Sunday, 22 July 2018

Interesting LOK related videos


Hello all,

here are two interesting videos for you to look at. First one is an interview my SoulRev coleague, Francesco, talking about game development and also shining some light about our project. We are still kicking even though things not always go as fast as we would wish. Second one is the well known Hylden aka Patrick Johnson who just joined Patreon and it showcases first video footage of Soul Revenant as well. You can now support his artwork or even request to make models for you.



Thursday, 28 June 2018

Amy Hennig is forming her own indie studio

According to the latest article on Eurogamer, Amy Hennig confirmed that she left EA and is no longer working on ther Star Wars game which underwent major changes and is not the same game she has been working on. Amy was visiting Gamelab conference in Barcelona when she was approached by Eurogamer. She disclosed the following:

"I'm working independently and staying independent. I just started my own small little independent studio and am consulting with some people. I'm hoping to bring some people on board, I would love to have a little company of about six to eight people, 15 at the most, and do some more projects, do some VR stuff - I'm consulting with some VR companies and doing a ton of research because I haven't played a lot to immerse myself in it." 

After years of working for EA, this news is perhaps most exciting in a while in a world of Legacy of Kains. While she might not be thinking of returning to the franchise, given that Square Enix owns the series, this still might bring interesting games from Amy Hennig´s amazing talent for writing and directing. We can always hope that LOK has not completely left her mind but wish her all the best in creating her new projects, this time without the pressure of a publisher behind her back.

 Source: Eurogamer

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Shadow of the Colossus Review



Shadow of the Colossus is a legendary game and rightfully so. By coming to PlayStation 4, the players can finally experience the game as the authors intended, that is without any technical compromises. How did the new studio Bluepoint manage with this remake?

It was 2006 and I somehow got to this gem on PlayStation 2. I must say that I've missed its predecessor, Ico, which was hard to find back then, but I got hooked on this unusual game where your sole goal is to defeat all the bosses. The original game, however, was plagued by the lower framerate, which was sometimes dropping to intolerable values. Despite that, the game was highly praised and got great reviews. In 2011, Sony has released a remaster with higher framerate for PlayStation 3, made by the very same Bluepoint. So why are we returning back to the colossi again for the third time? I can only assume that during the remastering the game they thought the game would look a lot better in current gen graphics with modern shaders and particle effects, so they have called upon Japan Studio for help and guidance. Thus, Bluepoint have created all of the art assets from scratch and all the previously low-res textures received a well deserved upgrade while keeping the source code and animations intact. If you think this was a waste, watch a video comparison of all three versions. On a regular PS4, you can achieve a stable 30fps, while PS4 PRO gives you the option to play in 60fps on 1080p resolution.


SOTC has a story full of emotions taking place in a seemingly empty world. It´s primarily inhabited by the sixteen colossi, which our main hero must kill if he wants to resurrect his girl. It would be impossible to achieve in the land of the mortals, however, Wander has heard about a strange foreign land, where a god called Dormin can resurrect the dead. Determined, Wander embarks upon a long journey into the Forbidden land, where entry is punished. As soon as you see the weirdly structured bridge for the first time, you can recognize Fumito Ueda's signature architecture from Ico. You'll find many ruins and empty building which silently tell the tales of the old battles or the lives of its people. Wander, however, did not come to learn about these interesting tales of the old civilizations. After he gently puts down Mono on the altar, an ancient voice speaks out. Realizing that you are carrying the sacred sword, Wander is given his first task. Not heeding Dormin's warning that the price for this deed might be too high, Wander gets on his trusty steed, Agro, to fulfil his mission to take down all of the sixteen majestic colossi.


This is just a short intro, but the game contains minimum cutscenes and focuses mainly on gameplay. The game gives you a vast world to explore which is fun to traverse. In order to not get lost, you can always check your position on the map or just use the landmarks to orient yourself. You'll find plenty of unique rock formations, Stargate-like rings in the desert or pillars jutting out of the ground around that one corner. If you ever feel you lost your objective, there is an easy solution. Your sword is not just any random weapon. It reflects sunlight which can help you light up dark areas or, most importantly, point to the precise location where the next colossus is hiding. If Wander would try to get into this land on foot, he would probably still be running on that super long bridge you find at the beginning of the game. Luckily, his companion, mare Agro, is really fast and can tackle long distances with ease. You do not control her directly but by pulling her reins to turn or stop. You need to give her a kick to go faster. It's very effective and galloping across the plains never felt so majestic before this game. Agro will usually always try to reach you, but if you ignore her, she will try to keep herself occupied by eating the grass or drink from a spring you found. Sometimes she will start walking into the distance on her own but you can always call her back with a shout or a whistle, if she is too far away.


The world of SOTC is mostly deserted but beautiful. Wandering through centuries of nature unspoiled by human hands is thrilling and is accompanied by her serene sounds. From the rich green forests full of chirping to the wind blowing around statues half buried in countless sand dunes. You will visit several lakes, full of fish, whose silence is interrupted by Wander's splashing in the water. There is no time limit to achieve your main goal and that gives you the opportunity to just stop and look around. To think about how this ancient, crumbled city used to look like at the height of its existence. It´s so easy to just take a stroll through the forest, catch a few lizards to get an improved grip or search for the exotic fruit, which prolongs your life. You can even try to latch onto a passing flying hawk or a fish and see how long can you hold on for. There are lots of different things to do to keep yourself occupied in between the hunts for the colossi. This is strengthened by the stunning visuals, which changed quite a lot since PS2 was around. While the former blocky design was necessary in the past, now it's just a choice in places, where it actually fits. Many times I've stopped just to look at closer at those sharp textures on the rocks and ravines to make the best screenshot. Particles were also improved. Your horse now leaves hoof prints in the sand and Agro's tail and mane playfully flutter in the wind. The fur on the colossi bends as you climb over it as well. There are other effects like light mist above lakes and inside forests, sand coming off rocks in the desert and I have never seen so many patches of lush green grass in one place.


