Who's the good guy? Who's the bad guy? Answering that's going to take a while.
"Thirty years hence, I am presented with a dilemma - let's call it a two-sided coin. If the coin falls one way, I sacrifice myself and thus restore the Pillars. But as the last surviving vampire in Nosgoth, this would mean the annihilation of our species. If the coin lands on the reverse, I refuse the sacrifice and thus doom the Pillars to an eternity of collapse. Either way, the game is rigged. But suppose you throw a coin enough times... suppose one day, it lands on its edge."
An action video game series depicting the dark, gothic world of Nosgoth and its rather unique vampires. The series follows BadassAnti Heroes, Kain and Raziel. Kain is a MagnificentSociopathic Hero interested in conquering Nosgoth with a vampire army. Raziel is Kain's right-hand vampire who he has killed and turned into a wraith, and sets about trying to kill Kain to avenge himself. It turns out Raziel has the power to Screw Destiny, and from there we get into time travel. Thus, from Soul Reaver on, all the main characters, including Kain, take turns playing Gambit Roulette with Raziel as the ball, hoping to trick him into changing history to make things better for them. Along the way, there's a Prophecy Twist or two, loads of Magnificent Bastards, faux-Shakespearan dialogue, and many chances for video game cruelty as you decide how to dispatch Mooks in the most fun and gruesome ways you can think of.The series has an amazingly complex story, and you need to play all the games or at least have knowledge of their plots to understand it. In fact, replaying the series a second time is probably the only way you'll begin to put it all together without someone helping you. It also runs on Black and Gray Morality like a car runs on gasoline — Kain is a Villain Protagonist who just happens to be fighting people that are more evil, though he ultimately has heroic goals behind his villainous nature. Counterpart Raziel, meanwhile, is a Noble Demon who has a nasty habit of breaking things despite trying to do good. The series is commonly cited as having some of the best voice acting of any video game series, with actors like Simon Templeman, Michael Bell, Richard Doyle, and the late great Tony Jay providing voice work.The fate of the franchise at large is unclear. Defiance ended on a cliffhanger, albeit with most major plotlines resolved. A sixth title, a direct sequel to Defiance, was cancelled mid-development and the parent companies that own the series have shown little interest in reviving it again. Kain and Raziel have also appeared as bonus characters in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. In 2013, Nosgoth was announced as a team-based free-to-play multiplayer game focused on the war between the vampires and the humans.For a brief overview of each game's plotline, see the synopsis entry.
This series contains examples of the following tropes:
Amnesiac Dissonance: Happens to Raziel twice. First, he discovers that in life he was a Sarafan vampire hunter, and immediately starts aspiring to that legacy. In Soul Reaver 2 he has the opportunity to meet his past human self and quickly discovers he was far more monstrous as a human Knight Templar than he ever was as a vampire or a wraith.
Sarafan Raziel: "You're a righteous fiend, aren't you?" Wraith Raziel: "Apparently I am..."
And I Must Scream: Raziel's five hundred years of torment in the Abyss after his execution, his imprisonment between Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance, and his ultimate fate. The Elder God threatens Kain with this in Defiance by burying him in the Vampire Citadel.
Due to Kain's refusal to sacrifice himself, Ariel's spirit is permanently bound to the ruined pillars.
Janos' ultimate fate, as of Blood Omen 2? Trapped in the Demon Realm. Before that, there was his possession, his imprisonment, and devolution into "the Beast".
Since Kain altered history after saving the king's daughter in Blood Omen, it can be assumed her soul was never saved from the Dollmaker and is still imprisoned in a puppet.
Ascended Meme: In 2003, a certain Legacy of Kain fansite ran an April Fool's Day article about three new titles in the franchise to be released the same year, including concept art for a Wide Open SandboxGrand Theft Auto clone starring a Super-Deformed version of Kain, titled Vehiculum Furtus Maximo. Defiance eventually included a Shout-Out to this gag by including a cheat code to transform Kain into his Super-Deformed version featured in the concept art for VFM.
Attack Deflector: The chaos armor in Blood Omen, although both you and the enemy would be harmed, and the 'repel' spell which causes missiles to bounce back.
Backtracking: Soul Reaver 2 features an awful lot. Raziel has to trek through the Sarafan Stronghold on three separate occasions with only cosmetic differences in level design. Defiance also features a lot of this.
Bag of Spilling: Surprisingly averted for the most part. The skills Raziel learns in Soul Reaver stay with him throughout the next two games, with the exception of the Constriction ability, which was useless anyway. Kain's mist form from Blood Omen is present in Defiance as his dodges, he uses his lightning spell in Soul Reaver, and in Defiance he retains the ability to teleport... in cutscenes.
Played straight between Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance, with the loss of the Reaver's elemental abilities, as well as between Blood Omen 1, 2, and Defiance respectively as far as Kain's abilities are concerned, with a handwave.
Bald Women: It seems to be a religious thing, maybe as an extension of the hiding-women's-hair rules of some real religions.
Big Bad: The Elder God, who is the main reason everything is going to hell in Nosgoth by virtue of setting up most of the major wars and power struggles in history. The Hylden Lord could also be argued as an example.
Black and Gray Morality: Vampires are meant to rule the world, Humans Are the Real Monsters, the entities who want to eradicate the vampires are the main antagonists, and the two protagonists are a pair of Anti Heroes, a murderous self-righteous vampire overlord and his twice-undead ex-lieutenant who eats souls. Morality is very, very relative in this series. Connect the plot with the Hylden and it becomes a bit more clear, though still very relative. In another game series Kain could easily be a straight-up villain, but in this series he's mostly preferable to the two main villains, since the Elder God is controlling everyone's souls so he can feed on them, and the Hylden care nothing for the masses of innocent humans they kill in order to free themselves, even if that extends to killing all of them.
Block Puzzle: Soul Reaver is full of them — rumor has it that a team leader at Crystal Dynamics asked each member of the development team to design a new puzzle every week. Nearly all of them would eventually hand in another Block Puzzle. At least the ability to flip over and stack the blocks added some variety to it.
Body Surf: The Hylden Lord, aka "Hash'ak'gik," who possesses several bodies, including Mortanius and Janos Audron. A veritable peanut gallery of Hylden souls uses Turel as a host in Defiance.
Bonus Dungeon: The Lost City in the first Blood Omen. Located where many players probably won't look, can only be entered during a full moon (which lasts for seven and a half minutes and occurs once every two hours or so of real time), full of traps and tough enemies, contains tons of loot, and is completely optional.
Human Citadel in the Soul Reaver again in a place where you have no need to go.
Soul Reaver 2 begins and ends in the Sarafan Stronghold.
Boss in Mook Clothing: The demons in Soul Reaver 2 deserve mention for this... specifically the Fire and Lightning Demons. For mooks, they are pretty damn tough. Especially when you have to fight them together. Their difficulty levels were toned down in Defiance, but could still be a pain if they caught you unaware.
Mook Rush: The ending of Soul Reaver 2 pits Raziel against the men who will degenerate into the bosses of Soul Reaver 1, followed by his human self. They're Elite Mooks to their credit, but due to the Reaver making Raziel invincible, there's no challenge to the fights.
