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YMMV / Legacy of Kain

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: It's entirely possible that characters other than Raziel have free will. Free will seems to be a matter of existing outside the normal laws of time and fate, like Raziel and the Elder God do. As the Timestreamer, able to freely see through time and travel forward and backwards as he wishes, Moebius seems like he would fit the bill for that description. And he does seek to actively change history a couple of times, despite the fact that the series claims that's impossible to do without free will. Kain definitely has the power to change fate by the end of Defiance, but what gave him that power is ambiguous with all he goes through in the final chapters, and for all we know he always had free will and just never realized it. Besides, if only a select few special individuals get to have free will, don't you think the Scion of Balance, the prophesied figure who will save Nosgoth, would be one of them?
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  • Angst? What Angst?: For all the stuff Kain goes through, he doesn't seem to react much to most of it. Not surprising considering he is a sociopath.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • The very final boss battle against Hash'ak'gik in the Blood Omen is extremely simple and rather tedious. The only thing the boss does throughout the entire battle is to sink into the ground and try to rise up underneath you to deal Collision Damage. That's literally all. For the most part the attack can be avoided simply by walking in a straight line. When above ground, he just stands in place and doesn't even swing his claws at you. You almost get the feeling they simply ran out of time to draw sprites for anything more complex.
    • Doing battle with Kain in Soul Reaver isn't very impressive in comparison to his sons. Each time you smack him three times while he stands still and shoots lightning bolts at you, and then you watch a cutscene.
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    • The end of Soul Reaver 2, and the closest thing the entire game has to a boss encounter. While the Sarafan Inquisitors are really strong and you fight them all in a row, it's completely impossible to die because the Reaver keeps your health at maximum, and you can't even drop the sword to give yourself a challenge. Thanks to this, the final encounter against Sarafan Raziel becomes drawn out, but still unchallenging.
    • The Sarafan Lord in Blood Omen 2. For all the fear surrounding him, the fight itself proves to be little different from the combat in the rest of the game apart from the amount of damage it takes to kill him. The fight start with same strategy of blocking his attacks and hitting him back with Incinerate while avoiding his unblockable attacks, and when Kain gets the Soul Reaver back the fight is about the same as any another in the game apart from the boss's attacks doing more damage.
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  • Awesome Ego: Kain is one of the most smug, arrogant, self-righteous, cruel bastards you'll ever meet. But he's badass enough to live up to his own boasts, and moreover, the fans wouldn't want him any other way.
  • Awesome Music: The series is not really known for its soundtrack, but that doesn't mean it has nothing worth a listen.
    • Ozar Midrashim remains memorable as its one iconic theme.
    • Ariel's Lament is a powerful theme for the later part of the series, with a foreboding feeling creeping through its duration masked by triumphant drum beats and mysterious-sounding tribal motifs.
    • The Sarafan stronghold theme is a very haunting atmospheric track with a side of martial music.
    • The Dark Temple theme is a great example of the series' dark ambient music direction.
  • Bizarro Episode: The Eternal Prison level in Blood Omen 2. It's origins are never explained, it doesn't really fit into the series' mythology and breaks several of it's rules, and the guardians don't seem to belong to any of the established races while covering everything with Sigil Spam that doesn't resemble anything else in the series. Neither the prison or it's guardians are ever mentioned again.
  • Broken Base:
    • The wraith-blade in Defiance; in Soul Reaver and Soul Reaver 2, it looked like a simple blade of energy emminating from Raziel's arm. In Defiance, it looked like a complete spectral sword, complete with a hilt he would grab; this was the intended appearance of the weapon all along, but graphical limitations at the time prevented it. Some prefer the original look due to it feeling more primal and "otherly", some feel that it shouldn't have been changed simply for continuity's sake. Others enjoy the look of the new blade, noting that it lends itself better to combat more complex than Raziel flailing his right arm about, and point out that the previous reavers - especially the fire reavers - looked like Raziel just stuck a traffic cone over his hand.
    • The announcement of Nosgoth created one between fans who were okay with the idea, and fans who were disgusted that after eleven years the series is brought back to life... bringing no resolution whatsoever to any lingering plot threads from Defiance, not helped by the fact that since Nosgoth is a Team-based deathmatch game, the odds of any story at all are slim. This was ultimately rendered irrelevant, as the game was canceled before it got out of beta testing.
