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Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver Game Review

Updated on November 9, 2013

Game review of Soul Reaver: Legacy of Kain

The Legacy of Kain Series continues in a rather unexpected manner with this installment. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is something completely different from its predecessor, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Instead retaining the goth feel that was Blood Omen's trademark, Crystal Dynamics move us to a completely different Nosgoth. We shift from 2D overhead graphics and RPG-ish adventure to highly polished, impressive 3D that is almost incredible for the PlayStation games of the time. But the most important change is not this.

Remember Kain? Well, this time around he is not just a powerful vampire with a bad attitude - he is now our main antagonist. We control Raziel, first born of his vampiric liutenants, destroyed by his brothers and Kain himself, but resurrected as a soul-devouring wraith - and he is out to find Kain and have his vengeance.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos, its first release date being 16th of August 1999. It was released for PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast and PC. Soul Reaver was written by Amy Hennig and Seth Carus, directed by Amy Hennig and produced by Amy Hennig, Rosaura Sandoval and Andrew Bennet. Music score was, this time around, not made by the composer of Blood Omen's score, rather it was entrusted to the fantastic Kurt Harland of the Information Society.

These are some basic information about this installment, and now we move on to speak about different segments of the game.

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Graphics and gameplay

As we have mentioned above, the graphics of Soul Reaver differ from the overhead 2D graphics we had in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. We now enjoy gorgeous 3D graphics, fantastically modeled characters and incredible effects. We could say that this game is a gem graphics-wise, especially considering the year of its release. Some areas in the game are so meticulously rendered that you will catch yourself standing over them and turning the camera to get a better look around. A particularly impressive thing regarding the visuals are the lighting effects, and you will enjoy how they made subtle shading and coloring changes from area to area, or how masterfully they pulled off the ripples on the water.

You will find the gameplay also radically changed than that of its predecessor, Blood Omen. Camera controls are really good, which is very important because most of the puzzles in the game require you to inspect the area carefully. The combat is solid, albeit a bit repetitive in the beginning parts of the game. At least until you acquire Soul Reaver, the wraith blade. You can destroy your enemies in many ways - throwing them into water, sunlight, tossing them on spikes, striking them down with whatever weapon you find, your claws, and so on. After you get the Soul Reaver, you can destroy them much easier and have even more fun.

Another fun part of the gameplay are the puzzles, which are heavily based on the shifting back and forth between the Spectral and the Material Realm. Yes, Raziel does that. As a wraith, Raziel does not die when defeated in the Material Realm, or the physical world, if you prefer. He just switches back into the Spectral Realm, where he is faced with other wraiths and galore of ghostly creatures that, like him, feed on souls to sustain themselves. It would be logical to assume that the easy way to beat Soul Reaver would be simply to stay in the Spectral Realm at all times, but here's the thing - Spectral Realm is static and unchanging so you cannot open gates, pull levers or move blocks there. Another peculiar thing about the Spectral Realm is that it is a distorted, deformed version of the Material Realm, so sometimes you need to switch to the spiritual world in order to reach a certain area, and then find a conduit that can take you back into the Material Realm. As you can imagine, a large percentage of puzzles rely on this fact, but there are also puzzles that require you to move blocks to unlock gates, restore images on walls, and so on.

The most important thing is that the ratio of exploring, combat and puzzle solving is overall very balanced throughout the game, which guarantees the player a lot of hours of engaging gameplay does not slack or disappoint in any area. You will enjoy exploring dungeons, defeating bosses, absorbing their powers along with their souls, etc. A lot of hours of gameplay are a must if you want to beat this game, because the world of Nosgoth is huge and there are a lot of both mandatory and optional areas to explore.

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Music and voice acting

Those who enjoy good game soundtracks should get this soundtrack for their collection regardless if they are fans of Soul Reaver or not. Albeit a bit looping, each of the tracks from this score are perfectly matched to the mood of this game. Kurt Harland of the Information Society did a fantastic job for this game - each number is perfectly dark, ambiental, and with a touch of suspense wherever needed. This is exactly why it is easy to look past the issue of looping tracks, but you will wish to hear more. However, this game offers just enough in that aspect as well.

The voice acting is this time around even better, following the excellent example of its predecessor, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, and establishing a tradition for the rest of the Legacy of Kain series. Simon Templeman is again the voice of Kain, Tony Jay features as the voice of Elder God, and the fantastic voice of our protagonist, Raziel, is the talented Michael Bell. You will find the voices of other characters equally fitting and engaging, which makes the dialogues and narration of this story even more grand than you though possible, considering how well written this story is.

Overall impression and replay value

Soul Reaver: Legacy of Kain is a classic, and if you are an action adventure fan, it is an absolute must have for your collection. Even if you are more of a casual gamer than anything else, you will probably want to play this title at some point.

As Raziel, you will enjoy wandering the decaying lands of Nosgoth, exploring mandatory and optional areas to gain new powers and then use them to clear your path on your quest to destroy Kain and avenge yourself. You will want this game to last as long as possible, and you will want to get your hands on Soul Reaver 2 as soon as possible. The ending will leave you craving more.

To conclude, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is one of the games that can be enjoyed time and time again, regardless of your genre preferences. This game does not simply stand out of the bunch, it raises the bar within the genre and sets new trends in game storywriting. It is a game that will take you hours upon hours to beat, and make you want to do it again without regretting a single second.

Final Grade

5 stars for Soul Reaver: Legacy of Kain
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    • LudoLogic profile image

      LudoLogic 3 years ago

      Great review, edas88! I've been a long time fan of the Legacy of Kain series and the first Soul Reaver really was the best of the bunch. The Gothic atmosphere was terrific, and the soundtrack really captured the mood as well. It hasn't aged all that bad either.

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