Forgotten Old Games – Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Hi everyone, this week we have a very special game! This game, at least in my opinion, was one of the best ones between the 3D adventures from 32/64 bit era.
Today, I´m gonna talk about Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, one of my favorite Playstation games!
Soul Reaver was released in 1999 for Playstation and PC and later in 2000 was ported to Sega Dreamcast. The version that I´m gonna review is the Playstation version because that´s the version that I have played back them. (However the screenshots are from the PC version, they´re pretty much the same thing excepted for the fact that the Playstation version has a lower resolution and some pop in objects.)
This game is the sequel of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, but instead of being a top down RPG as Blood Omen, Soul Reaver is a 3D action adventure. The plot take place 1500 years after Blood Omen in an era where vampires rule the earth leaded by they great leader Kain.
You pick up the role of Raziel, the general of Kain´s vampiric army, who surpass his master Kain turning into a more evolved vampire with big wings.
In an act of jealousy, Kain tear Raziel wings apart and thrown him into the lake of the dead. After many centuries Raziel is resurrected by an elder god. However, Raziel reborn as a deformed wraith.
The elder god tells Raziel that the world is falling apart because of Kain´s madness and give him the mission to kill Kain in order to reestablish the world balance and fulfill Raziel´s vengeance.
Damn, this game´s plot is awesome! Holly crap, generally I don´t care much about plots, but holly crap this game has an awesome story with awesome characters!
You can also check this game amazing introduction here:
Soul Reaver´s gameplay is pretty simple for an adventure, but this is not a complain, after all, that make things a lot easier to handle. You move your character using your D-PAD, jump with X, attack and active stuff with SQUARE, feed with CIRCLE and grab/throw/impale things with TRIANGLE. To crouch use L1 and to lock an enemy target use R1, you can also rotate your camera with L2 and R2. Ah, I almost forgot to tell, in Soul Reaver you have to absorb souls to replenish your energy, so after you kill an enemy, keep pressing CIRCLE to make Raziel absorb enemy’s souls.
There´s no death in Soul Reaver, after all, Raziel is already dead. So when you run out of HP, you´ll become a spirit and leave the material world and enter in the spirit world.
That´s another feature of this game, in order to solve some puzzles you´ll have to switch between material world and spirit world, that´s kinda cool because the world morphs around you in real-time, there´s no loading screen or something like that. You can change to the spirit world anytime however to go back to the material world you´ll need to find some blue portals that allows you to return to the material plan. When you´re in the spirit world you cannot open doors or collect weapons, after all you became a spirit, a ghost that cannot interfere in the material world, or at least not directly.
Your enemies are not immortal however they´re hard to kill, in the material world most part of your enemies are vampires or vampire creatures, in order to destroy them you have to beat the crap out of them and them throw them into the fire/sunlight or even water, or you can impale them with a spear or throw them into spikes, this is the only way to kill them, speaking about spears Raziel can use lots of objects as a weapon, you can use spears, torches or even rocks to attack enemies.
As you progress you´ll receive more abilities like climbing walls and even the ability to use a cool energy sword called Soul Reaver.
During your quest you´ll be able to collect HP expansions in a way very similar to The legend of Zelda where you collect pieces of heart to increase your total health, in Soul Reaver you have to collect 5 parts to increase your total HP. You´ll also have to look for Glyphs. Glyphs are some king of relic that grants you extra powers like pull enemies away. Soul Reaver feature lots of combat however combat is not the main objective in this game, this is an exploration/puzzle solving game, so be prepared for lots of puzzles. The first boss battle is something like a puzzle so this´s not a Devil May Cry like game, it´s more like a dark and twisted version of Zelda.
You can save your game anywhere however every time that you start the game you´ll respawn at the first room of the game, but you can use portals to teleport between areas, you only have to find those portals during the game so you´ll not loose your time travelling from point A to point B, this system works from a similar way to those portals from Castlevania Symphony of the Night.
Well these are the most important aspects of Soul Reaver´s gameplay, I hope that I´ve covered everything that really matters, if I forgot something important I´m sorry, Soul Reaver is a very rich game and sometimes I find myself lost with so many things to tell…
Now let´s talk about the graphics…
Soul Reaver has one of the best graphics that I ever saw on the Playstation, I thing that is one of the most beautiful 3D game from the 32/64 bit era, it really impresses me even today. It´s a good example of how 3D games can be beautiful without lots of polygons, advanced shaders, physics and stuff. I really like the characters models, they´re very well made, Raziel and Kain looks awesome and monsters really looks like horrible creatures, the only models that I didin´t like too much are the human models, they´re are not so well done like the rest of the creatures and characters, I think that´s because there is a city with lots of them walking around and they cannot spare so much process power.
Backgrounds are amazing , with nice textures and cool details, there are lots of flags that really moves like fabric and the way that torches cast light in the dark areas are great too.
The opening FMV is awesome, it´s very well done it´s a shame that we have FMV only in that part, the rest of the game feature real-time cut scenes that are pretty good however I really wanted to see more videos like that.
Sound and music are amazing too, the voice actors are great, Raziel´s voice is really cool, I think that the way that Raziel tells his story resembles a lot the prince from Prince of Persia Sands of Time. Sound effects are great but music is suberb, I really like the tunes specially the music that plays when you´re Raziel´s clan Territory.
So that´s conclude my review today, I really hope that everyone that haven´t played Soul Reaver go and give it a try, it´s an amazing game and I know LOTS of people who never heard a word about it. It really impress me how a such amazing game became overlooked like this. I hope that Eidos “resurrect” this awesome series in future. Now go my friends and become Soul Reavers, angels of death!