Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun was a canceled Legacy of Kain game. It was the second of two known abortive attempts from Eidos Interactive/Square Enix Europe to create a sixth game in the series. The first was Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy.
Dead Sun was developed by Climax Studios from 2010 to 2012, with some supervision from the series' original publisher and developer, Crystal Dynamics. An accompanying multiplayer project, named War for Nosgoth, was delegated to Psyonix. Described as an "in-continuity reboot", the game was to star Gein/Asher – a new vampire protagonist – and would introduce a new era in Nosgoth's distant future.[NeoGAF] The target format for the game changed repeatedly during development; in its final form, it was envisioned as a PlayStation 4 launch title.
The action-adventure project was not revealed to the public, and was secretly canceled in 2012 by Square Enix Europe, despite a significant amount of completed work. In 2013, after the announcement of multiplayer game Nosgoth, a Legacy of Kain community member, Divine Shadow/Mama Robotnik, publicized a wealth of information and media from the scrapped game, sourced from contacts in Climax Studios. His investigation alleged that Nosgoth had originated as Dead Sun's multiplayer mode, and would reuse some of the single-player game's assets.
Prior to discoveryEdit
- In 2008, Legacy of Kain fan Divine Shadow uncovered evidence that a sixth Legacy of Kain game – Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy – entered development under Ritual Entertainment in 2004, but was canceled in the same year, before being announced to the public. Heightened fan demand for news of a sequel followed.
- December 2010 saw the release of downloadable content for Crystal Dynamics' Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light featuring Kain and Raziel as playable characters, but other than this, no new Legacy of Kain media had been published in almost seven years, since the 2004 release of the Legacy of Kain: Defiance comic.[DEF-Comic]
- Game Revolution reported in May 2011 that one of their users, daverabbit, contacted them to say, "so I'm part of a website where you get paid to take online surveys and today I took one that asked me what I thought about different possible names for a Legacy of Kain game. Has there been any news about a new game in this series that I have missed or did I stumble across something here? The four names were Obsidian Blood, Obsidian Sun, Dead Sun, and Revenant. They also asked if the names sounded good alone or tagged with any of the Legacy of Kain/Soul Reaver/Blood Omen names used previously. Surveys I've taken in the past have had the product later show up on store shelves so I figured I would share this info with you guys". Nosgothic Realm user KillForGlory contacted daverabbit on the legitimacy of his comments; daverabbit could offer no additional proof, but said, "I'm really not creative enough to fabricate a story about a game I played a decade ago. I am wishing it's true as much as anyone else and maybe they'll be news [sic] about it at E3".
- Follow-up news on a future Legacy of Kain game remained sparse until 2012, when VG247 discussed rumors of an upcoming Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver reboot, and early 2013, when it was reported that Square Enix had registered rights to a new domain name, "warfornosgoth.com".
- Soon afterward, Edwin Evans-Thirlwell of the Official Xbox Magazine noticed that Passion Pictures artist Richard Buxton listed a 2011 Legacy of Kain "animation pitch" at his LinkedIn page. Buxton's portfolio site featured "some highly Kain-ish art" – a storyboard – but when Evans-Thirlwell telephoned him for comment, he simply responded, "I'm not allowed to talk about that", and later edited his profiles to omit the storyboard and all references to the Legacy of Kain series.
- After a number of further leaks in May 2013, Square Enix London community manager George Kelion came forward to confirm that a game named "Nosgoth exists and is in active development, but is not a traditional Legacy of Kain action-adventure game". He said, "the community should not be thinking of Nosgoth in terms of a single-player experience", and, "Nosgoth is not being developed by Crystal Dynamics, nor are they working on a Legacy of Kain game right now [...] Sorry to be so cagey. There will be an official announcement in due course when we'll reveal Nosgoth properly, so we can't go into tons of detail just at the moment. Everyone at Square Enix is really excited by the game and we're all looking forward to lifting the veil of secrecy in the future".
In June 2013, Divine Shadow posted a thread at NeoGAF, covering ten canceled Legacy of Kain games and ports, including The Pillars of Nosgoth, Kain II, Sirens, Shifter, Chakan, and Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy. The final scrapped project was an entirely new discovery: Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun.
Divine Shadow explained, "the recent announcement that Nosgoth – the sixth Legacy of Kain game is going to be a multiplayer experience, somewhat startled me. It made little sense. Why would Square Enix take a series entirely famous for delivering driven single-player experiences, wait a decade, and suddenly resurrect the IP as multiplayer game [sic]? I could not come up with a rational explanation, and felt that I only had part of the story. Given my investment in the series, I needed answers. With the completion of this thread, I now have those answers".
Investigating a hint that game developer Climax Studios had recently worked on an Unreal Engine 3 project with Crystal Dynamics, Divine Shadow realized that some former Climax staff members' LinkedIn profiles corroborated this idea, and collected media which "could fit into the gothic Legacy of Kain style" from Climax artists' online portfolio sites. He contacted several Climax team members; though many did not respond, or refused to comment, some agreed to discuss the Legacy of Kain game. Divine Shadow said, "agreements were made with the sources independently by email – they would confirm which media I had found on the internet was from the cancelled project – and they would also divulge information – to be paraphrased and not quoted directly."
Divine Shadow relayed the following information from the Climax Studios personnel:
In his post, Divine Shadow provided the assets whose relation to Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun he had been able to verify, including various images, renders, textures, and animators' videos (one featuring voice acting). He also confirmed that Richard Buxton's storyboard had been produced for the project: it was "for a CG trailer that was never made". Soon, another anonymous Climax Studios staff member provided additional screenshots of combat.
Divine Shadow observed, "Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy was in development for barely four months, and it took nine years for all the listed materials above to be made public. Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun was in development for over three 3 years [sic] (if you include preproduction). It has barely been a year since it was cancelled, and I anticipate over the next few years we will see much more of the work that went into it."
George Kelion responded to news of the leaked project with an official statement acknowledging its existence. He confirmed that Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun had been a project in development, disputed the accuracy of some indeterminate details revealed by the Climax Studios developers, and offered another series of relevant images:
Even so, Kelion said that it would be "unlikely" that Square Enix would voluntarily divulge much more information on the canceled game, even after Nosgoth's future formal reveal.
However, United Kingdom-based game artists Roberto Raio and Ian Stubbington both vouched on Twitter that they had worked on the title. Raio said he "did work on this game for almost 2 years". Climax's Sam Barlow also reposted the news story, and reflected, "so that's all out in the open then - Moving on".
Prior to August 2013, former Climax Studios artist Dan Hitchen updated his online portfolio, attesting that "whilst at Climax I worked on the cancelled Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun for current-gen consoles". His website featured several renders of "a character produced during [his] time at Climax Group" for the game.
In August 2013, Twitter user Alex_Roblez1986 noticed that Flipbook Studios, a "CGI and Visual Effects Boutique in Manchester", had recently posted various pieces of concept art for a "Cancelled AAA Game" on their website. While not explicitly identified as being related to Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun, two of the images bore the titles "Legacy-of-Kain-1-1500x1060.jpg" and "Legacy-of-Kain-2-1500x1060.jpg". They distinctively showcased the character of Gein/Asher, and contained annotations ascribed to trailers named "The Blood Line" and "The Hunter" respectively. Another vista concept, designed for a "Lake Town" environment, featured what appeared to be the Silenced Cathedral.
Six further pieces of concept art were included as part of a separate blog entry on the site, entitled "A salute to unsung creative work":
The nine suspected Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun images were publicized and discussed on the Eidos forums. Within the same day, Flipbook Studios deleted most of them and replaced them with renamed, lower-resolution copies, implicitly confirming their relation to the canceled project. Only the "Lake Town" piece retained its original file name.
Backstory and settingEdit
According to Divine Shadow's sources, Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun was not a reboot; it existed within established Legacy of Kain continuity. Its single-player storyline was to take place in Nosgoth's distant future, in an unfamiliar time period, even later than the Soul Reaver era. This had been mandated by Square Enix, as had the instruction to develop a new main character. Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun was to introduce the devoutly-religious Saradin, a new sub-race of vampires, with blue skin, and the abilities to devour souls and shift between the Material and Spectral Realms. The Saradin vampire Gein, and the human Asher, were to act as the game's protagonists: their souls, bound together in an accidental phenomenon, would – much like Kain and Raziel before them – embark on a journey which, though initially motivated by revenge, would escalate to decide the fate of Nosgoth as a whole. The character of the Elder God was fundamentally involved.
Divine Shadow delivered the following specific points of information regarding the planned story:
The meaning of the game's title, "Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun", was not revealed (if it had any).
- Gein: A Saradin vampire, and the joint protagonist of the game. Gein and Asher were to become bound together as a unique entity: "a human soul in control of (and trapped in) a vampire body". While Asher was the being's primary host, Gein retained influence, and provided a "vampiric perspective".
- Asher: The co-protagonist – a human slain by Gein, whose soul became trapped within his killer's body. Asher's village was attacked and destroyed after his transformation, lending him motivation to seek out the perpetrators.
- The Elder God: The game's story reportedly "revolved around" a previously-established Legacy of Kain character, the Elder God; thus his return or involvement was extremely likely.
- An armored, winged character: Kelion provided a render of a bulky, heavily-armored being, with wing-like appendages akin to those of the Hylden. However, he confirmed that it was not a Hylden character.
- The "enforcers": One piece of concept art posted by Kelion portrayed a heavily-clothed, masked individual, armed with a distinctive staff, from multiple angles. It was labeled "Enforcers-F300311_zps723dabc3.jpg".