The battles with the colossi could be regarded as their own levels and are the biggest draw of the game. Every colossus has a different design, size and behaviour. Some are more aggressive than others and in order to beat them, you need to search for their weak points. Your bow serves more to draw attention of the colossus to that tiny human on the ground, which is you. Your special sword, on the other hand, is the only thing which can do any damage, though, and has to be stabbed into the glowing spot until enough of the black fog escapes. Once you have conquered the beast, it helplessly topples into a rubble of rocks and sand, as if it was just an empty shell. To climb upon such a monster is not easy. Luckily for Wander, part of their bodies is covered by thick fur which he can grab onto. It's not possible all the time, however, and you might need to find a way to flip over the colossus to reveal a climbing spot. Holding onto the alerted enemy is not an easy task either, as it will start to rock backwards and forwards as soon as he finds out that you are on his shoulder. This is where Wander's grabbing strength comes into play. You start with a small circle, which depletes rather quickly, but by eating lizard´s white tails, you can improve it significantly. The lizards are usually hidden around the checkpoint shrines but catching them is not easy as they are fleeting. If you manage to hold on (taking breaks on your grip can replenish it much faster at a risk of falling off), you have to search for the colossus' weakness which your sword can expose. Each glowing mark will take several charged up stabs before you have to move to the next one, but it is usually between two or three before the colossus succumbs to your will. The difficulty of each fight varies and while some are harder than others, it is not overly difficult. Sometimes you just need to use your environments to your advantage and lure the colossi where you need them, whether it be by hiding so it can't see you and it is fun to find out what works. If you'll take too long, Dormin will also give you a hint on how to proceed. The whole fight can take from several minutes to half an hour, depending on your skills and knowledge of the game.


The source code of the game stayed while all the 2D and 3D objects where swapped out for their higher polygon versions. Bluepoint did an excellent job here while adhering to the structure of the original. The viewing distance has been vastly improved and now you can see 3D objects in  the distance with ease. Graphics are not the only one which received an update, however. Even though the voice over, sounds and music stayed the same, they were all improved and now sound much higher quality. It is a joy to listen to Agro's hooves hitting the ground or immerse yourself into the majestic orchestra which accompanies your efforts to slay the beasts and fuels your efforts. Other times it can evoke a calm, melancholic atmosphere when you discover new locations. The intro and outro tracks bear a strong emotion but you should definitely listen to the whole soundtrack as it is brilliant. The controls were a bit clunky in the original but the developers have made Wander's motions more fluid and added two more modern control schemes. Unfortunately, both of them place the horse control on the triangle, which you need to hold down and it is very uncomfortable if you're trying to move the camera around with your right thumb at the same time. I have solved this by setting the horse command to R2 and grab to R1 instead in the PS4 settings and it was a lot better this way.


To beat the game for the first time takes about 8-10 hours. It is a bit of a shame that Bluepoint did not try to go further and bring back the missing eight colossi, which did not make the cut in the end. Throughout the world you'll find many deserted places, which almost beg for another epic confrontation. Time trials are back and if you beat enough of them you'll get extra items just like in the original (different weapon types, masks, or even a parachute). The main menu also offers concepts and screenshots to look at. At the beginning, you can choose from three difficulties – easy, normal and hard. I recommend going for hard as the colossi have more weak points this way and take longer to kill, as the game itself on normal seemed too easy. After beating the game you'll also unlock new game + and you can play the game in different screen filters. There is a newly added photo mode which is nice but I was a bit disappointed you can't position the camera freely.

SOTC is still a unique title just like when it came out originally. If you have played it back then, on PS2, it won't harm to refresh your memory again in a much better visuals and in high-res with stable framerate. Even if you already own the PS3 remaster, this is a perfect remake worthy of your purchase. Thanks to Bluepoints hard work, new gamers can now fully enjoy this masterpiece in the shadow of the colossus.

Score: 10/10

+16 unique colossi battles
+ horse riding
+ stunning scenery
+ technical improvements
+ orchestral music
+ time trials
- static photomode
- controls still need tweaking

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice Review

Celtic warrior Senua is embarking on a treacherous path to save her beloved from death. Accompany her on this journey to find Senua's true self!

Do you go through this as well? After finishing a game you feel empty. You want more, but you know that repeated playthroughs will never be the same as the first time. I think I felt like this after finishing SOMA and more recently, Talos Principle. Both games make you think about things which you do not stop and ponder about on a daily basis. What is consciousness? In Hellblade, Ninja Theory got together with professionals and doctors to show us how mental health issues can affect an individual. The game offers a bleak, but interesting insight upon a psyche of a suffering person.


