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How Square Enix Ruined Legacy of Kain, and How They Can Fix It


Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was one of my favorite games for the original Playstation and one of my earliest gaming memories. I loved the outlandish character designs, the strange world, and the overwhelmingly creepy atmosphere (helped by the killer soundtrack). If I had to name my favorite games of all time, Soul Reaver would be in my top 5.

I loved Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance. I even liked Blood Omen 2 (the ugly duckling of the series), then, after Defiance was done, there was just silence for 10 years. It seemed that Legacy of Kain would be skipping a generation, or maybe just vanishing altogether.

Then, in 2013, Legacy of Kain fans finally got some news: the series was returning!... as a free-to-play multiplayer-only abomination.

As it turns out, Square Enix had been quietly developing a follow-up to Defiance called Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun. It had both single-player and multiplayer components, and would have taken place in a time beyond Soul Reaver. The leaked art showed a beautiful post-apocalyptic world to explore.

The only problem was that this game was going to be expensive, and Square Enix didn't think it would be able to sell enough to be profitable. When it came time to cut something, Square decided to ditch the single player portion and continue developing the multiplayer part of it as a stand-alone title.

Umm... what?!

Now, I'm (begrudgingly) not saying that Nosgoth shouldn't exist, or that it will be terrible. I'm just saying that, for the fans, it's a heartbreaking direction to go in. 

Gamers who aren't Legacy of Kain fans might be confused as to why this would be so infuriating to gamers who are, so I'll try to explain it as well as I can.

First of all: the series was gone for 10 goddamn years! That alone is pretty depressing

Second: Legacy of Kain is a very story-focused series, built on unique characters, dramatic storytelling and great world-building. As you may have noticed, multiplayer-only  games don't usually have a lot of story in them.

As a comparison, imagine turning the next Gears of War into a visual novel, or turning Phoenix Wright into a MOBA. It doesn't make any sense and just turns the existing fans away.

Third, and most importantly, it sends a really terrible message. By cutting the single-player portion and keeping the multiplayer part, it makes me feel like Square thought that the series had outgrown us fans of the previous games. Like we aren't profitable enough to work for now that AAA games are so expensive to develop.

The thing is, though, this might be correct. So here's a real solution:


Like I said before, Legacy of Kain was best when it had good characters and world-building. Make a game that focuses on that instead of shiny, impressive visuals and complex combat. The original Soul Reaver had very simple Legend of Zelda-like combat and visuals that can be considered really dated, but it all still worked because all of the key parts were there.

Square Enix doesn't have to go over-the-top to make a winning Legacy of Kain title, they just have to make a true functional Legacy of Kain title with all the right pieces in place. They could even make it a downloadable title, and the fans would still buy it.

Sadly, with the way Square Enix operates these days, I don't see this ever happening, but who knows. Maybe they'll wise up and make something that the fans really want.

For now, I'll wait for the Legacy of Kain mobile village building game so I can rage again.
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About Benny Discoone of us since 9:53 AM on 03.24.2013

My name is Benny. I work full time in a freak show eating live chickens, and I work part time as Brendan Fraser's scrotum cleanser.

I play video games sometimes, but most of the time I'm too poor and don't have enough free time. I still like talking about them though.