Broken Pedestal: Raziel and the Sarafan, who he initially believed were noble defenders of humanity before finding out they were brutal Knight Templar butchers. And most of all, himself after Sarafan Raziel kills Janos Audron.
Except maybe flesh-and-blood vampire Raziel. It almost seems like Kain killed him for being too pretty.
Chekhov's Armory: Thanks to time travel, odds are anything mentioned in passing over the course of the series will be revisited at some later game, regardless of if it chronologically takes place before or after the last game.
Chekhov's Boomerang: Raziel's mentioning he was imprisoned in the Spectral Realm for 500 years at the beginning of Defiance means this puts him exactly on course with the timeline of the original Blood Omen, explaining how he is able to meet with Ariel's spirit and Vorador. Later on, Raziel and Janos watch the pillars shatter perfectly in-time with the events of Blood Omen, and thus with his seal weakened the Hylden Lord possesses Janos.
Arguably the Soul Reaver itself — it only really became the Sword of Plot Advancement in Soul Reaver 2. In the first two games, it was just a really powerful weapon.
In Blood Omen, one secret room in the basement of Avernus Cathedral had a bible that praised someone by the name of "Hash'ak'gik", but no further explanation was ever given... until several years and four games later in Defiance, when we find out this is the alias for the Hylden Lord. Defiance also makes it clear that the Unspoken, aka the Dark Entity, is actually the Hylden Lord who is controlling Mortanius, explaining his transformation at the end of the first game.
It's glossed over early on that Nosgothic vampires are vulnerable to certain sound frequencies in Soul Reaver, where Raziel can gain a sound attack and the Silenced Cathedral was originally intended to play a deadly tune to kill vampires. In Defiance, Turel has grown so powerful that he's immune to Raziel's standard weapons, so he rings a series of giant gongs to hurt him.
Chekhov's Gunman: Janos Audron is mentioned in precisely two lines in Blood Omen, never to be seen until two games later:
Kain: ''[Picking up the first "Heart of Darkness" consumable item] Reputed to have been ripped from the chest of the greatest vampire to have ever existed, Janos Audron, the Heart of Darkness restores vampiric unlife. Life is precious, Janos discovered — as it was torn throbbing and bleeding from his own body.
Chekhov's Skill: Possessing corpses in Defiance mostly serves as an alternative gameplay mechanic for Raziel to shift realms with the portals closed off to him. Until he uses Moebius' corpse in the climax to trick Kain into impaling him with the Soul Reaver.
Color-Coded Characters: Raziel's color motif is blue and green, Kain's is orange and red. Most prominent in Defiance.
Combat Tentacles: The Elder God's tentacles serve this purpose at times, notably during his battle against Kain.
Continuity Nod: Oh so many. Thanks to time travel, the protagonists frequently revisit familiar locations, so there's plenty of chances for these and few of them are wasted.
The basin room Raziel enters from the Timestreaming Chamber at the start of Soul Reaver 2, and the hallways of the Sarafan Keep are modeled after the building seen in the flashback of Vorador slaying the Circle in Blood Omen. Furthermore, in Soul Reaver, the Oracle's cauldron room and its antechamber, known as Moebius' Museum, have been modeled after the originals, down to the tattered old ruins of a banner that hung there since before Kain first entered the caves, thousands of years before. Incidentally, the emblem on said banner is the emblem of Moebius' mercenary army as seen in Soul Reaver 2. Also, the earring Kain sports in his evolved form from Soul Reaver onward is the ring Vorador gave him in their first meeting.
The climax of Defiance takes place literally minutes after the end of Blood Omen, so the final few levels are full of nods to the first game, including Mortanius fighting the Hylden Lord's control, Vorador's capture by Moebius's forces, and Kain's decision to reject the option for a Heroic Sacrifice, shattering the pillars and allowing the Hylden Lord to possess Janos.
The effect is somewhat lost because it's a different voice actor reciting the lines, but in Defiance, Raziel eavesdrops on Mortanius' last message to Blood Omen-era Kain.
Mortanius: Come to me, my undead son! Make haste to the Pillars! The stage is set for the Grand Finale! You will have your vengeance!
Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: IGN had a hilariously bad case of this whenever they wrote previews of Soul Reaver, referring to Raziel as Kain, the Soul Reaver as a Laser Blade, series producer Amy Hennig as Amy Bennig, etc.
Crapsack World: In the first game, at least — civilization has decayed beyond this point in the sequels, rendering them effectively After the End (time jumps notwithstanding). In Soul Reaver, the world has basically become a desolate wasteland, with the vampires being a scourge of mindless beasts and the humans being confined to a lonely fortress.
By the ending of Defiance, however, there seems to be a tiny bit of hope. At least for the vampires, anyways.
Dark World: Nupraptor's keep in Blood Omen is in the shape of a skull, built on a cliff. Looking through one eye socket will show you the lush landscape below. Looking through the other will show you the world through Nupraptor's eyes, a dead, twisted land with blackened ground and lava for water. Kain remarks that Nosgoth doesn't need help to make its corruption apparent.
Daywalking Vampire: Vampires grow immune to sunlight as they grow older and more powerful. The only exception to this rule are the Rahabim, a clan of aquatic vampires who overcame the vampire's innate weakness to water instead.
Deadpan Snarker: Kain is this all the way. Raziel develops into one over the course of the series.
Death by Irony: Moebius's demise combines this with Rasputinian Death. First, he's beheaded by Kain near the end of Blood Omen. He's almost immediately resurrected and teleported to the Vampire Citadel by the Elder God, where he's killed by older Kain, literally minutes after his first death. When Moebius's spirit awakens in the Spectral Realm, he's stabbed in the back by Raziel and sent to feed the Wheel of Fate, supervised by the very deity he worships. While Time Streamer's soul meets its end at this point, his body does not. Raziel possesses it to enter the Material Realm, only to be instantly pierced by Kain, which is exactly what he wants.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Soul Reaver is one of the more noteworthy examples: The game is split into two dimensions, the Material Realm and the Spectral Plane, and if Raziel's health ever drops down to nothing, he simply moves to the Spectral Plane — this is hardly ever really annoying, because there's usually a conduit straight back to the Material Realm close by, and sometimes the player has to hop between the two dimensions intentionally to solve puzzles. The Elder God would pull Raziel back to his chamber if he was destroyed in the Spectral Plane, causing a slightly larger inconvenience.
The developers specifically aimed to avert the artificiality of video-game death and re-load, so this system is still in place in later games even when the plot justification of the Elder's initial control over Raziel is no longer viable and replaced with quickhandwaves. In Defiance, Kain morphs into bat form to retreat when he takes too much damage.
Decapitation Presentation: In Blood Omen, this is done to the executed Vorador. Moebius, who was in charge of it, takes this trope up a notch by leaving the head in the hand of a statue of himself in the same pose, which is seen in Soul Reaver 2 about a hundred years later.
Mentioned, but not shown, in Blood Omen is how Kain did this with the head of the Dollmaker.
Demonic Possession: Not done by the actual demons, though. It gradually wears out the host, or immediately uses it up if the possessor decides to transform it.
