Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: April 5, 2002
Kain redefined the protagonist’s role in gaming. Rather than the noble hero or the disenchanted rogue, he was purely and simply self-serving. Evil would be another way to put it, as Kain’s first appearance as an arrogant noble in a troubled land set the stage for a vampiric transformation that left him angry, vengeful and later contemptuous of the weak humans. The first Blood Omen was a top down slash-fest, which stood apart from its brethren with brilliant characterization and a compelling storyline. Kain’s strength as a character has led to the highly successful Soul Reaver franchise, and now the cycle is complete with the return of the only lead character to routinely chortle with glee while cutting down innocents.
Kain has since starred along side Raziel, his nemesis, but now he retakes the spotlight for the period of Nosgoth’s history before the blighted landscapes of his dominion. As Blood Omen 2 reveals, Kain built an army of vampires after the events of the original Blood Omen. Armed with the Soul Reaver, his dark gifts and legions of nocturnal followers, Kain waged war upon all of humanity until his dominance seemed assured. During his bloody conquest, though, a new warlord rose up to oppose him, wielding glyph magic, a new force on the face of this blighted world. Known as the Sarafan Lord, this leader equipped his knights with powerful glyphs that could detect vampires and weapons that could channel this magic to wreak havoc upon their undead bodies. A recurring theme in Nosgoth’s mythology, the Sarafan appear in many stages of its history, but this particular version of the knighthood holds the honor of defeating Kain, and the Sarafan Lord was the one who cut the mighty vampire down in single combat.
Years later, Kain awakens into a nightmarish world akin to the environment found in the Thief franchise for the PC. Blending elements of the industrial era with ancient architecture, our anti-hero awakens into a world where glyph magic powers vampire-repelling shields, streetlights and more. Analogous to electricity, the ubiquity of glyph magic is a result of the Sarafan’s dominance over Nosgoth and the police state they now control. His body shattered at the end of his battle with the Sarafan Lord, Kain has been rescued and revived by a group known as the Cabal. Aided first by a sultry vampire named Umah and later by Vorrador, a memorable character from Kain’s first adventure, your quest in Blood Omen 2 will be to restore things to their proper disorder through the destruction of the Sarafan and the death of their Lord.
To begin with, Kain is weak from his near defeat. Convalescing for an extended period of time, the Cabal has nursed him to health, but much of his former power has been stripped. As such, Kain has only two of the dark gifts he acquired in the first Blood Omen left at his disposal. The first of these provides Kain with the ability to move stealthily through certain areas of Meridian’s streets. Wherever there’s mist hovering above the ground, Kain can transform his body to match that state so he moves silently and invisibly. Unless you step up close and in front of the enemy you will be able to sneak past them, or take the more likely scenario and perform a stealth kill. While the animation changes depending on which weapon the vampire is wielding at any time, these kills are silent, deadly and instant, making many enemies easier targets.