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Legacy of Kain: Defiance is a video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos. It is the fifth and thus far final game in the Legacy of Kain series. It was released in North America in November and December 2003, and in Europe and Australia in February 2004. The game acquired high reviews upon its release, with the site Gamespy giving it three out of five stars, and both IGN and TeamXbox rating it eight out of ten. The game was praised for finally answering many questions posed in previous installments, but criticized for its repetitive gameplay and awkward camera controls.
Defiance continues the journey of the Vampire lord Kain and his lieutenant-turned-wraith Raziel. After having Raziel killed to be revived by the Elder God as a wraith during the events of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Kain travels backwards through time and is followed by Raziel into Nosgoth's past, uncovering the conspiratorial events that led to the land being doomed to an eternity of corruption. After establishing his free will by refusing to kill Kain when prophesied, Raziel discovers that Moebius the Timestreamer had originally manipulated Kain into igniting a genocidal war against Vampires until he was the last of his kind. In manipulating Raziel who has free will and thus whose decisions and actions cannot be foreseen by Moebius, Kain hopes to find a way to undo the consequences of his actions and restore Nosgoth to its former glory.
Defiance is the only game in the series where both Raziel and Kain are playable: previous Soul Reaver installments focused on Raziel while the Blood Omen series focused on Kain. Unlike previous games where Raziel and Kain could acquire different types of weapons, in Defiance the only available weapon for either of them is their respective versions of the Soul Reaver - Kain possesses the material Reaver while Raziel possesses the Reaver's spectral form. However, they do acquire Elemental versions of the Reaver, as Raziel did in the previous games. By killing enemies, Raziel and Kain learn new combat techniques, including uppercuts, mid-air slashes, and firing orbs of telekinetic energy. Some techniques are shared by the two, others are unique to them, such as Kain's "Cadaverous Laceration". Raziel and Kain can also acquire various elemental powers that give them new abilities - the Flame Emblem lets Kain use his telekinesis to light torches while Raziel's Dark Reaver lets him turn invisible and pass certain obstacles and enemies without being noticed. When an enemy is weakened, Kain and Raziel can either absorb their blood/soul to replenish their health, or slay them with the Reaver, gradually filling up a meter that lets the Reaver unleash an area of effect spell to attack groups of enemies. Both Raziel and Kain can acquire various runes to increase their health and allow them to use their telekinetic powers more often. A menu system is used to display the character's combat experience, the runes they have collected and the various combos they have learned to execute.
The game begins with players controlling Kain, but at set intervals they will acquire control of Raziel and play as him for a time before switching back to Kain. Both possess similar powers, including climbing walls, gliding in mid-air and phasing through certain gates. However, both also have abilities exclusive to them: Kain can jump large gaps, transform into a swarm of bats and cannot swim, while Raziel swims and can shift into the spectral realm to bypass enemies and obstacles before finding an appropriate place to shift back into the material realm. Kain is also able to use his telekinesis to pick up enemies and either throw them into obstacles or pull them towards him, an ability Raziel lacks at first and must acquire during the course of the game. Enemies include Sarafan warrior-priests, Vampire hunters, Hylden-possessed corpses called Revenants, and various types of Demons.
Defiance continues from where Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 ended. In Soul Reaver 2, Kain saved Raziel's life by drawing the Soul Reaver from him - Raziel was meant to enter the blade and become its soul-devouring spectral half. This causes a time paradox that changes Nosgoth's history for the worse, and separates Kain and Raziel.
Kain's part of the game follows him seeking Moebius the Timestreamer, a time traveling mystic for answers to where Raziel is, how he has changed time, and later following a lead Moebius gives him to explore a Vampire citadel. During his quest, Kain finds and completes a broken talisman of Vampire construct known as the Balance Emblem. Kain discovers murals during his quest dictating an ancient war between the first races to inhabit Nosgoth, the Ancients and the Hylden. After sealing the Hylden in an alternate dimension using the Pillars of Nosgoth, the Hylden cursed the Ancients with blood-thirst, sterility and immortality, turning them into the first Vampires. Kain discovers from the murals that it was prophesied that both races would have a champion arise - a Vampire champion wielding the Soul Reaver, and a Hylden champion wielding a flaming sword. Because he possesses the material Soul Reaver depicted, Kain comes to believe he is the prophesied Vampire champion. The outcome of the battle between the two champions remains ambiguous.