Didn't See That Coming: For Kain, the fact that his "edge of the coin" scenario was exactly what the bad guys wanted. For the Elder God and Moebius, both that Kain would survive having his heart ripped out, and that helping Raziel delay his merge with the Reaver would result in its completed form, which is the only thing that can harm the Elder God.
Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Throughout Soul Reaver 2, Raziel is becoming increasingly more belligerent toward the Elder God; even more so when he starts to realize the true nature of the Elder God. This culminates in Defiance when Raziel gives his Not So Different Speech to the Elder God at the beginning.
Raziel: Why must this game go on? We both know what you are. You're no better than the vampires you so despise! A voracious parasite cloaking its appetite in a shroud of righteousness!
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Kain vs. the Elder God at the end of Defiance, after Raziel is absorbed in the Soul Reaver and Kain's soul is cleansed of all corruption. Raziel gets his own moment to do this just prior to that against Janos Audron possessed by the Hylden Lord, pitting him against the last Ancient Vampire and the leader of the Hylden at once. Due to Gameplay and Story Segregation, he blows it.
Do Not Go Gentle: In Blood Omen, both Mortanius and Moebius are aware that they are destined to be killed by Kain and have accepted it. It doesn't mean they're just gonna lay down and make it easy for him. Rahab is much the same way in Soul Reaver.
Dolled-Up Installment: Soul Reaver started out as an unrelated game, although no actual development was ever done on it before shifting it into a Legacy Of Kain game. Blood Omen 2 is frequently mistaken for this, although it just utilizes unused concepts and ideas for two canceled unrelated games.
Dual-World Gameplay: Soul Reaver is an excellent example of this with a spectral realm/material realm duality and blocked paths gameplay. On top of that, time spent in the material realm was limited by continuous draining of health.
Dueling Player Characters: Defiance has a duel between Kain and Raziel, where the player must control Kain for the first portion of the fight, then control switches to Raziel halfway through.
Dummied Out: So, so much in Soul Reaver. A quick guide here. Essentially Soul Reaver and Soul Reaver 2 were going to be one game, but there wasn't enough time, money or data for that so they split it into two, hence Soul Reaver's cliffhanger ending and a lot of the cut elements for that game appearing in Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance.
A certain unofficial Playstation magazine notably skimped on research and included all the cut elements in their strategy guide...
Either-Or Prophecy: In Defiance, the Ancients and Hylden will each have a champion fight on their behalf, but the murals depicting their battle leaves it uncertain who will win. It turns out that Raziel is both champions—he's the Hylden Champion by way of giving them the means to free themselves, and he's the Ancient Champion by entrusting Kain with the means to destroy the Elder God. Ergo, by sacrificing himself, the two "champions" effectively kill each other.
Elemental Powers: Raziel gets these. In the first Soul Reaver, he just had the Fire add-on. In the second, he gets Dark, Light, Air, and Fire Reavers through elemental forges, but his wraith-blade can only hold one charge at a time. In Defiance, the array goes Dark, Light, Fire, Air, Water, Earth, and Spirit and he can always switch between any of them at will while in the Material Realm.
Kain's Defiance Reaver add-ons also have Fire and Lightning elements, in addition to the more esoteric Balance, Dimension, and Time modes. It was intended for Fire and Lightning to be called Conflict and Energy—Balance, Conflict, Energy, Dimension, and Time make up five of the nine Pillars of Nosgoth.
Epiphanic Prison: All of Nosgoth is essentially this thanks to the Wheel of Fate—The Elder God controls everyone's destiny by controlling their souls. Only Raziel is aware of what he truly is, and only a few more people even know the Elder God exists.
Escape Sequence: The Dumah boss battle. Also Raziel's introductory level in Defiance.
Evil vs. Evil: It's very hard to describe Kain as a "good guy". It just happens that his enemies are just as bad or worse.
Failure Is the Only Option: It's possible for Kain to wipe out all of his would-be assassins at the start of Blood Omen, even without a Game Shark if proper caution is taken. However, all the exits out of town are blocked off, and you'll just have to walk into and out of a building to respawn the enemies and let him die like he's supposed to.
Fantasy Gun Control: Averted, though not in the earliest era visited. Soul Reaver 2 has primitive-looking hand cannons and Defiance has demolition charges. The oracle's museum in Blood Omen has a more modern-looking gun, maybe referring to the fact that some of the other items there are Chekhov's Guns.
Finishing Move: In Soul Reaver, you need to use one of these to kill any of the vampires. Some of the other games let you use them too, but they're not necessary.
In Raziel's own words, "What game is this, where every player on the board claims the same pawn?"
Gambit Roulette: The plot. ALL of it, and almost every character is in on the fun, or at least... thinks he/she is... Each person pulling the strings knows exactly what is going to happen as a result. The time paradoxes and resulting complications are the exceptions, and they are well lampshaded as such.
Game-Breaking Bug: In Soul Reaver 2, it's possible to get locked in the Dark Reaver Forge — the exit door will just refuse to open, rendering the player unable to leave under normal means. It is possible to get oneself killed and resurrect at the checkpoint right outside the door (missing the cutscene that triggers when Raziel leaves the Forge as a result)... provided one avoided the checkpoint inside the Forge. If not, well, oops.
In Defiance, it's possible to get stuck in Vorador's mansion with likewise un-openable doors. Worse, while the Dark Reaver Forge is less than a quarter of a way through Soul Reaver 2 and thus replaying after suffering the above bug isn't too offensive, Vorador's mansion is much further along in Defiance.
And then, there's the possibility that when you finally recover the Heart of Darkness to resurrect Janos Audron, the game might randomly decide not to make the following cutscene work, and you'll have to start a new game completely from scratch. Take into account that this is late-game, almost at the climax.
It's also possible to get stuck in the cracks between the rubble that falls in front of certain doors if you decide to explore it by climbing on top of it. This can happen in Defiance while playing as either Kain or Raziel.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Happens in Defiance. In order to travel between locations, Kain transforms into a flight of bats and takes off. However, as numerous cutscenes from the Soul Reaver games and the last cutscene from Defiance would attest, he could have simply just teleported, but that wouldn't have looked as cool. Also, it's probably meant as a Call Back to the original Blood Omen, where that was his main mode of long range transportation.
It was suggested by Word of God around Soul Reaver's release that Kain doesn't actually teleport, he's capable of moving to the spectral realm for brief periods. Since time doesn't move there, this lets him move around the Spectral Realm to where he wants to go, then come back without time passing in the physical world, thus giving the appearance of teleportation. Considering that he doesn't ever go into the spectral realm in Defiance, though, this explanation probably doesn't apply anymore.
It is suggested that Kain's teleportation abilities are relatively short range and he requires batform for more long distance travel.
Kain did not actually have a hundred Hearts of Darkness regardless of the player being able to collect them as consumable items in Blood Omen. The consumable items are merely symbolic of the heart's power. This is actually Word of God, in response to the fandom half-jokingly asking the developers about it.
