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Lord_Aevum
16th Aug 2014, 14:32
August the 16th, 2014. Happy 15th anniversary to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, my favourite video game of all time!



Since first playing the Lighthouse demo back in late 1998, I've continued to be captivated by this piece of art. It was my first introduction to the world of Nosgoth, and will probably always remain my fondest. Raziel's crazed pursuit of vengeance against his master Kain, which gradually gave way to a cerebral quest for enlightenment and truth, struck a chord; it enticed me not only to seek out the other games in the series, but to begin writing my own articles examining every minute detail, and then more, and more... My passion for literature, scholastic path, and indeed the workings of my brain in general owe everything to this game.

It's almost difficult to appreciate how very ambitious and far ahead of its time the game was in almost every respect, between its shifting mechanics, a revolutionary data-streaming system, context-sensitive soundtrack, florid Shakespearean dialogue and memorable voice acting. On release, it garnered critical acclaim, but, before long, it was discovered that the gem was flawed – despite firing on all cylinders, developers Crystal Dynamics had been unable to round off even the final, trimmed-down iteration of their plans in time, leading to a veritable trove of cut content for fans to unearth and analyse. It had literally been "over-designed"! This only serves as testament to the uniquely vivid creative vision its team had woven together; evidently, this haunting, hypnotic world had taken on a life of its own.

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The twisted, surreal wonders of the wasteland drew me in, and keep on giving. To this day, I can safely say there's nothing quite like Soul Reaver out there. Here are a couple of interesting links, past and present, to mark the occasion:


Raina Audron: Soul Reaver 15th Anniversary (http://theancientsden.blogspot.sk/2014/08/soul-reaver-15th-anniversary.html)
The Hylden Dimension - The Prodigal Son Returns (early Lt. Raziel sculpt) (http://www.hylden-dimension.holocron313.com/celebrating-the-15th-anniversary-of-soul-reaver-the-prodigal-son-returns/)
Our LoK wiki article on Soul Reaver (http://legacyofkain.wikia.com/wiki/Legacy_of_Kain:_Soul_Reaver)
Ozar Midrashim (the Soul Reaver theme) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2RMWWBXYbs)
Soul Reaver cut content at The Lost Worlds (http://www.thelostworlds.net/SR1/The_Turelim_Clan_Territory.html)
Divine Shadow's exhausive analysis (http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=488564)
Behind the Classics with Amy Hennig (http://blog.us.playstation.com/2012/10/12/behind-the-classics-amy-hennig-talks-soul-reaver-secrets/)
Rare video of the Soul Reaver alpha (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIylH29So_Q)
Composer Kurt Harland on Soul Reaver 1 and 2 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP_rn8OIkEs)


To add a token in celebration of the date, those of us at the LoK Wiki would also like to exclusively release three old SR1 interviews we've managed to dig up from times gone by. I have no idea whether Square Enix or Psyonix have any official plans for a retrospective, but extra material from fellow fans will come in later in the year.



1998 – [SR1] [Gamers' Republic / Amy Hennig] – Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver


Imagine the plight of the vampire. He must live forever, eternally suspended in darkness. But even under the dreary conditions imposed by his state, he seems to take pride in his wickedness, accepting himself for what he has become, almost relishing in his damnation. In Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, the vampire Raziel is haunted by more than the curse of his condition: Banished to an underworld to spend his eternity in agony, tortured by insidious elements unwholesome to the flesh of vampires, Raziel is faced with the challenge of confronting his former master, Kain.

The story of Soul Reaver does not lurk silently in the background like so many adventure games, an excuse to give form and basic meaning to the gameplay and visuals. There is much we don't know about Raziel, and as the story unfolds through voice-overs we learn profound revelations about his existence and the vampires around him. But, from the very beginning, we do know that he is rightfully angry with his fate. He maliciously strikes down his brethren with as he cocks his head toward the heavens, devouring their released souls. The spirits of his fallen are his nourishment, feeding his evolutionary process. In victory against the 10 clan leaders, special abilities are bestowed upon Raziel as he assimilates his victim's essence, every confrontation leading to a greater being: with the power of the fallen clan leader now transferred to Raziel, walls can be deftly scaled, phase shifts can be made to pass through barriers like a ghost, water can be tolerated for swimming.

