Thursday 21 May 2009

The cut ending of Soul Reaver

Soul Reaver came out in 1999 after a few months of delay. The game was almost cut in the middle - the retail version did not contain lots of the intended abilities and areas. The reason behind this decision was the lack of time to incorporate them properly within the game. However, the audio in the released version also includes the additional cut dialogue, which is very interesting to hear. After fighting Rahab, Raziel would go on a quest to invade Dumah´s fortress and Turel´s smokestack in the North. In order to fight Turel, Raziel would either have first gained the Shift-at-Will ability from Kain after battle at Chronoplast (which is very interesting, because in the later games, this ability is never mentioned and was apparently discarded) to get to the Undercity Lair to fight the Priestess, or he first fought the Priestess and then Kain at Chronoplast. The abilities gained from these additional fights were intended to allow Raziel to enter many areas (the Sound Glyph for example) and are accessible via the trainer, WinHack or cheat codes. Although it is not possible to control the enemy vampires, the camera can be at least placed behind them instead of Raziel, giving an insigth on the possession ability of the Priestess. Gameplay was also oriented on gaining various elemental Reavers present in future games, not just the Fire Reaver. The area of the Silenced Cathedral was much bigger too and the top is completely absent. The game´s code includes the complete list of the areas which are absent. The only exception are the City 10, 11 levels. They can be loaded with WinHack and even though the connection between them is not entirely correct, they are playable. The tunnel is located next to the large area with a water channel indicating that Raziel would have accessed the Undercity Lair from the upper part of the City. The fountain with the health fragment and the stairway both bear the "mrlck" designation and vampiric writings, so it is safe to assume they were part of the deleted Smokestack area.

The ending was also very distinct. After acquiring the Ariel Reaver, Raziel fought the final battle with Kain at his mountain retreat, mostly regarded to be Malek´s Bastion. Raziel finally killed Kain and gained the Amplified Reaver, capable of killing any vampire on one hit. Now unstoppable, he climbed to the upper part The Silenced Cathedral and rang its bells, effectively exterminating all the vampires in Nosgoth. The Elder God expressed his satisfaction with the outcome, claiming the Wheel of Fate will spin again. Some might claim that Raziel did not survive the hymn of death. However, since he is a wraith and no longer a vampire, it seems that he remained unharmed (Raziel was unaffected by the Sound Glyph spell as well). In this ending he probably served further to devour the souls of sluaghs in the Spectral Realm or perhaps the Elder got rid of him. Did the Elder God just unmake him (as the Elder threatened him in Soul Reaver 2) after Raziel was of no use? This ending also gives no clues on the restoration of the Pillars. The early trailer Salvation, Revelation, Deceit might provide a clue on the outcome. Salvation migth stand for Raziel´s resurrection, revelation for Raziel´s past as a Sarafan priest, so what does deceit mean? Could it be the Elder God´s betrayal in the end as the Pillars stay decayed after Kain´s death or Raziel´s unmaking? Nonetheless, although the story being still unresolved, I am thankful that Crystal Dynamics continued Kain´s legacy. They have added more depth to the characters and gave explanation to many answers, despite raising so many others.

For further details on the deleted parts of Soul Reaver, please visit Ben Lincoln´s site.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

LOK? Never heard of it?

I realize that not everybody is familiar with Legacy of Kain. My aim is thus to acquaint the newcomers seeking high quality vampire story with Kain´s legacy. The main strenght of this series (as well as its doom) is the complicated story. The players who are not familiar with the previous games may have no idea why things happen in the later games. The answer dwells within the past but alas, many players turn their back on the older games because of their outdated graphics. Ironically, the first two LOK games are considered as the best in the series. Are they worth trying out?

Kain, the main character, bit the neck of his first victim in 1996, when Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain came out. Seeminglly unimpressive 2D rpg game with a huge world of Nosgoth to explore had more in it than seemed. The dark story about vampirism viewed through the eyes of a nobleman Kain, murdered and resurrected as a vampire at the beginnning of the game, was the driving force of Blood Omen. Don´t look for the strict distinction between good and evil, in Legacy of Kain universe such division does not exist. Every character is flawed, starting with Kain, who struggles to accepts his new found vampirism to sadistic vampire Vorador, unable to forgive the fact that humans wiped out his race. Humans are not depicted without guilt either, establishing the Order of the Sarafan, which sworn to eradicate every last vampire in the world of Nosgoth without mercy. Although the view on the protagonist was from the top and despite having hack´n´slash battles, the game narrated the story very well. The voice acting is excellent, and it was always nice to hear Kain commenting on everything. Kain as a vampire had at his disposal abilities to turn into wolf, swarm of bats or mist. Countless number of items, spells and various types of weapons were at Kain´s disposal too. Sounds interesting?

The sequel came after three years, in 1999. Soul Reaver gave a different perspective on the story of Kain. Following his decision to accept his vampiric gift, he damned the land maintained by the Pillars and established a new empire. Thus the era of the vampires began. With the help of his Lieutenants, Kain became the ruler of Nosgoth. However, with the Pillars left to decay, the land lost its health, turning Nosgoth into a wasteland. The story focuses on one of Kain´s Lieutenants this time, no longer on Kain, who became the antagonist. Raziel was thrown into the abyss because of his gift to fly, or so it seemed. The main inovation of the game came with Raziel´s unique nature as a wraith, capable to move between the realm of the dead and the living. Reborn as an angel of death, Soul Reaver is a story about Raziel´s revenge. In order to procede, Raziel must defeat and devour soul of his brethren, only then can he confront his creator, Kain. The vast and open enviroments with no loading times, the atmospheric music, shifting between the realms to solve puzzles, defeating giant bosses, these are the features that the game became well known for. Fully in 3D, and often considered as a rival to Tomb Raider, Soul Reaver is an action-adventure that none fan of vampire stories shall pass.

Welcome to my Den

Have your wings carried you here? Welcome. This blog is dedicated to videogames, its primary concern being Legacy of Kain series. However, I admire other series of games as well, so I plan to write reviews or news related to gaming.

Eidos has not announced any LOK continuation but there yet may be hope. Currently, there are several projects under way - a new fan game by Jake Pawloski (Beta already available) and Fall of Nosgoth (demo available) by Ascare. Both are still in progress so please be patient. There are also other projects, so I hope they will get finished. Check the links if you´re interested.

Thank you for visiting for now, I still need time to work on the articles.