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The "played" score isn't fully reflective because I like to hit "played" on all versions of a game I have indeed completed. I review basically all games I beat so that's more accurate.
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Favorite Games

Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium
No More Heroes
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Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
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Played in 2023


Games Backloggd

Recently Played See More

Legacy of Kain: Defiance
Legacy of Kain: Defiance

Oct 02

Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain
Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain

Sep 29

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2

Sep 17

Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

Sep 08

Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure
Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure

Sep 05

Recently Reviewed See More

After the disappointment of Soul Reaver 2 and Blood Omen 2, I am very happy that Defiance managed to live up to my expectations, despite some flaws. Unlike previous Kain games, Defiance chooses to focus on both of the series' protagonists at once, alternating between their stories. I think this is to its benefit, switching around makes for a more engaging storyline.
Let's start with the gameplay, which I would say is a mixed bag. Defiance's combat is much more free-flowing than previous games, and resembles something like Devil May Cry (quite presciently, given DMC3 would not come out for two more years). Kain is actually very fun to play, thanks to his Telekinesis' mechanics: At any time you can pick up the enemy you're targeting and toss them in a direction of your choice- into pits, spikes, fires. What's particularly fun is that if the enemy hits you they'll be vulnerable to your attacks, acting as a combo starter/extender. You can hit an enemy into the air, hit them with your air combo, interrupt it and pick them up with TK, throw them against yourself and combo them again. It's a really clever mechanic that allows for a lot of experimentation and I'm shocked that more games of this genre haven't tried something like it.
The rest of the combat is more by the numbers, but this would be fine if it weren't for two issues. The first one is that Raziel does not have Kain's TK, being instead limited to simple energy blasts, which makes his combat a lot less interesting - The game seems to realize this as his chapters rely more on exploration and puzzle-solving, but they're still mostly combat.
Also, the game fails to live up to its potential in terms of combat encounters. There's few kinds of enemies in the game, and none of them are interesting, running the gamut from common fodder to annoyingly spongey big guy. A lot of people end up feeling burned out by the end and while I wasn't too frustrated, I did feel myself having less fun by the end of the game. Doesn't help that enemies respawn when you leave areas, and one of the late game dungeons will be seeing you do a lot of that.
On that topic, Defiance intersperses mostly simple puzzles in-between the story and combat. The Forges, which were the highlight of Soul Reaver 2, are unfortunately now all extremely simple and formulaic dungeons with roughly identical architecture, appearance and progression. However I did have fun going through Vorador's mansion, a positively massive dungeon which while a bit frustrating, I thought was quite fun. There's also some platforming to do and unfortunately it all sucks because of the fixed camera. For the rest, not much to say, but nothing awful either. I'd say that's a good breakdown of Defiance's gameplay quality overall, some points of brilliance and some bits of mediocrity. Honestly, I'll take it, all things considered, I had fun!
Presentation is better than it's ever been. Music is good, the game looks great (although unfortunately the all too common Forges are the exception), and the characters' models finally escape the uncanny valley, for the most part. Cutscene and gameplay animation are both great, and I find the game to be quite atmospheric at times.
Now obviously, the real reason anyone would play this game is the story. And I am pleased to finally say that Defiance is my favorite Kain story and easily a worthwhile end to the series. Alternating between Kain and Raziel you get to see both of their journeys slowly escalate to heights never before reached- all of Soul Reaver 1 to 2, and Blood Omen 2 to a degree, were building up to this, and the conclusion is worth it, although maybe a touch sudden. Defiance was not meant to be the last chapter of Kain's story, and that is clear, but at the very least it works as a satisfying ending, and that is enough.
In my Blood Omen 2 log I voiced worry on whether playing through all of these often janky games was worth it, and I'm glad that the answer is yes, yes it was.

