Kain (Legacy of Kain)

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Kain in Legacy of Kain: Defiance.
Kain as he appears in Legacy of Kain: Defiance. A similar character design was present in the Soul Reaver games.
Series Legacy of Kain series
First game Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (1996)
Created by Denis Dyack
Designed by Scott Derby (Blood Omen)
Daniel Cabuco (Soul Reaver series, Defiance)
Steve Ross (Blood Omen 2)
Voiced by Simon Templeman

Kain is a fictional character and the titular character that appears in the Legacy of Kain series of video games. Depending on the game and its viewpoint, Kain has been either the central protagonist, or an antagonist, but in all his depictions he is an anti-hero, interested only in his own goals. The character was designed by Denis Dyack and voiced in all his appearances by Simon Templeman.

An arrogant noble murdered and revived as a vampire, Kain embarked on a crusade to kill his assassins and then be restored to human form. When he came to revere his powers, Kain turned his back on his prophesied duty and became a vampire lord ruling over the land. Kain's attentions later turned to averting his destined doom at the hands of his lieutenant Raziel. Kain's manipulations of Raziel in the hopes of changing his destiny effectively set in motion the events that make up most of the Legacy of Kain series.

The character of Kain has been positively received by critics, described as a "typical Oedipus figure" or "gnostic hero",[1] with much praise directed at his dark portrayal in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and the quality of Simon Templeman's voice acting.[2][3] In 2000, Kain was ranked tenth in a Gamespot Readers' Choice poll for the top ten villains in video gaming.[4]

Concept and creation[edit | edit source]

The concept of Kain was originally implemented by Denis Dyack, president of Silicon Knights and director of the first game in the series, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Dyack specifically set out to create an anti-hero to suit "a game where the player is put in the position where everyone believes you are evil, perhaps even yourself". Kain's personality was partially modeled on that of the protagonist of the Clint Eastwood film Unforgiven, William Munny, to create the impression of a "gray" character, neither truly good nor evil.[5] Kain's character art and sprites in this game were created by Scott Derby. In early-to-mid stages of development, it was uncertain whether the human Kain would be portrayed with blond or black hair, with the game's developers eventually opting for the latter.[6]

Daniel Cabuco designed Kain's initial appearance as a boss enemy in Soul Reaver, a vast departure from his portrayal in Blood Omen, with yellowish skin, cloven and tridactyl claws and feet, and a cape with his vampire clan symbol. The same character design remained relatively unchanged in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance. Details from Blood Omen, such as Kain's impalement scar from his murder and the inclusion of Vorador's signet ring, were incorporated into his artwork. The scar was initially misshapen in the Soul Reaver series to look more like a slash, but was corrected in Defiance.

Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain depicts Kain in transition between Blood Omen and Soul Reaver onwards. Though similar in appearance to his younger self, Kain's vampiric features, such as fangs, white skin and clawlike digits, are more prominent. Steve Ross, art director of Blood Omen 2, had previously created several concept art sketches for a canceled sequel to Chakan: The Forever Man. As a result, Kain's character design in this game, among other visual elements, was partly based on Ross's unused concepts for the character of Chakan.[7][8]

Evidence of a canceled sixth game in the series, entitled Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy, was discovered in 2008, featuring screenshots of both a younger, post-Blood Omen 2 Kain, and his Defiance-era incarnation as playable characters.[9]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain[edit | edit source]

The first game in the series, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, initially released in 1996, introduces Kain as the main playable character, a 30-year-old nobleman traveling the land of Nosgoth. Murdered at the outset by assassins, he is brought back to life as an undead vampire by Mortanius the Necromancer, an enigmatic sorcerer with ambiguous motives. After killing his murderers, Kain is urged by Mortanius to travel to the Pillars of Nosgoth, where the specter of the Guardian of the Pillar of Balance, Ariel, explains his only hope of finding a cure lies in restoring the nine Pillars to their former glory, thereby restoring Nosgoth, by slaying the eight surviving, mentally corrupted members of the Circle of Nine. Kain travels Nosgoth and slays the remaining Guardians, guided by the elder vampire Vorador and the Oracle of Nosgoth.

