Legacy of Kain: Defiance (Xbox, PlayStation 2 & PC)

Developer(s) – Crystal Dynamics & Nixxes Software

Publisher(s) – Eidos Interactive

Director – Amy Hennig

Producer – Rosaura Sandoval

Developed at the back end of the sixth generation of gaming, and the last game in the series to be released pending the full version of Square Enix’s MOBA Nosgoth, Legacy of Kain: Defiance offered a pretty different take on gameplay compared to the rest of the series, whereby the player would assume control of both the central characters of the series as opposed to them being alternated between games. To me, although it is the worst game of the series, that isn’t to say that it’s bad; not by a long shot.

Graphics – 8/10

The visuals are about as extremely varied and as wonderfully disturbing as any other game in the series. Taking place across multiple time frames, like Soul Reaver 2, it portrays the land of Nosgoth from a multitude of different perspectives, from the time before the pillars collapsed to the time before Moebius would revive the Sarafan order and proceed to extinguish the vampires. The game also still maintains the dark and morbid atmosphere associated with the prior four games, as well as a feeling of isolation and helplessness, adding a great deal of tension to the overall experience.

Gameplay – 6/10

Though three of the five games are generally linear in their style of play, Defiance took this to a whole to level; largely to my disappointment. The combat is still quite varied and there exists a very strong puzzle element reminiscent of the other games in the series, but there is considerably less to do than in the likes of the original Blood Omen or Soul Reaver. From a gameplay perspective, it is indeed the least enjoyable in the franchise, but in retrospect, the basic premise does have it’s strong points, and it is certainly worth at least one playthrough.

Controls – 7/10

The biggest problem I had with the game’s control scheme is that the camera angles can make playing the game needlessly complicated in some instances. Often times, I found that the camera can be zoomed out a little bit too much, making hard for players to see what they are doing with the character; this becomes an especially big problem if they are trying to overcome certain platforming sequences that can be found throughout the game.

Lifespan – 7/10

Lasting about as long either Blood Omen 2 or Soul Reaver 2, gamers can clock in around 15 to 20 hours, which whilst isn’t a terrible lifespan, doesn’t go above and beyond anything that had already been released within the series at that point. The developers started off with a game that lasted an exceptionally long time, and the lifespan of each game gradually became less and less, which is an issue I have with the series in general, but Defiance clocks in as the shortest game from my experience.

Storyline – 10/10

A key difference between this game garnishing a 7 instead of a 6 for me, however, it it’s fantastic storyline. Developed in a time when vampires could be considered cool, and before Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart spent five films staring at each other, Legacy of Kain: Defiance presents the latest chapter portraying two vampires worth investing time into; the former ruler of Nosgoth Kain, and his former lieutenant Raziel. Kain is in search of Raziel in order to deliver a warning to him, which will prevent any further catastrophe from happening within the land of Nosgoth, and to fulfil his own destiny as the fabled scion of balance, and Raziel meanwhile escapes from the underworld and his captor, The Elder God, in order to return to the physical world and find answers regarding his own purpose and realize his own free will. My brief synopsis really doesn’t do the story justice in honesty, and it is worth playing the game to simply find out what happens; something that I personally rarely advocate in my reviews.

Originality – 7/10

In terms of it’s narrative, the entire Legacy of Kain series easily has the best story ever told in a video game in my own personal opinion. It went leaps and bounds ahead of any other video game story, and presented players with something reminiscent of classic literature and epic fantasy. From a gameplay perspective however, there have been many different games like this but with even greater variety, and Defiance doesn’t really stand out in that respect. Though it is fairly enjoyable to play through there was most definitely room for improvement as well in terms of gameplay.

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Overall, Legacy of Kain: Defiance is the worst game in the series, but it is nevertheless a joy to play through; if only for the story. Even so, Issues I encountered with gameplay doesn’t make the title unplayable by any stretch of the imagination, and there’s plenty of addicting combat and puzzle solving to keep players relatively busy throughout.

Score

45/60

7.5/10 (Good)

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