My initial thoughts of Blood Omen 2 were quite positive. The world is quite a far cry from the other Kain games- a dark, grimy medieval city with both mystical and steampunk elements- but I actually thought it was an extremely interesting setting. It's developed rather well, its inhabitants can often be found chatting to each other about various things, and its various parts all come together to create a pretty great setting. I think part of it might just be that it reminds me of the Thief games' City, but hey, that's a good thing.
Speaking of Thief, the developers have stated in an interview that they were trying to allow for multiple options in gameplay, and I can see it. You have an arsenal that widens across the game, and theoretically, it should allow for various strategies in combat... unfortunately, that doesn't work. The invisibility can only be used in foggy areas (which are basically just screaming USE STEALTH HERE LOL), and every other ability is either just a big attack you need to build up energy for, or useless in combat.
Speaking of combat, it's simple stuff. A guard, a dodge, and an attack combo (and a grab that works on tired enemies for more damage). Granted, it isn't an awful experience on every level like Soul Reaver 2's, so it was still an upgrade. Blood Omen seemed to pace itself quite well too, so no problem there.
Still, I was having a good time. Again, I was in love with the setting, and the writing was as engaging as ever- I'll cherish any opportunity to play as my favorite bastard Kain, no matter what. I also liked how Kain would change outfits between chapters (although this game's costume design is... really bad), and the boss battles were alright. I'd say these thoughts persisted about halfway through the game, until I hit chapter 6.
And then the game got bad. Don't get me wrong, it's not that there was a massive drop in quality, Blood Omen 2 is just not the kind of game that can last too long without getting boring. It's a 15-hour game, and it felt like 25, despite barely having enough content for like, 7. There was A drop though. The levels got both worse, less interesting (In chapter 6, Kain leaves Meridian City, and only comes back for one chapter), far more focused on the mediocre combat, and worse of all, a lot longer. Blood Omen 2 is such a slog to get through.
Also, this game is broken as hell. I think so, at least. Cutscenes were out of sync and had no OST at all, which I only realized was a bug upon looking them up on YouTube. This may be an emulator problem, but apparently the PC version isn't great either. Which is a shame, because the soundtrack is quite good.
So, the story. It's... weirdly simple? I expected some massive earth-shaking twist but it just boils down to Kain wanting revenge on the Sarafan Lord and to rule the world, and then doing just that, with some stuff in the middle. Some details are revealed, but no crazy, earth-shaking twists happen.
The ending is just Kain, after his victory, thinking about how exactly he will rule the world, and I do appreciate how this game bridges the gap between completely self-interested, arrogant, egotistical and nearly sadistic Blood Omen Kain, and the wise, true neutral manipulator genius that Soul Reaver Kain is. I expressed confusion about that before, and I think this does quite a bit in that regard. Still, I guess I was expecting a bigger portion of that sweet sweet lore, but only ended up getting a spoonful.
So, Blood Omen, not necessarily a disappointed cause I kinda knew it wouldn't be great, but still a shame nonetheless. Defiance is next and last... man I'm going to be honest, I'm legitimately a bit worried. While I liked BO1 and SR1 well enough, I don't really know if it was worth it to dive into this series that so far has mostly just consisted of cliffhangers and unresolved potential, and Defiance is the last opportunity for that to change. Fingers crossed.

