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Video Game / Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain

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"Nothing is free. Not even revenge."

"There is a magical operation of maximum importance: the initiation of a new Aeon. When it becomes necessary to utter a word, the whole planet must be bathed in blood..."

The first game in the Legacy of Kain series, developed by Silicon Knights, published by Crystal Dynamics, and released for the PlayStation in 1996. A Windows port followed a year later. The PlayStation version was added to the PlayStation 3's digital storefront as a PSOne Classic in late 2011, and the Windows version was uploaded to in September 2021.

The player controls Kain, a nobleman who is ambushed and killed by a band of assassins. With his death, Kain's soul is sent to the Underworld, but here he is contacted by the ancient wizard, Mortanius the Necromancer, who offers Kain the chance to come back to life to exact revenge upon his killers. Kain accepts Mortanius' bargain and finds himself newly resurrected as a vampire. Trying to track down his murderers and a cure to his vampiric curse, Kain is tasked with traversing the fictional land of Nosgoth and slaughtering the Circle of Nine, a corrupt oligarchy of godlike sorcerers, but slowly begins to forsake his humanity and view his transformation as a blessing.

Blood Omen is a top-down adventure game more in-line with the classic The Legend of Zelda games but with a twist, here the player mostly uses a combination of magics and transformations — rather than items — to explore world while also trying to avoid water, rain and snow as much as possible due to vampires being weak to them and also having drain human blood from bandits and hapless peasants to refill your slowly-draining health bar.

The developers took pride in the game being Bloodier and Gorier than your typical Fantasy Adventure game and having players control a Nominal Hero that reveled in the suffering he inflicted on others while tackling themes about human nature, good-intentioned people doing morally dubious things to archieve their goals and the corruption power brings to a person, all through very well voice-acted Shakespearean dialogue.