If one stands still and allows Kain's healthbar to drain without feeding until it empties, Kain dies. However, Blood Omen 2 shows and Defiance further suggests that depriving and even draining a vampire of blood won't actually kill them; as immortal beings they can't die except through violence(and even that's a temporary state), but when starved of blood they will weaken, degenerate, and go mad with hunger.
Genre Blind: Raziel invokes Genre Savvy in Defiance, as he's realized by now the only thing he can trust of literally every other named character is their intention to manipulate him. He even calls some of them out on it. Unfortunately, he's unable to out-scheme them, and does not account for the possibility that his active defiance may be part of someone's plan (it is.) To make matters worse, the one time he is approached by someone with better intentions than anyone else, Raziel is driven to insane paranoia by a partial demonic possession and lashes out.
Genre Savvy: Upon entering a room with a pair of demonic-looking statues standing motionless to either side of the entrance, Kain observes: "These statues were singularly inanimate. I knew better than to assume that they would remain as such."
Kain: "Once I embraced my powers, I realized Vorador was correct. We are gods— dark gods— and it is our duty to thin the herd."
Plus his speech at the end of Soul Reaver:
Kain: "As a man, I could never have contained such forbidden truths. But each of us is so much more than we once were. Gazing out across the planes of possibility, do you not feel with all your soul how we have become like gods?"
Turel also declares himself to be a god, greater even than Kain, in Defiance, similar to Dumah in Soul Reaver. It's not hollow boasting; Raziel can't hurt either of them with the Soul Reaver, ostensibly the strongest weapon in the setting, and has to resort to exploiting the weaknesses of Nosgothic vampires on large scales.
Raziel can't hurt any of the clan leaders with the Soul Reaver. Kain will actually laugh it off if hit with it.
Goddamned Bats: The sluagh. Loud and prone to pile-ups, they only cause a relatively small amount of damage. Even in universe they basically amount to cockroaches (Raziel routinely refers to them as "pests".)
Guide Dang It: Good luck finding all glyphs and health upgrades in Soul Reaver without a walkthrough.
Hate Plague: Kain can magically cause enemies to attack one another in Blood Omen and Defiance. In the former the spell is called "Inspire Hate", and escalates minor grievances into homicidal rage. It's related to the pillar of conflict in both games.
Hell Hole Prison: The Eternal Prison in Blood Omen 2 is one of the most horrific examples in fiction.
Heroic Sacrifice: Even though he knows it'll result in an eternity of torment and the eventual loss of his sanity, Raziel allows himself to be absorbed into the Reaver in order to give Kain a fighting chance against the Elder God.
From Raziel's point of view, the only other option at this point is to be the Elder God's captive for the rest of eternity. He's a prisoner either way, but one of his prisons can do more good than the other.
Hilarious Outtakes: It's amazing what you can get from a bunch of classically-trained actors sitting in front of microphones. Of course, it's also just as much fun to unlock video of them doing it straight. Seeforyourself. Outtakes for Soul Reaver 2 can be seen here,here, and here.
Richard Doyle: "Well done, faithful servant. And now, I have an execution to see to." Michael Bell: *flips Doyle the finger* "'Faithful servant' this. Spin on this, Moebius."
Simon Templeman: "I still think Tony [Jay, aka the Elder God] should be doing this in costume..."
Michael Bell: "The enemy race had a champion of their own, with flaming eyes and a fiery sword... yes, and a tiara, and full-length sequined gloves with 'f***-me' heels... It was Drag Reaver, a whole new series!"
In a breakdown of Ham-to-Ham Combat, it seems that Simon Templeman actually got intimidated by Tony Jay's acting ability.
Homage: Look at Zephon in Soul Reaver and tell us he isn't modeled after the Queen.
Kain's line in Blood Omen ("Alas, poor Nupraptor - I knew him well.") is the famous—and often misquoted—line from Shakespeare's Hamlet ("Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio.") and both lines are spoken when the protagonist obtains the head/skull of Nupraptor/Yorick.
Applies pretty well to garden-variety unnamed villagers as well. The game does a lovely job of supporting, to a degree, Kain and Vorador's general perception of humans as corrupt, stupid cattle, significant only as a food source or an annoyance (during their anti-vampire crusades). The average town has a couple of brothels and at least one Torture Cellar.
Hunter of His Own Kind: Faustus, Marcus, and Sebastian in Blood Omen 2 are all villainous variants, siding with the Sarafan to hunt down vampires in exchange for their lives.
I Am Legion: Kain paraphrases this as "As long as a single one of us stands, we are legion".
I Die Free: When you subject him to his own people-grinder, Melchiah seems to be at least a little bit happy that he doesn't have to live in his festering corpse-pile of a body anymore. Turel is similarly glad to no longer live as a deranged prisoner driven to self-aggrandizing insanity by a host of Hylden possessing him and incredible hunger, relying on the occasional blood offering to keep him alive.
Ariel receives a well deserved end from Raziel when she appears at the end of Defiance. While her appearance is not entirely explained, it seems that every soul of a former Balance guardian is summoned to the final forge to be absorbed into the Reaver blade. The girl has been betrayed by one she trusted, watched her lover go mad and corrupt the whole world, been betrayed by her replacement as a balance guardian, and has had a literal front row seat to Kain's empire as the world died. Her final words to Raziel reflect that along with a new found enlightenment- "Release me, Raziel. The soul reaver has the power. Release us all..."
I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Initially Raziel just hates Kain for executing him. Later, he hates Kain for making him a vampire after discovering that he used to be a Sarafan warrior priest when he lived.
Later he gets over being a Sarafan Inquisitor by finding them to be the Knight Templar cult of butchers they were, but still continues to hate Kain to a less severe extent as its literally what's been driving him for the last milleninia of time he has experienced since his rebirth as a wraith.
Invincible Minor Minion: The Greater Demons aka Beasts, a fortunately rare enemy in Blood Omen 2. Not even the one-hit-kill attack Immolate can hurt them. The only occasion on which Kain is able to kill one involves a trap and a powerful explosion.
And the darker "Vae Victis! 'Woe to the Conquered!'" Raziel throws in Kain's face shortly before ripping his heart out and quite literally blasting him into oblivion.
I Was Quite a Looker: Raziel was GORGEOUS as a vampire and not bad as a human. In SR2, he references his wraith appearance as grotesque repeatedly.
Ariel was quite beautiful◊ before she got half of her face ripped off.
Jacob Marley Apparel: Seems to be the standard, with most of the exceptions falling under Gameplay and Story Segregation. Defiance takes this farther with Raziel and the revenants: Although far from standard, they both enter the material realm by possessing corpses and altering them to be (more or less) like them; Raziel still carries what little is left of his clothing, while the revenants materialize large swords.
The Juggernaut: Dumah. He's immune to all of Raziel's abilities, and is one of the few enemies who can chase you on both planes. Fortunately, he's stupid enough to chase Raziel into a furnace.
Kansas City Shuffle: A strange pseudo-example. Raziel is continually falling into traps in his quest to discover his true destiny, and being constantly reminded that he is playing everyone else's plans to perfection. At the very end, however, he realizes that all of it was necessary, and that every conspiracy against him led him right where he needed to be. So the effect is the same, it's just by accident.