A vampire, existing as a supernatural being, possesses fantastical powers that render him impervious to typical combat strategies. The mechanical, haphazard mentality will not grant Raziel the succulent souls he hungers for; only a careful and deliberate approach will lead to the demise of the vampires. "Instead of just getting in there and slashing at the enemies and attempting to take their hitpoints down, because these enemies exist in the vampire state, when undamaged, they are particularly formidable," explains Amy Hennig, producer/director of Soul Reaver. "You have to be cagey enough to get them into a damaged state in which they are vulnerable, so that you can go in for an impale, burn them, or throw them. You have to think about what tools you need - 'do I have fire, impaling elements, something to control them with?' If the answer is 'no,' you are in an vulnerable state, and you must locate what you need."

Dispersed throughout the levels, objects such as urns and boulders can be used to stun the vampires, and one- and two-handed weapons must be found in order to forever put the them to rest. While some weapons are burning tools, most objects embellishing the environments can be dislodged from their foundations and used for impaling: lightning rods from a village home, iron posts from a grave-yard fence, steel fixtures on a window pane - the variety in what can be found is only limited to a designer's creativity.

Raziel starts out with only his claws to do battle, but once he first confronts Kain, he destroys the Soul Reaver sword (the weapon Kain used to butcher his victims in the original game), and must claim it as his own in the spirit world. Once Raziel claims the sword, he can baptize it, as with other weapons, in streams of light, water, fire, spirit, imbuing it with added strengths. As he continues deeper into his dark world, Raziel will only mature, both physically and mentally, learning magic spells and better utilizing weapons.

In what is a grandly innovative idea, every area Raziel explores can be travelled through in two separate planes of existence - the spectral and the material. These disparate realities teeter between the mystic and the mortal, and they can be passed into and out of by an awesome, real-time morphing command. When in the spectral realm, the entire environment shifts to open up new doors, contort buildings and rocks for previously nonattainable passage, even remove objects entirely. If not captured after the kill, a vampire's soul can escape into the spectral plane, and Raziel is forced to chase it or risk it manifesting back in the material plane stronger, sometimes in a completely altered form.

Providing a unique new set of obstacles for the player, the existence of the two completely separate worlds is a provocative concept. The path of survival, the means to the richest reward, is not always so obvious: the player must carefully ponder each situation faced. "The whole goal from our gameplay point of view is to have the player active all the time, but thinking all the time, too. The cool thing about people's favorite games - games like Zelda and Metroid - clearly your adrenaline is engaged, but your brain is engaged, too," says Amy. "So, having area-based puzzles, room-based puzzles, having to think through everything and not just charging through, say, a bowl in a china shop, adds a greater element to the game. Because the enemies are vampires, you have to think about how you take them on. Because there is the material and spectral, you have to think about where you should be at any one time, what the consequences are of losing health and dropping into the spectral world. It'll be a very hard game to play if you aren't thinking."

Soul Reaver is a game so dark and foreboding that light wilts in its presence. The artists have seized the story and made a world that is beautifully haunting in its shadowy dread and misty ambience. Decorated with exquisite gothic artwork, every corner of the cavernous walls drip into a pool of visual decadence. The grandiose architecture is influenced by actual Roman and Greek structures: looming arches rest on towering pillars, huge concrete pistons extend into decaying brick towers. There is a sense of authenticity, a sense of realism to the environments that is unlike anything that has been achieved before. These sights really must seen.

Not surprising, the designers are achieving a level of detail even they thought impossible. "We amazed ourselves at how believable it all became," says Amy. "The people here are artists... They don't just extrude blocks. We said from the beginning, if we're going to do a game like this, we're going to do it with a level of architectural reality and convincingness that hasn't been done before. I think we are succeeding." They are more than succeeding. It's as if they've given themselves the license to imagine anything: the only ceiling to their gloomy vision is the hardware. But around every foggy turn, the team seems to be circumventing limitation: textures are painted as art, displaying actual murals and meticulous designs in the walls and floors; and as we become entrenched in the surroundings, our suspension of disbelief remains flowing - not once, throughout the entire journey will the CD visibly load.

With Soul Reaver's disturbing vampire theme, there is certainly a wellspring of darkness for the team to cultivate as the game continues through its design process. They are already realizing the theme with extreme poignancy. In a religious undercity, zealot cult members will actually rush to torched vampires and split themselves open to pour blood over the vampires' charred remains, resurrecting them. Scenes like this are why Amy says, with an air of confidence in her voice, that "fans of the first game will not be disappointed." Nor will those gamers who appreciate the fine art of making an unforgettable video game.