My final thoughts on the first Soul Reaver were complex: I liked it, overall, but it was a difficult, complicated game, plagued by various flaws. So, I was quite looking forward to playing the sequel. Unfortunately, even though aware that it was a bit of a step down from the first, I found myself a bit disappointed with SR2.
Let's start from the top. Soul Reaver 2 is fundamentally, an action game with some puzzle elements, rather than a Metroidvania like the first. I liked that aspect but left the game feeling it was too overwhelming so toning it down was, I think, the right idea. However, Crystal Dynamics went way too far in the opposite direction. Completely gone is the interconnected world full of hidden collectables and player exploration: Soul Reaver 2 is a straight shot from start to finish. Or rather, a winding shot- thanks to the time travel aspect of the game, Raziel is constantly backtracking through the same few areas in different time periods- kind of a neat concept, but when that's all you do in the game, it feels like (and probably is) padding. I thought it might be an issue of the game being rushed or out of budget, but looking into the game's development a bit, it seems like they just wanted to make it more akin to a novel or a movie. That is... definitely not an idea I'm a fan of. There's a place for cinematic flair, but streamlining a game to the point that most of its gameplay is just running through corridors dodging enemies ain't that place. I'm not exaggerating, there is nothing to most of the game other than hoping for the next cutscene to come soon.
Let's talk about those enemies. The original game's combat was by far its lowest point- almost every enemy needed to be killed with some finishing move, all of them situational in some way. Thankfully that isn't the case here, but the situation isn't much better, because SR2 makes the extremely misguided choice to focus on combat much more than before, and despite using the same animations and engine as the first game and changing almost nothing, somehow they managed to fuck up the basic core of combat big time. Hit detection sucks, everything whiffs enemies while Raziel might as well have a magnet taped to his chest, your dodge is completely vestigial because it's laggy and has no invincibility, attack combos don't even string together properly and worst of all enemies are way overtuned. It's not a question of their stats, those are fine, they're just insanely strong. You'll run up to some human guards that Raziel should by all rights tear to shreds in seconds, and they'll start spam-attacking faster than you can react, stun-locking you while you helplessly try to get around them and when you do get a hit in, they'll probably block it. The Soul Reaver (which now thankfully can be summoned at will) prevents the last of the issues but it is still a mess, man. I just ran past everything and I advise you to do the same.
So, is all of Soul Reaver 2 watching cutscenes and running past enemies in linear corridors? Thankfully not. There are five beautiful glimmers that shine through the awfulness of the rest of the gameplay, which are the Forges and Janos Audron's Retreat. While relatively simple, these are puzzle-focused dungeons similar to Zelda ones, mostly centered around spatial awareness. It's not super challenging stuff and there's some missteps, but it's extremely solid and I had a great time with them. Especially Janos Audron's Retreat, because that one doesn't have any enemies to ruin my day, and it has really nice ambiance and atmosphere (A lot of the game does, in fact, which makes me wish i didn't have five enemies chasing me at all times to prevent me from appreciating it). I wish all of Soul Reaver 2 was like them, honestly. They aren't perfect, but I'd really like it if they did. As nice as they are, though, they're the only good bits of a game full of mediocre to awful gameplay that exists only to be sandwiched between bits of story, rather than prop them up. As flawed as BO1 and SR1 were, they at least did that much.
Anyways, before moving on to the story, I'd touch on two things. First off: Bosses. There are no bosses. I liked SR1's bosses. This is a downgrade. Second off: Visuals. To make things simple, environments look great and have a really nice vibe, characters look pretty goofy. They're over-expressive, not amazingly animated and weirdly cartoony, so the cutscenes get a lot of drama sucked out of them at times.
So, the story [SOME SPOILERS AHEAD]. I'm just gonna start with this, I don't know how it's going to end (besides the vague awareness of BO2 being a sort of alt-timeline stuff that doesn't tie in with the main series too much, and Defiance ending on a never to be resolved cliffhanger that happens to kinda work as a series ending), all my conclusions are just based on what I've experienced of the series so far. And those conclusions are... eh? I mean, I liked it, don't get me wrong, but it felt like for how much happened, nothing ended up really concluding. All of the big reveals are setting up some other bigger thing, and it ends on a massive cliffhanger. Raziel spends all of the game constantly changing ideals, confused and angry- I actually quite like that, don't get me wrong, but it feels like Soul Reaver 2 moves around at a breakneck pace all to not really end up crossing much ground. It feels like the middle chapters of a novel ripped out and sold as a full product- still good, but kinda pointless on their own. So, I'm going to reserve my judgment until I've played all LoK that there is to play, with one exception:
Man it is weird what they did with Kain in this game. In Blood Omen, Kain is a bastard. He murders indiscriminately without any regard or even interest in justifying himself, he is completely driven by his own vengeance and by the end chooses to damn the world rather than let it thrive. Now I understand that a lot of context is added to the world around Kain in the sequels, and that he's had literal millennia to become wiser, but even in SR1 he never struck me as actually being anything but a complete villain. I guess we're starting to get a glimpse at his true plans but it's never actually communicated why he's trying to restore the Pillars, just how he's doing it. I was initially under the impression that it was still an ultimately self-interested goal, but we're clearly meant to see him as a hero - I'm willing to believe it with the right setup but- and maybe I just missed something- from what I've seen the reason behind his change of heart isn't really ever discussed. I mean, there's two more games, I'll "let them cook", but it's just very jarring to me right now.
Before I go, I want to praise the ending. It's a good twist, and extremely well-acted on Raziel's part too. Anyways, Blood Omen 2 is next. Allegedly, the worst one in the series... hoo, I'm hoping I don't end up feeling that way.