  • Complete Monster:
    • The Elder God orchestrated the war between the Hylden and the Ancients, resulting in the Hylden being banished to a Hell dimension and the Ancients becoming Vampires. The Elder God later decided he didn't like the Vampires anymore, so he orchestrated a war between them and humans, which wiped out most of the Vampires except Kain. Kain later began a second war that ended with humans enslaved by Vampires. So, as directly stated in the last game, the entire history of the series is full of the three major races in the world killing and enslaving and wiping each other out, over and over again for dominance, and all this was caused by the Elder God. His motivation is he just likes being able to control the world however he likes it, so whenever he decides he doesn't like the guys in power any more, he has someone else overthrow them. He was also hungry for their souls.
    • Hash'ak'gik, a.k.a. the Dark Entity, the Hylden Lord, and the Sarafan Lord, is the commander of the Hylden, a race banished to a demon dimension. He possessed Mortanius and used him to corrupt the Guardians of the Pillars of Nosgoth by murdering Ariel and leaving her lover Nupraptor to find her body and drive the Guardians insane with his grief. This in turn corrupted the Pillars and caused the land to decay and rot with the Guardians. With the corruption of the Pillars, he possesses Janos Audron and rebuilds the Sarafan order of vampire hunters, driving them to endangerment and establishing tyrannical control of human civilization. He uses this control to construct a network of Glyph-powered machines around Nosgoth to direct the energies of the Device, an ancient Hylden war weapon. With Janos imprisoned and deformed to power the Device, the Hylden Lord plans to activate the Device and kill all non-Hylden life in Nosgoth through the Glyph network, including the human Sarafan that loyally serve him.
  • Continuity Lockout: A hard example. You can play Soul Reaver and understand the story just fine, but from there on the series is highly serialized and knowledge of the previous games is necessary to follow along.
  • Contested Sequel: Blood Omen 2; some fans hate it (see Dork Age, below) for being "out of place" with the rest of the series in terms of tone and content, and possessing the only true scrappy in the series, while at the same time presenting Kain with a characterization drastically different from what he showed in either Soul Reaver game. Others enjoy it for capturing the Puzzle Boss aspect that was dropped in Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance, and found its use of steam punk and magitech unique and interesting, and justify it by pointing out that the game takes place in a separate time period from the rest of the setting, and pointing out that elements of steam punk and magitech were present in both Blood Omen and Soul Reaver, just considerably less preeminent (and in the former case, sometimes harder to pick out due to the graphics), and that Kain's characterization is appropriate for the time frame.
  • Disappointing Last Level: Blood Omen 2 - The game starts promising, and most stages are true to the "gothic", pseudo-medieval flavour of the games in the series, with some steampunk technology introduced to show that centuries had passed in the plot - an enjoyable and credible fantasy setting. Then, the last few stages are set in a pseudo-sci-fi alien facility that would look more at home in a futuristic FPS than in a Legacy of Kain game. A game where its fun-factor was playing as a vampire, exploring atmospheric gothic/baroque architecture, attacking human guards and knights, was turned into a mishmash of genres where you have to find the switch to progress in bland similar corridors with little lights on the walls. The Hylden themselves, previously alluded to in Soul Reaver 2, are something of a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, but Defiance brings them more in-line with the feel of the setting.
  • Dork Age: Blood Omen 2, which starts out with the traditional pseudo-medieval setting the series is known for and later descends into a Steam Punk setting rife with Magitek and extra-dimensional demons trying to invade Nosgoth. Defiance explains some of it, but keep in mind Defiance originally came out after Blood Omen 2...
  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: Somewhat downplayed, but a common criticism of the later entries in the series was that the gameplay had lost its way and in the end were only worth playing for the story. Soul Reaver is probably the last entry in the franchise in which the gameplay was praised just as much as the story.
  • Evil Is Cool: Let's face it, Kain wouldn't be as much of a badass as he is if he wasn't such a colossal dick.
  • Fanon: Before it became a soul-sucking sword, the Soul Reaver was known simply as "the Reaver". Some in the fan community refer to it in this state as the "Blood Reaver", to better differentiate it from talking about the sword in either form, and because it makes sense in terms of Theme Naming.
  • Foe Yay: There's tons of it between Kain and Raziel.
    Zephon: And you are not His handsome Raziel anymore.