Late in his quest, Kain seizes a chance to travel fifty years back in time and slay the young king William the Just before his transformation into a tyrant king, the Nemesis; in so changing history, despite saving Nosgoth, he incites a genocidal purge against the vampire race, having murdered one of the unwitting humans' pivotal rulers. It is revealed that Moebius, the Guardian of Time, had been manipulating Kain's situation, leaving him the last surviving vampire in Nosgoth. After killing Moebius, Kain travels to the Pillars, where he battles Mortanius, who reveals his role as Guardian of Death, and the mastermind behind Kain's assassination. As Mortanius submits, he is possessed and transformed by the Dark Entity, an otherworldly being who originally murdered Ariel through Mortanius' body.

After the Entity is defeated, Ariel reveals that Kain is her successor, the Guardian of Balance. He is presented with the choice of self-sacrifice to restore the last Pillar and redeem Nosgoth, or refusal of the sacrifice to live on, thus damning the Pillars and the health of the land. In canon, Kain chooses the latter option and conquers Nosgoth, forging his empire at the base of the ruined Balance Pillar. During his quest, Kain obtains a powerful spirit-devouring sword, the Soul Reaver, which plays a major role in subsequent titles.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver[edit | edit source]

Kain refused the sacrifice and Nosgoth was condemned to damnation. Kain built his empire in the land of Nosgoth and kept the ruined Pillar of Balance as his seat of throne. Kain raised 6 lieutenants from the fallen bodies of sanctified Sarafan warrior priests, with which to rule his empire. Overtime, the vampires repopulated and became Nosgoth's apex predators, and the now-deified Kain became the de facto ruler of Nosgoth.

At one point in his reign, his first born lieutenant, Raziel had inexplicably evolved wings surpassing Kain's own evolution. In an apparent act of jealousy, Kain ripped the wings from Raziel's back and ordered his execution. Raziel was dragged to a cliff by his brothers, the Lieutenants Turel and Dumah, and at Kain's order, was thrown over the edge into the Lake of the Dead - a deep and raging natural whirlpool.

Raziel returned to the Material Realm and after slaying his brother Melchiah, infiltrates Kain's former stronghold to encounter Kain at the fallen pillars. During the following battle, a strange paradox occurred when the Soul Reaver, a soul consuming blade, struck Raziel, who was also a soul reaver himself. The blade shattered, and the spirit within attached itself to Raziel as a symbiotic spectral weapon. Kain seemed strangely pleased with the event, and escapes.

After Raziel slays the remainder of his brothers (with the exception of Turel, who is not killed until Defiance), he turns his attention back to Kain. Raziel makes his way deep into the mountains and finds Kain in the Timestreaming Chamber of Moebius. Kain, through a series of riddles, hints that there is more at stake than Raziel could possibly imagine and that he thinks Raziel is the key to his dilemma (explained in Soul Reaver 2). Kain activates the time streaming device to Nosgoth's past and jumps through, with Raziel hot on his heels.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2[edit | edit source]

Raziel fights his way out of the stronghold, and is shocked to see Nosgoth as a green paradise, and not the wasteland he remembered. He confronts Kain at the pillars, where Kain reveals his agenda to Raziel, explaining that he was cheated out of his true destiny. Kain explained that he brought Raziel to the past to try and find a third option to his dilemma, where he would not have to choose between his own death and the damnation of Nosgoth. Once again, Kain escapes.

Eventually, Raziel tracked down Kain in the Cathedral where Kain was tricked into killing King William the Just. Kain explains that he cannot simply accept his destiny to die and bring balance to Nosgoth, because there is a flaw in history, that if destiny is set in stone, "how can anyone explain what happened in this very room"? King William was destined to become the evil tyrant The Nemesis, but, history was changed when Kain came back in time and slew the king, thus Kain deduced that the "variable" that allowed this was the Soul Reaver. Both Kain and William were armed with the Soul Reaver (Kain with the "present" version, and King William with the "past" version). When the blades crossed, it created enough force to change history. Kain then notes that it was Moebius that made sure they both had Soul Reavers. Raziel picks up the Soul Reaver sword on King Williams tomb. Suddenly without warning, the Soul Reaver attached to Raziel unleashed itself and tried to kill Kain by itself. Raziel resisted and eventually managed to subdue the Soul Reaver. Violent ripples go through time, as history is changed. Kain explains that by refusing to kill him there, Raziel had altered a small part of history.

Later, Raziel meets with his past-self, a Sarafan priest, and murders him using the Soul Reaver. The Reaver, with all other enemies slain, then turns on Raziel. Kain arrives just after the Reaver impales Raziel, and pulls it out, saving him. As history meant for Raziel to go into the Reaver, the timeline is modified to accommodate the change; as such, Kain's mind suddenly recalls new things, and as Raziel slips back into the Spectral Realm, Kain enigmatically warns that Janos Audron must not be revived.

Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain[edit | edit source]

File:Young kain.jpg
Kain as he appears in Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain. His character design was inspired by concept art for a canceled sequel to Chakan: The Forever Man.[7][8]

Taking place in an alternate (but canonical) timeline, Blood Omen 2 is enabled by the time paradox caused at the end of Soul Reaver 2 in which Raziel is saved from the Reaver, and opens 200 years after the events of Blood Omen. With the help of a resurrected Vorador, Kain raises an army of vampires to conquer Nosgoth, but is betrayed by members of his own legion at the city of Meridian, and is attacked by the revived Sarafan Order under the control of the Sarafan Lord. The Soul Reaver is taken, and Kain is left for dead. He reawakens in Meridian two centuries later, with much of his power diminished and little memory of what occurred before his awakening. Another vampire, Umah, invites Kain to join the Cabal, a resistance group against the ruling Sarafan, and quickly fills him in on the recent history.

During his journey to regain his strength and power and get revenge on the Sarafan, he is guided by Vorador, now leader of the Cabal. Along his path, Kain defeats the legionnaires (Faustus, Marcus, and Sebastian) that betrayed him long ago, and kills his former champion Magnus, whose mind was destroyed by the guardians of the Eternal Prison. Eventually, he discovers that the Sarafan Lord is in fact the leader of the Hylden race, the mortal enemies of the Ancient Vampires. Towards the end of his quest, Kain encounters Janos Audron (resurrected after the events of Defiance), who explains the history of the Ancients and the Hylden and their perpetual struggle for Nosgoth. Across the ocean, within the Hylden City, Kain battles and kills the Sarafan Lord, closing the portal to the Demon Realm and banishing the Hylden from Nosgoth. With Kain's enemy defeated and the Soul Reaver reclaimed, he resumes his quest to subjugate Nosgoth under his flag.

Legacy of Kain: Defiance[edit | edit source]

After Kain prevented Raziel from being consumed by the Reaver and history reordered itself, Kain found himself alone in the Sarafan Stronghold. After an indefinite period of time, Kain breached the Stronghold's defenses and tracked down Moebius the Timestreamer, who, after some harsh banter, eventually directed Kain to the place where his destiny lay - the Vampire Citadel in the Lake of Tears.

Meanwhile, Raziel spent 500 years in the lair of the Elder God, refusing to serve the dark deity out of fear that he would still end up imprisoned in the Soul Reaver. Eventually he determined that the fate of imprisonment was no worse than the stalemate he suffered by his defiance, and resolved to return to the physical realm and face, and hopefully alter, his destiny. After outwitting the Elder God and reaching the surface world, Raziel learned how to enhance the Spectral Reaver using elemental forges, the latter five forges coincidentally imbued with the souls of the original Circle of Nine. Continuing on his journey, Raziel encountered numerous murals depicting a cataclysmic battle between two champions - one a Vampire, the other a Hylden. Raziel was led to believe that he himself was the Vampire champion.