1998 – [SR1] [Next Generation / Amy Hennig] – Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver


Playing the first Legacy of Kain was not unlike playing Gauntlet inside the massive fantasy world of Nosgoth. But the addition of a vengeance-bent, anti-hero Kain gave the top-down epic a deeper sense of character than the game's 2D graphics first revealed. The sequel to Legacy of Kain, however, is more comparable to Tomb Raider than it is to Gauntlet. This begs an interesting question: Will the followers of Kain get more of what brought them to Nosgoth in the first place? In a word, yes.

"The main similarity is the soul-sucking or soul-devouring mechanic," says producer and director Amy Hennig, who produced the first Kain as well. "Basically you stun or damage an enemy and then you have the ability to draw its soul out of its body, the same thing Kain was doing with blood."

However, the player does not return in the role of Kain, but rather, Raziel, Kain's firstborn vampire son. At the end of the first game, Kain has a choice to sacrifice himself and save the world, but "we assume he refuses," says Hennig, explaining that the world is subsequently thrown out of balance, and 1,000 years later, Nosgoth becomes a land overrun with six races of vampires. When Raziel grows wings and evolves beyond Kain, Kain kills Raziel in a jealous rage. But Raziel is raised from the dead by the underworld king to collect vampire souls and ultimately seek his vengeance on Kain. The plot unfolds from there within approximately 15 areas. Hennig estimates that this makes the game about as large as Tomb Raider II.

"We've tried not to create scads and scads of layout because it's very time-consuming and very shallow," Hennig says, addressing one of the criticisms of the original Kain. Instead, Crystal Dynamics is attempting to create a world that entices players to revisit areas when they've gained new abilities. For example, when Raziel gains the power to scale walls, unreachable areas in earlier levels become accessible.

The elaborate architecture within these 3D environments is some of the best Next Generation has seen on the PlayStation. On top of that, it morphs in real time. "The idea is that the world exists simultaneously in two dimensions," says Hennig, "the real world (the physical world) and then its nightmare flip side, the spectral plane, which is sort of a dark, funhouse-mirror version of itself."

As Raziel cannot die, he reverts to the spectral plane when he runs out of energy to exist in the physical plane. Players can then continue playing in the spectral plane, only their goal is to recoup the energy necessary to return to the physical plane. Also, since the switch between physical and spectral planes morphs the landscape, plane-shifting will be key to solving several puzzles.

And the combat? Like the first game, it drives the gameplay. Yet, instead of collecting an arsenal of traditional weapons, Raziel will be limited to the Soul Reaver, Kain's all-powerful sword from the original game. This title weapon has taken on spirit properties and can be powered up at elemental forges to incur a variety of damage. Also, combat will require some puzzle-solving as well. As the vampires are immortal, players will need to stun their opponents and then find some means of finishing them off, be it impaling them on a nearby object, like a lightning rod or fence post, or exposing them to sunlight or water.

At the time of this writing, the combat was barely present in the game, and the Soul Reaver itself was nowhere to be seen. Still, Hennig feels the January 15 shelf date the team is shooting for is possible; however, given Crystal has been extremely late with a number of projects in the past, Next Generation wouldn't be surprised if it slipped as much as six months. And if extra time is needed, so be it. This team of 26 has the potential to polish up and ship the best internally developed game at Crystal yet.

Image captions
Raziel falls to his second death
The water glyph statue
The portal to the physical plane
A bonfire just waiting to roast some fresh meat


1999 – [SR1] [Official PlayStation Magazine / Rosaura Sandoval] – Analysis: Soul Reaver


Among the verdant shrubbery of Palo Alto near San Francisco is a building that looks curiously like a church. Inside lurks Crystal Dynamics, god of ground-breaking PlayStation fare and divine inspiration behind Eidos' ever-swelling portfolio. This building has birthed Gex (in his many forms), Akuji (who has no heart), and Unholy War (which wasn't that good). Its next work will be its greatest yet. A sequel to the best-selling Legacy of Kain – Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.