  • Follow the Leader: Defiance's combat system is obviously inspired from Devil May Cry, which had come out 2 years prior. When you think about it, it was actually one of its first followers, before God of War and Ninja Gaiden made everyone forget about it.
  • Game-Breaker: In Blood Omen, Repel spell + Chaos Armor = WIN.
    • Also in Blood Omen, the Flay item is the most commonly found item in the game, can kill most enemies with a couple hits, and can easily be acquired in infinite amounts at the very first spirit forge the player is likely to run into which even has a bat form beacon right next to it. Aside from the Energy Bank it's highly unlikely you'll have reason to use any other item in the game, and it makes all direct attack spells just about pointless.
    • Want to really crush the game? Just mind control a person and take them to a Wraithforge. Doing so, chains will descend to draw and quarter the poor victim. In return for this human sacrifice, the wraiths will give you 99 of whatever they make instead of the measly amount they normally hand out. Having 99 Hearts of Darkness almost guarantees you'll never have to retreat to your tomb.
    • In Blood Omen 2, the Charm ability can't control any enemy that can actually fight, but hitting them with it causes them to momentarily stop and do an animation to fight it off, which you can interrupt with an attack. Once you have the ability simply Charm an enemy, do a combo, then repeat and there isn't much in the game that can harm you.
    • In Soul Reaver 2 there's a really glaring example. After you're able to summon the Reaver at will regardless of your remaining health, hide the Reaver and you can use the infinitely spammable combo of Light Attack, Light Attack, Heavy Attack, which will not let enemies retaliate at all while you attack them (and others will not attack you while you're focused on one), thereby eliminating nearly half the challenge of the game. (The other half comes from the platforming segments, which aren't generally hard at all.) If you prefer fighting with the Reaver, just alternate between Light and Heavy Attacks for the same effect.
  • Genius Programming: A major selling point for Soul Reaver was that, due to various coding tricks, the game has no load times. While not actually truenote , in practice the game does allow players to travel across Nosgoth in realtime without ever having to view a loading screen.
  • Ho Yay: You don't need shipping goggles to see the mountains of subtext with Raziel and Kain. The two are obsessed with each other, and constantly talk about how the other is the key to their fate. Raziel particularly links Kain to his disfiguration, often lamenting he was good-looking in life. Then there's some of the dialogue...
    Zephon: You are not His handsome Raziel anymore. His precious first-born son...
    Elder God: To embrace a serpent is to invite poison into your heart. Kain is a sinuous beast; he will seduce and deceive you.
    Kain: Our destinies run together, Raziel, like two rivers that have met and can never be distinct again.
    • The end of Defiance in particular is straight out of a slashfic. Kain has Raziel pinned to a wall with his sword through him; when Kain tries to pull the sword out, Raziel grabs it and pulls it back in. And Raziel is busy groaning and gasping as Kain stares at him in awe and horror. And the scene is capped out with Raziel putting his hand on Kain's chest while reassuring him "I am not your enemy, not your destroyer. I am, as before, your right hand..."
  • Magnificent Bastard: Once a petty noble in the world of Nosgoth, murdered and revived as a vampire, Kain has chafed at the tyranny of fate. Establishing a vampire monarchy, but wishing for a way to save the world without sacrificing his own life, Kain condemns his right-hand man Raziel to the Abyss, knowing Raziel will survive and return as a wraith, allowing Kain to manipulate him, the one being with true free will, into changing fate to the point of even averting his own predestined death, as well as saving Raziel from his own fate of being consumed by the Reaver. Kain proceeds to overcome a multitude of dangers with his wit and skill, constantly able to keep pace with the most powerful players in Nosgoth to the point he is able to even defeat the monstrous Eldritch Abomination, the Elder God, who has been responsible for all the bloodshed and horror Nosgoth has endured for eons, while never losing his sardonic wit or dark charm.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "This edifice was clearly significant, but I did not yet have the means to reach it."
    • You pissed off Raziel? You bastard.
  • Mondegreen: So who's this "Victor" Kain keeps yelling about?
  • Moral Event Horizon: Kain is initially believed to have crossed it when he chose not to sacrifice himself to restore the Pillars of Nosgoth simply because he wanted to rule of the world himself, and again with tossing Raziel into the abyss simply because he developed a Dark Gift before him. He's saved from it with The Reveal in Defiance: He found himself in a lose lose situation, where Nosgoth would be doomed to an invasion by the Hylden if he died as the last vampire in Nosgoth, and that his actions with Raziel he had no choice in due to You Cannot Fight Fate present.
