Friday 14 March 2014

Legacy of Hennig

I've played a lot of games. Huge numbers of games. Too many. Maybe. No. Never enough! It's like saying you've read too many books. It's silly. You can read in a way in which you don't take anything in, and you can do the same with games. It isn't the game's fault. You're the stupid one, stupid.

I house sat once this one time during this one summer, and the owners had this Uncharted series of games, which I am telling you now are basically a cross between Tomb Raider and one of those over the shoulder cover based shooty action things that everyone is making. I don't know. You pick one. Gears of War? Splinter Cell? Rainbow Six: Vegas? Yeah. Not exactly ground breaking stuff, but to be fair they clearly spent an absurd amount of time making sure the controls were perfect. They really nailed down to what was important about these things. But look, that is for another time. Probably not though, because that is probably all I have to say about that.

Anyway, I sat down to play the first of these games, and looked up and the sun had started a whole new game without me. Fourteen whole hours had snuck off on me. I ran off and did other things at that point, because I had agreed to, but I spent most of the day thinking about the characters and the dialogue of these games, and the super engrossing plot. I thought this was pretty weird, because they don't normally spend any time on these sort of things in games. It's usually just stuff happened so do stuff. Sometimes there is a fictitious/real war, or maybe stuff needs stealing. It's pretty meh most of the time, but it was the writing this time that kept me playing for fourteen hours straight. I got on the webs and pushed some buttons and discovered that the crafter here, was a crafter whose crafts I had obsessed over as a previous younger version of myself.

For many years I have beat people about the face with the Legacy of Kain series. A strange thing in that I think that the second, third and fifth games tell the greatest story that has ever appeared in games. Ever. Shut up! You're wrong. It's this. This thing that I am saying. I don't care what you think it is. Soul ReaverSoul Reaver 2 and Defiance tell one of the greatest fantasy stories, vampire stories, philosophical dramas, and epic tragedies that has ever been written in any medium. And they were written by this same person. Amy Hennig. That's the picture at the top. That is who that is. It isn't just a picture of some lady. That would be weird. You know, I just started putting random pictures in my posts that didn't have anything to do with what I was talking about.

I could start explaining the story to you, but it would be stupid, because it is so well told. It would be like explaining the best brownies you have ever eaten entirely through the medium of bread. Kudos to anyone who actually takes a shot at that by the way. But you would be better off playing the games and eating the brownies. Probably at the same time. I will say that it is like watching an amazing game of chess from the point of view of one of the pawns who appears on the board after most of it is cleared only to discover that all the really interesting moves are yet to be played. A game of chess with amazing dialogue, incredible characters, and one of the most fantastically rich backstories you are ever likely to come across.

One of the things that makes Amy Hennig's writing all the more impressive, which she doesn't even need, is that Soul Reaver started life as a different game completely separate from Legacy of Kain, which was not yet a franchise. Orders were handed to her from on high, and she owned the hell out of that series from that point forward. She took the Legacy of elements that existed in the first game and turned them into something incredible.

Four of the five games are available as a collection on Steam, but you get the three important ones, which is the important bit. They are the important ones, because they are the ones with the unbelievable writing. Not unbelievable in that they contain fantasy elements that defy belief. They do, but that's not what I am saying. Unbelievable in how good it is. This woman, Amy Hennig, who wrote these things is some kind of bizarre thing from another world. She isn't human in the best possible way.

Look, if you are likely to play games, you should play these games. In terms of quality of narrative it will stand head and shoulders above the vast majority of the books, films, television series, plays, comics, and games you will ever encounter. They are Windows only, which might be a problem for some people, and there are some control pad compatibility issues which I solved by using an outdated control pad which set me back the grand total of $3. Cheaper and easier than a great many applications that are designed to resolve this particular issue.

There isn't any kissing. Maybe I should bring that up. People tend to expect that sort of thing from vampires these days, but they aren't those sort of vampires. It's all fate of the world sort of stuff. Destiny versus responsibility and the like. Also one of the characters is missing part of his face, so he isn't really a kisser. He is more into reaving souls. Also eating them. He munches down on the regular. It's a plot thing, and a game mechanic. You really can't avoid it. That isn't a spoiler. It's in the title.