The original game was ugly. Blessed with 16-bit looks, this vast, sprawling action RPG struggled to grab your attention. The curious vampiric subject matter helped things along, with the player cast as Kain, an evil dead bloke out for blood-sucking revenge on his killers. After huge worldwide success, a sequel was inevitable. Far less inevitable was Crystal taking the ideas and themes from the original game and transforming the hit RPG into a vast 3D action adventure. Hence the new Soul Reaver name – this is so much more than Legacy of Kain 2.

What we have is a kind of super Tomb Raider, with all the usual third-person perspective camera tricks, lots of exploration, combat, swimming and climbing, plus a host of radical new elements made possible by the spooky other-worldly subject matter. Rosaura Sandoval, producer of the game, takes up the tale. "Soul Reaver tells the story of Ralzeil – one of six lieutenants to Kain, the evil main character of the first game, who rules the world at its end. [The vampires] force human slaves to build vast power stations to make smog that blocks out the sun. They've begun to evolve, but Ralzeil takes a step too far. He develops wings, enabling him to fly, before Kain does. Kain banishes Ralzeil to the spectral world and, after countless millennia, Ralzeil is released by The Elder. Things have changed since he was banished. The humans and mutants are quietly co-existing with the vampires and Kain and his lieutenants have evolved beyond all recognition, slipping out of the picture."

And so begins a mammoth trek through 3D space, searching, killing, and generally being very evil. Soul Reaver has some incredible secrets up its tattered sleeve.

First of all there's the fact that there are no levels. The world of Soul Reaver is one vast landscape, taking in huge valleys and rivers, mountains and plains, and a bizarre assortment of gothic architecture. This is served up via the greatest piece of gameplay trickery PSM has yet witnessed. "As you play the game it holds the two adjacent areas in memory, along with the one you are currently playing," Rosaura Sandoval explains. "Enter an area and others are loaded ready for you to step into, so there's only 'Loading' once at the beginning of the game. This enables us to use a lot more textures than any other game too. Each area can have its own set of textures so we don't have to keep re-using them, as in other third-person games," Other third-person games? You mean Tomb Raider don't you? "Err... (chuckles) yes," she admits.

The result is that Ralzeil has a seemingly limitless and diverse world ahead of him. It's possible to run, climb and swim for miles in any direction without the game repeating scenery or pausing for breath. The total square footage of land is said to be on a par with Tomb Raider, so it's going to take you days to get from one side to the other. Quite a task, and one made all the more curious by the fact that you can't die. What!?

Twice as nice
Soul Reaver dwells on two spiritual planes: the material world and the spectral world – the second being a hellish version of the first. Gameplay takes place primarily in the material plane, but death (resulting from the eventual sapping of your life meter) will beam you through to the other-worldly spectral variation. Here you must amass sufficient souls (which can be reaped as they escape demised bad guys), to provide the energy to switch back to reality. "Alternatively, you could just play the game in the spectral world as it's essentially a whole game to explore in itself," concedes Ms Sandoval. Here, formerly straight walkways and towers are twisted horribly in the spectral world and openings which were too small, or platforms that didn't quite reach, may be passable this time. Best of all, the transition between planes involves the scenery morphing from one guise to the next before your very eyes. Astounding.

The 'dual scenario' trickery crops up time and time again. Should you fail to absorb a dead creature's soul (done with a simple button tap while in its vicinity), its spirit moves to the spectral plane where it appears exactly where you killed it, but in a nastier, more twisted form. Weirdest of all are the various puzzles which feature the plane-shifting at their core. In the spectral plane, time stands still, so rocks dropped from cliffs can be frozen in mid air via a sneaky switch from material to spectral, enabling you to use them as stepping stones.

With all this freedom of movement and potentially baffling plane-shifting action, it's a good job that The Elder (an omnipresent God-figure) is on hand giving you general directions to what the wisest next move would be. Action and plot drives the player into showdowns with Ralzeil's 'brothers' – the other five lieutenants who have become huge gore-spattered nasties. In addition to this fearsome five are three clashes with Kain himself, making eight bosses to take on.