    • The Elder God crossed it before the series began when he ordered the ancient vampires to go to war with the Hylden after they refused to submit to him, and then really crossed it when he contentiously worked to wipe out the vampires after the Hylden cursed them, even though they had done exactly what he ordered them to.
    • Moebius crossed with his plot exterminate all vampires in Nosgoth. Even with his Freudian Excuse it's made clear he sees all vampires, regardless of their actions, as a plague that need to be wiped out and doesn't even care if his actions lead to the return of the Hylden, which Defiance showed he was aware would happen.
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • Kain's catch phrase, "Vae Victis" turns into this in the first game for his tendency to shout it at the top of his lungs every three or four swings of a sword. It it MUCH less annoying in Defiance, as he does much the same thing but not as frequently in a more sinister sounding voice.
    • Also in Blood Omen are those chained humans going "OOOOOH! Oh please! Help me kind sir!" again and again and again. The irony is that this gives you an incentive to kill them all, as quickly as possible.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right:
    • Nosgoth, being an MMO action game, has not been very well received by most fans, who loved the original games for their gothics stories.
    • On the other hand, both Silicon Knights and Crystal Dynamics are equally liked as creators. It helps that Amy Hennig was retained as the lead writer.
  • Paranoia Fuel: All the antagonists that can manipulate you across time to their benefit, and can observe your every action from the day you're born until the day you die without you ever realizing it.
  • Player Punch: Raziel's Heroic Sacrifice. Even Kain is hurt by it.
  • The Scrappy: Umah, for her unreasonable character design, condescending attitude, and her betrayal later in Blood Omen II.
  • Sequelitis - With sparse dialogue, uninteresting villains and a plethora of block puzzles, Soul Reaver seemed to fall victim to this at first, but showed the depth of its morality and hints of a far-reaching plot - at the very end of the game, leading into Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance, which pulled the whole thing together into a far more interesting, many-sided and complex plot than even Silicon Knights could have foreseen despite the series' troubled development history. On the other hand, pretty much everyone agreed that Blood Omen 2, which was handled by a different team entirely and conflicted in many ways with the established plot, was pretty bad.
    • Blood Omen 2 is a complicated case; it's contradictions exist because the events of the game don't exist in the original timeline; the entire sequence of events portrayed in the game is how history re-shuffled itself when Kain delayed Raziel's imprisonment in the Reaver. Raziel himself noted that he could tell Kain was remembering things that didn't originally happen as history was re-written, and those new memories are Blood Omen 2. Of course, it's just as possible that was the original timeline and we saw the new one. The biggest loose end is Vorador being inexplicably alive, which was explained in a scene that had to be deleted due to time constraints.
    • Soul Reaver 2 does deserve a note, though, despite its contribution to the series plot: It cut out the exploration and much of the character advancement (with the Elemental Reavers being the only new skill, and those only really applying in the dungeons they are found in) from the first game, leaving only the story strung together by sequences of bland combat and a few interesting puzzles. The worst comes in the final stretch of the game, in which the player is subjected to a long corridor of unavoidable fights against highly frustrating demons, followed by another sequence of tedious fights that the players couldn't lose even if they tried.
  • Spiritual Licensee: These are probably the closest to The Elric Saga videogames we are gonna get.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The sprite-based Blood Omen not withstanding, the entire series received acclaim for looking gorgeous, with the last game, Defiance, looking amazing for the PS2.
    • The Spectral Realm, and the process of shifting to and from it, creates some very cool visuals, and the Spectral Realm itself looks awesome. Zigzagged with Defiance, though — the Spectral Realm in that game has more severe visual distortion effects, which made some players physically ill.
    • The opening cutscenes of Soul Reaver and Soul Reaver 2 were stunning for their time.
  • The Woobie:
    • Raziel goes through a lot. He gets destroyed and abused and manipulated so many times in so many humiliating ways that you can't help but feel sorry for him.
    • Kain is an Iron Woobie. Even though he's back from the dead three times, was condemned to death by his fate, was corrupted since he was born, felt the weight of the world on his shoulders for some thousand years (which alone without training, which he didn't have, could drive one mad) and got manipulated to kill his kindred before being told to kill himself, he always manages to stay strong and confident, really rarely letting his feelings show themselves.

Example of: