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Video Game / Legacy of Kain

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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 decay. Either way, the game is rigged. [...] But suppose you throw a coin enough times... suppose one day, it lands on its edge."

An Action-Adventure video-game series by Silicon Knights and Crystal Dynamics, Legacy of Kain is set in the dark, gothic world of Nosgoth and follows a pair of Anti Heroes, Kain and Raziel.

The franchise begins with the first game, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. In Nosgoth, the health of the land is tied to the nine Pillars of Nosgoth, Cosmic Keystones that symbolize aspects of the world and the self – Time, Space, Conflict, Mind, etc. Each Pillar is supposed to have a Guardian that watches over them, but the current generation of Guardians have long gone mad and neglected their duties, causing the Pillars to weaken and the world to start to fall apart. Kain, a murdered nobleman resurrected as a vampire, hunts down and kills the Guardians in search of a cure for his vampirism, but in the process comes to revel in his vampiric nature and is manipulated into causing a genocidal crusade against the vampires. When Kain discovers he is the final Guardian, Guardian of the Pillar of Balance, he is told that his only cure is death, and he is given a Sadistic Choice: perform a Heroic Sacrifice so that new Guardians can arise and the Pillars will be saved; or rebuild his race and conquer Nosgoth while damning it to decay.

While the first game allowed players to choose to accept the sacrifice or not, and gave a different ending for each, canonically Kain refuses, and instead decides to become a Vampire Monarch that conquers Nosgoth with an army of his children. Some centuries later, Kain condemns his lieutenant, Raziel, to death, for a heinous crime: growing wings and surpassing Kain in power. Raziel is saved by the Elder God, who tells him that because the land is dominated by immortal vampires, the cycle of souls known as the "Wheel of Fate" has stalled, and Raziel must kill Kain and his other lieutenants to rid the land of the vampire scourge and restore the world. If that sounds similar to Kain's quest, that is intentional – hypocritical self-righteousness is a major aspect of Kain and Raziel's frenemy relationship.

This only scratches the surface of Legacy of Kain's story, which is an amazingly complex Jigsaw Puzzle Plot, as Raziel and Kain uncover many mysteries and secrets in Nosgoth's history. It is a series where You Cannot Fight Fate is in effect hard, and Kain and Raziel discover that their role in this story was preordained long before they were born – or at least, that's how it seems, because Unreliable Narrator, Manipulative Bastard, Cosmic Plaything, and Prophecy Twist are also in effect hard, multiple times. Basically, most of the major characters in the series are either semi-omniscient schemers plotting against other semi-omniscient schemers, or are caught between schemers trying to figure out who's scheming what, and how and why. As said, the plot is very complex, but it ends up making sense when you sit down and put it all together.note 

The series is small but definitely has its fans. In their time, each Legacy of Kain game looked positively gorgeous, thanks to strong art direction and just plain good game design, and Soul Reaver is one of the best-looking titles the original Playstation ever had. While gameplay stagnated in later games, it was enjoyed for the Video Game Cruelty Potential it allowed, with players encouraged to use different weapon combos and environmental hazards to dispatch enemies in stylish, gruesome ways. But by far the most praised aspect is the story, which is not only complex and engaging with its many twists and turns, but also is very well scripted. Flowery Elizabethan English and Purple Prose is the default setting for every character and they make it work, and Legacy of Kain just wouldn't be the same without its characters waxing philosophical about the nature of morality and using colorful metaphors to describe why they do what they do. This is bolstered by fantastic voice acting, with credits including Simon Templeman, Michael Bell, Anna Gunn, Renι Auberjonois, Richard Doyle, and the late, great Tony Jay. Simply put, you could listen to these characters converse for hours and not get tired of it.

The franchise currently sits in limbo. The fifth game, Defiance, acted well enough as the finale by tying up several major storylines, giving a permanent death to several prominent characters, and ending on a hopeful note, but there were still aspects of the story that hadn't been explored or explained yet. A sixth title, a direct sequel to Defiance, was cancelled mid-development, and since then Eidos has been bought out by Square Enix. In 2013 Nosgoth was announced as a team-based free-to-play multiplayer game based in the years after Kain had Raziel executed in Soul Reaver, and with Kain's disappearance the human refugees regroup and go to war against the vampire clans. However, the game was canned in 2016 without ever leaving beta status. In 2015, the odds of there being a sequel were "confirmed as "50/50." The same year, 30 minutes of footage from a cancelled sequel called Dead Sun (taking place centuries after the main series) were released, but again there's little chance of the project being revived.

Then in 2022, Swedish holding company Embracer Group acquired several of Square Enix Europe's IPs, with Legacy of Kain being among them. And with Embracer's history of reviving old franchisesnote , fans may once again have the bitter taste of that terrible illusion: hope.

Kain and Raziel have also appeared as bonus characters in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Furthermore, every game in the series is available on, while Blood Omen 2, Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance are are available on Steam, although they may take some outside patches to run in a stable fashion on modern hardware.

For a brief overview of each game's plotline, see the recap entry.


