Its been nearly a decade since Kain and Raziel last graced consoles in 2003s Legacy of Kain: Defiance, which wrapped up an epic, dystopian-fantasy vampire storyline that spanned no fewer than five games. After such a long absence, it seemed to many fans that the undead anti-heroes had finally been laid to rest. True to form, however, you cant keep a good vampire down, and rumors surfaced last week that Square Enix has plans to resurrect the beloved series, although details arent yet clear.
A reboot could mean any number of possibilities, ranging from an updated retelling of the original games storylines, to a brand new origin story like Square Enixs other upcoming reboot, Tomb Raider. With so much still unknown, its to be expected that fan speculation is running rampant. Whatever shape the reborn Legacy of Kain/Blood Omen/Soul Reaver game takes, weve got our own ideas for things wed like to see make it in, and weve listed them over the next few pages.
1. Keep the original voice cast
Games in the late 90s and early 2000s werent exactly known for their stellar voice acting, but Legacy of Kain was an exception. Simon Templemans arrogant, morally ambivalent Kain and Michael Bells tormented Raziel brought their story to life like few games at the time. Their voice work matched the gothic anti-heroes so well that its hard to imagine anyone taking their place in a reboot.
Sadly, the passing of veteran voice actor Tony Jay makes hopes for a full cast reunion impossible (unless actual vampirism is involved). His role as the rumbling, sinister Elder God will be daunting to fill, as would be the role of any of the original actors and actresses. Better to keep things simple by retaining as much of the original talent that made Legacy of Kain such a success as possible.
2. Bring back the RPG
While the Legacy of Kain series is known primarily for its action-adventure entries (which began with Soul Reaver), the game that started it all Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain was actually more of an RPG. Blood Omen followed Kains quest to cure his vampiric curse, but as he did so, his newfound powers slowly grew and corrupted his motives. An RPG was the perfect format for Blood Omens sprawling journey and the gradual accumulation of new powers and spells, and will be the perfect format once again for a reboot.
Updated as a modern action-RPG, the rebooted Blood Omen could feature a sprawling open world, rich with lore to discover. More choice and customization would be key, and would allow Kain to approach situations with brute force or to use his vampire powers to manipulate the people and events around him. And while the original game only presented players with a single choice at the end, the reboot could be filled with smaller choices throughout that could be reflected in future Legacy of Kain titles, Mass Effect style.
Imagine aiding a faction in the first game, and having that choice influence which characters and quests are available in the sequel which, if the reboot were to stick with the original storyline, would take place hundreds of years later. It could be the beginning of a brave new world in Nosgoth or at least as brave as you want it to be.
3. Focus and expand the story
The Legacy of Kain series has endured more than its fair share of plot twists and turns over the years. By Defiances end, even many longtime fans were left scratching their heads. A reboot would provide the opportunity to breathe new life into the franchises lore by starting over fresh, providing clarity to series newcomers and a chance for veterans to see the stories of Kain and Raziel with new eyes.
A reboot would also allow for new stories to be told that fit within the existing framework. What if Soul Reaver began with Raziels initial rebirth as a vampire, instead of his transformation from vampire to soul-sucking wraith? Players could get a taste of his fully developed vampiric abilities, making the shift all the more meaningful when Kain finally rips those powers (and those wings) away.
Above: The events leading up to Soul Reavers epic intro are a potentially intriguing and largely untold story
Such a prologue would also see Raziel fighting alongside his vampire brothers, further fleshing out their characters and perhaps even revealing hints of new tactics to use against them when later faced as bosses. A reboot shouldnt be a straight retelling of the original, after all. That would be what we like to call a port.
4. Let us wander
Nosgoth is one of the most striking gothic settings in gaming. The dying world was treated almost as its own character, and slowly went from abundance to desolation over the course of the series, corrupted by one selfish decision made by Kain in the first game. It would be a shame if the series came back and denied us the chance to explore every nook and cranny of that world.
Were not talking about a totally open, Skyrim-like world, necessarily (although we wouldnt say no to it, either). Games like Kingdoms of Amalur and Dark Souls offer more likely models of how Nosgoth could be scaled to give players more freedom without sacrificing the storys pacing. Assuming the rebooted series continues past the first game, wed eventually be able to explore Nosgoth across all eras of its history, seeing the effects of Kains decay in every corner of the world.
5. Make equipment matter
The original Blood Omen offered quite a bit of customization with various armor and equipment. Five armor types each provided unique and useful skills, such as leeching health with blood armor, or deterring the undead with bone armor. Kain could also wield various weapons, including battleaxes, a mace, a flaming sword, and the iconic Soul Reaver sword. Soul Reaver 2 also allowed Raziel to temporarily pick up various weapons, giving it technically the largest arsenal in the series.