Encountering the same murals in a different period of time, Kain was under the impression that he, not Raziel, was the prophesied hero of the Vampires, and that Raziel was, in fact, the destined champion of the Hylden race, something that Raziel eventually discovered on his own. After assembling an artifact known as the Balance Emblem, Kain stole into a secure chamber within the Vampire Citadel and was confronted by the Elder God, who posed as the Oracle of the Ancient Vampires, who warned him that Raziel was about to resurrect Janos. The disguised Elder opened a portal to Raziel's time period, and Kain reluctantly passed through.

Traveling to Avernus Cathedral, Kain met Raziel in the main chapel. Kain attempted to reason with Raziel, trying to talk him out of reviving Janos out of fear for the events that would come to pass and the wraith's grim destiny, but Raziel, influenced under the Hylden, refused to listen and demanded that Kain fight him as part of the prophesied battle between the Vampire and Hylden champions, to which Kain reluctantly obliged. However, the tables turned as Raziel was slowly drawn into the Reaver after dealing Kain a fatal blow. Enraged, Raziel drove his claws deep into the Vampire's chest, ripping out his heart. Astonished, Kain backed away from Raziel, who blasted him into a dimensional rift using telekinesis. The rift closed, leaving Raziel with the impression that Kain was dead.

Kain later awoke, inexplicably alive, in the Demon Realm, a dark dimension wherein the Hylden had been banished following their defeat by the Ancient Vampires. Slowly recovering, Kain was able to fight his way out of the Demon Realm, making his way back to the Vampire Citadel. Returning to the Oracle's chamber, he made his way to the Spirit Forge, where he found Moebius, who was reporting to the Elder God at the time. Believing that Kain was dead at last, Moebius was shocked when Kain appeared to him, and even more shocked to discover that his powers had no effect on the Vampire now that he had no heart.

Kain confronted and killed the shocked Moebius. The Timestreamer's ghost entered the Spectral Realm, to be greeted by Raziel, who had earlier been trapped by the Elder God. After reaving Moebius's soul, destroying him once and for all, Raziel manifested himself through the Guardian's corpse, entering the Material Realm. Unsurprised to see Moebius's dead body acting of its own accord, Kain impaled the Timestreamer with the Reaver, only to see the body finish its transformation into Raziel's physical self.

Kain, shocked by what he had done, attempted to free Raziel from the blade, but Raziel finally submitted to his fate and entered the sword willingly. As his last act, Raziel merged the complete and purified wraith blade, with Kain's soul, restoring the Vampire; while Raziel himself entered the reaver blade which now became the Soul Reaver. The purification united Kain's soul again, healing his gaping wound and curing him of the corruption which had affected him since Nupraptor's telekinetic assault. Thus the true Scion of Balance was truly born. Finally able to see the Elder God, Kain proceeded to fight the ancient deity in single combat. With the true Soul Reaver in his possession, Kain was able to defeat the Elder God, but was unable to kill him.

After their battle, Kain turned a deaf ear to the Elder God's threats and returned to the council chamber above the Citadel's subterranean confines, where he looked out across the Lake of Tears to behold the fallen Pillars of Nosgoth. As he gazed out, Kain realized that Raziel had given him one last chance to heal the wounded lands of Nosgoth, making a remark about the last gift that Raziel had given him. He regarded Raziel's tragic sacrifice as "the first, bitter taste of that terrible illusion...hope."

Powers[edit | edit source]

All vampires in Nosgoth have their own unique Dark Gift; a supernatural power. Kain's Dark Gift was the ability to use surrounding mist to assume a mist form, which allowed him to be virtually invisible and intangible. He also had a fury ability where he could use a single charged attack against an enemy. While he acquired a number of abilities as a young vampire in Blood Omen, defeat at the hands of the Sarafan Lord in Blood Omen 2, which took 2 centuries to recover thanks to care from the Cabal, made him lose most of his previous powers. Some speculate this loss of power was a result of the Hylden weapon used against him, as the Glyph technology was precisely designed to be used against vampires.