- The "female trooper" character: A concept piece contributed by Kelion depicted what seemed to be a human female, armored and equipped with a three-pronged weapon and shield. It was named "Female_Trooper_final_hires_zpsc124174f.jpg".
- The "lost soul" character: A decayed, mortified character with visibly emaciated reproductive organs was presented by Kelion, in a file titled "CHR_CONCEPTS_LOST_SOUL_V3ampV4_zps97656889.jpg".
- The "master" character: A bald character whose complexion resembled Gein's, dressed in a red robe, appeared in one of Kelion's images, with the file name "Master_zpse77fea3b.jpg".
- The "succubus" character: This character – "an archon-type monster creature" – was first revealed in the second animators' video posted by Divine Shadow, untextured. A colored render of the same creature was provided by Kelion; it was named "CHR_CONCEPTS_SUCCUBUS_MR_FRONT_zps520853ef.jpg.html".
- A textured female human character: Renders of a detailed female human character, dressed in a white garb, were publicized by Divine Shadow.
- The untextured male and female human characters: A male and female human, rendered without textures, appeared in one of the two animators' videos. The female was apparently pregnant, and both characters were voice-acted. They seemingly discussed their fellow humans' reaction to their child's conception, the male arguing that "the child is ours, not theirs", the female chiding: "and they are rejoicing with us. It has been over twenty years since the last child was born here".
- The very old vampire child: "The mystery surrounding a very old vampire child" was pivotal to the story.
- "Voltaire": Artwork from Kelion featured what appeared to be a human male in a candle-lit chamber, applying leeches to an inhuman female's body. It was titled "CHR_CONCEPT_VOLTAIRE_zpsbb47ac02.jpg". The name "Voltaire" presumably referred to the French Enlightenment writer, Voltaire/François-Marie Arouet.
- Enemies: Various unnamed enemies were revealed in screenshots of combat, relayed by Divine Shadow.
George Kelion revealed that "there was no Hylden presence in [the] (now cancelled) game", and clarified that no Hylden characters were depicted in the images he released, despite any resemblance. The question as to whether any previously established characters, other than the Elder God, would have played any part remained unaddressed. Simon Templeman, Kain's voice actor, said that he had not been asked to reprise his role.
Testimony from the anonymous Climax Studios employees revealed that Climax had collaborated with long-time Legacy of Kain developers Crystal Dynamics to produce the single-player, story-based mode, while Psyonix worked independently on the multiplayer component. Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun's single-player campaign had been envisaged as an open world game – with puzzles and dungeons – rooted in the action-adventure genre. The concept of shifting between the Material and Spectral Realms was to return, alongside other links to prior titles in the series, and combat would be highly cinematic and violent, with its "huge" boss enemies demanding some puzzle-solving on the part of the player.
Collecting information from his sources, Divine Shadow provided the following account:
Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun's vision presented a futuristic era far removed from the corrupt wasteland seen in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, with prolific vegetation and an ostensibly healthy ecology, active humans, and newly-introduced races. What this may have implied in terms of the post-Legacy of Kain: Defiance fate of Kain's empire, the Soul Reaver-era vampires, the vampire hunters of the Human Citadel, and the Pillars of Nosgoth themselves, remained undisclosed.
- The "red chamber": A chamber filled with red liquid, perhaps blood, appeared in one of the screenshots secured by Divine Shadow. It may have represented a homage to the Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain blood fountains, or the Soul Reaver 2 Fire Forge.
- The "Sabara Vista" area: A piece of concept art depicting a settlement with somewhat postmodern sensibilities was revealed by George Kelion. Its file name was "SabaraVista_Human_zpsda2d276a.jpg" – insinuating that it was a human-inhabited area.
- The "Saradin" area: Another postmodern, urban location was portrayed in a piece of artwork from Kelion. Its respective file's name was "SARADIN_FINAL_zps7acebd23.jpg", linking it to the Saradin vampires.
- The "village": A single image of a house and village was provided in Divine Shadow's post. It was unclear whether this was Asher's home village, as mentioned in the storyline synopsis.
- Unidentified locations: A myriad of unidentified environments, both indoor and outdoor, were revealed in images sent to Divine Shadow after his original post. Abstract plant life and Gothic architecture frequently recurred. One screenshot depicted an enormous plume of smoke rising into the air from beyond mountains in the distance, perhaps indicating the reappearance of the Smokestack.
Other than the overarching setting of the Legacy of Kain series – Nosgoth itself – no locations familiar from previous games were assuredly known to have been planned for a return.
- Developers (single-player): Climax Studios (lead), Crystal Dynamics (supervision)
- Developers (multiplayer): Psyonix
- Publisher: Square Enix Europe
- Other known personnel: Dan Hitchen, Roberto Raio, Ian Stubbington, Mario Ucci, Flipbook Studios, Passion Pictures (Richard Buxton)
- Community manager: George Kelion