We learn who Senua is and where she comes from as the game goes on. At the beginning, we witness how she tries to reach Niflheim on her little raft, the land which is the entry to Helheim, her final destination. In Viking hell it is Hela, the ruler of death, who is the only one capable of returning a lost soul back from the Underworld. Getting to Helheim will not be easy. The bridge is guarded by a giant door with two large emblems and in order to unlock it, Senua needs to delve deep into the domains of Viking gods Surtr and Valravn. It is up to you which you go through first but both offer a very different experience. If you know about Surtr and what he is, you can already guess that this path will be like walking through inferno. He is the god of fire and Senua has to step a foot on the scorched ground, which still bears the screams of the people which burned to death there. To get through this fiery place, Senua must activate Surtr's signs scattered across the land. Touching one will materialize the moment when the fire consumed everything and you have a short time to get out of there and avoid choking to death. 


Luckily our heroine is not helpless, she is a skilled warrior after all and knows how to handle her sword. Later on, she will even master slowing down time as certain enemies can only be damaged in that state. You have one button for a light attack, second button for a heavy attack, one for dodging which is very important, and last one is for blocking. As I have been playing the Devil May Cry series for several years, this felt a bit too simplified to me and while you can lock onto enemies, you cannot really chain combos too much. The battles do not happen often and are usually spaced in between puzzle sequences. On higher difficulties the enemies get a lot tougher and dodging is something you have to master. I definitely recommend a gamepad, though, a keyboard might not be too comfortable.

Second boss is Valravn, the master of illusions and will drag you through a dark forest, where nothing is as it seems. If you ever get stuck, know, that looking at things from a different angle can help a lot. The way forward is blocked by raven insignias and to do that, you have to align the correct three symbols. If you persevere and kill Valravn, the way to the bridge will be open. It is not, however, the end of your journey, but merely a beginning to understand Senua's past. The game has some interesting mechanics up its sleeve but you have to discover that on your own.



All of this is merely a vehicle to express Senua's true feelings. Those, who are going or went through something similar, will understand. It is best to describe as being lost in hopelessness and fear, to know nothing will make you happy. Just like Senua, who lost everything. You will just know that something went horribly wrong in her past, something she chose to block out. Something which will never fully heal and caused other personalities emerge in her mind. She is not alone on her journey – there are others, voices of encouragement, cowardice and fear, but also of bravery. They are always present, just like the darkness which sleeps within our heroine. You will hear their whispers, quiet or loud. If you are unsure on where to go, some will mock you. Others will doubt your abilities. It is something I had not experienced it before in a game and it hard to explain and better to hear on your own. Besides your own voices in your head there are also other characters, which emerge over time. Druth is a mysterious ally, whose purpose is to guide you. His stories tell you more about the Viking gods and their customs. Throughout the game you'll also find rune stones and if you find them all, you´ll receive an extra scene at the end. Senua is not by any means ordinary and sees symbols and faces everywhere, where normal people see mundane objects. Sometimes it´s just a play of shadow and fire, but it's enough for the symbol to appear. The search gets progressively harder, but there are indicators on the screen if you are close enough to one.


The graphics are beautiful and the game supports 4K resolution as well, if you have a good enough pc to run it. The sunset views above the bridge leading to Helheim, the fiery paths of Surtr, or storms in the dark forest are just a few environments which you will keep pressing F12. Senua's own character model has been made with the slightest details and sometimes it is hard to believe, she is not real. I must applaud the developers here, because it gives Senua more credibility and she also has a natural face mimicry. How she looks at you, the player, feels unique, like you are there with her all along. It is hard to not feel the oppressive uneasiness together with her. That is the price which is worth to pay because Hellblade is an experience which no other game can give you.


The sound engineering is done exceptionally well and it is recommended to play only with your headphones on, otherwise you might miss a lot. The voices, which haunt Senua throughout the game, have various volume and are important part of the game. The voice acting is professional and particularly Senua's voice actor sounds impactful (she received an award for it) and she did a great job on portraying Senua's pain. She definitely belongs to one of the best video game characters introduced to us in 2017. The music is more atmospheric and changes dynamically, depending what is happening on the screen. It will reside in the background when solving puzzles, other times it rumbles when you are slicing through your enemies. Sometimes even you are not sure if the developers are just playing you, or there are legitimate reasons to be alarmed. The biggest minus is that some mechanics are being repeated maybe too often (especially the puzzles which consist of lining up the symbols) and the fights can get a bit taxing over time. However, as the game is only about 8-9 hours long, which passes quite fast, these faults do not interfere too much.

You should know the least before playing this game. Do not watch the videos, maybe look at a few screenshots. Play this with your headphones on and best at night. Leave yourself to be dragged into the dark world and engulf yourself into darkness together with Senua and her alter egos. Stand against her worst nightmares and grab your sword tightly into your hands. Only by witnessing the truth you can overcome the hardship which awaits you. There is no way back, the raft is gone and the world of unknown stands before you.

Score: 8,5/10
(PC version)
+ exposure of mental health problems
+ great atmosphere
+ believable characters
+ beautiful visuals
+ audio
- repeated puzzles
- fights can get repetitive after a while

Upcoming game reviews

It´s been a while since I posted frequently but that is about to change. I have decided I will start posting game reviews for new and older games in English. I have been a review writer for ten years now but it was always exclusively in my native language, Slovak. Many of them are published here. It is time to change that and while I still write the reviews in Slovak first and then rewrite them to English, it is not a mere translation. I find myself changing few things here and there, so it´s not an exact copy of the text. 
 
