There are times where a game concept comes out and truly blows the player away, a game that is so innovative and well constructed that it is near flawless. For the Sony Playstation one such game was 'Blood Omen: Legacy of kain'
As a game itself it appears little more than an old school top-down rpg, of which there are many great examples such as 'Zelda' and 'Adventures of alundra', but Blood Omen is different as in this you are a vampire, the cold and bitter remains of the former noble Kain, slain by brigands after he is ejected from an inn late at night.
The plot probably reads as being rather blase right now, noble is murdered, vows revenge, comes back from the dead, gets it... Well... No, you see this is just the beginning, kain gets his revenge and you think 'well that was short', until the voice of he who gave him life enters Kain's mind and informs him that the quest has only just begun.
The game takes advantage of the timeline for this game, which appears very tudor/edwardian, with the actual world as a cross between england and the heavily forested areas of Germany. Towns have names that sound european such as 'Stenchencroe', and indeed those towns have houses built in the mortar and wood style of the late 1600's.
NPC's are a tad cliched, wenches who come onto you when you talk to them, worried inn keepers that fear the creatures of the dark, however, it is done in a way that feel authentic and real. What helps this is the absolutely fantastic voice acting that this game has. Blood Omen's voiceovers have completely stood the test of time, in fact, the voice acting here is so good that it would be easy to say they are amongst the best of all time.
Unlike other games which took advantage of big names (for example 'Apocalypse' and Bruce Willis) the developers wanted actors who fit the roles as tightly as possible. So what do you do when you have a game that seems set in a fusion of england and germany, in the 1600's? You hire actors who are veterans of shakespeare productions and other related theatre... Boy does it make a difference, the bitterness with which Kain is voiced truly adds to his harrowing and bitter tale of betrayal and revenge, while Ariel is voiced with an ethereal and sorrow twinge that shames the performance of cate Blanchette in lord of the rings.
Music compounds this stunning vocal performance, with the varying locales such as empty caves, harsh swamps and colossal cathedrals, the score varies too. From having little to no music and only occasional footsteps and distant creature sounds, to tubular bell driven orchestral pieces. Plus for the brief plotline of 'elzevir the dollmaker' you get to hear easily the creepiest musical score of all time.
Gameplay is addicting, with Kain able to butcher human victims and either drink their blood or simply slaughter them. Revisiting these locations has the enemies return weakened in a spiritual form that replenishes magical strength instead of life, a very neat touch.
There is no really difficult puzzle parts, Blood omen is more about actually finding your way, with some parts featuring long treks across barren lands before you actually reach the dungeons that contain the next fragment of your overall quest.
The story, as mentioned before, develops very well, from the opening case of bile driven revenge, to the evolving story of the pillars of Nosgoth, there are twists including a cool ending feature, which of course sets up the games that followed, though it would be unfair to say what that is...
Every game has its flaws and Blood omen has some, the main character does come across as slow against certain enemies, also the loading times are notoriously long, this however does not detract from the gameplay, it still feels very haunting and deliciously dark, which at the time was wonderfully fresh.