Raziel's part of the game begins five hundred years later during the time of Blood Omen. Held captive by the Elder God, Raziel escapes his master and travels about Nosgoth hoping to find a way to avoid his fate of being imprisoned in the Soul Reaver. After being told by the Reaver's maker Vorador that only the deceased Janos Audron can give him the answers he seeks, Raziel travels to Avernus Cathedral to find Janos' heart and revive him. Raziel also finds murals of the Hylden and Ancients, showing the Ancients committing suicide in horror of their immortality. Raziel later discovers this is because the Ancients worshiped the Elder God, who had decreed all souls had to spin in a cycle of life and death known as the Wheel of Fate. Because they were immortal, their souls could not follow this doctrine and the Ancients became the bane of the entity they once revered. Raziel also finds murals of the two prophesied champions, and discovers that the Hylden champion and its flaming sword resemble him and the spectral Soul Reaver.
As Raziel enters Avernus Cathedral to search for Janos' heart, in the past Kain explores the Vampire citadel's deepest chambers and is contacted by the Elder God who tells him of what Raziel plans. Knowing what Janos' revival would cause (see Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain), Kain accepts the Elder God's assistance and is sent to Raziel's time. In Avernus, after defeating the last of his brethren Turel, Raziel discovers Mortanius the Necromancer, who admits having helped Moebius lead the original crusade against the Vampires, and used Janos' heart to revive Kain as a Vampire to atone for his mistakes. Raziel returns to the cathedral's chapel moments after Kain arrives. Though Kain attempts to reason with Raziel and convince him not to revive Janos, but Raziel is under the influence of the Hylden and refuses to listen. The two battle, with Raziel defeating Kain and tearing Janos' heart from his chest. Kain, seemingly dying, is engulfed by a portal and vanishes. Raziel returns to Vorador's Mansion and uses the Heart of Darkness to revive Janos, who leads him to the Vampire citadel.
Raziel stumbles into a side chamber, the place where Kain had met the Elder God, and finds a forge designed to give the Soul Reaver its greatest power. However, the Elder God's tentacles emerge and attempt to bury the forge. Raziel fights off his master and has the Soul Reaver absorb the soul of Ariel, rendering the Reaver as pure of spirit. Ariel tells Raziel that this purified Soul Reaver is meant to be used by the Scion of Balance; however, evidence points towards Kain being the Scion of Balance, confusing Raziel as he returns to Janos.
At this time during the events of Blood Omen 1, Kain's past self refuses to sacrifice himself to restore the Pillars of Nosgoth, weakening the Ancients' seal enough for the Hylden Lord to possess Janos. The possessed Janos strikes down Raziel's physical body and causes him to shift to the spectral realm where he is again held captive in the Elder God's lair. Kain awakens, very much alive, trapped within the Demon Realm of the Hylden, and fights off their demons to return to Nosgoth. Entering the Vampire citadel, Kain finds Moebius the Timestreamer reporting to the Elder God. Kain kills Moebius, causing his soul to shift to the Spectral Realm where Raziel impales him on the spectral Soul Reaver, revealing the Elder God's true form to him before devouring him. Undaunted, the Elder God informs him that Moebius no longer had any use for it, and it now intends to trap Kain and Raziel within the citadel for all time to prevent them from interfering with its plans any further. Raziel then considers all he has learned, and realizes that, through starting the war between the Ancients and the Hylden, and the war between humans and Vampires through Moebius, that the Elder God has been the cause of almost every hardship the land has faced in an attempt to keep its Wheel of Fate turning. Realizing what has to be done, Raziel uses Moebius' corpse to manifest in the Material Realm and tricks Kain into stabbing him with the material Soul Reaver before the manifestation completes. Although Kain is horrified and attempts to remove the sword, Raziel reaffirms his loyalty to Kain stopping him in the process. Raziel passes on the purified Soul Reaver into Kain to heal Kain's corruption caused by the madness of the Guardians as well as to allow him to see the Elder, but at the same time Raziel sacrifices himself to go into the Blood Reaver to make it the original Soul Reaver. Kain now has two versions of the Soul Reaver to use against the Elder. This gives Kain the power to defeat the Elder God and the entity warns it cannot be killed and will return before being buried under the rubble of the collapsing Reaver forge, though Kain turns a deaf ear to its threats. The game ends with Kain looking out on the Pillars of Nosgoth his past self had just corrupted, silently thanking Raziel for giving him hope for the future.