I was on hiatus from writing for like a year but the recent games which I got to play gave me inspiration to start writing again. It´s notably Shadow of the Colossus remake for PS4 and Hellblade: Senua´s Sacrifice. I might write reviews for some of the other games I have played recently too. Since the original reviews are all in Slovak, I felt it is time to broaden my reader base and make it possible for them to be read by wider audience. I hope you´ll enjoy reading these reviews as much as I had fun writing them.

London Comic Con October 2017

I have been postponing a round up of last year´s MCM Comic Con for a while and it is time I have shared a blog post about it as well. I have posted the photos on my Ancient´s Den facebook page but have not really shared my experience.

This time, we bought priority weekend tickets and got a hotel nearby to avoid going backwards and forwards between the days. I must say it was still quite exhausting but worth it. The first two days I have cosplayed as wraith Raziel again. I have used the wig from my Lt. Raziel cosplay and it was a bit better but I still ordered another a new, shorter haired wig afterwards. Again, I was battling my cowl falling down constantly so I´ve put on a rubber band, but that proved too painful after a while. Luckily, my contact lenses did not fall out this time!

Friday was very casual and I have really enjoyed myself. Lots of people recognized me again, so it made me happy and we have seen lots of amazing cosplays I have never seen before! I´ve never been to MCM on a Saturday and I think I´ll avoid it from now on. The sheer volume of people in comparison to Friday was overwhelming. We got to see the professional cosplayers masquerade  which had fellow Slovak and Czech cosplayers taking part. I was a bit sad to learn none of them got in first three places, as their cosplays were masterfully done (kudos especially to the Predator and his well done presentation!), the act I actually liked the least won for some reason and it did not think it was too fair... We also met up with some of my friends that night, fellow Lucinvampire, Nat, Inrezairo and others. Lucinvampire had her awesome hooded Kain costume from BO2 and was the only other LOK cosplayer (besides Bazielim being a vampire worshipper) during the weekend that I had seen.

Sunday was again more relaxed but it had a lot higher volume of families in, so I think I´ll stick with exclusively attending Fridays only from now on. It can be challenging if you have large wings or tail to fit in places. I had my Regina cosplay on, which did not suffer from being bulky but had its own discomforts - my heels had to be patched up so I could endure the pain of slightly tighter boots and the "wetsuit"-like overal I had on was not too flexible in certain places either... We still had a good fun, though, and I would have gone again. It was a good experiment to see if I can last three days of cosplaying and certainly having a hotel nearby helped a lot. We slept well and were just 15mins bus ride away from the venue. Also, the looks on people´s faces and driver´s heads turning as they pass you are hilarious.

However, few weeks ago MCM Comic Con was bought out by a new company and one of their first moves was to massively increase the prices, which I think is outrageous. For October 2017 we payed £50 for a priority weekend entry per person, this year it was increased to £65, which is 30% increase in price! No reason for this increase was given so far and I am not sure anything will actually change, so sadly, I have given up on going anymore to MCM. Luckily, I have discovered that there exists a lot more affordable option at London Film and Comic Con which takes place in Olympia. Friday afternoon entry is only £12, which I think is really good price, so for £26 I can have 2 Friday tickets, while at MCM that would only be for 1 ticket. It will be my first time there, so I am curious and excited to see the venue. See you there!

(on Imgur with captions)

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Raina’s top ten games of 2017

Hello there!

I primarily want to stress these are the games which I have played or finished during 2017, not games published during that year. I still have a big back log of older games I need to go through. I really want to play AC Origins but still need to finish AC Syndicate which kinda bores me, unfortunately. I have been introduced to a new series, however, and I do not regret it. I see the "YOU DIED" screen too many times per day now, I must say. Dark Souls are something you start playing and think this sucks or that you suck as a player but you keep going and going and then suddenly 30h have passed and you wonder where did the time go. It reminds me back to the days when I was trying to beat the Dante Mut Die mode on DMC3 and DMC1. I am hoping the upcoming remasters for pc will be improved ports, those games deserve it. My next one on the play list after that is probably DS2 and 3, with Bloodborne awaiting me on ps4 as well. One of my other to do lists is to finally record a full playthrough of Soul Reaver 2, which is long overdue and I should start on that shortly, hopefully.


1. Persona 5

10/10


We had to wait for almost 10 years for another Persona sequel and damn, it was well worth the wait. Easily the most fun I had in an jrpg in a long while and enjoyed it thoroughly. P-team listened and improved the things from P4 and overall, P5 is a masterpiece with excellent story, fun mechanics, catchy songs and improved combat. It took me 160h to finish this beast of a game and was the sole reason I got a PlayStation 4. The only gripe is that the affinity to elements is not present (like it was in SMTIV:A) and Hama/Mudo skills are back to being chance based (SMTIV had them damage based), luckily the new curse/bless attacks remedies that. Overall, Persona 5 deserves its place on the top of my list. Who wouldn´t want to be a Phantom Thief? You´ll never see it comiiing!!!