Kill It with Fire: One of the few options the players has to actually kill the degenerate vampire enemies in Soul Reaver. Of course, it works on just about anything else pretty well too. Ironically, it's used quite effectively against the player as well: in Soul Reaver, fire isn't a major concern to Raziel's health until he encounters the vampire hunter soldiers of the flame thrower variety - their stream of fire works very well at damaging Raziel and knocking him back. In Defiance, since Kain is a vampire himself, he is susceptible to the arrows of Sarafan Archers because they're on fire. They are so effective, in fact, that they can knock him down when he's up in the air. Strangely enough, his telekinetic powers get enhanced to the point where he can ignite things with his mind, a power he also gets in Blood Omen 2, while both cases still leave him vulnerable.
Kill It with Water: Another weakness of the vampires in Nosgoth, including Kain and initially Raziel, based on some more obscure vampire myths from eastern Europe. It burns them like a strong acid, and is in fact the way Raziel was executed as a vampire. In Soul Reaver it is another viable way to kill the vampire enemies, while in both Blood Omen, Blood Omen 2 and Defiance it is an element of danger for Kain. This is the case for Raziel as well, until he defeats Rahab and gains the ability to swim. The implementation of this is a notable high point for the series, given that up until that point, water was an obstacle - creating some of the most tense levels, believable barriers and interesting puzzles - and after that point it is a well implemented gameplay element. Besides letting Raziel simply cross water and allowing access to flooded areas outright, swimming allows him to swim up through pipes and the like, vastly increasing the areas he can explore, as well as letting him use his physical strength to leap high out of the water to reach ledges. Couple that with the dynamic water already has between its differences in the Spectral and Material realms, and you've got a ringer.
Kiss of the Vampire: Subverted. It even leaves Vampire Bites Suck in the dust, though in Defiance it's an option if the target is close enough. In most of the games, it is established that Kain needs warm blood, usually from a still living body, to survive, restore his health and become stronger. But since an embrace is a bit impractical during combat, not to mention slow, Kain fixes this by telekinetically pulling the blood from a wounded enemy to his mouth at twenty paces. Kain is even able to drain multiple enemies at once; in Defiance, while airborne. Comes complete with slurping sounds. In Blood Omen he had some variations on doing it manually, notably a powerful spell that would drain and kill everything on the screen instantly, and a suit of armor "wrought from the flesh of Noblemen" that would drain blood automatically for him.
Played straight with The Seer in Blood Omen 2.
Kryptonite-Proof Suit: A partial example: Kain's empire releases large amounts of smoke to reduce light levels.
Large Ham: Kain, and how! His hamminess was toned down a tad in Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance. Vorador gets pretty hammy in Blood Omen.
Left Hanging: Defiance ends with Kain remarking on that unfamiliar sensation called "hope", ending on as optimistic a note as the series got up to that point—the Elder God is weakened, Moebius is dead for good, Kain has averted his prophesied death, and Raziel has given him the Soul Reaver at its peak of power. However, as Blood Omen 2 demonstrated the timeline has been seriously screwed up, and there's no telling what state the actual present (the Soul Reaver era) is like because it's never visited in any other game. A lot of questions were still unanswered when the series concluded.
Lethal Lava Land: Dark Eden in Blood Omen, a land twisted beyond recognition in a project of the guardians of nature, energy and states. And then it starts raining fire... This may not be a case of Convection Schmonvection, since Kain and the creatures there are all unnaturally resilient, and the world's foundations are rather loose by this point anyway. This trope is also used in the Dark World version of Nosgoth seen from Nupraptor's keep.
Load-Bearing Boss: Happens to the Sarafan when they sort-of-kill Janos Audron, prompting one of them to exclaim "The fiend intends to bury us alive!".
Loads and Loads of Loading: Good lord, did the original Blood Omen ever have this. The PSX version was the worst offender, with load times in the double digits just getting into and out of the inventory screen. The PC version was somewhat better, but, egregiously, when you buy the game from the PS3's store and play it directly off the system's harddrive, the Loads and Loads of Loading is still present.
This is likely why Soul Reaver made such a big deal out of having no load times at all, and it doesn't — the developers used assorted programming tricks to avoid load times aside from when you start up the game. The lone offender is the Drowned Abbey, as some areas can have too many enemies spawn for the game to keep up with all their movements.
Magitek: Most prominent in Blood Omen 2, but there are examples all over the rest of the series as well.
The Magocracy: In Blood Omen, despite there being a couple of kings with their own realms, the real power is wielded by the Circle of Nine.
Malevolent Architecture: It seems every building in Nosgoth, be it a ruined altar in the wilderness or a grand temple in a city, has open torches hanging from every column and spikes randomly stuck on the walls. In the Soul Reaver era, you can frequently find open areas of sunlight and pools of water, and weapons are just lying around in the open wherever you go. Justified in Soul Reaver where you always needed a weapon or a hazard to knock enemies into to finish them off. After Soul Reaver this was no longer a problem, as Raziel is always able to manifest the Reaver regardless of health, and killing enemies by throwing them onto spikes or campfires was mostly just left in for the Videogame Cruelty Potential.
Mana Burn: Caused by insubstantial ghosts in Blood Omen instead of health damage. Armored ghosts damage you normally.
Meaningful Name: Raziel means "Secrets of God" in Hebrew; in Kabbalah, Raziel is the archangel known as the "Keeper of Secrets" and the "Angel of Mysteries".
Medieval Stasis: There seems to be no significant technological advancement from the time of the Sarafan Crusades to the time of the fall of the Pillars, a period of over five hundred years. Blood Omen 2 completely averts this, taking place four hundred years after Blood Omen and having society advance into an industrial revolution(one powered by magitek, but still). Interestingly this is one of the reasons the game is unpopular among the fan base; many felt it didn't fit with the tone of the rest of the series.
Metroidvania: Soul Reaver mostly, though there's a bit of it in Blood Omen.
Mind-Control Eyes: Those possessed by the Hylden have glowing green smoke pouring from their eyes. This becomes something of a red flag; it's unclear if the Sarafan Lord exhibiting this in Blood Omen 2 is more than an artistic touch to make him scarier, until Defiance makes it clear. It's also how we know that Raziel is being driven by outside forces to unreasonable rage so he'll kill Kain in Avernus Cathedral; he takes a portion of the Hylden that was controlling Turel when he reaves Turel's soul, and his eyes glow green whenever his anger grows at Kain. He himself admits after the fight that he feels like he's just played into their enemies' hands, and that he's not sure why he went all the way through with it.
Mirror Match: Twice (sort of). Once in Blood Omen, when Moebius summons a version of Kain "from times yet to come," (implied by Amy Hennig to be just an illusion), and in Soul Reaver 2, the Wraith Raziel fighting his old, Sarafan self. It sort of happens a third time in Defiance, when Raziel and Kain fight in the cathedral. By this time Raziel has become so powerful he's Kain's equal, and they basically have the exact same combat abilities with subtle variations. Further emphasized by the fact you play as Kain and fight Raziel, then switch places and play as Raziel and fight Kain.