This series contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Badass: Soul Reaver 2 opens with a CGI retelling of the first game's final battle. The remade scene gives Kain some of this: he overpowers and throws around Raziel after a brief fistfight before unhurriedly departing on his own terms, visibly unharmed; in the original game, he spends the battle utilising Teleport Spam and is wounded by the end, limping his way through the portal. For his part, Raziel doesn't make use of any of his powers and doesn't even summon the Reaver. Funnily enough, both versions end with Kain's concession of Raziel's power ("you nearly had me, Raziel"), which makes the version in 2 come across as bitingly sarcastic on Kain's part.
  • Alien Blood:
    • In Blood Omen, 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.
    • Raziel has bright blue blood. Of course, given his condition, that might not even be blood in him.
  • All There in the Manual: A lot of story details and explanations come from the interviews.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Hylden, likely thanks to enduring eternal suffering in another dimension. Nearly all of them are violent and cruel, humans who helped their plans not being exempt from their actions.
  • 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:
    • Malek's punishment for failing to protect the Circle from Vorador's assault, having his soul torn from his body and bound to his armour to serve eternally while never experiencing the pleasures of the flesh again.
    • 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 when he allows himself to be trapped in the Soul Reaver. 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 Audron's 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".
  • Animated Armor: Malek's punishment was to become this. He also employed these as his soldiers in his bastion in Blood Omen.
  • Appendage Assimilation: The Soul Reaver and Raziel.
  • Arc Words: "History abhors a paradox."
  • Arch-Enemy: Kain and Moebius are probably the purest examples given the deep, mutual, personal hatred they have for each other, and that Kain's Magnificent Bastard Lightning Bruiser is an excellent foil for Moebius' chessmaster Squishy Wizard. Malek and Vorador, Janos and the Sarafan Lord, and Raziel and Kain are all slightly more one-sided examples.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The towns in Blood Omen have German-sounding names that don't actually mean anything.
  • 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 Sandbox Grand 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.
  • Attack of the Monster Appendage: The tentacles in Defiance.
  • 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.
  • Badass Boast
    Sarafan Tomb Guardian: Your insults will do nothing to blunt the agonies of your demise!
    Raziel: Kain killed me once. Behold the result. I have no more to fear from you.
  • Bad Future: Soul Reaver 1 and part of 2, where the Pillars have been left corrupted and Nosgoth has rotted from it.
  • Bag of Spilling: Zigzagged, but mostly averted. While they may take different forms, Raziel and Kain mostly keep their skillsets between games.
    • Raziel keeps the abilities he learns in Soul Reaver throughout the next two games, save for the Constrict ability which was useless anyway. He does not keep the Elemental Reavers between Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance, but this is justified by the manner in which he acquires them; in Soul Reaver 2 Raziel had to imbue the Reaver with its powers in an elemental forge to use them, but in Defiance he's imbuing himself with those elements so he can channel them into the Reaver at will, and the developers gave a Hand Wave that the Elder God destroyed the forges between games. He also loses the Glyphs and Fire Reaver from Soul Reaver to Soul Reaver 2, but this is acceptable since they were bonus features that the player did not need to find to complete the game, so presumably in the canon Raziel didn't find them.
    • Kain keeps his mist form in Defiance for dodging and phasing through gates, his Blood Gout and Blood Shower spells return as his normal blood draining ability, his Energy Bolt is expanded into telekinesis, and he retains the ability to teleport and turn into a swarm of bats, albeit only in cutscenes. His abilities from Blood Omen 2 do not appear in Defiance, but this is excusable thanks to the Timey-Wimey Ball – the events of Blood Omen 2 haven't happened yet, and the events of Defiance will determine if they do or not.
      • While he loses several of his abilities from Blood Omen in Defiance, he gains comparable abilities during the course of the game; the charged attacks for the Fire Reaver causes enemies to attack each other, while the charged attack for the Time Reaver temporarily slowed enemies, which is how his Inspire Hate and Slow Time abilities worked in Blood Omen. His Lightning spell from Blood Omen returned in Soul Reaver as an attack when he's faced as a boss, and while he lacks it at the start of Defiance, once again the Lightning Reaver's charged attack greatly resembles the Lightning spell. There are still several Blood Omen spells Kain has lost, but only a few. Another, Wolf Form, was intended to appear as a "beast-mode" transformation for Kain where he turned into a werewolf-like creature, but this was cut due to time constraints.
      • This is played straight with his equipment, however, none of which he has in Blood Omen 2 or Defiance. In both cases its justified again — Blood Omen 2 opens with Kain being dealt a crippling defeat and its reasonable all his stuff would have been lost or taken. By the time of Defiance, Kain has had over a thousand years of evolution to hone his powers and skills further, and over that time all of his enemies were crushed and sent into hiding. He likely lost track of or discarded his gear because he felt he didn't need it anymore, with the exception of the Soul Reaver.
    • In Blood Omen 2 Kain starts off with few abilities, but this is excused for story reasons, as he's been in hibernation between games after suffering a crushing defeat and has grown weak as a result. Over the course of the game he regains some abilities comparable to Blood Omen, such as Charm, Telekinesis, and Immolate. Berserk functions as a variant of Slow Time in that it temporarily lets Kain attack much faster rather than slowing enemies (though during development it was going to have that effect instead).
  • Bald Mystic: Female characters in the game tend to be bald or have their head shaved. It seems to be a religious thing, likely related to the practice of tonsure that's done by many followers of different religions in the real world.
  • Beast of Battle: Armored war dogs in Soul Reaver 2.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: The Heart of Darkness, which keeps beating after it's ripped from the chest of Janos Audron. And also from the chest of Kain.
    • From the Outtakes of Soul Reaver 2: LOOK AT THIS BLACK HEART! HOW STILL IT BEATS!... or maybe 'How it still beats'?
  • Beware the Superman: The presence of supernatural powers is very much a bad thing in this series. Most humans with magic abuse their power at the expense of the commoners, most vampires see humans as food, but the worst are the Hylden, who are responsible for the curse that forced vampires to feed on human blood in the first place and want to Kill All Humans for siding with the vampires in the war.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The structure in the center of Dark Eden in Blood Omen.