2. Prey

9/10



I bought Prey in a sale and was only told that it is like Bioshock so I was not sure what to expect (I always got bored of Bio1 and never finished it). I was wrong – Prey delivered in every regard. The last time I got really hooked into a game this much was SOMA. Now Prey has its own tricks up its sleeves and the gameplay is very non-linear. You can kill whoever you want, even NPCs and the story reacts to your choices. Talos 1 Station is huge to explore and the Typhon enemies are formidable (hearing their footsteps and muttering is always freaky), not to mention the Nightmare enemy... It´s weird that the game got progressively easier as you went on with more powers and guns at your arsenal, but it was always a challenge to play and provided enough different settings that blasting Typhon never got boring. I happily searched every cabinet and drawer just to get more resources and craft more items. It never feels tedious in Prey and many things are optional (my final time was 33h, which is superb for an fps). Recommended to play with headphones on, I really enjoyed Prey and hope it will get a sequel.



3. Hellblade

8,5/10


I´ve only heard a few things here and there about Hellblade, looked at the screenshots which looked really nice but it was mostly the portrayal of mental health issues which intrigued me. Now, having witnessed Senua´s internal suffering and her resolve to fight against it resonated deep within me. We all bear our battles in our heads, against the demons clawing their way into our skulls and whispering truths and lies alike. Senua´s darkness stems from many factors, which we as players get to see as she fights her way to Helheim, the hell of her own making. All the supernatural elements feel real and when you have to face demons with giant axes, you have little time to think but to dodge and deliver a deadly blow. Hellblade is about 9h long and even though I wished for more, it gave me proper chills, not from the fights, but from the endless void which Senua is surrounded by. The game shows us that the pain and suffering within is just as real on the inside and Hellblade is definitely an experience like no other.



4. The Talos Principle

8/10


Talos Principe is a hidden gem on this list. The only thing I knew about it was that it was about puzzles in outside areas. That´s what it is on the surface. Its true value, however, lies within. In simple terms it discusses the nature of life and what is considered as being alive, but this notions has many colourful interpretations and the game lets you decide and express yourself. You can even leave messages for other players. Talos captivated me by its complexity of story, which you can actually completely skip, and is one of the big surprises on my list (and it has damn hard puzzles for which you need to erase all what you´ve known about puzzle solving and employ a fresh look). The conversations in this game are masterfully done and felt like a reward after each puzzle area solved.



5. The Last Guardian

8/10


After the troubled development of being originally a PS3 game and almost not releasing, TLG finally saw the light and was released on PS4. Having played and enjoyed both ICO and SOTC, I had to buy TLG as well, as I admire Ueda´s work in general. The characteristic landscapes and structures, the strong bonds between the characters and a mysterious story in the background, all of it is back in TLG. I am aware of the negative press given to Trico and it´s AI, however, I wanted to see for myself before I condemn the game. I must say I only experienced trouble a few times, when Trico would not jump somewhere. It´s behaviour is really lively as an AI can currently get and I got attached to the creature, just like the boy did in the game. It was a fun ride and I loved solving puzzles with Trico´s help. If you like previous games from Ueda, this one will not disappoint you. It has a few technical issues (mainly framerate drops in some areas) but nothing which badly hindered my experience.




6. RE7

9/10


Resi is back in this fresh new form of a first person perspective and it really did wonders. After a rather bland action and explosion based RE6, the series felt stagnating and in a need of a proper revivel. All this was achieved in 7 - back are the haunting close corridors and narrow pathways, puzzle solving and real fear of your character´s life. First person perspective adds a lot to the experience and being back in a mansion like environment makes me reminiscence a lot about RE1. Even the different key types are back. Well done, Capcom, for bringing RE series back on its track. Looking forward for the next one!

7. Dark Souls

8,5/10

 

People were not kidding about the games being hardcore. I never really tried it until recently and then put it down when I did like 5hp damage to a skeleton at the beginning and kept getting really frustrated with enemy respawns. I have picked it up again upon a friend´s recommendation and with the fan fix, it plays a lot better. I still die a lot and I am already almost 30 hours in, it definitely made me return to it every night. The game does not hold your hand, it just throws you into the world and you are left to fend for yourself. No map, no hints on where to go, only your resolve to kill that knight enemy again and again until you finally succeed. Repetition has usually a negative connotation, but for Dark Souls, it´s a necessity. You will die over and over, only to either throw the controller against the wall or keep trying. It is a true test in patience and of your fighting skills, but something inside you makes you want more and you´ll keep coming back to it.

8. Journey

8/10

Journey starts simple. It teaches you can walk, jump and… sing. Singing a tone is very important in the game, as you wake up pieces of cloth around the world and the more you have, the more powerful you get. It sounds really weird on paper, but the beautiful environments and fun puzzles make this game unforgettable. Primarily, it teaches it´s not the final goal, but the journey, which matters. A truly wonderful game.



9. Tale of Two Sons

8/10


This little game was gifted to me ages ago but I never took the time to try and play. I am glad that I did in the end. The controls are tricky but cleverly done – you control both brothers with a thumb stick each, which takes time to get used to but it adds to the unique experience. The game displays many emotions even though you just observe and do simple things – brotherly love, helping others with daily tasks, showing kindness, courage and ability to come to terms with sorrow… It´s a very humble experience about life which I recommend to play through.



10. Edith Finch

-
The steam reviews were promising one of the best story telling experiences and they were not wrong. What remains of Edith Finch is a strongly story driven game which takes only 2 hours but it is very intensive experience. You witness the final moments before the mysterious deaths of the long deceased family members and you are not there to solve them, but to learn more about their lives. Despite being really short (you can finish it in 2 hours) and more of a narrative oriented walking simulator, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas from TAD!


