The Legacy of Kain series is not an easy one to get into. For example, despite being called Blood Omen 2 this is not the second game in the series, it’s the fourth. Just explaining where this game sits in the timeline and why takes a little doing, so hold onto your hats.
In the original game, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, players follow Kain, a nobleman turned into a vampire who seeks revenge against his killers and a cure for his vampirism. The next game in the series, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, takes players into the a future where Kain rules over a ruined and nightmarish world with his vampire legions. Kain has become the villain, and you play as a wraith-like vampire out to stop him. This led into Soul Reaver 2, a direct sequel, which sees the protagonist travelling through history and messing with time. This leads us to Blood Omen 2, which takes place in a new alternate timeline caused by the events of Soul Reaver 2, but taking place between Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. See, not too hard to understand.
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The game once again puts players in the role of Kain, who begins awakening from a two hundred year sleep in the city of Meridian, and remembers little of his past. He remembers that before his long sleep he was engaged in a campaign of conquest of the world, and that a group known as the Sarafan Order opposed him. Kain learns that the Sarafan Order have destroyed his armies, and have taken over the world. Lacking most of his former power, Kain heads out into this new, industrial world in an attempt to take revenge on those who toppled his armies, and to reclaim as much as his former power as he can by fighting his former, traitorous lieutenants and absorbing their abilities.
Despite being a part of the same series as the Soul Reaver games, Blood Omen 2 was not produced by the same crew, and had little involvement with the team from Soul Reaver. This actually worked to the game’s advantage, as the team were able to create a game that fits into the world (in its own strange way) but feels very different to the previous games. The game-play is immediately familiar to anyone who played Soul Reaver, yet lacks some of the more unusual aspects of those games, choosing to take a more traditional action approach.
The game is mainly a hack-and-slash experience, where players are allowed to explore and traverse around the city of Meridian, collecting new powers that enable them to progress from one area to another, working their way through the game’s collection of bosses. You can equip yourself with a variety of weapons to fight your way through the denizens of Meridian, and thanks to the ability to grab your foe and perform some evil attacks Kain dispatches his enemies in some wicked and gruesome ways. But, you’re also a vampire, and you don’t want to waste all of that precious blood, and as such you’re able to telekinetically suck the blood out of your victims, having it fly out of your foe and into Kain’s mouth. Not only does this heal you, but it also gives you experience points that can be used to upgrade and unlock abilities throughout the game.
The game makes no allusions to Kain being any kind of hero, or even anti-hero. You’re a bad guy, and your actions reflect this. You stalk the streets of Meridian, killing anyone you come across. Whilst your quest to fight the leader of the Sarafan Order might end up stopping an invasion of the demonic Hylden it’s not being done out of the goodness of Kain’s heart and is simply part of his plan to usher in the nightmarish future players have already seen in Soul Reaver.
With this being the fourth game in the series it had a lot lore to draw upon, and added some of its own into the series; but where it really excelled was in its expansion of what came before, particularly giving Kain more screen time than other entries in the series. This marked Simon Templeman’s fourth outing in the role of Kain, and he’s an absolute delight to listen to. Having played the character for so long he knows when to ham it up, and when to go all out, and his performance is wonderfully over-the-top, and makes proceedings incredibly enjoyable.
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Blood Omen 2 didn’t set the world on fire when it came out, and whilst it received favourable reviews it didn’t top any charts, or receive mass acclaim; but fans of the series found a lot to enjoy, not least getting to spend more time with Kain. Whilst the game might not introduce many new game-play innovations, and builds upon what has come before, its dedication to simply having fun as the bad guy, and of wanting to expand the lore of its setting makes this an enjoyable entry in the Legacy of Kain franchise, and a game that I find myself returning to time and time again.
Blood Omen 2 was released on 2nd February 2002.