Monstrosity Equals Weakness: Played straight and averted in various instances; As vampires grew more powerful, they grew more monstrous, as seen with Kain and Vorador. However, some of the most monstrous vampires are among the weakest, as seen with Melchiah and Zephon (partly because they received the smallest part of Kain's soul in their resurrection), and the horribly deformed Janos in Blood Omen 2. However, the most powerful of Raziel's brothers, Turel, is possibly the most monstrous of them all. The most powerful bosses in Blood Omen 2 are the most monstrous, and the most powerful non-boss enemies in Soul Reaver 2, Blood Omen, and Defiance are also very monstrous.
Mooks but No Bosses: For some reason, Soul Reaver 2 is the only one of the five games that doesn't have any real boss fight, even though you spend much more time fighting Mooks (sometimes pretty tough ones) than in SR1.
Multiple Endings: In the first Blood Omen game, there was a "good" and "bad" ending where the player got to choose whether or not Kain sacrificed himself to save Nosgoth. This is one of the few games where the "bad" ending is canon.
Neck Lift: Kain does this through main strength as a prelude to Vampire Bites Suck on a regular basis in Defiance, but he's so Bad Ass he can do it telekinetically too. You can do this in game from the get-go, and he even does it to Moebius, who should be noted is an incredibly powerful sorcerer in their second meeting.
The Necrocracy: In Soul Reaver, Nosgoth is ruled by Kain, supported by his Council of six vampire lieutenants. They preside over an empire of vampires - the clans of the lieutenants - and humans 'domesticated' during Kain's rise to power.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: So the boy king William the Just grows up to be a tyrant called the Nemesis. Kain's solution: kill King William before he ever becomes the Nemesis. The downside? Moebius planned for it and makes William out to be a martyr now, and the resulting crusade is the reason why vampires are almost extinct.
How about Raziel solving all the puzzles to find Janos in the back of his lair, only for the Sarafan to follow him since he so graciously did their work of getting in for them?
"My god! The Hylden! We walked right into their trap..."
Non-Linear Sequel: There's the first game, which involved time travel. Then, Soul Reaver takes place thousands of years in the future. Soul Reaver 2 has the main character traveling in time, so it's a partial prequel to the whole series and also happens between the first and second games. Then there's Blood Omen 2, which takes place after the original, but before Soul Reaver in an alternate time line created in both Soul Reaver 2 and the (so far) last game, Defiance which takes place both concurrently with the original Blood Omen and five hundred years before that.
No Ontological Inertia: Averted, but Invoked: When Raziel meets Janos Audron for the first time, they discuss why the Sarafan pursue Janos so intensely - "[The Sarafan] have this foolish notion that destroying me will somehow topple our entire bloodline. Thankfully, we are not that fragile."
Their architecture, however, apparently is. Moments after Janos Audron's heart is torn from his chest (which doesn't really kill him, by the way), the aerie collapses into rubble.
No Sell: Moebius owns a sceptre that has the power to weaken any vampire in its presence... which has almost no effect on Raziel when they meet at the beginning of Soul Reaver 2, due to Raziel's 'remaking'. It might stop the reaver from manifesting, but Raziel could still tear Moebius apart with his bare hands if he wished. Kain similarly becomes immune to the sceptre during his last meeting with Moebius in Defiance, which is justified by Kain's own words: 'The part of me that staff once affected is no longer in its place... but you already knew that, didn't you? I always was considered heartless!'
Not So Different: Kain has the following to say on the subject: "Can you grasp the absurd beauty of the paradox? We are the same - Sarafan and vampire. With our holy wars, our obsession with Nosgoth’s domination, who better to serve me than those whose passion transcends all notions of good and evil?" and shortly thereafter, he adds: "You think the Sarafan were noble, altruistic? Don’t be simple. Their agenda was the same as ours."
Raziel's opinion of the Elder God is that it is no different from the vampires it so dispises; a voracious parasite with delusions of righteousness.
Off with His Head!: A common way to murder enemies in Soul Reaver 2. Also, the eventual fate of Nupraptor.
Oh Crap: The expression on Moebius' face when he realises that Kain survived having his heart ripped out is priceless.
Kain, at the end of Soul Reaver 2:
My god... the Hylden! We walked right into their trap...
Ouroboros: All over the damn place. Literally, in the form of an artifact that Janos gives to Raziel near the end of Defiance, and in a floor decoration in the Sarafan stronghold, and of course symbolically in a rather grotesque interpretation of it, in the form of Raziel impaling himself on the Reaver whilst the wraith blade hovers outside of it, and then again in Defiance when his soul enters the blade while the purified Reaver joins with Kain to heal and purify him.
Our Vampires Are Different: Nosgoth vampires are, among other things, killed by water (related to certain frequently overlooked vampire myths), can be harmed by soundwaves, and, in regards to Kain's progeny, tend to devolve into mutant monstrosities over time. Some vampires demonstrate a level of immunity to sunlight, and the need to rest in coffins regularly is absent. Impalement with any instrument will kill them regardless of whether or not it's made of wood. Also, their origins are definitely not the usual...
An internal example as well, as there are three different types of vampires within the series: The Ancients who were transformed into vampires by the curse of the Hylden (Janos); the humans turned into Vampires by the Ancients (Vorador), and Kain and the vampires he and his lieutenants sired. Each type demonstrates very different powers and mannerisms. Furthermore in Soul Reaver, each Vampire tribe has undergone divergent evolution over the centuries.
Anarcrothe: You betrayed us, Mortanius! You had Kain killed and turned him into a monster! You set him upon us!
Phlebotinum Bomb: A few. The Device in Blood Omen 2 was a Hylden weapon which would have killed all living things in Nosgoth except their race. The Pillars of Nosgoth were raised by the Ancient Vampires to banish the Hylden race and seal them in the Demon Realm. The purest example is the Silenced Cathedral in Soul Reaver, originally designed by humans to kill all vampires in Nosgoth during the era of Kain's empire (they were vulnerable to sound). The vampires killed the humans, and kept the cathedral silent - hence its name - but the original ending of ''Soul Reaver'' would have had Raziel using it against them.
Prophecy Twist: The prophecy that a Vampire and a Hylden champion will battle each other to decide the fate of the world. Raziel is essentially both champions, as he frees the Hylden by giving them Janos as a vessel, but also gives Kain the means to destroy the Elder God with the purified Soul Reaver. The Elder God and Moebius set Raziel up to discover the predicted battle between the two, hoping he would figure the two champions were him and Kain and thus be newly motivated to kill him. It works at first, but Raziel later discovers the truth.
Protagonist Power Up Privileges: Played with. Kain is the hero of the first game Blood Omen, and in the introduction to the second game Soul Reaver, it's mentioned Kain is always the first among him and his lieutenants to evolve a new ability. During said intro, Raziel, the protagonist of this game, becomes the first to beat him to it by growing wings, stealing the spotlight from Kain in a fourth-wall sort of way.
Psychopathic Man Child: Elzevir the Dollmaker from the original Blood Omen was a particularly disturbing version of this.
