A millennium has passed since Lord Kain set his capital in the
ruins of the Pillars and began his conquest of the world. You,
Raziel, were one of the six snared souls from which were birthed
Kain's lieutenants. The six souls prowled the twilight of purgatory,
building six legions of vampires to pillage Nosgoth. The
destruction of the major human kingdoms was inevitable. Within a
hundred years, humanity had been thoroughly domesticated. After
the taming of the humans, the real work began; shaping Nosgoth
to Kain's will. Slaves built a shrine around the Pillars. Huge
furnaces were constructed to belch smoke into the sky, shielding
the land from the poisonous effects of the sun.
As a vampire matured, its earthly body evolved into a higher form.
Through The Change, they assumed the power and nobility of the
Dark Gods. Always, it was Kain that would Change first. After the
master had experienced a new gift, one of the six would follow, in
a decade or so. That is, until Raziel had the 'audacity' to evolve
before his master. He was gifted with wings and for his
impertinence ,was damned.
To a vampire, the touch of water is agony; it burns their flesh like
acid. Raziel was to be cast into the Lake of Lost Souls; the
execution ground for traitors. His sacrifice deposited him in the
other realm: the spectral realm. For eons the Elder fed upon the
souls of Nosgoth, until Kain's empire of vampires deprived the
Elder of sustenance. For centuries his hunger grew and festered in
this place. The elder offered Raziel redemption; if he would stalk
the material plain slaying his former brethren, he would have the
chance to avenge himself against Kain. Now however, the
bloodlust of the vampire has been replaced by something deeper:
the famine of the Soul Reaver.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver boasts an excellent 3D engine.
Continuous data-streaming provides seamless gameplay and
real-time environment morphing as you shift between the material
and spectral realms enhances the sense of realism LoK creates.
One definite plus for this title is the large characters as opposed to
the overhead view in Blood Omen. Visually stunning backgrounds
bombard your eyes at every turn, though the NPC and AI's are
made up of rather large polygons. Though impressive, Raziel
could be a little smoother (meaning not quite so "blocky")
especially with resolution set to 1024X768 and 3D Hardware
acceleration enabled. Regardless, for an obvious PSX port, this
title is rather impressive graphically.
Light ambient music surrounds Raziel's exploits in the material
and spirit realms. Though not as elaborate as some recent titles, it
does set the mood effectively. The grunts and growls of the AI as
well as the digitized speech of the NPCs also adds nicely to the
gloomy atmosphere in Soul Reaver. Verbal transactions between
Raziel and the Elder convey a definite student to master feel.
Raziel also speaks in an older English fashion so as to enhance the
players feel for his age and place in this new, ravaged Nosgoth.
Raziel the Soul Reaver is much more versatile than he was as one
of Kain's lieutenants. Having been reincarnated into his new form,
he no longer thirsts for blood as he had in the past. His hunger can
now only be satisfied through drawing the souls of his victims. This
can be done in either the material realm or the spectral realm.
Should you fail to draw a soul after combat in the material realm,
a quick astral shift to the spectral realm is all that is required to
draw the now waiting soul's energy. This is a convenient feature
since some puzzles can only be solved in the spectral realm, since
the scenery shifts too (causing flat walls to yield platforms). Though
a shift from material to spectral can be done at any time, the
opposite requires you to find a portal (blue circle). Portals can only
be accessed when Raziel's health is full. Another interesting
feature is the gates. Saving the game can be done at anytime but
restoring always deposits you in the Elder's chamber in the
spectral realm. As you progress through the game, you will
uncover doors marked with certain symbols. Through these doors
are gates that, one accessed, can be accessed from any other gate
in the game. A blue circle on the opposite side of the gate will
indicate if the gate is active.
Raziel can now jump higher than before since a crouch+jump will
yield a high jump. His battered wings also serve a purpose in that
they allow him to glide. He can sneak up on opponents and crawl
along the floor as well.
Combat is much more interesting too. You can either dash and
strike (VERY ineffective) or you can enter a combat mode, where
you are always facing your opponent. In combat mode, you can
strafe, dodge or attack your enemy. If the enemy is undead, you
can pick him up and throw him when he's dazed. This adds yet
another interesting element to the game. You can't directly kill
most enemys; they must either be scorched (water, fire, sunlight)
or impaled. Weapons can be picked up along the way to aid
Raziel in his battles, such as torches (which can be thrown to
incinerate an enemy) or spears (which impale foes).
The storyline of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is excellent and will
definitely appeal to fans of the last Kain title. The graphics are
much improved and though blocky at times, are more than
adequate and do enhance the dark atmosphere of Nosgath as well
as the darker atmosphere of the spectral realm. The one major
drawback of the title is the camera movement. Though it's
automated and follows the character (ala Tomb Raider), several
times it rotates to an angle in front of Raziel and you can't see
where you're going or what's ahead. This can be very confusing,
especially when precision jumping is involved. There are however
zooming and panning keys. The combat system is great and
reminds me of days of yore when games such as Quest for Glory II
offered the same style of battles. This game is definetly more for
intermediate players as some of the puzzles can be rather taxing.