And yet equipment is mostly ignored elsewhere in the Legacy of Kain. Blood Omen 2 sported a fashionable new costume for Kain in each chapter, but they were purely cosmetic, without any of the meaningful flourishes introduced in first game. A reboot should see armor, weapons, and all manner of items return to their position of prominence; something along the lines of what Darksiders II is doing might work out well. Some proper loot could add both depth to the gameplay and yet another layer to the rich lore of Nosgoth.
6. Epic boss encounters
Oh boy, Soul Reaver and Blood Omen 2 had some great bosses. From Melchiahs spot-on rancor impression to Kains insane, multi-tiered encounter with Magnus in Blood Omen 2, there was hardly a dud in the bunch. Kain and Raziel rarely engaged bosses in direct combat, instead favoring elaborate environmental puzzles that bore a personal connection to that particular adversary. When a Soul Reaver boss tells you that not even Kain can equal his strength, the solution isnt to face him head-on and prove him wrong, its to run away and lure him into a trap. Thats pretty damn brilliant, actually.
The bosses mattered in those games because the method for fighting them was a part of their characterization, contributing to the story. (Of course, Soul Reaver 2 ditched bosses entirely, and fans disappointment at their absence only solidified how vital bosses are to the series.) Clever, narrative-driven boss battles are a must for any Legacy of Kain reboot without them, it would lose a big part of what made the original series special.
7. Please, enough with the block-pushing puzzles
As great as Soul Reavers puzzles were, gaming has come a long way since then. It would be hard for a Legacy of Kain reboot to appear clever in a post-Portal gaming landscape if it fell back on tired old block-pushing puzzles. Eidos has already proven it can innovate in the puzzle realm with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (which coincidentally offered Kain and Raziel as fully voiced DLC characters), but Raziel still has some prime puzzle tools left over from his original outing that beg to be expanded.
Take Raziels ability to shift between the physical and spectral world, for example. In a reboot, perhaps Raziel could cause individual objects other than himself to shift, building platforms and opening passages by contorting the world in a more targeted way. Or maybe Raziels elemental glyph powers could alter the spectral world itself, bending the landscape differently depending on which glyph is in use. Shifting into the spirit world using a stone glyph might create a bridge of platforms across a chasm, while an air glyph could create an updraft, allowing Raziel to glide across. Add in the ability to shift between worlds at will, and the puzzle possibilities could open up in unique ways.
8. Finely tuned platforming
As an emaciated, soul-devouring wraith, Raziel is a rather lithe character, and as such his games tended to feature more platforming than Kains adventures. However, whether due to technological limitations or simply a desire to emphasize his resemblance to a shambling zombie, Raziels jump physics were always just a little too finicky and stiff to make platforming a focus, rather than simply a means to move around.
With a reboot, Raziel could finally be given the acrobatic movements he was always meant to possess and pairing them with his ability to shift between the real world and the spectral plane could open up some exciting new possibilities. Borrowing a page from Prince of Persia, theres no reason why Raziel couldnt be seen running across a wall before jumping and shifting to the spectral world in midair, only to land on a newly formed platform on the other side. The spectral world could even lend itself to new platforming physics, granting the ability to alter gravity and simply walk up certain walls.
Anythings possible when youre dead, right?
9. Combat evolved
Action games have changed a lot in the nine years since Legacy of Kain was last seen, offering valuable lessons for any potential reboot. And with two main characters each deserving their own distinct style, there are plenty of sources of inspiration to draw from.
For Kain, the devastating combos and powerful finishing blows of Kingdoms of Amalur or Darksiders seem like a fitting match for his forceful personality and physique. The idea here should be a fighting thats efficient enough to leave some blood left to drink, with just enough excessive flourishes to show off and satisfy Kains rampaging ego.
Raziel, on the other hand, requires a more nimble and calculated touch. Combating Soul Reavers vampire enemies involved a fair amount of strategy, as you searched for an opening to impale, burn, or launch your foe into numerous environmental hazards. As such, more methodically paced swordplay, like that seen in Dark Souls (or even Assassins Creed), seems like itd be better able to provide the satisfying combat dance of parries and dodges that a character like Raziel demands.
10. No cliffhanger endings
Soul Reaver is rather infamous for rolling its credits just as the action was picking up. And if recent events have proven anything, its that gamers care about getting a satisfying ending. A lot. One of the great opportunities a reboot presents is the chance to set things right by fitting Raziels entire story or at least, a complete Raziel story into a single game.
Could a reboot cram the story of two games in one? Sure, why not? After all, the Mortal Kombat reboot already set the bar by shoehorning three games worth of convoluted plot into its alternate-timeline story mode. Considering that the original Legacy of Kain plot contained a couple alternate timelines of its own, theres potential for the reboot to tell a sprawling, epic story wed just like to see that story told in full, without a hastily scrawled To Be Continued at the end.
Those are our ideas, anyway. Assuming Legacy of Kain were to rise from its grave in the near future, what would you like to see? Let us know in the comments below.