  • 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 also counts. Kain himself is one in Soul Reaver: Legacy of Kain.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Defiance, Kain is purified of the corruption and can now see the Elder God, recognizing it for what it is and leaving it under a mountain of rubble, and is prepared to finally put an end to the Hylden's plans. But at the cost of Raziel now being trapped within the Soul Reaver, something that Kain had made every effort he could to prevent. While a cliffhanger, it's still the most uplifting ending in the series, apart from the non-canon good ending in Blood Omen, which later games revealed would have really been a massive Downer Ending.
  • 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 Soul Reaver, again in a place where you have no need to go. There's also 'the Lighthouse' and the ruins of Nupraptor's Retreat. Any place that contains a Glyph, really.
  • Book Ends:
    • In Blood Omen, Kain's quest really kicks off when he visits the Pillars of Nosgoth and talks to Ariel. In the end, he returns there to fight Mortanius/The Unspoken and chooses if he will purify the Pillars once and for all.
    • Soul Reaver begins and ends with Raziel meeting Kain, with Ozar Midrashim playing in the background.
    • 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, so much that it sometimes pays better to run past them than fight them. Their difficulty levels were toned down in Defiance, but could still be a pain if they caught you unaware.
  • Boss Rush: The ending of Soul Reaver 2 pits Raziel against the men who will eventually degenerate into the bosses of Soul Reaver 1, followed by his human self. They're Elite Mooks to their credit, stronger versions of the most powerful human enemies in the game, however due to the Reaver making Raziel outright invincible, there's no challenge to the fights.
  • Breath Weapon: The hellhounds in Blood Omen and some demons.
  • Broken Pedestal: Raziel and the Sarafan, whom 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.
  • Call-Back: Raziel narrated, "I sensed that Kain was here... and at that moment, I would have plumbed the depths of hell to find him." Then later, Kain says, "And if Moebius told you I was hidden on the underside of hell, would you throw yourself into oblivion to pursue me?"
  • Came Back Wrong: Resurrection doesn't ever look pretty in this series, except maybe Raziel's return as a vampire. In that case, it almost seems like Kain mutilated and executed him for being too gorgeous.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • 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", which is heavily implied to be "the Unspoken" briefly mentioned near the start of the game by Ariel. Defiance expanded the concept of Avernus housing a cult that worshipped Hash'ak'gik, and revealed that they were the Hylden Lord from Blood Omen 2.
    • 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.
    Kain: (entering Uschtenheim) In my travels, I learned much about the legend of Janos Audron. Here, in this quaint pastoral village of Uschtenheim, that dark enemy was born. Janos preyed upon its peasants until he was finally hunted down and executed.
  • 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 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 newly-freed 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!
  • The Corruption: Before the beginning of Blood Omen, Nupraptor inflicted an insidious mental and spiritual "disease" on the entire Circle of Nine, including the infant Kain. This corruption tainted the Pillars of Nosgoth, and to restore them, the entire Circle had to be purged. Unfortunately, Kain refuses to die, carrying the corruption with him into Nosgoth's apocalyptic future and passing it on to his sons, who pass it on to the Soul Reaver-era vampire clans in turn. Kain is only cured at the end of Defiance, thanks to Raziel's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Pillars of Nosgoth.
  • 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 having devolved to mindless beasts and the humans 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.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Fancy-shmancy custom fonts and amazing concept art galore.
  • Dark Messiah: Kain and Raziel both think they fit the description. Turns out they're both right.
  • Dark Fantasy: Story-wise, the series is one of the finest examples of the genre for video games.
  • 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.
    • Interestingly, the games show a steady and subtle evolution in the world due to the Pillars' corruption, which only grows with time. By the time of Blood Omen (30 years after the corruption) the world is dark and scary, but humans still live and thrive. By the time of Blood Omen 2, the world is a wasteland where the humans still live in somewhat civilized society, but are oppressed by the new Sarafan Order and the ecosystem is dying or is hellishly mutated. By the time of Soul Reaver, the world is a post apocalyptic hellhole of a wasteland where recorded history has ended, humanity has been reduced to a single secluded citadel, and vampiric civilization has been confined to scavenger feral vampires and the isolated Vampire lieutenants. Soul Reaver 2 shows the variations of the time periods in detail.
  • 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 vampires' innate weakness to water instead.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kain is this all the way. Raziel develops into one over the course of the series.
  • Death as Game Mechanic: In Soul Reaver, Raziel gets thrown into the underworld when he dies and can come back out. There's puzzles which require doing within the underworld to proceed.
  • 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 impaled through the back by Raziel and sent to feed the Wheel of Fate, supervised by the very deity he worships. While the 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 attacked and run through by Kain, which is exactly what Raziel 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 reload, 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 quick handwaves. 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.
  • Decoy Antagonist: Kain is set up as the recurring antagonist in the Soul Reaver games but Raziel lets him go at about the end of Soul Reaver 2's first act.
  • Dem Bones: Animated skeletons are encountered in Blood Omen. Some of them walk in a fixed route and explode on contact with you. Others can pull themselves together and need to be destroyed more thoroughly.
  • 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.
  • Demon of Human Origin: Kain struck a deal with a necromancer to escape hell, and was returned to Nosgoth as a vampire for it. And in the sequel Soul Reaver, his lieutenant Raziel strikes a similar deal with the Elder God and returns as a soul-devouring apparition.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The ending of Soul Reaver 2, during which Raziel finds out that everything he has done, including even existing in the first place, serves the only purpose of keeping history into a Stable Time Loop. And so he is basically doomed to repeat the events of Soul Reaver 1 and 2 forever, while realizing the truth only in the last moments before being absorbed into the Reaver.
    Raziel: So, this was my terrible destiny. To play out this purgatorial cycle for all eternity.
  • 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 merger 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" Remark 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. After giving him a good beating, he unfortunately fails to fight destiny at that time and falls to a cutscene-enforced sneak attack.
  • Distant Sequel: The franchise often jumps around by centuries or millennia between games – Blood Omen 2, for instance, takes place 400 years after the original Blood Omen.
