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On the Cancellation of Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun

Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun
The new protagonist for Dead Sun: Gein is his vampire name, Asher his human one (all these pictures come courtesy of Mama Robotnik @ NeoGAF)

Last month, the bombshell was unearthed and dropped by a well-known blogger named Mama Robotnik that Square Enix had spent three years building a new title in the long-dead Legacy of Kain series, to be titled Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun, but last year, the project was scrapped. Square Enix confirmed Mama Robotnik's claims and defends its decision, arguing that sales projections didn't look promising. Still, Square Enix is going ahead and letting the game's multiplayer tack-on be released as a standalone project later this year under the name Nosgoth. This is terrible news for Legacy of Kain fans, which becomes more and more clear the more you learn about Dead Sun.

I took it upon myself a while back, before Mama Robotnik broke my heart, to envision the future of Legacy of Kain, and it looks like my top-of-the-head pitch aligned well to the thinking of the creators of Dead Sun. You see, the plot--of both Dead Sun and my pitch--involved a new protagonist, a being trapped between the world of humans and the world of vampires, who lives in a future in which Kain no longer exists. This plot is designed so that it can offer a fresh start without throwing away the complex continuity of the games that came before it. If you really sit down and try to figure out how to make a Legacy of Kain game that will please both fans and newcomers, this seems like the most logical plan, and Climax Studios, under Square Enix's direction, spent three years fleshing it out. If, in all that time, they couldn't create something that met sales projections, what reason would Square Enix have to contemplate throwing resources at another attempt?

Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun
It would have been an enormous graphical leap forward

There is a tiny glimmer of hope in Nosgoth--because if it sells well, it might make Square Enix reconsider Legacy of Kain as a property--but I want to stress how tiny that glimmer is. Nosgoth is a multiplayer game with no real story focus. Why would any Legacy of Kain fan be interested in that? Why would anybody who doesn't know anything about Legacy of Kain be interested in it? Unless the game winds up being stunningly good, it's probably going to bomb, because it's a dumb idea to begin with. Multiplayer Legacy of Kain? No real story? What's the point? If the heads of Square Enix are tying the fate of the franchise to Nosgoth (they probably are), then they are dumber than I already know them to be.

Dead Sun is everything fans should have hoped for. It was going to attempt to maintain continuity and tie itself to the rest of the series, but it wasn't going to be a direct continuation that would alienate newcomers. It was, as Mama's sources have put it, like Star Trek: The Next Generation: building upon the same universe as its predecessor, but also doing its own thing. It had vampires evolving to look suspiciously like Raziel. It dealt with the Elder God's influence. It had gothic religious themes tied to themes of vengeance and the fate of Nosgoth. It had shifting back and forth between the spectral and material realms. It had bad-ass-looking combat. It sounds, on paper, perfect.

Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun
There would have been tons of blood

And it was going to be a PS4 launch title. Listen up, Sony. I'm on the fence about buying a PS4, because right now, I'm happy with my Wii U and I don't have a lot of money to throw around. If Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun had been announced at E3 this year as a launch title, I would have been willing to stand in line for hours just to hand you 600 bucks if you wanted it. Even if Dead Sun turned out to be the biggest turd of a video game ever produced by Square Enix, I would have bought it. I want you to tell Square Enix that, and I want you to understand that I'm still on the fence about the PS4.

So here's the problem: they spent three years designing the perfect Legacy of Kain follow-up that would appeal to everyone and they had it timed perfectly to optimize its sales, but it still didn't meet their projections! I'm going to be blunt, because I can't beat around the bush here. Even though I know it feels like a dagger to the heart, I have to admit to myself and to you, my dear readers, that the Legacy of Kain is probably gone forever. There is little--if any--hope that it will come back any time soon. Don't count on Nosgoth to revive interest in the property, because that's a game designed to appeal to the exact opposite gaming audience as a regular Legacy of Kain title. It may turn out to be a great game and I hold no ill-will towards its designers, but it doesn't sound like anything fans of Kain should be excited about.

Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun
These pictures are all we have left

At this point, the number crunchers at Square Enix are probably left considering the possibility of a more straight-forward reboot, but I don't see how that would fare better than Dead Sun. As I've written before, I would accept it--I certainly wouldn't be as excited as I would be for a continuation--but I know I don't speak for all the Legacy of Kain fans out there. A lot of them--probably most of them--would react with nothing short of vitriole to the announcement of a full-blooded reboot. Yes, it worked for Tomb Raider, but let's face it; Lara Croft's story isn't one that has relied very heavily on narrative continuity or thematic consistency. Tomb Raider fans don't seem terribly mad that dangling questions have been left unanswered by a reboot, but I guarantee Kain fans would be.

After fans learned about the cancellation of Legacy of Kain: Dark Prophecy, it was still perfectly reasonable for them to hold on to hope. There was still a very good chance that the property would be revived again. Indeed, it was. However, now that we know about the cancellation of Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun, we have to realize that hope has become a fool's cudgel.

-e. magill 7/9/2013

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