Purple Prose: Everyone talks as if they've been listening to Shakespearean actors before the game begins, though the exact magnitude varies between games and characters. But in a testament to Amy Hennig's skill, the flowery and often hammy and over-the-top dialogue completely works, and in fact, the series wouldn't be the same without it.
Raziel: This cannot be! What madness does this scene portend? Kain must think me credulous, to suffer these lies!
Blood Omen: indoor NPCs respawn as ghosts; Aside from being slower and weaker, their attacks only lower your Mana Meter, and their now-blue blood replenishes it. Outdoor NPCs respawn normally when you leave the map. That includes Kain's killers, and he may even repeat his monologue...
Retcon: Technically, all the Foreshadowing and anything in Chekhov's Armory that comes from Blood Omen. When Crystal Dynamics ganked the series from Silicon Knights, they didn't take any of their ideas for a sequel and started Soul Reaver from scratch.
Ret Gone: While it hasn't happened in the story as far as we know, according to Word of God it could: When one changes history, it actively re-writes itself, admitting as little change as possible. When someone pushes history too far, its path of least resistance would be to expel him instead.
The Reveal: Soul Reaver 2's ending (Raziel is the Reaver), and an important plot point in Defiance(the Heart of Darkness is inside Kain). Then again, Kain was known to be in possession of the Heart in the first Blood Omen
Also in Blood Omen, when Kain is revealed to be the new Balance Guardian.
And again in Soul Reaver 2 during the sequence in which Sarafan Raziel kills Janos
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The first Blood Omen begins like this before moving onto the larger plot, and the entirety of Soul Reaver is driven by Raziel's quest for revenge against Kain.
Vorador's slaughter of the circle, Raziel's slaughter of the Sarafan inquisitors (including himself), and the whole of Blood Omen 2.
Rule of Symbolism: While many recurring images and motifs appear throughout the series, not all of them can be chalked up to destiny and are just coincidence, but they still fit. A perfect example is the mural of the Scion of Balance that lays in the Spirit Shrine at the end of Defiance, depicting a horned vampire with large black wings. The presence of the horns and the shape of the wings make the figure form Kain's clan emblem seen since Soul Reaver. There's no wayKain would have purposefully designed his emblem after the mural since he had never been to the Spirit Force before, but the symbolism works perfectly.
San Dimas Time: In Defiance, Kain is told by the Oracle of the vampires really the elder god that Raziel is five hundred years ahead of him in the timeline, and that he's looking to reclaim the heart of darkness to raise Janos. Kain acts with a sense of urgency, but really, being immortal, he should be able to simply wait around for five hundred years to go stop Raziel rather than jumping into a time portal opened by a being he knows and outright states can't be trusted.
In all fairness to Kain though, five hundred years is a heck of a long time to wait, and he was already hyped up trying to reach Raziel by searching the temple. Suddenly being told that his quarry was five hundred years ahead of him after fighting through the temple and being given a straight road to Raziel? Less patience, more action!
Shout-Out: A code in Defiance turns Kain's Reaver blade into a cardboard tube. Amusingly, Kain says "Fear the tube!" when you put the code in.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: This happens a few times over the series- Raziel in Soul Reaver 2 mocking Moebius after refusing to kill Kain as he was 'ordained' to, Kain 'continuing the conversation' with Moebius in Defiance. But perhaps the most epic example, as pointed out in Breaking Speech, comes at the end of Defiance. Considering how good the villains are at being just SO smugly shelf-assured about everything they do, it's amazingly satisfying to put them in their places.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: It zig-zags. A good general view is, however, the story gets more idealistic as it veers into Type 2 of the Trope above. You'll also notice Kain is incredibly cynical and fatalistic in the Blood Omen games and seems to be in Soul Reaver, but he starts to show signs of fighting back when he gives his Take a Third Option speech at the beggining of Soul Reaver 2. Raziel is always idealistic, but that doesn't make good things happen until Defiance. A noticed trend is that Raziel acts for the right reasons and does the wrong thing, Kain acts for the wrong reason and does the right thing. Arguably ends up as Earn Your Happy Ending if you accept the ending ofDefiancebut not so much if you still think there's No Ending.
Kain: Now, at last, the masks had fallen away. The strings of the puppets had become visible, and the hands of the prime mover exposed. Most ironic of all was the last gift that Raziel had given me: More powerful than the sword that now held his soul, more acute even than the vision his sacrifice had accorded me. The first, bitter taste of that terrible illusion - Hope.
Smug Snake: Moebius, and he pays for it. Hard. Three consecutive times. In under five minutes. Payback's a bitch.
Stock Sound Effects: The game uses several audio clips that were also featured in the original Max Payne: the snippet of music playing on gramophones in Blood Omen 2 is the same as that from Max Payne's Show Within a ShowLords and Ladies, while the clip of a woman sobbing that can occasionally be heard in the spectral realm in Defiance is the same clip that Max hears in his nightmares.
Stripped to the Bone: The flays in Blood Omen, magical homing shuriken-things that remove all flesh from the bones.
Stronger with Age: Vampires "evolve" over time, occasionally entering a cocoon-like state and emerging changed; Typically stronger and with new abilities, as well as less human. But Kain's spiritual and mental corruption caused his descendents to eventually degenerate. It's implied that a vampire's evolution conforms to his personality; Vorador's chin horns used to be a similar beard, human Rahab's armor had a sea horse painted on it, and Raziel told Zephon the latter's final form is a true representation of his soul. It's revealed in Soul Reaver 2 that some changes, like the typical three-fingered hands, are the turned vampires becoming more like the originals.
Summon Magic: Used in-game by some enemies. In the story as well as the game, this and teleportation are the specialty of the guardian of dimension, the planer Azimuth, as well as some of her subordinates. Not content with summoning creatures from other worlds, she takes a time-streaming device from Moebius, the guardian of time, in order to summon creatures from other eras, such as Turel in defiance.
Soul Reaver 2 begins with Moebius re-routing Raziel from one time machine to another, and what he says (" "Where am I?" Is the usual question ") suggests that he has summoned people many times. While fighting Kain in Blood Omen he "calls the puppets of the past, present and ages yet to come": A Sarafan, a contemporary vampire hunter and someone that looks like Kain, but is confirmed to have been an illusion.
Sundial Waypoint: One of the puzzles in Soul Reaver relies on this. In a twist, it requires you to do a typical mirror puzzle to get the beam where you need, then obscure it - which allows you to walk the shadow across a chasm.
Super Smoke: Kain can turn into mist in order to pass through small openings and avoid harm, among other things. Blood Omen sometimes complicates the use of this ability with holes in the floor that suck you into them, immobilizing you.
Sword of Plot Advancement: Much of the series centers around the Soul Reaver as it changes hands through history, changing history itself on the way. Because it's revealed that Raziel is the Soul Reaver, Raziel is a walking paradox, walking around with a future version of his own soul clinging to his arm. Thus by sheer nature of possessing the Reaver, Raziel's every action has the potential to change time. Besides that, the force of two different incarnations of the Soul Reaver from different time periods can also create a paradox and change history.
Take a Third Option: One was taken by Kain, it required four more games to conclude his choice.