  • 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. That doesn't mean they're just going to lay down and make it easy for him, however. Rahab is much the same way in Soul Reaver.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Soul Reaver started out as an unrelated game called "Shifter", although no actual development was ever done on it before shifting it into a Legacy Of Kain game. Blood Omen 2 similarly utilizes unused concepts and ideas for two cancelled unrelated games, "Sirens" and "Chakan", that were adapted to fit the story the team had worked out on their own for the game.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: When Raziel decide to storm the Sarafan Stronghold to retrieve Janos's heart, he is fully aware that he is very likely to kill his past self and all the Sarafan knights that are destined to become his future vampire comrades in the process, and while doing exactly that he even realize that he is indeed "creating" the future he came from with his own hands...yet, he utterly fails to connect the dots and understand what he is really doing until it's too late to prevent it.
  • 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.
  • 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 Ancients' 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.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The Soul Reaver in the last three games.
  • End of an Age: Subverted, in that Kain's empire is a Golden Age from a vampire's perspective. Kain later invokes this word for word in Soul Reaver when his empire has collapsed.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Kain does this. At least three times. And he is still one of the good guys. Magnificent.
  • 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.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The opening cinematic of Blood Omen sets the tone nicely: after a brief monologue about how "the whole planet must be bathed in blood...", a hapless vampire is raised up on a large stake among a field of similarly impaled corpses, magically observed by a gathering of sorcerers, who are then attacked and gruesomely butchered by an elder vampire who gleefully siphons their blood into his ravenous gullet. Their bodyguard arrives too late and is knocked out by the vampire, who leaves him to be punished for his failure, his soul torn from his body by a skull-faced necromancer and bound to his armor, condemning him to eternal servitude. And finally, a beautiful maiden is murdered by a hidden assassin, leading to the radiant Pillars of Nosgoth being corrupted, cracking and turning black. All this before you even see your player character for the first time. As you can tell, it's going to be a nice, cheerful adventure.
  • Evil vs. Evil: It's very hard to describe Kain as a "good guy". It just so happens that his enemies are just as bad if not worse.
  • Facial Horror: Ariel has half of her skull exposed. Raziel is lacking a lower jaw after it disintegrated in the Abyss.
  • Facial Markings: Moebius has a symbol on his forehead that resembles an infinity symbol or Moebius strip. Interestingly enough, the mark on his forehead is the same shape as the Elder God's pupil.
  • 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.
  • 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. In Nosgoth, one of the human classes is a gunslinger.
  • 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.
  • Flowery Elizabethan English: Most of the dialogue is Shakespearean speech, laden with archaisms and florid language.
  • Foe Romantic Subtext: There's tons of it between Kain and Raziel.
    Zephon: And you are not as handsome Raziel anymore.
  • Future Me Scares Me: When Raziel meets his human self during a trip to the past, he's more put off by the revelation of his own involvement in... his own past than scared. Human Raziel doesn't recognize his own future self, believing him to be just another vampire and is angry but not scared.
  • Gambit Pileup: Raziel is the only guy who doesn't have a needlessly complicated plan to screw over everyone else. Mostly because he's acting as an Unwitting Pawn for every creature in existence. 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.
    • Another one is in the Sarafan Stronghold, after Moebius closes the gates to the tomb of William the Just. If you walk too close at one point in the gate, you pass through. You cannot leave, except by resetting.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 Blindness: Before their final confrontation in Defiance, the Elder God threats Kain with perpetual imprisonment under the debris of the very building they are in. He seems to be oblivious to the fact that Kain can turn himself into bats, mist, got telekinetic powers, and can even teleport (even though it's not clear how that exactly works, see one trope above), so it's high unlikely that simple rubble could snare him for long (if at all). That's particularly strange, because vampires, and Kain on top of them, are supposed to be the number one enemies of the Elder God, yet he seems to know very little about them. Yet, this may have been at least partially justified, because the Elder God probably never had to fight an enemy directly before that, so he had no reason to worry about what a vampire could actually do or not.
  • A God Am I:
    • In the canon ending for Blood Omen,
      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.
    • Kain's 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.
  • 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").
  • God and Satan Are Both Jerks: On the one hand, there's Hash'ak'gik, the Hylden Lord and the closest thing the series has to a Satanic Archetype, who wants to destroy all of Nosgoth as revenge for their banishment, and on the other, there's the Elder God, who created the world to be his food source and leeches off of the Wheel of Life.
  • God-Emperor: Soul Reaver-era vampires worship Kain, spinning the events of Blood Omen into myth.
    Raziel: Kain is deified. The clans tell tales of him. Few know the truth. He was mortal once. As were we all.
  • God Is Evil: The Elder God feeds on the cycle of death and rebirth, and is implied to have created the world solely to be an endless food source. The reason it hates the vampires and Hylden isn't because of any of the many sins they commit, but because they're immortal and therefore will never become food for it.
  • 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.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Overall, Blood Omen, Soul Reaver, and the first act of Soul Reaver 2 focus on Kain or Raziel's revenge against their wrongdoers. After Raziel refuses to kill Kain, a new timeline is created. Then the rest of Soul Reaver 2, plus Blood Omen 2 and Defiance, focus on the war against the Elder God and the invasion of the Hylden.
    • In a specific game, Blood Omen 2, the first half, Chapters 1-6, is set inside the City of Meridian and is about Kain's revenge on vampires who betrayed him. The second half, Chapters 7-11, is set in the outside world and the otherworldy, forsaken areas such as the Eternal Prison and the Hylden City. The plot then focuses on stopping the Hylden General opening the portal to the demon realm.
  • Hellhole Prison: The Eternal Prison in Blood Omen 2 is one of the most horrific examples in fiction.
  • Hellhound: Multi-headed dogs that exhale fire can be encountered in a cave with lava in Blood Omen.
  • 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. See for yourself. 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 sequinned 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.
    • Rahab looks rather like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
    • Kain's line in Blood Omen ("Alas, poor Nupraptor – I knew him well. Well, not really.") 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.
  • Horned Humanoid: Many demons, the magic missile shooting creatures in Blood Omen, and in some concept art for Soul Reaver, Kain. What he has now may or may not qualify. Precursor murals sometimes add horns to their enemies.
  • Human Sacrifice: Done by the Hash'ak'gik cult to their (or others'?) firstborn.
  • Humans Are Bastards:
    • Ariel and Mortanius in-between being possessed by the Hylden Lord are pretty much the only good humans in the series. The other important humans are Moebius, The Circle of Nine, and The Sarafan.
    • 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 longed-for end from Raziel when she appears at the end of Defiance. While her appearance is not entirely explained, it seems that every soul of every 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 newfound enlightenment – "Release me, Raziel. The Soul Reaver has the power. Release us all..."
    • Magnus in Blood Omen 2. Having been mercilessly tormented for centuries in a twisted prison that is practically Hell itself, he and Kain agree that his death is a welcome relief. He is the only character to ever outright thank his killer. The level ends with the screen fading to black and Kain, for the only time in the entire series, paying respect to a fallen ally.
      Kain: "Go, my friend. Be free. As the rest of us, living or dead, can never be."
  • 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 the Sarafan by discovering them to be a Knight Templar cult of butchers, but still hates Kain because, well, Kain did execute him. Regardless of his revealed motives, that's hard to get over.
  • Infinite 1-Ups: Blood Omen has a spirit forge for Hearts of Darkness.
  • 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.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "As your agent, I am beyond death."
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Journey of Reclamation: The first game begins with the nobleman, Kain, dying and being resurrected as a vampire to gain revenge, with his second objective being to restore his humanity. By the games end though, he's grown ever more contemptuous of mankind and eventually embraces his dark gift. As the series unfolds it's revealed that the Vampires were the original guardians of Nosgoth and Kain now seeks to restore their species to that postion, albiet more out of self-presevation then a sense of right.
  • 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: The sole example is when the Seer offers Kain her blood in Blood Omen 2. The rest of the time, the vampires are very messy eaters.
  • Kryptonite-Proof Suit: A partial example: Kain's empire releases large amounts of smoke to reduce light levels.
    • Largely an Informed Attribute considering that in the intro to Soul Reaver the sky doesn't look even slightly obscured.
  • 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.
  • Last of His Kind: Several examples, including the two protagonists.
  • Left Hanging: The page image. 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.
  • The Legions of Hell: The demonic minions of the Hylden.
  • Leitmotif: "Ozar Midrashim" for both Kain and Raziel, as it plays during their climactic encounters that change the fate of Nosgoth.
  • 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.
  • Literal Change of Heart: Using the Heart of Darkness.
  • 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.
  • Loss of Identity: Raziel goes through a fair amount of this. Wraith!Raziel (who doesn't remember his mortal life at all, just his vampiric and wraithly existences) meets Sarafan!Raziel and learns that his mortal self is a Sadistic, self righteous Knight Templar douchebag. Vampire!Raziel was still a Knight Templar but working for Kain instead of the Sarafan. Wraith!Raziel is still a Knight Templar at points, but he's the poster boy for Unwitting Pawn and Character Development has left him with higher moral standards than his human or even vampiric self. He even calls his former human self out for his sadism, tells him "I renounce you" and then kills him(self?). Ouch.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Nupraptor the Mentalist.
  • Madness Mantra: Ariel's Lament qualifies as this.
  • 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.
  • Mind Screw: Given how the series depicts time travel and paradoxes, untangling it all becomes very hard to do even for those well-versed in the series.
  • 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.
  • Mistaken for Granite: Lampshaded by Kain, who notes, "These statues were singularly inanimate. I knew better than to assume that they would remain as such."
  • Monster Threat Expiration: Aside from the Boss in Mook Clothing example above with the demons in Soul Reaver 2 who were weakened in Defiance to make them more manageable, there's also the Sarafan, who in Soul Reaver 2 were the strongest humanoid enemies, as they were the ones fought in the last area of the game. In Blood Omen 2, they lose that position in part because they make up the majority of enemies in the game, so they a have a lot of weaker types in their ranks, but also lose because of the Hylden enemies present. In Defiance, they're bumped down to early game enemies.
  • Monstrosity Equals Weakness: Zig-zagged. As vampires grow more powerful, they grow 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.
  • Mook Maker: Blood Omen has large machines at Malek's bastion that bind spirits to suits of armor until you shut them off.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: About the only character who can be strictly defined as "evil villain" is the Elder God. Everyone else is some shade of Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain; the heroes are willing to do terrible things for the greater good or lie to and manipulate others for the same, and the villains often have justifiable and understandable motives for their deeds, or are being manipulated by a greater villain. It really sets the tone for the series that the main protagonist is a Vampire Monarch and the vampire hunters are the villains.
  • Morton's Fork: In Defiance, Raziel is offered twice the possibility to simply stay put and do nothing, as a way to prevent history to again force his every move into his inevitable imprisonment in the Soul Reaver. He ultimately realizes that turning eternal imprisonment into eternal stalling is not really a solution, and decides to face his destiny rather than running from it.
  • Mr. Exposition: Janos, even compared to Kain and Raziel whose narration have them as this, he's entire purpose in the story is basically this. When meeting Janos in the game, brace yourself for a lot of chatter. Even the actors comment on it:
    René Auberjonois: (turns script page, sees giant speech) Uugh.
    Michael Bell: I've just been waiting for him to see that page.
    René Auberjonois: I need a break to call my agent.
    Michael Bell: He wants to get paid by the word now.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • This was Umah's purpose. Oddly, some concept art depicts her wearing a flowing robe rather than the close-fitting gear she sports in the final game.
    • As the games progressed, the neckline on Ariel's dress got lower and her breasts got bigger.
  • Multi-Platform: Every game in the franchise has seen a PC release, and different games in the series have been ported to the Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube.
  • 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.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mortanius, Bane, the Nemesis, the Unspoken, the Hylden Lord, and of course Kain.
  • 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 Badass 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.
  • Never Trust A Trailer: Subverted in this Blood Omen trailer: The trailer makes it look like Mortanius is stabbing Kain in the back when he's actually pulling the sword out of him. But it turns out he's the one who arranged for him to murdered in the first place.
  • 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?
    • And, of course, Kain's Oh, Crap! moment at the end of Soul Reaver 2. "We walked right into their trap...", indeed.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Raziel. This is one of the reasons why everyone is so eager to manipulate him.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: Averted. Soul Reaver treats the evil ending of Blood Omen as canon, picking up after Kain chose to rule over Nosgoth.
  • 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 travelling 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 Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: While Soul Reaver was a Metroidvania (even with having a good quarter of its content axed before release), Soul Reaver 2 drops this aspect completely, becoming a totally linear game with no secret areas or items whatsoever: there are no more glyphs and the lifebar upgrades automatically. This is part of what makes it very short. Defiance brings back a bit of exploration but nowhere near as much as SR1.
  • 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. This is justified because, in Kain's own words:
    Kain: The part of me that staff affected is no longer in its place... but you already knew that, didn't you? I always was considered heartless.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • 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 despises: 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...
  • One-Hit Kill: In the first Blood Omen, without a full spirit gauge, the Soul Reaver is just an awkward club. But if Kain has a full magic gauge, the Soul Reaver will instantly kill any mook and even some of the bosses. Besides the Soul Reaver, a number of Kain's artifacts (such as the Pentalich of Tarot) can instantly kill mooks
  • 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 Demons Are Different: Coming from Another Dimension, big and beastly-looking, with magical attacks that seem to be natural. Often horned, and very tough. Can be summoned by people, or at least by the guardian of dimension and her subordinates.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Nosgoth vampires...
    • They are killed by water (related to certain frequently overlooked vampire myths).
    • They can be harmed by soundwaves.
    • They lose their human appearance and change into something different. While the ancient vampires looked more like dark-haired and blue-skilled angels with three-fingered hands, other vampires have a different appearance - like Vorador, who has bat-like features, and Kain (as well as his progeny) who is deathly pale. Even later on, they devolve into mutant monstrosities.
    • Older 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, although they can be revived if the weapon is removed.
    • Also, their origins are definitely not the usual...
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Mortanius turned Kain into a vampire to set him upon the insane / evil Circle of Nine and purge them.
    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.
  • Physical God: The Elder God.
  • Planet England: In Blood Omen 2', Nosgoth is implied to be a country with a capitol, while in all other games it is implied to be the name of the whole world.
  • Plot Tumor: The Soul Reaver starts off as just a weapon in Kain's arsenal in Blood Omen, but later games, not surprisingly given its name being a Title Drop for two of them, expand its role into a Sword of Plot Advancement. Time travel as well. While in Blood Omen, it only shows up with Moebius' manipulation of Kain, Soul Reaver 2 makes it major part of the series.
  • Precursors: The Ancients and the Hylden.
  • Prophecy Twist: The Ancient vampires foresaw that one day there would be a great duel between a champion of the Ancients and a champion of the Hylden, and the outcome of their duel would decide the fate of Nosgoth. Murals in their forges show the two champions battling, but variably depict either of them triumphing over the other. Raziel and Kain independently come to believe that Raziel is the Hylden champion and Kain is the Ancient champion. They are both wrong. Raziel himself is both champions – when he revives Janos Audron and grants the Hylden the means by which they can free themselves from their exile, he acts as their champion, and when he grants Kain the fully empowered Soul Reaver and the means to see and fight the Elder God, he acts as the Ancient champion. The murals depict either champion being victorious because Raziel grants the Reaver to Kain by a Heroic Sacrifice, thus he triumphs and perishes with the same action.
  • Prophet Eyes: They are a side effect of possession, in a Deconstruction of Glowing Eyes of Doom. Not all characters with eyes like that are known to have gotten them this way, though.
  • 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 creepy version. Even Kain finds him disturbing.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: Malek, some undead and some animated dolls in Blood Omen.
  • 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!
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The common vampires in Soul Reaver exist in juvenile and older variant. Older vampires, who are tougher and in almost every case immune to sunlight, have glowing red eyes.
  • Religious Vampire: Janos Audron and his fellow Ancients were devout to the Elder God, an deity that controlled the cycle of birth, life and death through his Wheel of Fate, and they were willing to fight a Holy War against the Hylden and the humans to spread their religion. Unfortunately, it's revealed that the Elder God hates his followers for their undead and sterile nature disrupting the balance, though to be fair, it was no fault of the Ancients themselves since they were cursed with vampirism by their Hylden arch-enemies.
  • Respawning Enemies:
    • 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. However, they still managed to make it work. The one Continuity Snarl in it all is the "future Kain" that Moebius summons to attack Kain – Word of God says it was just an illusion Moebius conjured to psych Kain out.
    • Meanwhile, Nosgoth retconned the extinction of Raziel's clan by showing that there were members left who have come out of hiding and been re-accepted into vampire-kind to help put down the human rebellion, although it’s unclear whether the game is still canon following its cancellation.
    • Soul Reaver 2 changes how the fight between Kain and Raziel went in the previous game, where the boss fight depicted Kain as being close to losing before making his escape, the intro FMV of Soul Reaver 2 depicts the fight as having no clear winner.
  • 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, history might well obliterate the individual responsible rather than endure further change.
  • 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.
    • A significant one in Soul Reaver, in which Raziel finds out that, in life, he and his brothers were Sarafan warrior priests.
    • And again in Soul Reaver 2 during the sequence in which Sarafan!Raziel kills Janos.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Raziel and Kain, though Raziel does not remember the 'new' history created at the end of Soul Reaver 2, because he didn't live through it.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Many.