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Admiring the Abomination: When Kain comes across the mutants in Dark Eden, while he finds the sight of them horrifying, he admits to having some admiration for the mind that created them.
  • Agent Scully: Kain might be a magic-wielding vampire, but he puts very little stock in scrying and mysticism. He sneers at those who'd go to seek out "the comfort of (Nupraptor's) lies", and dismisses the Oracle of Nosgoth's visions as "tricks and babble" until he comes to the point. Kain also openly ponders the nature of the Pillars of Nosgoth and questions the divinity, or perhaps the benevolence, of the unseen powers behind them.
    Kain: The act had taken on the feel of ritual. Isn't it strange how we must bribe our gods to stay...
  • Alien Blood: This is Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Red blood restores your health, the blue blood of ghosts restores your mana, black blood lowers your health, and green blood poisons you.
  • All for Nothing: The cure for vampirism doesn't exist, and won't for the rest of the series; Kain's entire journey of restoring himself co-aligned with his Revenge, but the plot was an exploitative attempt to make him cleanse the Circle of Nine via murdering them, and then kill himself as the last unwitting member and inheritor. Should Kain take the righteous path, he saves Nosgoth at the cost of his own life. Canonically, Kain is both selfish enough and frustrated at these revelations that he does not let it all be for nothing, choosing instead to let the world rot as he takes control for centuries and indulges in his incurable state while further seeking answers as to the orchestrators of said plot.
  • Animated Armor: Malek's spirit is infused to his armor as punishment for his failure to save the Circle from Vorador.
  • Animorphism: Kain can assume the form of a wolf and a bat.
  • Apocalypse How: Dark Eden spawning a hell garden of monstrous mutants, the unleashing of ravenous demons upon Avernus, and the carnage wrought at the hands of the Nemesis' legions are all local examples.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The towns all have German-sounding names that don't actually mean anything.
  • At Least I Admit It: Kain is disgusted by the Vampire Hunters Moebius rallies for this reason; as he puts it, they're hypocrites that "cloak their bloodlust beneath a veil of righteousness", whereas he makes no pretense to justify his kills.
  • Attack Deflector: The Chaos Armor, although both you and the enemy would be harmed, and the 'repel' spell which causes missiles to bounce back.
  • Ax-Crazy: Nupraptor plunged into a madness that infected the minds of his fellow guardians, who are symbiotically bound. The results of this insanity, especially in Dark Eden and Avernus, are not pretty. Ariel was immune to the psychic attack — her death was its catalyst in the first place — and Mortanius, Malek, and Moebius all seem to manage it somewhat, likely due to their own unique powers and Pillar-gifted relics.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Flame Sword, and especially the Soul Reaver. Both of them are powerful weapons (the Soul Reaver, in particular, has a tendency to one-shot anything you hit with it); unfortunately, they both also have a tendency to destroy the enemies' corpses (by incineration or Ludicrous Gibs) rather than stunning them in a game where your primary form of health restoration is to kill them by draining their blood, and the Reaver has the additional flaw of draining your magic gauge proportionally to the amount of damage you deal with it. That said, whether "kill things faster" or "heal afterwards" results in a healthier Kain is situational.
  • The Big Bad Shuffle: The less lucid members of the Circle of Nine have varying schemes, and are dealt with in succession along with their guardian Malek. The Nemesis then steps up as a bit of an Outside-Context Problem, invading from the north, and combating this fearsome tyrant consumes much of the late game... until it turns out that he — and, more importantly, you — are pawns on the board for Moebius of the Circle, who tricks you into assassinating the Nemesis as a younger man and thus give him the impetus to rally Nosgoth on a vampire-hunting crusade. Kain then slays him too, and returns to the Pillars to reunite with his maker, the necromancer Mortanius... who is revealed to have killed you in the first place, as part of a plot to unleash a vengeful Kain against the crazed Circle and thus allow a new generation of guardians, untainted by Nupraptor's madness, to take their place. But then it turns out that Mortanius is housing a demonic entity — identified in later games as the Hylden Lord — who fought to possess his body and manipulated the circle into madness to begin with; this monster is your Final Boss.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: One of the greats. Kain is a famously dark Villain Protagonist, but comes off looking better than most of the foes fate pits him against.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Spiked Mace. You won't be killing things in a hurry while wielding it, but its attacks quickly stun enemies.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Late in the game, Kain discovers a time-streaming device, and when overwhelmed by the forces of the Nemesis, seizes the opportunity to go back in time by 50 years and assassinate him when he was still William the Just, a benevolent boy-king. By doing so, however, he provides just the excuse Moebius needs to ignite a genocidal hatred of vampires in Nosgoth.
  • Chekhov's Gun: For later games, the Heart of Darkness is seemingly a mere extra life item that revives Kain if he runs out of blood. Turns out that the lore of it coming from Janos Audron's chest was not only important, but we get to see its removal in a pivotal scene of Soul Reaver 2, and the Heart itself becomes a MacGuffin within the story of Legacy of Kain: Defiance.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The Sarafan sorcerer-priests would play a much bigger role in future entries, whereas only the last of them is encountered in Blood Omen, Malek.
    • The oracle of Nosgoth is actually the Moebius the Time Streamer.
    • Janos Audron, the vampire from which the Heart of Darkness was ripped from, would become a central character in later titles.