You can play the two Blood Omen games too if you want, which also do not contain any kissing. The first one, which is the better of the two and not available on Steam, is available through the Playstation Network (I've been told). There are also places around the web that offer it up free of charge as abandonware, which it is not. That is up to you. Be warned: it has aged. A lot. It is seventeen years old, but it is still super playable. The second one is on Steam, as I covered upstairs.

I would also recommend the Uncharted games, which were also crafted to her words, but they are frustratingly exclusive to the PS3, which I don't own. I've played them at other people's houses though. I really hate exclusive titles. I really, really do. You have no idea. Totally for another time. And she did Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City, which I am not going to comment on as I have never played it. There was this whole basketball craze during the nineties, and stuff like this happened. Shaqueil O'Neil had Shaq Fu, which was a child of both the basketball and fighting game crazes. I did play that one. Weird plot. Rescuing kid from a mummy. I don't really remember. A mummy, not his mummy. That's important. I remember that.

Oh yeah, that's right. She lost her job recently. Sony got rid of her from Naughty Dog (a game studio), because I have no idea why. There are rumours, but they sound stupid. Use her name in conversation. Make her a known thing. Everyone should help and encourage her befaming. I follow her on Twitter, because I'm excited about whatever she will be doing next.

Also, while I am here talking about Legacy of Kain, I should offer you something in case you get completely hooked on the series. It happens. I've done it to people before. There is a website called The Lost Worlds, which is basically DVD extra features for the series. It is amazing. There are community sites and wikias that are often a hodgepodge of appalling attempts at basic communication and what have you out there (EDIT: This is an unfair statement that is both needlessly negative and not indicative of the information available on the community sites. I hope that this statement reflects more poorly on myself than it does on any of the Legacy of Kain community websites. Unfortunately, I am making this edit after the negativity of this comment was brought to my attention by somebody else. I will endeavour in future not to resort to this sort of unnecessary commentary for any reason, especially when it is inaccurate.), but this is by this one guy, Ben Lincoln, who has a style of writing of which it is very easy to read a lot. For hours. On end. And it is very well organised. He has also done a lot of the actual digital digging talked about on his site himself. He is a clever guy.

Anyway, Amy Hennig. Amazing! Incredibly talented writer who is kind of unsung. She should be sung about more. Start singing!

Here is another picture to muse you. Get mused. Do it!

If you do actually write a song about Amy Hennig, absolutely let me know. Even if it is just new lyrics over a song that is not yours. We have no problem with that here.


Legacy of Kain Wiki said...

Sorry about our site's appalling attempts at basic communication. We honestly are working on it as best we can, but it's a truly massive project and can't be done overnight.

Jacob Henwood said...

I'm sorry about that comment. It is one of those things that I wrote without really thinking about it, and was a really unfortunate attempt at being glib without taking due regard of what I was actually saying. I honestly feel that it reflects more negatively on myself than it does on your website.

I am, unfortunately, in possession of the habit of being negative in lieu of being clever, informative, and funny. This is a habit that I am trying to break, but it is still a work in progress.

The comment was unfair, and I was trying to elevate the exceptional work of Ben Lincoln through nastiness. I apologise profusely, and have no motivations towards detracting from the work that you have all put into a Wiki that I spend an inordinate amount of time on.


Jacob C. W. Henwood

Legacy of Kain Wiki said...

Thank you, but I think your comment was accurate. I didn't mean to give off an impression that I take umbrage with it - I genuinely am sorry for the poor experience we're giving readers, because many of our pages are in fact very poorly written (and, indeed, unwritten!).

I wanted to put into context the broad scope of the project, because we don't want our writing to misrepresent the dedication of the LoK community. There's just so much to cover that we prefer to put up our first drafts and iterate on them with polish as we go, for sanity's sake. That rough work isn't always pretty, but it's usually the best we can offer at the time, with our limited manpower. :)

Anyway, Ben's site can't be topped – and this all has little to do with your excellent article, which I regret detracting from now.

Jacob Henwood said...

You didn't detract from my article. That was something I managed all on my own. I don't think that making negative comments about fellow appreciators of the good work being done by both Amy Hennig and Ben Lincoln does anything but detract from any attempt to praise them.

A Wiki is an immense undertaking, and nonconstructive sniping from someone who does not even participate helps none of us.

I think the graciousness with which you have taken this in your stride is admirable, and worthy of being drawn attention to, which is what I am doing right now.

In future I will consider before I post.