IGN gave the game 8.0 out of 10, praising the game's plotline for finally resolving many questions that previous installments had left unanswered, as well as being able to play as both Raziel and Kain and the new combat system revolving around various combos and spells unleashed by the Soul Reaver. The differences in their gameplay, with Kain's quests revolving around combat and Raziel's around puzzle solving, were also enjoyed. However, the poor collision system, auto-locking combat view and awkward camera controls were criticized for making combat difficult as the player would target enemies that couldn't be seen. The reviewer also noted the graphics for the Spectral Realm were distracting and made combat difficult.
GameSpot gave the PC platform 6.9 out of 10 and praised the series as a whole for not one but two involving and memorable protagonists. However, the camera controls were noted to be confusing and the combat system was criticized for focusing on the Soul Reaver as well as the lack of variety in enemies, leading to players utilizing the same combos over and over to defeat them. The site also noted that Raziel and Kain play identically with very similar controls and abilities. Raziel's need to shift between the Material and Spectral planes to complete his quest was criticized for being too tired since the mechanic was introduced in the first game and were less fun than Kain's combat-oriented quests. The site overall said the storyline would please fans of the series, but the gameplay was disappointing.
TeamXbox gave the game a rating of 8 out of 10, noting the simultaneous similarities and differences in the controls for Raziel and Kain. However, the need to re-imbue the Soul Reaver with elemental powers that it had already gained in previous games was noted to be confusing and led to similar gameplay as in previous installments revolving around gaining a new Reaver power and using that power to advance forward. The camera system was heavily criticized for being confusing and leading to players unwillingly backtracking when the camera angle shifts suddenly. The game's shift to combat and away from puzzle solving was also criticized. The graphics were noted to be high quality, but not as groundbreaking as previous games in the series.
GameSpy gave the game three stars out of five, greatly praising its combat system but criticizing the puzzle element of the game for being reliant of block puzzles as its predecessors were. Despite the praise for the combat system, the similarities between the controls for Raziel and Kain were cited as the game's weakest point, to the extent where abilities either of them possessed in previous installments were dropped to make them play almost identically. The need to backtrack without the assistance of a map or clear objectives was also criticized. The site overall said the combat system and graphics were well done, but the game's reliance on puzzles and backtracking was a weak point.
Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine praised the game's plot, voice acting, animation, character design and architecture, and said that it had "loads and loads of atmosphere". However, the reviewer gave it a score of 5/10 and called it "a terrible, terrible game", due his belief that its gameplay is "so appallingly unimaginative, so awfully monotonous that by the end of it, I was wondering why they even bothered making a game out of it". The reviewer concluded: "If it weren't for the story in [the] last, say, 10 percent of the game [...] I probably would have scored Defiance a full point lower. Translation: This is for serious fans of the series only".
- Although the in-game script implies that Raziel is the Hylden champion and Kain is the Vampire champion, series writer Amy Hennig has since stated that because Raziel possesses free will, he is both and may choose either role, which is why Raziel is referred to several times as "redeemer and destroyer" in the game. In allowing Kain to kill him and acquire the means to defeat the Elder God, Raziel triumphs and destroys himself at the same time.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 IGN Staff (2003-12-18). Legacy of Kain: Defiance Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-01-20.