Merry Christmas from the Ancient´s Den to all my fans!  


Kain is already on his way to bring you all presents! If you haven´t watched yet, why not spend a cosy evening in the presence of Defiance? Complete walkthrough with modded visuals await you below:

Next year I will record and post a walkthrough of Soul Reaver 2 in widescreen mode.
Hope 2018 will be a good year for all of us!

Ho, ho, ho!
 



Monday, 13 November 2017

Widescreen patches for Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance


I have recently discovered that both Defiance and SR2 have already widescreen patches published by afterdyons. You can find them on the widescreen forum here. Just download the files and place them where your game is located and enjoy the fullscreen beauty of Legacy of Kain on pc!


Saturday, 14 October 2017

High quality Legacy of Kain models by the Hylden

Patrick Johnson aka The Hylden has posted his portfolio on Art Station. He features many high quality models he made himself, some of which will appear in Soul Revenant as well. Take a peek at his awesome skills and you can also download all of those images (they make for an awesome wallpaper for a LOK fan like me). If you like what you see, you can also support him at his paypal: pagejson1@gmail.com

MCM Comic Con countdown and other news


After few months of silence, I am back. With new computer and new ideas, hopefully, will be back here more often! I needed an upgrade so instead of investing money in a laptop which could not keep up with the current trends, went for build my own desktop this time and finally can keep up with modern games (i5 6600 for win7 and gtx 1060 6GB). Also purchased mechanical keyboard and wow, that is a huge difference! Fully recommend it to anybody who types a lot.

The latest progress in Soul Revenant revealed the new sluagh and Dumahim and next on the line would be the Melchahim. At the moment we are bit of stuck as we need a new gameplay programmer to help with combat, so if you know anybody who would be interested to join our team, please let me know. Kyle Misko is also working hard and he recently is tackling the soundtrack of Soul Reaver, reimagined for Soul Revenant. His latest piece is for the City and shall be unveiled soon. More frequent updates are found at our facebook page.

In two weeks, Comic Con is back at the Excel Arena and I will be attending all three days. Last time we were super exhausting coming back and forth to the venue, so this time we are staying over at hotel which is closeby. I can announce that I will be cosplaying as wraith Raziel once again on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, I will be cosplaying as one of my favourite japanese horror ps1 videogames. Can you guess? If not, come and say hello at Comic Con, I´ll be wearing grey and black.

That concludes a little round up for now, I will photos from Comic Con once it´s over. Only two weeks to go! See you there!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Digital Foundry gets a look at Soul Reaver

The latest video on Digital foundry might interest most of you. It includes a great in-depth analysis of the techniques used to make the game and it contains loads of information on how loading, textures and audio works. They even included some of my SR1 beta footage in there:


You can read the article here.

Bonus interview with Ben Lincoln below:

Monday, 19 June 2017

Contribute your action figure photos to VGC!

Do you have any collectible figures at home? There is a new website called Videogame Collectible Catalogue which could use your help! I have already contributed some of my pictures from my collection, but if you have anything which was not put up on the website just yet, feel free to submit your photos and join in the reward system!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Is Square Enix offering up LOK to the indie scene?

SE Collective creator, Phil Elliott, wants to know whether you will be interested in LOK game made by an indie company. Show some support for our fan Soul Revenant project if you can! Show them that Legacy of Kain fans still exist and roam this land!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Help fund the Tomb Raider Suite orchestral recording!

Lara Croft needs you!

Nathan McCree wants to bring you a remastered orchestral soundtrack from Tomb Raider 1 - 3 and for it to happen, he needs our help! Donating any kind of amount will get us closer to the goal and get yourself some awesome goodies in the process like a CD jewel case or vinyl.

Help fund the project on Kickstarter!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Soul Reaver Storyboard

I have put together the official storyboard which was published in EGM 115 from February 1999. Never seen this anywhere else and it is quite easy to miss it as a strip on the bottom of the page about SR1.

                                                  Download or view the storyboard here




Saturday, 29 April 2017

Legacy of Kain DVD cases

I have recently made a collection of DVD cases for one of my LOK friends. If you ever burned dvds with all the cutscenes on and still watch them from time to time, why not print these covers to make them match your games? Thanks goes to Patrick who made a high-res version of Kain.







Monday, 10 April 2017

Tomb Raider Suite Live in Concert


Just a few weeks before the performance I was on facebook, browsing through people's posts as usual. It was then, when I saw it. I previously bought tickets for Pokémon Symphony Orchestra in Apollo on 19th of December and then when I saw that Tomb Raider Suite will be performing first time ever, I was a bit dissapointed I didn't know about it a lot earlier. About a week before the event, I got time off for Sunday as well, so thought why the hell not and bought tickets for TR concert as a Christmas present for me and my fiance.

On the night of 18th, we arrived at Apollo with quite a big crowd of Lara fans gathering around the theatre. Getting in was pretty easy as we flashed our tickets past the doors, bought the programme and made way to our seats. Surprisingly we were offered better seats as not enough tickets have been sold apparently. Indeed that was true as minute before the opening the theatre was less than half filled with many empty seats around. The darkness settled in and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra started playing the Tomb Raider tunes, then Shelley Blond made an appearance and was our elegant host throughout the entire musical journey. It is hard to describe this entire experience in word, but I'll try my best. The expert composer himself, Nathan McCree, made an appearance in an unexpected interview at the start, which made us really excited for the whole experience. Throughout the concert they were also displaying various gameplay segments from the games which made the feelings and nostalgia really strong.


