Lately, vampires have become a hot commodity. Novels like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries have portrayed vampiric protagonists as lonely people who are afraid to get close to mortals because whatever passion they feel will be abruptly severed when the aforementioned mortals die. Their struggle to contain the bloodlust is another essential ingredient to the vampire protagonist, who perceives the sating of his bloodthirst to be a reduction to a hungry, out-of-control beast. Finally, the key goal of any vampire protagonist is to regain his humanity and to become a better person via the relationships he builds over the book franchise. Romance sells, and what could be more romantic than the evolution of a broody, lonely immortal?

However, even romance loses it’s charms over time. The saturation of romantic formulas has accelerated this stagnation, and the shadow of love-triangles has hidden other vampiric stories that, while not romances, are engaging tales. One such epic is a series of videogames called The Legacy Of Kain.

The first game, Blood Omen, introduces the world of Nosgoth, a planet whose health revolves the sustience and guardianship of the Nine Pillars, a physical embodiement of natural, fundamental powers of the universe. These Pillars are thus guarded by sorcerors called the Circle Of Nine, who, being aligned with the Pillar’s element, is endowed with superhuman abilities based off the the Pillar in question.

The game opens with the murder of Ariel, the Balance Guardian. Her lover Nuprator, the Mind Guardian, found her broken body and succumbed to madness, infecting his fellow Guardians who were symbolically bound. The Pillars decayed as their Guardians were corrupted by Nuprator’s insanity.

Thirty years later, Kain is born. Heir to nobility and pulled by wanderlust, Kain roams the land until one ill-fated night he is ambushed by assassins and killed. Kain finds himself in the abode of the Necromancer Mortanius, who offers a chance for vengeance, and as part of the unholy bargain, transforms Kain into a vampire.

The avenging is quickly done, leaving Kain unsastified and disgusted with his blood-thirst. On his new quest to cure himself, Kain is led to the Pillars themselves and to the specter of the Balance Guardian Ariel, bound to the Pillars she has so revered. Redemption, she says, will be given if the living Guardians are killed and the corruption of the Pillars undone.

Kain meets many allies and enemies being the scourge of the Circle: Malak, the Sarafan warrior-priest responsible for the victory of the vampire Vorador, who single-handely killed six Guardians centuries ago, condemned to invincibility when his disembodied soul was tethered to his armor as punishment and new fate as an invincible sentinel to the remaining Guardians. Vorador himself, who advises Kain not to intefere with human affairs. The Oracle, who guides Kain with uncanny knowledge and an agenda that is more than it seems. Across this quest he obtains the sword that becomes his iconic weapon: the Soul Reaver, uniquely made to devour the souls of it’s victims.

Kain’s success in killing the Guardians comes to an abrupt stop in the presence of the Nemesis, a cruel tyrant whose armies threaten to overwhelm the world. Kain gains the aid of King Ottomer, but soon fails to stop the Nemesis. Running for his life, Kain comes across a chamber that teleports it’s occuipant through time. Kain takes advantage of the chamber by hurtling himself back fifty years and slaughtering the Nemesis before he became the Nemesis: the young King William the Just.

Kain returns ti his own era to find a very different Nosgoth. The Oracle — now revealed to be Moebius, the Guardian Of Time — has maniuplated Kain into killing the young King William the Just to provide the spark of a genocidal war against the Vampires. Moebius personally executes Vorador and commands the mob to kill Kain. Moebius flees from the encounter only to meet Kain again and is beheaded just like Vorador before him. Moebius’ death does not give Kain satisfaction. The fact remains that he had been the willing pawn of almost everyone he meets. Everything he has done is a lie. Seeking total dissolution, Kain follows Mortanius’ summons to the Pillars.

The scene that greets Kain is not the one he expected. Mortanius kills his fellow Guardian of States Anarcrothe the Alchemist and battles Kain. Upon his defeat his body is transformed to fit the evil force — referred to in the game as the “Dark Entity” — responsible for everything, including Ariel’s murder and the rippling consequences from the murder. The Entity’s death means the Pillar Of Death can be restored. There is only one more Guardian left: The Guardian Of Balance.

Finally the truth is clear. Ariel reveals that Kain had been destined to be the Guardian Of Balance, and that only his death would restore the Pillar of Balance and restore Nosgoth. Kain has been maniuplated at every turn, shoved about like a pawn in an intricate game of chess. And now he was supposed to die like a good little lamb? All of his life and unlife was to kill and be killed? No. Kain refused the sacrifice and began the foundations of his Vampire Empire.

You have intrigue, manipulation, strife, conflict, everything that makes a good story good. And that’s only the first game. If the game was so artfully captivating, then imagine the potential of the sequels.

So. If you want vampires without the haunted romance, then consider the story of the Legacy Of Kain: Blood Omen. Omen is available on the PlayStation Network for $5.99. Trust me. The game provides everything in spades.

Part Two: Soul Reaver, coming soon.