Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain 20th Anniversary Review!!

Time Warp Review

Vampires in video games are usually play the antagonist role. Konami’s flagship series Castlevania is notorious for this. But how cool would it be to assume the role of an immortal bloodsucker and lay waste to all who stand before you. Well, that reality has come to pass thanks to Crystal Dynamics. Now sink your teeth into this Time Warp Review of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain.

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Blood Omen follows Kain, a newly resurrected vampire, as he searches for his murderers and a cure for his vampiric curse. He is tasked with traversing the fictional land of Nosgoth and slaughtering the Circle of Nine, a corrupt oligarchy of godlike sorcerers. The game was developed by Silicon Knights with Crystal Dynamics serving as publisher. Released in the toddler years of the Playstation, Silicon Knights designed Blood Omen to be “a game which adults would want to play”, intending to evolve the action role-playing genre and bring artistic cinema to video game consoles. Blood Omen is presented in a top-down view similar to the Legend of Zelda series but reminiscent of PC games at the time. This is equivalent to current titles such as Blizzard’s “Diablo” game series. Gameplay consists of traversing between outside in villages and inside dungeons, hack and slash elements, puzzle solving and getting around hazards. Kain must hunt down each member of the Circle of Nine who act as boss characters in the game. He carries with him a variety of weapons including iron and fire-elemental swords, a spiked mace, twin axes, and the Soul Reaver, a two-handed flamberge with mystical powers. Adding to the RPG elements, he can use also use a variety of armor to grant him different attributes as well as provide protection. Being a vampire, Kain must drink blood in order to live. The red blood of creatures restores his health that is continuously draining over time. Drinking the blood of blue ghosts (yes, ghosts have blood apparently) replenishes Kain’s magic. However, not all blood is helpful. Undead opponents, such as zombies, relinquish harmful black blood, and demons and mutants yield green blood which poisons Kain, causing his health to deplete at a swifter rate.

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One of best known aspects of a vampire is the ability to shapeshift. Kain is no different. He can transform in a wolf for speed, bat for flight, mist to pass through objects and cross water and a human so he can speak to other NPCs without arousing suspicion. Blood Omen was originally proposed by Silicon Knights as “Pillars of Nosgoth” in 1993. Because of the fantasy elements of the game, Crystal Dynamics jumped to produce the game. Central influences included vampire mythology, William Shakespeare’s plays, and the intricate plot of The Wheel of Time book series. Graphically, Blood Omen does well in conveying the gothic feel of a time period long past. Architecture of the dungeons, towns and other areas are beautifully detailed, and the dark symphonic music fits Blood Omen’s broody atmosphere.

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Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain was released for the PS1 on November 1, 1996 in North America and on PC in Europe and Japan in 1997 with BMG and Activision respectively serving as publishers. Square Enix and Sony Computer Entertainment of America rereleased the title on PSN in 2009. Silicon Knights claimed that Blood Omen sold more than 2 million copies in its lifetime but they could not back this up. After its release, a dispute arose concerning ownership of its intellectual property rights, after which Crystal Dynamics retained permission to continue the series with their 1999 sequel, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. Blood Omen was named best game showcased at the inaugural E3 in 1995. It was praised by critics for its graphics and sound design. Game magazine 1UP described its art as “beautifully rendered”, and its music as “genius”. Game Spot cited Blood Omen for its sound and challenging gameplay although they did criticize the overhead perspective. Crystal Dynamics said that Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain was commercially successful and remarkable for the time.