in another dimension using the Pillars of Nosgoth, and have now broken free and see to control Nosgoth. Kain and Umah go to close the gate between worlds, which will kill all the Hylden in Nosgoth, but Kain is forced to kill Umah when she steals the Nexus Stone, believing his rule will be just as oppressive and tyranous as the Hylden's. Kain, Vorador and Janos infiltrate the Hylden City and Kain battles the Sarafan Lord over the portal. Janos is thrown into it when he intervenes but allows Kain to reclaim the Soul Reaver. The Sarafan Lord is struck down and the portal closed when the Nexus Stone is thrown into it.
A direct sequel to Soul Reaver 2
, and so far the last game in the series. Kain's story continues immediately from the end of Soul Reaver 2
, where Kain is desperately seeking to find Raziel, having seen the disastrous consequences of the time paradox he engineered. At the same time, he seeks to fulfill his destiny as the self-assumed Scion of Balance, a figure destined to return Nosgoth to vampire rule. Meanwhile, in the Future
, Raziel has been held trapped in the Elder God's realm for five centuries, refusing to submit to the Elder God's will for fear of his destiny finding him again. Relenting when he realizes he cannot hide forever, Raziel emerges during the time of Blood Omen
. Though the Elder God does not allow him access to the portals to shift between realms anymore, Raziel discovers he can manifest in the material realm by possessing corpses. As the two travel they discover murals retelling the Ancient-Hylden war. Raziel also discovers the instigation of the war—the Ancients worshiped the Elder God, and declared war on the Hylden for not submitting to his reign over their souls. When the Ancients were made immortal, the Elder God granted Moebius the power to rise up and destroy them since their souls were no longer under his command either. They also empower their versions of the Reaver, Kain by finding fragments of the Balance Emblem and Raziel by absorbing the souls of the very first Ancient Pillar Guardians.
Raziel seeks to revive Janos and speaks to Mortanius, who reveals Janos's heart was placed inside Kain to revive him as a vampire. The Elder God meanwhile contacts Kain and tells him he plans to revive Janos, which will trigger the events of Blood Omen 2
. Kain travels forward to meet with Raziel and convince him otherwise, but influenced by Hylden possession and refusing to listen, Raziel strikes Kain down and tears Janos's heart from his body, casting him into a portal to another dimension. Raziel revives Janos, who spirits him to a vampire fortress where Raziel fights off the Elder God to activate the final Reaver forge. Raziel absorbs the spirit of Ariel and all other Balance Guardians to create the Spirit Reaver, the Soul Reaver's strongest form. At this time, in time with the events of Blood Omen
, Kain's past self refuses the sacrifice—this shatters the Pillars of Nosgoth and allows the Hash'ak'gik to possess Janos and escape to trigger the events of Blood Omen 2
. He fights and weakens Raziel first, and as Raziel slips into the spectral realm the Elder God re-imprisons him in his chamber while reviving Moebius from the Blood Omen
era to serve him again. Raziel tries to attack the Elder God, but as his Soul Reaver is only a wraith blade it cannot harm him.
In the realm of the Hylden Kain awakens, having survived Raziel's assault, and fights his way to the vampire fortress, sensing the activation of the Spirit Forge. He finds Moebius in the forge speaking to the Elder God and slays him, and Moebius' spirit manifests in the spectral realm to be reaved by Raziel. Surmising that the Elder God has been the cause of all the wars and strife throughout history and that he is controlling all souls, he also realizes that no one but him has ever seen the Elder God's true form, and it took the Spirit Reaver's power purifying his sight for Moebius to look upon him. Deciding there is no other way, Raziel finally submits to his fate—he manifests in the material realm using Moebius' corpse, prompting Kain to impale him with the Reaver. Raziel explains to Kain he will at last see the "true enemy", and with his sacrifice transforms Kain's Reaver into the Soul Reaver, granting with it the power to see the Elder God before him. Kain attacks the Elder God, the two both discovering that with the power of the Spirit Forge the physical blade can harm him. Kain defeats the Elder God and escapes the fortress as it collapses, the Elder God warning he will return. The game ends with Kain looking over the ruins of the Pillars of Nosgoth, reflecting that now that all the manipulations and schemes have been exposed, and with Raziel's sacrifice to create the Spirit Reaver, there is at last a true hope for Nosgoth's—and his own—salvation.