  • The Chessmaster: Moebius the Time Streamer, who preys on William the Just's insecurities and causes him to become the Nemesis, while also manipulating Kain to travel back in time and fight William. If Kain is killed, then Moebius doesn't have to worry about being the target of him and Mortanius. If William is killed, Moebius then gets to ignite a genocidal crusade against the vampires and leave Kain as the last surviving one, so that when the time comes for Kain to sacrifice himself to the Pillars, he will be forced into a Sadistic Choice between sending the vampire race towards extinction or letting Nosgoth decay further.
  • Connected All Along: The conquest of Nosgoth by the armies of the Nemesis is at first an Outside-Context Problem in relation to Kain's quest to kill the Circle of Nine and undo his curse, but it's implied to be more than that when the oracle of Nosgoth is shown influencing the past self of the Nemesis, William the Just. It then turns out that the entire quest to defeat William the Just was orchestrated by Moebius the Timestreamer, the Pillar of Time in the Circle of Nine, who had been known up until this point as the oracle.
  • The Corruption: Before the beginning of the game, Nupraptor inflicted an insidious mental and spiritual "disease" on the entire Circle of Nine. This corruption tainted the Pillars of Nosgoth, and to restore them, the Circle had to be purged.
  • Cruel Mercy: Vorador defeated Malek when he butchered the Circle, but spared him, knowing that his shame would be a greater punishment than mere death. Mortanius promptly inflicts a Fate Worse than Death on Malek for his failure, binding him to his armour to serve for eternity.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Vorador effortlessly slew six of the nine Circle members. Malek put up a better fight, but was still defeated.
  • Dark World: Nupraptor's keep 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: Kain can be active during the day, but the sunlight still weakens his attacks.
  • Dead Man Writing: One of the humans tortured and butchered in Vorador's pantry.
    Kain: And upon the wall, scribbled in blood, were the words: "Manus Celer Dei".
  • Decapitation Presentation:
    • Kain takes Nupraptor's severed head after killing him, and offers it to the Pillar of Mind as the tribute needed to cleanse its corruption.
    • This is done to Vorador after his execution.
    • Mentioned, but not shown, is how Kain did this with the head of the Dollmaker.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: 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.
  • Doomed Hometown: Kain's hometown of Coorhagen has been overrun and ravaged by The Plague by the time he returns to it; dead bodies litter the streets, several carts loaded with bodies block Kain's path. The few surviving citizens Kain finds lament their fate and urge him to leave the city before the Plague claims him as well.
  • Downer Ending: One so critical to the series it's not able to marked as a spoiler. The canonical evil ending has Kain refuse to sacrifice himself and instead reign over the decaying landscape with plans to thin out the rest of humanity. This leads into all the sequels. And then the sequels reveal that this was merely a Sadistic Choice.
  • Dual Wielding: Kain can find twin axes, Havoc and Malice, and do this.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Being developed by Silicon Knights well before Crystal Dynamics took the reins, this game is quite different from everything that follows to say the least. Amidst failed lawsuits upon discovering that the sequel Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was being developed, Silicon Knights' CEO, Denis Dyack, had said that the sequel was not what they would've personally made, and the rest of the series essentially had to Revision this game's story to mold and shape into the backbone of the rest of the games, albeit with the same writer of Amy Hennig retained.
    • Unlike the rest of the games which are 3D exploration based genre, this game plays more like a 2D The Legend of Zelda title. The vampires are also treated more like traditional vampires than what we see in later games, though Vorador's appearance is still distinctly inhuman.
    • Much of the franchise's lore, its very logic and undead heart of the vampiric hell that would spread outwards from the decisions made, is started here — very loosely. While there are scenes throughout the game and twists to be had late in the story, most things are communicated through Kain's narrations and what directly happens around him or by those who speak to him, with either Ariel telling you what to do next or the villains explaining how they used Kain if he doesn't figure it out on his own. It makes the game come off as much more straightforward a journey than the ever-turning machinations, complicated puzzles, and moral complexities in the games that follow.
    • Humans are featured prominently in this game along with the vampires, as a common encounter to blow your way through and the general population of the land at large. While a couple major characters do remain through the series in some way or another, Soul Reaver onwards would de-emphasize most of humanity beyond the ever-present vampire hunters, as Kain's future reign would drive most of the populace to extinction and leave mere fringes remaining while the vampires and wraiths of later games take center stage.
    • The Soul Reaver in this game is an incredibly potent, soul-devouring sword that can One-Hit Kill all enemies and even some bosses when your magic gauge is full. However, despite noting that William the Just also has the Soul Reaver when the two fight in the past, the story acts like killing William was the main cause for the Time Paradox that would cause time to shift drastically. More details and depth of the Soul Reaver blade would be made in later games that escalated its status to the most crucial tool in the franchise, along with retroactively explaining that the paradox was more so two Soul Reavers in one place at the same time causing the first "Reaver-convergence" event as the only way to change an otherwise immutable history.
    • Taking the item cards literally, there's a lot of Hearts of Darkness, despite the fact that logically speaking there should be only one ripped from the chest of Janos Audron. Indeed, later games make it a singular MacGuffin, and show it was in Kain from day one as the primary artifact to revive him as a vampire rather than a mere disposable trinket of a gameplay item. Presumably it's not that Kain is finding copies of it, but that he refreshes its use.