Never ending story
Wandering around the game world is like gradually unwrapping a fabulous present. Rewards are frequent, but often the game only offers you tiny glimmers of the treats yet to come. An area will remain unexplored as its entrance is underwater and impassable to vampires. Or a platform extends invitingly above, but how on earth do you get up there? The answer is via the five skills Ralzeil learns after each of the bosses' demise. "Each boss gives a reward FMA [full-motion animation] using the game engine. This shows Ralzeil being given a new skill as well as furthering the plot and hinting at what he should do next," Rosaura explains. An early boss can glide through walls and locked gates and only careful timing with a vast bloody-mallet-come-juice-extractor can sap him of energy. Once pulped, Ralzeil earns the walking-through-walls skill. "The other four tricks to learn are wall climbing, swimming, constriction (where running around an object or enemy binds it with a force field), and the ability to warp between the material and spectral planes at will (vital for later time and space-related puzzles)," tempts Rosaura. "Each is won by beating the boss expert at that particular skill and so different and cunning methods must be used on each."

The result is that after each new skill is learnt you remember that weird bit earlier and run back there to try out your new abilities. Suddenly, by being able to swim or climb, a whole new area may become accessible and slowly and steadily the world gives up its secrets to an ever-more-powerful Ralzeil.

Travelling light
Another amazing Soul Reaver curio is the absence of any weapons or a goods and chattels inventory. Ralzeil carries nothing with him, relying on handily-placed pointed sticks and crockery to aid him in mortal combat. Stakes may be pulled from the ground, railings ripped apart and urns and rocks hoisted aloft and flung at the assorted zombie-like baddies and scaredy-cat humans. A switch to an 'aiming view' shows us exactly where Ralzeil will fling his new spear, enabling you to take out nasties remotely. "The ultimate weapon in the game is once more the Soul Reaver sword. You get this after your first battle with Kain. It can be used in various ways by powering it up with different elements. Dipping the Soul Reaver into fire, water, ice and so on gives it different abilities which certain bad guys or obstacles are vulnerable to," offers Rosaura.

The combat is pleasingly satisfying even without such weaponry however, with successive 'attack' button presses firing off punches and kicks. "Each of the 30 or so enemies will attack you in different ways. We've tried to make them all unique. The enemy AI is something else too, we have smaller, weaker bad guys who'll run away and lure you into battles with bigger bosses," warns Ms Sandoval. "Also, humans can be either your enemies or worshippers, depending on how you treat them," she explains. "Kill humans and they'll remember and attack you the next time you come across some. Alternatively, treat them well and they'll worship you, perhaps offering themselves as sacrifices like this [she mimes going into a limp-bodied trance], so you can easily fill your health meter."

In addition to the spear and vase chucking, there's more heavyweight artillery available in the form of spells or 'glyphs' which are earned by solving various, usually temple-based, puzzles. These temples are dotted about the landscape and will soon become familiar to you. "There'll be all kinds of visual and aural cues so you know that something special is there and you ought to stick around," hints the cunning producer. The glyphs come in various forms, being special screen-clearing attacks fuelled by your life meter. Pressing Select brings up a glyph selector. They're not essential to finishing the game, but will make later devilish battles a tad easier.

With such a sizable quest ahead of any would-be vampires, saving your game (to allow for the consumption of 'tea' or for toilet visits) is a must. So, save crystals or save anywhere, Ms Sandoval? "The game will enable you to save your position anywhere. I don't like save points. With a game as complex as this we want the player to explore and take risks. You won't dare try certain jumps or do other cool things if you think you're going to die if you fail." Very wise.

PSM suggests that you meet us back here next month when we shall be exclusively reviewing this epic (dishing out more tasty titbits in the process), and you can try out the game yourself via an exclusive playable demo on the disc.

Sidebars
Flip-top box
One of the most eye-popping (and yet really obvious) improvements over the likes of (whisper) Tomb Raider is in the field of block moving. Once again you can grab and slide blocks, but the amazing free-flowing character animation and ability to slide, push, pull, flip and stack blocks means that Ralzeil makes Lara look like a glove puppet.

Turn the other cheek
Much of the combat in Soul Reaver is close-up, fist-and-foot based action, so the game is in mortal danger of falling foul of what we call Fighting Force syndrome. This is where blows are impossible to aim, thanks to the 3D screen depth. In order to give pleasing Tekken-like action, Ralzeil's attention can be locked to a target by holding R1. Once pressed he will always face his nearest foe, enabling you to bob and weave around them with the D-pad, while every thump, kick and sword stab makes contact. Clever.

A whole new world
Transferring between material and spectral planes is not only an exciting proposition in itself, but a treat for the eyes too. The game morphs between the two worlds as you watch. "Every vertex of every polygon has an 'alternative position' and every surface has an 'alternative texture'. When we move between planes everything moves to its alternative," explains Rosaura Sandoval, the game's associate producer.

