Julkaistu 1. heinäkuu.
"Tumbling, burning with white-hot fire, I plunged into the depths of the abyss. Unspeakable pain... relentless agony... time ceased to exist... only this torture... and a deepening hatred of the hypocrisy that damned me to this hell. An eternity passed, and my torment receded, bringing me back from the precipice of madness. The descent had destroyed me... and yet I lived." ~Raziel
This game, to me, was the start of the Legacy of Kain series. Although, technically, that was actually Blood Omen. As a matter of fact, the first Blood Omen unknowingly set the stage and essentially serves as the backdrop for all of the Legacy of Kain games. In Soul Reaver however, you do not actually play as Kain. Instead, you play as one of his vampiric lieutenants, Raziel. But almost immediately, things immediately go bad as when Raziel approaches Kain and shows that he has evolved by gaining a set of wings (the first evolution of all of Kain's vampiric brood), Kain considers this a transgression against him. In an act of rage, he rips your wings from you, and then has you thrown into the Lake of the Dead. Burning, trapped in the abyss, Raziel reaches the bottom but he is lifeless, his body practically destroyed.
But centuries pass, and Raziel awakes, somehow still alive, but a twisted shell of who he once was. Then, as he looks around at his surroundings in the Abyss, an onimous voice booms: "Raziel, you are worthy." This being, only ever referred to as "the Elder God" in the Legacy of Kain games, claims that it is he who is responsible for your rebirth, or rather... your undeath. He calls you his Soul Reaver, and gives you the mission of hunting Kain down, for it is him that is responsible for the decay and ruin of the world, Nosgoth. But to reach Kain, Raziel will have to also hunt down and kill his vampiric brothers, long since corrupted while Raziel was away from the mortal world. Raziel himself had only just gained a set of wings before his execution, but his brothers... they had became monstrous to say the least.
This game, like all of the other games up until Nosgoth, are action adventure games. As this is a PC port of a game that is sixteen or so years old, it's important to have reasonable expectations. For instance, some textures may flicker or not appear properly like they were meant to every once in a while. Controller support for this game is unfortunately borked, for when I tried to use my 360 controller, it appeared to work at first, but then Raziel would not stop moving at all. I at first recoiled in disgust and anger, using keyboard controls, but eventually became used to it and also remembered how much I still loved this game so it didn't matter to me after a while. Controller support does in fact apparently work for the other Legacy of Kain games, although, I can only confirm this for Soul Reaver 2 as that is the only other one I've started to play after finishing the first Soul Reaver. Personally, Soul Reaver 1 crashed for me about five or so times. But as you can save at any time while playing the game, I shrugged it off and considered it only a mild annoyance.
Yet, keyboard controls aside, I found combat as fun as it always had been in this game. As most of the enemies you face are vampiric in nature, simply knocking it down and shouting mean words isn't enough. Either pick up a weapon, impale, and then devour their soul, or beat them down a bit, grab them, and toss them either into water, a spike, or onto a fire. Combat becomes a simpler matter once you obtain the Wraith Blade, however, if you get hit and are no longer at full health, you lose it, forcing you to go back to the earlier methods. Another thing I always loved about this game is the bosses aren't "hit it until it's dead". A spider boss? Grab its eggs, set them on fire, and toss them back at them. A boss that is immune to water but not sunlight? Break some windows to let a little sunshine in and watch as it screams in agony. A certain boss near the end of the game that is invulnerable otherwise, you literally lure into a gigantic incinerator and burn him alive. There are only two specific boss fights that are... well, disappointing, and honestly, frustrating.
As you adventure through the wastelands of Nosgoth, as an undead vampire turned Soul Reaver, you have the ability to go between both the spirit world and the material one. As a matter of fact, if you run out of health in the material realm, you are forcibly sent back to the spirit world until you consume enough souls to regain your strength. Unfortunately, this does somewhat make there be little stakes in the game... as you can only receive an actual game over if you run out of HP in the spirit world. It makes bosses an easy matter as well. Get sent to the spirit realm, eat souls, find a portal, and try again until you win. Still, I always (and still do) thought that going in and out of the spirit world to bypass obstacles and solve puzzles was such a cool thing to do. I just love the visual effects it has on the world. It's not literally just the absolute same area but with a blue tint, no, these columns become shorter in the spirit world, allowing you to climb up them and then using a portal, you're back in the material world in an area that would have otherwise been inaccessible.
Eventually, when playing this game, it becomes second nature, but I'll just say it beforehand: "If you are in a spot and are seemingly stuck and it absolutely seems like a dead end, transfer over to the spirit realm."
Perhaps for me, the only truly infuriating aspect of the gameplay of the game is... well, block puzzles. I can't blame the game for having puzzles, no, but good god, if you actually explore the side areas, there are just so many block puzzles. There are other puzzles that are not block related but every time I ran into another one that did involve blocks I just... I hate block puzzles so much.
But in the end, I recommend this game (and series, as I wouldn't consider this a spoiler whatsoever, but Soul Reaver 1 ends by directly leading into Soul Reaver 2, so I don't know why you'd buy and play Soul Reaver 1 and then not buy and play Soul Reaver 2) not for its gameplay but... well, for everything else. The story, the music, the voice acting, the atmosphere. As long as you are able to appreciate an old game (and be willing to use keyboard controls) and move past the issues of... well, less than perfect PC ports, you'll probably enjoy this game/series.
So yes, even though I somewhat feared that the nostalgia I felt for this game was greater than the game itself, I was pleasantly surprised. It's not perfect of course, but it's very much worth playing.
One last thing to note, though. A couple of days ago, one of my friends actually recommended Nosgoth to me. I said I had it in my Steam library, and had been meaning to try it out because I loved the original Legacy of Kain series. He responded with: "What's Legacy of Kain?".