Everything began with Tomb Raider 1, released in 1996, and its memorable and completely unforgettable main tune. As the orchestra started playing it, many tears were shed. It was beatifully and masterfully performed and with the crisp sound of all the instruments, the chants, everything felt absolutely right. They immersed us in most of the TR1 tracks you remember and even added a little twist. For example the T-Rex hunt theme was made longer, as McCree was finally able to realize the tracks in their full lengths, as he explained later, not being limited by the length or bit size of the individual pieces.

Then Shelley Blond narrated us the success story of TR2 and the orchestra opened with a brilliant rendition of its main theme. They even pulled the track which I thought would be really difficult to do, I don't remember the official title, but you all sure remember it when it plays as Lara sets her first steps within the temple of Xian. There I have also learned that one of my beloved TR2 tracks is actually called Vertigo, which plays when Lara tries to reach higher ground in a house in Venice. It was also prolonged and it was pure joy listening to it. Very popular was the snowmobile trick, or Skiddo, as McCree labelled it. I did not think that an orchestra coud pull successfully pull it off but it was completely the opposite and many heads rocking back and forth was the proof of it.

After that, we finally reached Tomb Raider 3 and its main theme. Again, it was masterfully played and brought so much nostalgia to me personally. TR3 was the very first true 3D game I have ever played and as such, holds a dear place in my heart. I was a bit surprised that the Jungle cutscene with the crazy scientist Tony was performed as well and it fit the orchestra like a glove. Spooky Jungle is another one of my favourites and worked well. Also the mysterious sounding Puzlle Element track made a great appearance. Of course you could not have a TR3 experience without Geordie Bob track, which was again perfectly performed and loved every bit of it. At the end, McCree made another appearance and the audience clapped and screamed with excitement. The last performance was a medley of everything we heard so far and I wished for it never to end. There were also fun parts in between where they have included one of the TR fans' reactions to the game's beatiful music which were really hilarious.

Overall, the entire experience was completely unique, deeply personal and something to witness in your lifetime, especially if you are a TR fan. Being able to see the brilliant songs made live by an amazing orchestra and its conducter, Robert Ziegler, see Shelley Blond, Meagan Marie and Nathan McCree (even Winston made a surprise fun appearance!) in person was worth every pound spent on this event. The only downside was that there were not enough people witnessing this masterpiece maybe due to not enough of promotion, which is a shame. I only hope that there will be more concerts and a CD produced from this, because such experience must be shared with everybody. Thanks to everybody involved in this project and my gratitude goes to Nathan, Shelley and Meagan for letting us see them in person and getting their autographs (asking about LOK was a joke, btw).

PS: And how did this masterpiece sound like? Have a look! Mr. McCree kindly uploaded a recording of his new track, In the blood:



He also uploaded three tracks to soundcloud.com if you want to listen.
 More info about the concert, pictures and its aftermath also found here.

Friday, 3 March 2017

The Ancient’s Den now on Facebook

While I am still in the middle of planning to post some more updates on my blog, in the meantime feel free to join my newly established FB page where I will post more frequent smaller updates which will be not posted here. It should also make contacting me a lot easier. Hope you enjoy reading and feel free to comment at:

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

My Raziel cosplay at London Comic Con October 2016

As it just turned 20th anniversary of Blood Omen and 15th of Soul Reaver 2, I wanted to do something special. This October´s London Comic Con provided a good opportunity to do so and was my first where I have actually participated as a cosplayer. The choice what to cosplay was pretty obvious right from the start to me - what better choice than my favourite wraith himself?

My first obstacle was how to recreate muscle like tissue on top of my own body. I have seen other cosplayers do protruding muscle suits, but I have felt this would be too difficult to achieve in my first cosplay idea, so I had to find a work around. Looking around on ebay, I have discovered that there is a tank top and leggings with a muscle structure already imprinted. The issue was that they did not come in blue and painting spandex is not really possible either. However, I put a transparent blue stockings and top to make it appear blue/purple. The wings themselves were not as difficult, but it took some time to discover which kind of material would do best for them and how big should they actually be (I had to cut out like 5 pairs in the end until I was finally happy with the result).


After I had the wings done, I had to figure out how to attach them to my back without attaching them to the net top. I have decided to try and use a coat hanger held onto a belt on my chest, which turned out to work well and kept the wings posable and easily removable. For the hands I had to order custom tri-fingered gloves. I covered my arms with two wristwarmers on each side to form a string of brown bandages and for the upper part I have cut up a tube bandage into two pieces and just tied it around my arm. I´ve put the golden armbands on top the wristwarmers.

The boots were one of the bigger challenges that I had to rely solely on myself, so I have purchased cheap used boots which suited the style. The huge issue was how to create the protruding exposed double toes, which are so specific about Raziel. I have thought about it and to make the boots durable and not awkward when walking, decided to just paint a dividing line between the toes, rather than attaching something which can easily fall off. I think it came out alright in the end. Since the original boots were pure black, I purchased Angelus leather colours and applied three coats of bronze paint. The bottom part I have painted blue to indicate those are Raziel´s feet and used a lighter blue to draw the muscle going in between the toes. After the paint was sealed in, there was still a missing piece. The plates which are at the front of the boots, right above the toes, had to be cut out of the raw leather and attached with glue.