Image captions
The balance between open-air exploring and dungeon bashing is just about perfect.
An ex-architect designed the lavish buildings.
As opposed to the familiar 'box' structure of Tomb Raider worlds, Soul Reaver's many dungeons and caverns are frighteningly irregular.
Real-time lighting illuminates scenery and character.
Each area is a vast labyrinth of spooky chambers.
The camera swings around to give the best view.

If you wish, feel free to share any memories or tributes you yourselves might have to acknowledge this amazing game.

The_True_Solvaring
16th Aug 2014, 17:06
This game changed my life as well. Raziel will forever remain one of my most favorite characters of all time.

Sorrowgate
16th Aug 2014, 17:32
Sadly I never got into the series, but I remember playing a Soul Reaver demo years ago and loving the way Raziel moves and controls (that and he looks awesome as a wraith). Playing Nosgoth led me to look into some of the lore (both with what I could pick up on the forums and from the wiki) and Raziel is my favourite character for sure, along with the Razielim being my favourite of the vampires. If anything it's great that such a good series with rich lore existed to become a basis for Nosgoth.

Marvash96
16th Aug 2014, 19:53
How many memories... Raziel, my dear Raziel :worship:

P.S His statue in the map "The Fane" is awesome. Splendid tribute :)

GonarTrvig
16th Aug 2014, 21:14
I spent the whole video grinning like an idiot. Just... Soul Reaver is so important to me.

I remember once when I first played a demo in my PSX, when I had no even a remotely idea about what to do, but the graphics and the atmosphere were enough to catch my attention. Fortunately, next to my home, there's a video-club where I would usually borrow games for a low price for few days, so I could see which ones would I like enough to actually buy them later in a shop. I already saw Soul Reaver for a while, but it wasn't until I was 15 when I actually chose to borrow it, since I thought "Well, one year of difference won't be a problem" (Soul Reaver is rated to +16).

And I fell in love. Totally did it. Since the intro with that way of talking, the graphics, the atmosphere... Sure the game was Spanish dubbed, but fortunately it was a high quality one (it even got rewards as best dub for a game, if I recall). So soon enough I was following Raziel through his seek for revenge, mouth open most of the times, trying to solve the puzzles which were hard, but no so frustrating that would make me mad. For a long time, I would still borrow that game even if my mother didn't want me to, 'cuz she found it too violent with the blood and all. That, and that I had the bad luck that, in the time I discovered the game, it was already discontinued.

But then, the worst to me happened with that game, that CD was sold, and I lost the chance to even borrow it again, less to buy a new one. Bear in mind that, in that time, I didn't have Internet at home. Damn it, I didn't even have any computer, and my only way to go to Internet and chat with a friend was through a ciber-café. So, of course, I ignored completely the existence of webs like Ebay and so. In that same video-club, sometimes, only sometimes, would have second-hand games to sell. But I spent months, a lot of them, until finally one day, with all hope lost, I still got inside to check one last time, and then saw it. A second-hand version of Soul Reaver, with the cover which changes if you tilt it. I got so happy that I even used the phone of the video-club to practically beg my mother to let me buy it. And, even if at first she didn't want me, I insisted so much, and having enough money by myself to afford it... She finally accepted. So, after a long time, asking to the woman to keep it to me until I came back, practically run to home to get the money, and coming back... At last, I got my own Soul Reaver copy. Copy that is still in my hands, and still works totally fine regardless of the years and all, ALL the times I played it.

And may I say, since I played it again about few weeks ago... Years don't pass for this game. Sure, the PSX graphics may look a bit obsolete compared to the ones of the current games, but... That story, atmosphere, characters, being able to shift realms! The puzzles! After years without playing and not remembering most of the game, I found myself struggling with them again! Even nowadays you can totally see how ambitious the game was! How genius was the team to make it work in a 32-bits console, even when they needed to cut it a lot due to either lack of time or lack of power in the PlayStation 1. To me, this is one of those games who will be always a gem, unfortunately not enough famous to get all the attention and praises it deserves, but still with a special place in all the LoK fans' hearts.

This game is just too important to me... Not only because of all the good times I passed and all it made me think about the lore, the stories, the characters... But also as well because, it was thanks to Soul Reaver than I got into roleplaying forums, when an old friend of mine told me about a Soul Reaver RP forum, knowing that I loved the game. And, for sure, RP was and is still my life, letting to me write a lot when, usually, I wouldn't.

This game will be always one of my most fav ones with Medievil, and I will always keep it, whatever the game itself and the memories, as the treasure it is to me.

Bazielim
16th Aug 2014, 22:30
I have fond memories of my first interactions with Soul Reaver and like many others I consider it perhaps the finest in the series for its time - not just in terms of sales and critical acclaim, but in terms of sheer groundbreaking enjoyment and ambition - here was a game that truly broke the mould for games of that period.

My first experiences of the series had been through Blood Omen, but it didn't grab me at the time, no, it was the first reports of Soul Reaver that did that, with its reputation as 'super tomb raider' and when I got a copy that Christmas, I was hooked from the moment I saw glyphx's awesome fmv intro.

I couldn't put it down and I remember being a bit disappointed but determined by the cliffhanger ending: it made me certain to come back for more and while I waited what seemed an eternity for the sequel (but which I now understand I was "merely at the threshold") it gave me time to replay it - and replay and appreciate Blood Omen - and when I found out about the SR1 cut materials I was blown away.

The influence of Soul Reaver has loomed large for me: I replayed it until its successors were here and have replayed it countless times since and still replay it regularly to this day. It got me into the storyline and lore which led me into the other games, into forums and ultimately into writing and researching for the wiki and moderating. Over 15 years SR1 has meant a lot to me and I heartily congratulate it on still being relevant and fondly remembered after this time - long may its reign in our hearts continue.

The_Hylden
17th Aug 2014, 05:04
Happy Anniversary, indeed, to Soul Reaver and the continuation of the series :)


Still to this day, you'd be hard-pressed to find a cinematic intro to a game that can match the one from Soul Reaver 1. It was truly an inspired continuation for any story and it spawned a timeline-bending adventure within a rich world that not many series can match.

So, here's to it. Kain would be proud (I am sure he had some laughs with the gang before the whole downfall of the empire thing, heh).

lucinvampire
17th Aug 2014, 11:37
Ah the good old days - the great memories of old times of gaming :thumb: - happy anniversary Soul Reaver :D

It's so good to see the legacy still lives on - in our hearts :D - Raziel - you'll never be forgotten!

Vampmaster
18th Aug 2014, 10:04
Happy belated birthday Soul Reaver!

The first time I played Soul Reaver I'd borrowed it from a friend and was experimenting with a cheat device at the time which let me listen to the cut content before I'd even completed the game. I bought my own copy soon afterward and was baffled at why half the content was missing. I actually thought I'd gotten a bad ending at first and that Kain's speech about not being patient enough to look was a hint of something else I was supposed to do.

I did have some things planned such as my Kain portrait and updates for www.thelostworlds.net, but I didn't get around to the portrait and I'm waiting for Ben on some things.

Soiuxsie
18th Aug 2014, 10:43
Can hardly believe it's been 15 years!

I still remember playing it on psx and all those posters in gaming magazines featuring Raziel standing on a cliff, it was at that time the pure description of the word "awesome".

This is such a nostalgia trip :)

Lord_Aevum
18th Aug 2014, 12:55
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the makeshift anniversary celebration. :)

I've added The Hylden's tribute, a HD, WIP remake of the Lieutenant Raziel model, to the list of links. Be sure to have a look.

The_Hylden
20th Aug 2014, 23:47
Thank ye kindly :)

FishMissile
21st Aug 2014, 02:36
Oh, the memories. To this day Soul Reaver remains one of my all-time favorite games. The graphics, the story, everything was fantastic. I felt like crying at the end of Defiance.
"For Raziel!"

AreZee
21st Aug 2014, 08:39
I'm a huge fan of the LoK series too, though I never played Blood Omen. I started with Soul Reaver 1 on PC and like the whole story and its World. Nowadays I play games in english only, but I got Soul Reaver 1 in german and I have to say that it has the most badass and professional german voice actors - especially Raziel has a very fitting voice.

here is an example of the german voice:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hi9zCbhkyeE

dukemagus
27th Aug 2014, 00:43
I like the world, and i REALLY think it could use some remake/reboot. The enix part of square already proved they can do stellar games with Deus Ex, Hitman and Tomb Raider. they just didn't prove they can do decent puzzles, but there's nothing wrong in copying the old ones.