    • At the start of Defiance, Moebius chew Kain out for saving Raziel at the end of Soul Reaver 2, thus throwing the stable time loop off its intended rails. It's never quite explained why Moebius, and probably the Elder God, were happy with a time loop in which Kain is never really killed (the young one is bound to retrieve the Reaver with Raziel in it, and then go back in time while the resurrected Raziel chases him, at which point history repeats itself) and therefore the vampires are never really extinct. But it's possible that not even the bad guys were aware of being mere tools "used" by history as part of its effort to remain stable.
    • During the climax of Defiance, Raziel rips the Heart of Darkness out of Kain's chest, after which he, and everyone else, is convinced that Kain is dead for good. Kain however gets better (to his own surprise), with no apparent motivation or explanation of how exactly that was possible. One possibility, however, is that Mortanius engineered the whole thing while creating Kain, as a way to make sure that he would eventually prevail in the duel to the death against Raziel, which may explain why Mortanius, in the scene in which is confronted by Raziel, was so confidently boasting that he "had beaten him after all".
  • 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 as a human, and the whole of Blood Omen 2.
  • Rotten Reincarnation: The cycle of Life and Death has been hijacked by the Elder God, a parasitic Eldritch Abomination that claims to have created the cycle of life and death as the hub of the great Cosmic Wheel to create souls to continually feeds its omnipotent power for eternity. As such, he hates Vampires (especially the protagonists) due to their immortal bodies and souls disrupting the cycle, depriving the Elder God of its meal and tries any means possible to destroy them or manipulate them into destroying each other. Much of the game is spent trying to Screw Destiny and tell the Elder God where he can stick it.
  • Rule of Symbolism: While many recurring images and motifs appear throughout the series, not all of them can be chalked up to destiny (some are just coincidence), but they still fit. A perfect example is the mural of the Scion of Balance in the Spirit Forge at the end of Defiance, depicting a horned vampire with large black wings holding the Soul Reaver. The presence of the horns and the shape of the wings make the figure posed to form a familiar symbol: Kain's clan emblem, seen hanging over his shoulder since Soul Reaver. There's no way this could be deliberate in-universe, because the Spirit Forge has been sealed for centuries, but the symbolism works perfectly to the player to make it clear Kain really is The Chosen One after all.
  • 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 immediately mistrusted. However, it can possibly be excused by him deciding in the heat of the moment.
  • Scry vs. Scry vs scry vs scry...
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Hylden.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Moebius claims to have made this thanks to Raziel sparing Kain:
    Moeius: I can accept that Kain has murdered me, Raziel. As the Time Guardian, I foresaw that incident long before it occurred. And I take some small comfort in the fact that Kain remains the sole survivor of his vile breed. But you have single-handedly made my sacrifice meaningless.
    • Of course, Raziel shuts him down immediately, having had enough of his manipulations.
  • 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!: Considering how smugly self-assured the villains are about everything they do, it's amazingly satisfying to put them in their places. 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. As pointed out in Breaking Speech, comes at the end of Defiance. Kain tries one against the Hylden Lord, but in a rare moment it's a Lame Comeback and his words actually did get to Kain.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: The bone armor in Blood Omen, 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.
  • Slasher Smile: Kain puts on a good one when he finds Moebius after returning from having his heart ripped out. It's the happiest he looks in the whole series, and it's kind of terrifying for that.
  • Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate: Raziel and Kain have fun playing with the scale like a teeter-totter, but mostly the series starts out firmly at You Can't Fight Fate, then heads into Fighting Fate Is Hard as loopholes in time's laws are found.
  • 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 beginning 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. Ends up as Earn Your Happy Ending if you accept the ending of Defiance but 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.
  • The Slow Path: Raziel hurries to and fro in Soul Reaver 2 looking for Moebius's time portals, but between that game and Defiance he traverses the 500 years between the Pre-Blood Omen Era and the Blood Omen Era the old fashioned way.
  • Smug Snake: Moebius, and he pays for it. Hard. Three consecutive times. In under five minutes. Payback's a bitch.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The named female characters in the series can literally be counted on one hand − Azimuth and Dejoule are the only (living) female members of the Circle in Blood Omen and Umah in Blood Omen 2 are all minor characters in the general continuity and Ariel's main role is to have a Plot-Triggering Death and be a powerless Spirit Advisor until the end of Defiance where her soul serves to purify the Reaver. Another female character, the Priestess of a vampire-worshipping cult, was supposed to appear as a late-game boss in Soul Reaver but was excised and never included in any of the sequels. Female vampire hunters do appear as minor enemies in Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance however (as well as the cancelled sequel Dead Sun).
  • Soul-Cutting Blade: The Soul Reaver, which eats souls in its wraith blade form.
  • Soul Eating: Raziel is a vampire whose blood-hunger is replaced by soul-hunger.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Sort of. After spending five games speaking in eloquent, faux-Shakespearian dialogue, Kain's reaction upon seeing the Elder God at the end of Defiance is simply, "What in the hell...?"
  • Spanner in the Works: Raziel full-stop. Kain turns into one at the end of Defiance. Who would've thought that getting your heart ripped out wouldn't kill you?
  • Spectral Weapon Copy: Raziel uses a Spectral version of Kain's Soul Reaver.
  • Spikes of Villainy: The entire Army of the Nemesis, including the Nemesis himself, formerly known as William the Just. Kain adopts some as well.
  • Squishy Wizard: When Moebius has his armies and vampire-paralyzing staff, even Kain is powerless against him. Without them, he's a joke.
  • Stable Time Loop: In the universe of the game, history tend to react like this to remain stable against the tampering of reckless time travellers. The most notable one is made by the entire storylines of Soul Reaver 1 and 2. Even if the loop is finally broken at the end of Soul Reaver 2, it's implied to have happened a lot of times already, until Kain finally managed to become aware of it and plan the necessary moves to drive him and Raziel out of it.
  • Sterility Plague: Among other effects, the Hylden curse rendered the Ancients infertile.
  • 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 Show Lords 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.
  • Strong Flesh, Weak Steel: Any weapon Kain picks off the Sarafan enemies in Blood Omen 2 will eventually break from too much attacking or blocking, but when reduced to his bare hands, he can attack and block as much as he wants.