In Blood Omen 2 when he woke from his slumber he retained his mist and fury abilities. Like all vampires Kain could attain weaker variations of other vampires Dark Gifts by drinking their blood. By killing Faustus he gained the power to jump great distances and to inhuman heights. By killing Marcus he acquired the ability to charm the weak-willed and bend their minds to his will. By killing Sebastian he acquired super-speed and often used this ability to perform high speed combos on his enemies. By drinking the blood of the Hylden Seer, his natural telekinesis was heightened. By killing Magnus, he gained the ability to immolate matter with pyrokinesis.

The many centuries after Blood Omen 2 had given Kain plenty of time to evolve his powers. In Soul Reaver 1 he had demonstrated the ability to teleport. In Soul Reaver 2, in the opening we see a display of massive strength far beyond Raziel, as well as Kain showing off an ability to generate lightning in his palms. In Defiance we see his telekinetic powers having evolved beyond simply knocking opponents as now he could lift them and cast them away. His mist ability had evolved where now he no longer needed mist to assume the mist form. Another power he has developed is the ability to shape shift into a swarm of bats to travel quickly from one location to another-as most likely his ability to teleport could possibly only be used for short distances, this is never confirmed though.

Unused death scene[edit | edit source]

In line with Moebius' prophecy in Blood Omen which alludes to Kain dying in the future,[10] the originally-designed ending to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was planned to result in a final confrontation between Raziel and Kain. The battle would result in Kain's death at Raziel's hands and the ultimate destruction of the vampire race, restoring balance to Nosgoth and presumably concluding Kain's role in the series.[11]

Though this ending was cut from the game's final release due to time constraints, leading into Soul Reaver 2, audio evidence of its existence is still present on the Soul Reaver CD.[12] Moebius' unresolved prophecy was later dealt with in Soul Reaver 2, in which Kain convinces Raziel to change history, thereby averting his fate. Despite its prior removal from the series' canon, the concept of a third and final battle between Raziel and Kain, in which Raziel is the victor, was realised in Defiance.

Reception[edit | edit source]

GameDaily included him in a top 25 list of video game anti-heroes.[13]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mannerberg, Kyle (November 5, 2003). Legacy of Kain: Defiance Designer Diary #3. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2008-04-18
  2. Cheung, James. The Best Voice Acting in Games. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2009-04-18
  3. Sharkey, Scott. Top 5 Videogame Characters Named Kain/Kane. 1up. Retrieved on 2009-04-18
  4. Cheung, James. Readers' Choice: Top Ten Video Game Villains. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2009-04-18
  5. Behind The Scenes The Making of Kain. Silicon Knights. Retrieved on 2009-04-18
  6. "Rare image from the deleted assassination cinematic in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. The human Kain is depicted here with white armor and blonde hair." Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2009-04-18)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Blood Omen 2 versus Chakan on the Dreamcast (May 14, 2003). Retrieved on 2008-04-19
  8. 8.0 8.1 Legacy of Kain? what about Chakan the Forever Man? (May 14, 2003). Retrieved on 2008-04-19
  9. "The Dark Prophecy Cancelled". JASON MUCK 3D Artist. 2008-11-12. http://www.jasonmuck.com/Main/The%20artwork%20of%20Jason%20Muck%20Main_LegacyofKain.htm. 
  10. Moebius: Aye - you have seen my plan, vampire, as I have seen your destiny. The future says you die! Silicon Knights. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. (Crystal Dynamics). PlayStation. (2009-04-18)
  11. Johnston, Chris (September 5, 1999). Soul Reaver Response. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2008-05-07
  12. Douglass Perry (August 15, 1999). Was Kain's Story Cleaved?. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-04-14
  13. http://www.gamedaily.com/articles/galleries/top-25-antiheroes/?page=7

See also[edit | edit source]

fr:Kain (Legacy of Kain) gl:Kain (Legacy of Kain) la:Kain hu:Kain (Legacy of Kain) pt:Kain (Legacy of Kain)