The cowl was a custom made item and was one of the most expensive items on the list. The craftsmanship of it and nice material make up for the price, though. The only problem which I faced on the convention and in general was, that while moving my head around, the cape would slide down, exposing my chin, so I have added a rubber band to the top circle of the cape so it will stay in place and I can freely move my head around.

The head itself was a challenge and I was contemplating using face paint or a mask, but a mask won because of how practical it was. I just bought a simple plain white mask,cut it up and painted it with acrylic colours. The colours were a bit damaged while I was wearing it, so a quick repaint and sealing the coat will do the trick. For the hair I purchased a black wig, which was quite cheap but fulfilled its purpose well. For the eyes I have ordered zombie eye pre-scription contacts, so I could walk around and still see sharply (I´m shortsighted). It was quite difficult to put them in at first (still takes me several tries to insert them in and out) but I got used to them. After I got home from Comic Con, I have discovered I had a balaclava, which would have been great to cover up my lower jaw, so I´ve used that for the newer shots. For the ears I have bought two pairs, one full on ears and the second pair just stick ons. Stick ons proved more practical in the end (just cut out ear slots in the balaclava so my ears can poke out and stick on blue ears can be attached).

Overal, making this cosplay was a lot of fun but even more fun was posing for people and walking around acting as Raziel, trying to do my best impression of his walking, gliding, fighting, etc (did a little "glide" down the stairs with my wings up at the end on my way to the cloak room). Looking around and breathing was a bit difficult but I knew cosplaying comes at a cost of some discomfort. Totally worth it and thanks goes to all the fans who took a picture of me and appreciated my cosplay, you made me really happy! I´ll definitely attend another comic con next year.

Resources:
Cape: 40
Wig:  8
Ears: 3
Contacts: 30
Armbands: 2
Boots: 10
Raw leather: 15
Angelus paint: 30
Bandages: 3
Gloves: 15
Wrist warmers: 6
Mask: 2
Aquarel colours: 3
Belt: 4
Coat hanger: free
Wing fabric: 10
Blue leggings+top: 8
Muscle suit: 10
Torch materials: 8

Total estimate: 200 pounds
Time needed: 1-2 weeks

Thursday, 11 August 2016

New footage of SR2 Dreamcast version and BO1 Saturn version

Thiago Paulino just reported to me an exciting new find! The playable Dark Forge Dreamcast Demo of Soul Reaver2 and trailer for Saturn version of Blood Omen. Too bad the player playing SR2 demo could not figure out the shifting mechanic and in the BO1 video you can see the slightly different hud made for Saturn version. Thanks Thiago!


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Modding in Blood Omnicide

Since Blood Omnicide supports modding, it is possible to swap out textures or even build new levels by using the tools provided with the game. With the help of Vortex, we have created a small patch for the Pillars which includes SR2 style symbols. Installation is simple, just drag and drop the files into your Kain folder. If you do not want to use the mod anymore, simply delete it from the folder. If more mods are created for the game, this post will be eventually updated, so check back here in the future.

Blood Omnicide v0.1 released!

Blood Omnicide has released its newest version 0.1 and now includes gameplay from the beginning until Nachtholm. It includes all the cinematics and gameplay features. It also contains a handful of modding features such as a map editor. You can also choose from a new style of soundtrack or the old one. For the full experience it is recommended to own a CD or an image from PC/PS versions of Blood Omen, but you can still play a shorter preview version if you do not owe them. There are certain things which are still buggy but it is overall an amazing experience to see BO1 in full 3D setting. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Print your own Swindlestones

Swindlestones are a very addictive minigame from Steve Jackson's Fighting Fantasy series called Sorcery. I have recently reviewed the first three parts for pc and found the games highly engrossing. I have never played any other text adventure before, but this one exceeded my expectations! If you too are a fan or just would like to try this minigame out, I have included a template which you can print out and play with 8 sided dice just like you would in the game.

Finished paper Swindlestones

You can even play with regular 6 sided dice, just the combinations possible will be much higher. If you have never heard about this game before, the rules are pretty simple. You and your opponent need to get the same amount of dice each (2,3,4,5, etc.) and throw them on a table. You both cover the numbers you got on top with your hands and then you take turns to try and guess the total amount of certain dice quantity, for example two ones, three fours, etc. Your opponent must raise the bet by saying a higher amount/quantity each time. If you think that your opponent does not have what he claims to have, you can say "call" and force them to reveal his hand. You then count the amount of dice present on the table from both of your hands and if the player guessed less amount of dice than they are on the table or it was a false call, they automatically lose one of their die. You keep playing until one of you has no dice left. It is not very dissimilar from poker but a  more simplified version, yet tons of fun! When playing Swindlestones in Sorcery, each bet is accompanied by a line of dialogue you can use to taunt or confuse your opponent and it can add an extra layer of fun trying to roleplay in real life.


Swindlestones in Sorcery part 2

Put the following template in a word/otp document, crop it to 83% (worked best for me) both vertically and horizontally and print out on a thicker paper. It will take about 30 minutes to make 10 set of dice.


Templates: