Tuesday 12 May 2020

Soul Reaver Alpha – Graphics Comparison

Thanks to the recent alpha leaks, we now know that Soul Reaver underwent extensive changes during its development process. Several years ago, a few beta builds have been exposed and I did an extensive beta comparison with the final version of the game. That showed us the transition just before the game's shipping in mid August in comparison to the May and July builds of the game. Some of the changes were more subtle, but unfortunately, they did not contain any of the cut content of the game such as the Undercity, Smokestack, Kain's retreat or deleted forges.

Examining the different beta builds, I was able to compare in detail on how the game progressed and what type of changes were made between these versions. With the newly emerged alpha builds, this gives me further material to compare and come to the conclusion that the retail release version has been somewhat downgraded since its alpha stages. This is mostly apparent in the resolution of game's textures, which has been notably lowered but lighting has on the other hand was more or less improved. The draw distance is a bit hit and miss and areas which had a farther draw distance are often found to be the opposite when comparing between the alpha and the retail version. Notice also the shift from strangely colourful spectral realm to a more unified bright blue/green colours as seen in the retail version. There is also a case of missing polygons on Raziel's body in 16th Feb build. It seems that in an effort to maintain his chest and lower jaw visible even with the cowl on, the developers accidentally flipped over certain polygons on his body. In the case of top of the buildings, these seem to be more conscious removals in an effort to improve framerate and remove anything not in player's sight from the screen.

Below are examples of the most notable changes in the different builds. If there were significant changes in more than one build, I have included them in the comparison. I have split this up according to the areas and always tried to included the exact shot from all builds, or at least an approximation. However, there are certain cases where this wasn't possible or that the location has moved. If you prefer to view the screenshots in higher resolution, download below!

The Underworld

The Abyss

Raziel's Stronghold

The Necropolis

Sunlight Glyph

The Silenced Cathedral

Stone Glyph

Sanctuary of the Clans

Sound Glyph

Sarafan Tomb

Drowned Abbey

Fire Glyph

The Human Citadel

Water Glyph

Ruined City

Northern wastes

Oracle´s Cave


  1. Hi Raina,

    I know this comment is not exactly related to the topic of the article, but is there any chance that you could share the "Overworld Spectral" track for Soul Reaver 2 as it sounds on PC? I've just learned that there is a bug in the PC version of the game, and as a result, the track there is corrupted. There's a YouTube video about this issue here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-pUiCAvuLc (there's even a comment from you there stating the the PS2 version sounds OK).

    As for the original Soul Reaver, I'm looking forward to more vids about the alphas. Keep up the good work!

    1. Hey Olaf, no worries, I was aware of the issue so I have made PS2 version of the SR2 soundtrack due to this issue. You can find it on the right side bar on this blog. Thanks a lot for watching my alpha videos! :)

    2. Raina,

      Thanks, found it! It's the first time I get to listen to this track in its entirety!
      I've played SR 2 for the first time some fifteen years ago (if not more), so it's all the more amazing to discover something new about this game today!

      Stay safe!

  2. Wow!!!!
    This is better than Christmas!