  • Emergency Temporal Shift: Halfway through the game, Kain acquires a time-streaming device in Avernus Cathedral, but finds little use for it until the final battle against the forces of the Nemesis goes horribly wrong. With his back to the wall, he uses the device and finds himself fifty years in the past — back when the Nemesis was still known as William the Just. Kain tries to retroactively save Nosgoth by killing William... only to end up turning the entire country against his fellow vampires in the process, for as far as the people of the era knew, a vampire just murdered their beloved boy-king for no reason whatsoever.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Downplayed. Kain has a heart to heart talk with Vorador, during which the latter launches into a monologue on how as vampires, they are both essentially gods who are meant to rule the world, and the mortals should be offering their blood to them as a sacrifice. Kain finds that he doesn't — in principle, at least — disagree with Vorador; he realizes that much of what Vorador says puts some feelings he has had deep down ever since he became a vampire himself into words. He eventually parts ways with Vorador, with the two of them having agree to an alliance. But with that all said and done, Kain still finds himself rather disgusted with Vorador's decadence and open reveling in the sheer perversity of his own evil, seeing it all as the elder vampire having lost all sense of self-discipline and instead given himself completely over to blind hedonism, and he internally dismisses him as "an decadent old fool".
    • Played straight with Kain's reaction to Elzevir the Dollmaker. Kain is arguably at his absolute worst in Blood Omen, fully indulging in his bloodthirsty desires for revenge and slaughter, but even he is disgusted with the implications of what Elzevir plans to do to King Ottmar's daughter.
  • Evil Laugh: Kain's lovely dark chuckle.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Morally, Kain is little better than his foes, being very much a Villain Protagonist in his own right, often musing on dark personal thoughts, reveling in the carnage his new powers allow him to bring, and expressing admiration for some of the more inventive cruelties he comes across. Notably, after fighting through the perverse vampire lord Vorador's mansion — a veritable altar of bloody human sacrifice for its lord's twisted pleasure — Kain ends up agreeing with much of his opponent's attitude towards their curse, and the two part as allies. And of course, it's the "evil" ending that's canon.
  • 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 GameShark 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.
  • Fighting Your Future Self: One of the obstacles placed in Kain' s path when he confronts Moebius the Timestreamer, is his own future incarnation. Whether or not this actually is a version of himself from a possible future, or just an illusion conjured by the ever deceitful Time Guardian, is never addressed.
  • Find the Cure!: Kain's initial motive for going after the Circle of Nine is a cure for his vampirism... though he slowly begins to embrace it. Learning that the "cure" didn't actually exist and that he would actually have to die anyways as the unwittingly last corrupted member of the Nine was the final straw.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Hash'ak'gik (and the way in which he conducts business) is referenced a few times throughout the game, if you take the time to uncover optional lore. But his connection to Mortanius — the latter's eyes briefly flash the same red as his demonic host's after he slays Anarcrothe — is only shown right at the end of the game, minutes before The Reveal.
  • Flaming Sword: One of the unlockable weapons in the game.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Willendorf's library will give Kain two nuggets of lore that cast ripples through the rest of the series: the Pillars of Nosgoth choose a new scion when one of the Circle is killed, and there once existed a cult which worshipped a strange god that was linked to tales of human possession.
    • The Oracle of Nosgoth's sanctum contains heraldry of Willendorf and the land of the Nemesis, a newly-crafted shield whose emblem Kain cannot place, a tome detailing the Sarafan vampire purges, a timeless set of plate mail, and a guillotine wet with blood. Willendorf is at the heart of a scheme to ferry Kain through time, the shield belongs to the arsenal of the Nemesis, the vampire purges will soon be repeated with new zealous warriors at their head, and the guillotine will be used to execute Vorador, the last vampire aside from Kain himself. Also, during the sequence in which Kain travels back in time, the same music that plays during the flight sequence to the Oracle's Cave plays here. This foreshadows that the Oracle is actually Moebius the Timestreamer, the Guardian of Time in the Circle of Nine, and that Kain was betrayed by him.
  • Gangplank Galleon: The HMCS Bitter is often believed to be an example, judging by the stockpiles of loot found around the wreckage of the ship. It wasn't found until 2010 when fans were examining the game code, and it was commonly believed that the area was Dummied Out; Denis Dyack claims it can be reached legitimately, just via a very obtuse method.
    • The legitimate method was eventually found in ten years after the original discovery. Calling it "very obtuse" doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • A God Am I: In the bad ending:
    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.
  • Götterdämmerung: The era in which Blood Omen is set in. The Circle of Nine, a collective of Fisher King sorcerers who maintain the land and the Pillars of Nosgoth, have been stricken with a curse of insanity, causing the decay of their mental state and of the rest of the land. The protagonist is a slain nobleman recruited by one member of the Circle to kill the rest, in order to purify the Pillars and make way for a new Circle.
  • Hate Plague: Using the Inspire Hate spell, Kain can magically cause enemies to attack one another.
  • I Am Who?: After killing the Final Boss and seeing the Pillar of Balance still corrupted, Kain has an epiphany: he himself is the final insane Circle member, Ariel's unwitting successor as Balance Guardian, born in the brief interval between her death and the Pillars' corruption. The "cure" to vampirism which he sought is his own death.