- ↑ Moebius: Here you are at last. I see you found a fragment of the Balance Emblem. This will be of even further use to you - if you can find the other three. Now, shall we - ? / Kain: Yes. Let us continue our conversation. Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (in English). (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2008-02-13)
- ↑ Kain: I was confronted again with depictions of the Vampires’ champion, the bearer of the Reaver blade. And here too was his Hylden adversary, with blazing eyes, brandishing a flaming sword. Two heroes locked in combat which only one would survive. But which one? These murals prophesied two possible outcomes. Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (in English). (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2008-02-13)
- ↑ Vorador: I crafted the Reaver blade, but only at the behest of my sire, Janos Audron. What sorcery he and the others laid upon the sword afterward, I cannot say. / Raziel: Janos tried to give me the Reaver before he died. He said that it was forged for me... but what did he mean? As my weapon, or my prison? / Vorador: Perhaps you should ask him yourself. / Raziel: Janos is here? / Vorador: In a manner of speaking. Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (in English). (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2008-02-13)
- ↑ Raziel: I had seen this symbol throughout these ruins. I should have realized what it was they worshiped. Now there was no question. For this scene depicted the ancient Vampires’ torment and despair as their curse cast them from the Wheel of Fate. So this was the god whose abandonment had driven them to madness and suicide. Finally I understood – it was not their blood-thirst, but their immortality that was the true nature of their enemies’ curse. The wisest, strongest, most noble race – gulled by the voice of that old parasite. But I had seen him – and whatever he was, he was no god. Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (in English). (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2008-02-13)
- ↑ Mortanius: Ah, now you think of that. But as I told you, you are too late. The Heart has served its function. I have used it to set prophecy in motion. I created the champion foretold by my masters, who is destined to be your destroyer. The Scion of Balance will save Nosgoth -- the Pillars will return to vampire guardianship as intended, and your race will be cast down forever. / Raziel: Kain. You used the Heart of Darkness to create Kain. Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (in English). (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2008-02-13)
- ↑ Ariel: You have done well, Raziel. But there is one more trial for you to bear. You must unite that which has been set asunder... only then will the Scion of Balance be armed for his true endeavor. Only then... / Raziel: The Reaver now blazed with purifying flame. But far from being enlightened, I found myself entangled in an even greater web of mysteries. What had Janos expected me to learn? And what of Ariel's cryptic message? If the sword was endowed for the Scion of Balance - for Kain - and he was now dead, what hope remained? I needed to find Janos, and soon. I dreaded to think what these ominous rumblings might portend. Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (in English). (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2008-02-13)
- ↑ Elder God: Your petty actions are irrelevant, Raziel. Moebius was a good servant, but he was of no further use. His long life had run its course. You see, even when you rebel, your are doing my will. / Raziel: Perhaps, but something has changed, hasn't it? You didn't foresee Kain's return. / Elder God: You have both traced your paths along the Wheel. This is where the journey ends. / Raziel: You haven't the means to kill either one of us. / Elder God: Ah, but you can be stopped, and you will come to understand how oblivion can be a mercy. You and Kain will spend eternity buried here together, praying for the merciful release of a death that will never come. Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (in English). (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2008-02-13)
- ↑ Raziel: All the conflict and strife throughout history, all the fear and hatred, served but one purpose - to keep my master's Wheel turning. All souls were prisoners, trapped in the pointless round of existence, leading distracted, blunted lives until death returned them - always in ignorance - to the Wheel. Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (in English). (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2008-02-13)
- ↑ Kain: No. Raziel! /Raziel: The Soul Reaver - pure of all corruption - this is what it is for. This is what I am for - The two become one - both Soul Reavers - together - and the Scion of Balance is healed. And I - am not your enemy - not your destroyer - I am, as before, your right hand. Your sword. /Kain: No, Raziel - this can't be the way... /Raziel: And now you will see - the true enemy - Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (November 11, 2003)
- ↑ Elder God: You cannot destroy me, Kain - I am the Engine of Life itself. The Wheel will turn... The plague of your kind will be purged from this world... And on that inevitable day, your wretched, stagnant soul will finally be mine. / Kain: In the meantime, you'd best burrow deep. Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (in English). (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2008-02-13)
- ↑ Kain: Most ironic of all was the last gift that Raziel had given me: More powerful than the sword that now held his soul, more acute even than the vision his sacrifice had accorded me. The first, bitter taste of that terrible illusion - Hope. Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (November 11, 2003)
- ↑ Gamespot Staff (2003-12-18). Legacy of Kain: Defiance Review. Gamespot. Retrieved on 2008-01-20.
- ↑ TeamXbox Staff Staff (2003-11-27). Legacy of Kain: Defiance Review. TeamXbox. Retrieved on 2008-01-20.
- ↑ Gamespy Staff (2003-11-23). Legacy of Kain: Defiance Review. Gamesppy. Retrieved on 2008-02-14.
- ↑ Rybicki, Joe (November 28, 2003). Insert sucking joke here.. Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. Archived from the original on December 9, 2003 Retrieved on April 12, 2010.
- ↑ Moebius: Your delusions of fulfilling the Vampires' foolish prophecies have badly distorted your judgment. And Raziel is not what you think. Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (in English). (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2008-02-13)
- ↑ Elder God: So, Raziel... your true nature is finally revealed. You were never the Vampires' savior - it is to the Hylden race you belong. And when Kain realizes this, what do you think he will do?... Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (in English). (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2008-02-13)
- ↑ Raziel: Then you know what I am -- and who you are? / Kain: I believe I do. Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Defiance (in English). (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (2008-02-13)
- ↑ Question and Answer with Amy Hennig. thelostworlds.net (2007-02-17). Retrieved on 2008-02-13.