Time Abyss: Most of the main characters, the longest being the Elder God.
Time Machine: In at least three locations, the largest being the Chronoplast. Controlled by Moebius in his time.
Time Travel and all its associated conundrums. Yes, all of them. It's a long story, and a lot of it takes place concurrently.
Title Drop: In Soul Reaver it's "Become my soul reaver. My angel of death." In Soul Reaver 2, the Elder God tells Raziel "You are always and will always be my soul reaver." During the final battle in Defiance, the Elder God says, "This defiance is pointless."
Tonight Someone Dies: The plot synopsis on the back of Defiance's game case makes it clear that Kain and Raziel are embarking on a journey that only one of them will survive.
Toy Time: The Dollmaker's place in Blood Omen. The creation process of his animated toys may or may not involve human entrails.
Unexpected Gameplay Change: A meta example. Blood Omen was a top-down adventure RPG similar to Zelda—you explored towns and dungeons, you had equipment and spells you accessed in a menu, you could speak to people, etc. Soul Reaver turned the gameplay on its head with a third-person over-the-shoulder action-adventure game with no towns, no interactions with NPCs beyond killing them or not, a wide-open sandbox world you could explore freely, and no equipment save for the weapons you found laying around. Soul Reaver 2 then kept the third-person perspective and no equipment traits while having more NPC conversations and more linear plot and gameplay progression. From there, Blood Omen 2 and Defiance mostly stuck to Soul Reaver 2's formula, with Blood Omen 2 placing a greater emphasis on combat over puzzles and platforming.
Vampire Vords: Mostly averted, though Janos Audron plays it straight.
Vaporware: The Dark Prophecy, a straight sequel in the style of Defiance, which was in development for the Playstation 2 and would have presumably tied up all the loose ends in the franchise... but was never finished, most likely because of Amy Hennig, the head writer of the series after Blood Omen, leaving Crystal Dynamics for Naughty Dog, as well as the death of Tony Jay, the voice of the Elder God. Not to mention the fact that Defiance didn't sell too well.
Video Games And Fate: The series takes place in a universe in which free will does not exist and all destinies are pre-determined; the only way to change destiny is to travel back in time and create a temporal paradox, which forces time to "reshuffle". Both Kain and Raziel initially believe they have free will, before discovering that it is an illusion. At one point in Defiance, Raziel is informed by another character that, as a result of a temporal paradox, he was in fact the only entity in the universe capable of free will, and yet his choices were nevertheless staggeringly easy to manipulate by outside influences.
Videogame Cruelty Potential: Part of the fun of the series is the ability to kill enemies in a variety of gruesome ways by using your powers and the environment to your advantage. You can pick up and throw enemies into wall-spikes, fires or bottomless pits, do any of the three with your telekinesis, or just cut them to shreds with your weapon before impaling or decapitating them. Defiance also added on the ability to use telekinesis in more creative ways, leading to you being able to inflict Rasputinian Deaths on enemies—use TK to pull an enemy towards you, sword combo, knock him into the air, leap after him, sword combo, TK blast to knock him into a wall spike.
Played with an interesting twist in Soul Reaver. There is a city of humans that can be navigated at one point, complete with vampire hunters who will attack you, at first. If you choose to kill them, they keep attacking you, and the villagers flee in terror. If you ignore them, not only will they help you kill the vampires, but the villagers will kneel down and praise you, allowing you to nibble at their souls for a snack.
In Defiance you come across more prisoners chained up in the first few levels, and you're free to slash them to bits with the Soul Reaver. Heck, they're so weak already you can feed from them while they're still alive and save time. Even Kain notes it would be a shame to waste a free meal...
Villain Protagonist: In the first game, Kain has no vested interest in restoring Nosgoth beyond finding a cure for his own vampirism, and certainly thinks nothing of murdering its inhabitants in cold blood. And he's still better than the "good guys" (the Sarafan and the Circle of Nine). About the only thing Kain does for actual good reasons (kill William to prevent him becoming the Nemesis) backfires immensely.
Voice Actors: Consistently oh so very good that it is one of the carrying strengths of the game. With a great faux-Shakespearean script spoken by extremely deep-voiced English actors, it's widely regarded one of the best, often the best, voice work ever in a video game. Main actors include Simon Templeman (Kain), Michael Bell (Raziel) and the late Tony Jay (Elder God). The late, GREAT Tony Jay.
Voice with an Internet Connection: Mortanius in Blood Omen, who is busy struggling with his possessor for control, and the Elder God in Soul Reaver, who isn't very mobile. In Defiance we actually see them doing it; Mortanius has a fancy magic circle, The Elder God simply speaks.
Walking Shirtless Scene: This was pretty much the dress code in the heyday of Kain's empire, with all six lieutenants lording their gorgeously sculpted abs over their human chattel. (Well, not so much Melchiah.) Kain himself embodies this trope in Soul Reaver, Soul Reaver 2, Defiance, and the first few levels of Blood Omen 2. You could list Raziel as well, but that would imply he's limited to shirtless-ness.
Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Kain and his lieutenants wear their flags as partial capes. After Raziel is thrown into the Abyss, he uses his flag as a scarf, covering the area where his lower jaw used to be.
Wham Moment: Way too many to count, but a few examples: Raziel discovering that his human self was the one who murdered Janos, the entire ending of Soul Reaver 2, the discovery of just where the Heart of Darkness is, and Raziel ripping said heart out of Kain's chest.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Played with—after Janos Audron is possessed by the Hylden Lord inDefiance, we never see him again... because he flies off to be in the events of Blood Omen 2, which was released before Defiance.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: The immortality curse, bestowed by the Hylden, really screwed the Ancient Vampires. First, it resulted in mass suicides, as many couldn't stand being shunned by The Elder God, who put a lot of emphasis on the eternal cycle of souls dying and being reborn. Second, because the Pillars chose their guardians at birth and vampires were no longer born, humans started to replace them in the Circle. Vampires abducted the human guardians to train them and eventually turn them into Vampires. This directly led to Mortanius and Moebius' rebellion and the downfall of their whole race.
Windows of the Soul: "I swore I saw a glint of satisfaction in Kain's eye when the Soul Reaver was destroyed"
Winged Humanoid: Raziel had leathery bat wings... until Kain tears them to shreds. Janos and the rest of the Ancient Vampires have black, feathery angel-wings. The Hylden have little leathery wings with no 'finger bones', kind of like a pterosaur's.
World of Ham: All the voice actors get in on the ham moments in the series. The ham is all over the place.
Written by the Winners: Raziel remarks that "history is written by the victors" upon finding out what the Hylden have to say about their war with the Ancients, who started said war because the Elder God demanded it. Faustus also quotes this in Blood Omen 2: "History is written by the winners, Kain!"
You Already Changed The Past: The rule is described as part of how time functions; several plot twists happen because various characters have discovered the rule has a loophole and Raziel himself is a walking "violate this rule for free" card.
You Can't Go Home Again: In the original Blood Omen, the then-fledgeling Kain realizes that he will never be welcomed in Coorhagen, due to his new circumstances. He then discovers the entire city fell to the plague, further reinforcing the trope.