  • Kill It with Water: Kain finds himself with a major vulnerability to water in all forms, which he compares to being burned by acid — entering deep bodies of water kills him outright, while rain, snow and shallow water deal damage. He can eventually gain passive upgrades to resist the effects of rain and snow, while water on the ground can be circumvented with Kain's various shape-shifted forms.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Dark Eden, 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.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Even in the inventory screen! Averted in the GOG release, which loads like lightning.
  • Loophole Abuse: The Spirit Forges demand an offering of blood in exchange for granting Kain a small supply of items...but there's no stopping Kain from possessing some poor schmuck to use a Spirit Forge in his stead. Apparently the wraiths and shades find this hilarious enough to grant Kain a full 99 of their offered item in return. Shame the possessed gets torn into pieces by chains.
  • Market-Based Title: The game was called Kain the Vampire in Japan.
  • Multiple Endings: Players can choose one of two endings:
    • In one, Kain sacrifices himself to restore the Pillars, and Nosgoth with them, but ensures the extinction of the vampire race.
    • In the other, Kain decides to damn the world, in which case the Pillars collapse, leaving Nosgoth an irredeemable wasteland, with Kain fully embracing his curse and living on as the most powerful entity in the land. This ending is considered canon, leading into the rest of the series.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: While the rest of the Circle is either busy causing mindless destruction (Bane, DeJoule, Anarcrothe, Azimuth) or just waiting for Kain to come and kill them (Nupraptor, Malek, Mortanius), Moebius the Timestreamer actively schemes against Kain and manipulates him into serving his goals.
  • Off with His Head!: Vorador is beheaded by guillotine in front of a bloodthirsty lynch mob. Kain kills Nupraptor, Moebius and Elzevir this way.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Kain is shown to recuperate in the soil of his grave, cross running water at his own peril, disperse into a swarm of bats, assume the form of incorporeal mist, and shapeshift into a lycanthropic beast; all classic vampire tropes so far. Rather than sink fangs into throats, vampires in Blood Omen can messily drain the blood from their victims' wounds from afar. One vampire can sire another, and stronger vampires can hold weaker ones in thrall, but they can also be turned outside of this cycle: Mortanius' dominion over the grave allowed him to create his own "undead son". Vampires can also develop a repertoire of additional magical abilities, such as human possession and Bloody Murder galore. The sun weakens rather than slays a vampire, and Kain can grow in power to the point where its touch does not affect him at all; likewise for the similarly debilitating exposure snow and rain has on a vampire. Vampires look the part and cannot easily pass for human; Kain can only pass unaccosted through mortal settlements while under the effects of a magical enchantment.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Aside from a brief bit of Foreshadowing from the Oracle of Nosgoth earlier on, the Nemesis' impending invasion of Nosgoth overtakes Kain's quest to slay the Circle of Nine. It sends him on what seems to be a wild goose chase, where he heads to the city of Willendorf in order to amass an army to defeat the Nemesis, kills an Ephebophile doll-maker in order restore the soul of the king of Willendorf's daughter, and a trip back in time to fifty years before the events of Blood Omen in order to kill the Nemesis when he was a young man. As it turns out, all of these events were orchestrated by the Oracle of Nosgoth, who is actually Moebius the Timestreamer, the Guardian of Time in the Circle of Nine, thus connecting it back to Kain's quest to kill each member of the Circle.
  • Posthuman Nudism: Dejoule the Energist has transcended her fleshy body due to the nature of her powers, and only bothers wearing her heavily insulated robe because her abilities will automatically harm anyone within range. Under the robe, she's naked - and once she no longer needs to worry about collateral damage, she gleefully strips off to reveal her glowing body.
  • A Rotten Time to Revert: The greatest of Kain's shapeshifting talents is arguably the Mist Form. While this power is active, Kain can not only seep through gratings, but is effectively immune to physical damage, and can even walk across bodies water unharmed - handily bypassing the normal vampire weakness to H20. However, like all magical abilities, this form drains mana while it remains active, as soon as Kain runs out, he'll automatically revert to his natural state, with potentially lethal results if he happens to be crossing a lake, for example.
  • Scienceville: The city of Stahlberg was reportedly one of the greatest centres of learning in all of Nosgoth, housing some of the most prestigious universities and libraries known to humankind. Unfortunately, the armies of the Nemesis have destroyed the place long before Kain arrives.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: The bone armor, which fools lesser forms of undead into not attacking you, and to a lesser extent the flesh armor. Mortanius the necromancer also seems to wear some large bones over his chest.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Wandering around a human settlement without glamouring yourself will cause many able-bodied humans in your vicinity to try to kill you. These attempts range from reasonable, but ill-advised (guardsmen, butchers, and the like) to downright suicidal (unarmed ladies chasing you down to give you a slap, and the relentless hostility of some hapless peasants in general, who'd do much better to run as fast as they can).
  • Überwald: This period in Nosgoth is this - the thick, dark forests with plentiful wolves, the small villages with Germanic-sounding names dotting the landscape, an overabundance of undead, the works.
  • Weakened by the Light: Kain's attacks are weaker during the day.


Video Example(s):


Malek is Damned

For failing to protect the Circle of Nine from Vorador's devastating attack, the surviving members strip his soul from his body and bind him to his armor to forever serve them.

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Example of:

Main / FateWorseThanDeath

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