Maybe even an isometric game could work wonders: the first blood omen was top-down, diablo has a good combat, even if in a different style, and it doesn't hinder either puzzle solving or narrative (diablo 3 has a shoddy storytelling because the developers made it that way, not because of the game itself).

Captain3009
27th Aug 2014, 15:41
Yep, it started for me also with SR1 way back in 1999. The combination of battle, puzzeles and searching objects plus the awsome storytelling makes this game a golden classic and was for me the start of a amazon journey through Nosgoth.

Little bit late, but still: happy B-day SR1.:D

Gombaka
28th Aug 2014, 12:42
Hello there :)

Hell yeah, 15 years... I was 14 years old when it was released! "Soul Reaver" changed my life in many ways - it influenced TONS of my choices, tastes, and still does!


I did these two character paintings to celebrate this event! (Go here (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5lqk6hFUgT4/U_7oIqTdOSI/AAAAAAAACO8/ooO09Tsz0fw/s1600/raziel_1920_v2.png) and there (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-H0uQWPzBpv4/U_h1AoWU-qI/AAAAAAAACMg/lLWlZQHblvE/s1600/rahabim_1280.png) for HD versions ^^)

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5lqk6hFUgT4/U_7oIqTdOSI/AAAAAAAACO8/ooO09Tsz0fw/s400/raziel_1920_v2.png http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-H0uQWPzBpv4/U_h1AoWU-qI/AAAAAAAACMg/lLWlZQHblvE/s400/rahabim_1280.png


Through the years I've been doing some other humble fan-works; I guess it's the occasion to dig it out! Here are some of them, that some of the members of the community back in the mid-2000's may recall:

- "Harvest of souls", an unfinished 2D platform game still available here (http://gombaka.free.fr/raziel/)

- Some music videos, for example this one using A Perfect Circle's The Outsider (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAJ3bC4Shds) (the Danny Lohner remixed version)... No copyright infringement intended, obviously

- Hard rock covers of SR & SR2's theme songs, for my band Between The Zones (sorry it's not aging well, lol):
SR theme "Ozar Midrashim": Listen/download here (https://soundcloud.com/betweenthezones/wasteland-midrashim-soul-reaver-theme) - Watch on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL8CfAjO520)
SR2 theme "Ariel's Lament": Listen/download here (https://soundcloud.com/betweenthezones/forgotten-lament-soul-reaver-2) - Watch on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q606hBUivVQ)


That's it... Enjoy and thank you!

Lord_Aevum
28th Aug 2014, 17:41
Those are INCREDIBLE, Gombaka! Thanks for sharing! :thumb::thumb::thumb:

FearGhoul
29th Aug 2014, 06:27
As Amy Hennig talks about in that first interview, the fact that each enemy was a puzzle was something that was sorely missed in the later games. I remember back when I first heard about this game, playing some undead guy feeding on souls and how cool it sounded, and eventually I played it and loved it. As everyone else had said, everything in this game was just right. The setting, story, voice acting, music, puzzles, this is one of those rare games where everything just worked right. I love reading those interviews and seeing just how much thought went into this game and how much they tried to make it feel like an actual world, because they did a great job at that.
As I said, this game just worked right. For example, I also love Planescape: Torment, and consider it to have the best story to appear in any game (yes, even including LoK), but I'm not blind to the unfortunate flaws in that game, such as the kind of clunky combat (and yes I do realize that it was supposed to feel like playing a pen and paper RPG like D&D, since it was of course based on Planescape). After playing Soul Reaver, I played Blood Omen to understand more of it, and despite the horrible loading times, I really enjoyed the Zelda-like gameplay. I've described the game as a super violent version of The Legend of Zelda to people before. And since I played Blood Omen, it meant that when I played Soul Reaver 2 and they made all those references to Blood Omen, I totally got what they were saying.
I'm pretty critical of the series from Soul Reaver 2 on, but this series has had probably the best setting I've seen in a game ever. It was all so obviously well thought out, and across all the games, it felt like it was just alive and real.

Cristari
8th Sep 2014, 14:48
Has it really been 15 years!

I feel so old now :(

Is there anything from Psyonix/Crystal Dynamics on a true follow up to Legacy of Kain campaign? It would be very apt for an anniversary (maybe 20th). I love Nosgoth but I would love another single player puzzle game like Soul Reaver/Soul Reaver 2 to play again, something where I can loose myself in the story!