  • 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 descendants 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 seahorse 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, most likely a side effect of Janos' heart beating inside Kain's chest.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: In Blood Omen Kain first meets Vorador to get his help fighting Malek. Vorador gives Kain a Ring of Power that Kain uses to summon Vorador the next time he encounters Malek.
  • Summon Magic:
    • Used in-game by some enemies. In the story as well as the game, this and teleportation are the speciality 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.
  • Temporal Paradox: It's stated that one can't actually alter time because going back in time to change the past causes the time-traveller to be part of the events that have already happened and led to the future. Causing a paradox, however, such as taking an item from one point in time and bringing it into contact with itself at a different point in time, makes the timeline "vulnerable" to change at that moment, in that place. Time hates being played in such a manner, and will violently restructure itself to fit the alteration. So many characters go to such absurd lengths to manipulate Raziel because he's a walking paradox with his own soul clinging to his arm and thus has the potential to alter the timeline with every action he takes.
  • Temporal Suicide: Raziel is a vampire who was resurrected by Kain to serve him as a lieutenant, from the remains of a Sarafan vampire hunter. Through time travel Raziel learns that the Sarafan Order were a lot less noble than they'd like people to believe, and ends up slaying several members of the Sarafan's leadership, including the hunter whose corpse he will one day be raised from.
  • 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.
  • Twist Ending: Every game except Blood Omen 2 has one.
  • 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.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Raziel in every game except the first. Kain turns out to be one too in Blood Omen, and by creating Raziel in the first place, is still one in the sequels.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: In most of the games, it's established that Kain needs warm blood (usually from a living body) to survive, restore his health and become stronger. But since embracing an enemy to drain their blood in combat is impractical, Kain telekinetically pulls the blood from a wounded enemy to his mouth at twenty paces. He's 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 with the blood of noblemen" that would drain blood automatically for him. When he does go for the usual bite-to-the-neck, he's brutal to the point you can hear bones grinding.
  • Vampire Variety Pack: 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, most notable with Rahab (immunity to water, but still vulnerable to sunlight) and Zephon (turned into spider vampires).
  • Vampire Vords: Mostly averted, though Janos Audron plays it straight, possibly because he is very old.
  • 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 non-fatally "sip" from their souls.
    • 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...
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: If they can follow the timeline without taking notes, anyway. Take a gander.
  • 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 for their delicious 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 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.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Vampires are seen turning into a wolf-like creature, several bats (or a huge swarm of them), and mist.
  • 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 cattle. (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.
  • Warrior Monk: The Sarafan warrior-priests.
  • 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 Episode: 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.
  • Wham Line:
    • Blood Omen: "He is the last! [Moebius points at Kain and swords are drawn.] Destroy him!"
    • Soul Reaver: "The blade is vanquished. So it unfolds... and we are a step closer to our destinies."
    • Soul Reaver 2: "The Reaver was never forged to be a soul-stealing weapon... the ravenous, soul-devouring entity trapped in the blade was... and always had been... me."
      • A short while later, there's also "My God... the Hylden... we walked right into their trap..."
    • From Defiance: "Kain has it? (shocked silence) The Heart of Darkness is in Kain!"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Played with – after Janos Audron is possessed by the Hylden Lord in Defiance, we never see him again... because he flies off to be in the events of Blood Omen 2, which was released before Defiance.
    • Willendorf and its notable characters (King Ottmar and the cursed princess) are not so much as mentioned past the original Blood Omen, neither by Kain's reflection on his conquest nor Raziel's frequent exposition on the post-Blood Omen world.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The immortality curse, bestowed by the Hylden, really screwed over 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.
  • Winged Humanoid: Raziel had leathery bat wings... until Kain rips out the wing-bones. 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.
  • With This Herring: Averted in the first Blood Omen, Kain actually starts off with decent equipment, especially his hell-forged Iron Armor. The Iron Armor is actually the best protection Kain can have outside of a "functioning" Spectral Armor. Until he finds the Chaos Armor, the later armor he finds just give him situational abilities such as disguising himself as an undead.
  • World of Ham: All the voice actors get in on the ham moments in the series. The ham is all over the place.
  • World Pillars: The Pillars of Nosgoth support the eponymous world throughout the series, which overlapping with Cosmic Keystone. In Blood Omen, the Pillars are have become corrupted, and in order to restore the Pillars Kain must commit a Heroic Sacrifice. He refuses, instead destroying the Pillars and becoming a Vampire Monarch, ruling the world for thousands of years.
  • 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 Fight Fate: This trope and Screw Destiny are Played with, inverted, subverted, pinned to the ground and shot repeatedly in the head. To go in-depth: no, you can't fight fate. You Already Changed the Past and created a Stable Time Loop in the process, but even if you know this, you're powerless to change it. However, the events of the series center around the main characters finding and exploiting loopholes in these rules, so only normally You Can't Fight Fate. But if you have the ability to time travel, know your history, and are good at manipulating people, eventually you'll find a way. It just so happens that most of the main characters have those abilities, and the only one that doesn't is one of the loopholes the rest are exploiting. The other catch is that even if you do find a way to change history and defy fate, you'll create a ripple effect throughout history that can change things you didn't anticipate, and in this series things usually change for the worse, since history hates being tampered with.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


Soul Reaver 2

Compelled by history to slay Kain while in the past, Raziel barely manages to resist its pull, much to Kain's relief. (Subtitles provided by Ugly93 on YouTube)

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / SlidingScaleOfFreeWillVsFate

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