Retro Requisition would like to draw your attention to a classic video game of old that we shall be formally requisitioning to be reborn, revisited, rebooted, or remastered. We will explain what makes each game such a timeless classic still worthy of attention, pitch what it would be all about and get all realistic by discussing the possibilities of it actually ever happening.
“We, the most awesome and fabulous team at That Not Current, have decreed in all our wisdom and obsession with the wonders of retro gaming, that the following game should be brought back to life and hereby submit this formal request to make it so:”
Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver
THE PLAYERS: Eidos, Crystal Dynamics
PLATFORM(S): PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast, PC
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
This week’s Retro Requisition takes a look at Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver, a fantastic example of great gothic lore and storytelling that is complemented by fantastic voice acting. The Legacy of Kain series comprises of action platform games set within the world of Nosgoth, a land rich with Vampire mythology. The series first kicked off with Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain, which establishes the lore of the gothic setting, telling the tale of Kain and his transition from human to vampire on the path of revenge. The sequel, Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver, takes place during the height of the Vampires reign over Nosgoth, telling a tale of betrayal and corruption of the vampiric empire. The game’s protagonist is Raziel, lieutenant to Kain who since Blood Omen has taken complete control over Nosgoth. Raziel narrates over the game’s FMV sequences, explaining that the vampires have begun to evolve and become god-like, with Raziel surpassing the rest of his clan. Raziel’s acquisition of vampiric wings leads Kain to strike him down and cast him into the Lake Of The Dead, leading to his demise. A deity known as The Elder God revives the obliterated corpse of Raziel, sending him on a quest to exact revenge against Kain while serving as his wraith. The Elder God guides Raziel on his venture, educating him on the events that preceded his mortality. Nosgoth is now on the brink of collapse, the vampire clans being a former shell of themselves and the human race eradicated. Raziel‘s brothers, Melchiah, Zephon, Rahab and Dumah have since transitioned into grotesque immortal manifestations. Their immortality has altered the balance of the wheel of fate, a cycle which maintains the life force of the world, trapping the souls of the dead and causing the land to decay.
Raziel‘s wraith form grants him the ability to exist both within the spectral world and the material world, which creates different variations of level structure throughout the game. Despite Raziel‘s wings being destroyed, they still serve as a mechanic for gliding, which adds to the platforming element of the game. Raziel’s survival also relies on the harvesting of enemy souls, of which can be collected by eliminating enemies. His brothers stand as bosses throughout the game, each granting Raziel a new ability based on their own. Later in the game, Raziel acquires Kain’s legendary Soul reaver blade, of which possesses the ability to absorb the souls of its victims.
The game was celebrated for its intricate story and great looking visuals, however, did receive some criticism for its anti-climatic ending, which makes it’s sequel on the PlayStation 2 seem like a direct extension of the first game. Soul Reaver moves away from the structure of the first Legacy Of Kain and takes a more narrative-driven approach, unfolding the twists and turns of both Raziel’s history and the fate of Nosgoth. This is one of the main factors that makes Soul Reaver an intriguing experience, rich with a creative lore and committed to its own story.
WHY DOES IT NEEDS TO BE REBORN?
Soul Reaver was one of the greatest achievements of the 32-bit era and represents a gap that exists in the video game market of today. It’s Shakespearean style of theatrics and narrative manage to create a unique atmosphere within a genre which isn’t necessarily lacking. The game manages to maintain engagement and intrigue in its story arc, despite it being fairly convoluted. It achieves this by its devotion to style and substance, not cutting any corners when it comes to dialogue. The voice acting of every character is convincing and brilliantly executed by like the likes of Simon Templeton and Tony Jay, who is well known for his Disney work. The character design also manages to reach the same calibre, with the likes of Raziel‘s transition from a member of My Chemical Romance to a grotesque corpse-like bad-ass, who joins Sir Daniel Fortesque in my ‘favourite characters with no jaw’ list.
It seems as time goes on, Soul Reaver may be another great concept that is left within its old shell. Just like most games featured on Retro Requisition, Soul Reaver would flourish on modern hardware and would give it the revival it deserves. The acquisition of Eidos by publisher Square Enix has resulted in many classic franchises rebooted, such as Tomb Raider. It feels like a missed opportunity to leave The Legacy of Kain series within it’s forgotten casket without at least one attempt to revive it back to glory.
WHAT WOULD WE WANT TO SEE IN ANY REBIRTH?
The modern gaming industry is no stranger to dark and brooding action games. In contrast to back when Soul Reaver first made its debut, the industry doesn’t prioritise colourful mascot driven games as heavily as it did, meaning that the Legacy Of Kain games would be well suited to any platforms line up. Starting from the beginning of the Legacy Of Kain series would allow for its in-depth story to be both made more accessible and for the original narrative to be moulded to a new series of games. Using the term reboot may not be as accurate as to call it a rebuild, as deviating from the original feel and style could leave fans of the series feeling disconnected from what they loved about the original series. Rebuilding the series with modern technology but using the same blueprints as the original would provide a doorway of enjoyment to those who didn’t get to experience the games the first time round. Not to mention that the overall last game in the series, Legacy Of Kain: Defiance, left off on a cliffhanger, leaving dedicated fans of the series frustrated and itching for more.
As for what a modern version of this classic would actually look like, the safest route would probably be to stick to a hack n’ slash adventure game. Soul Reaver could potentially flourish if it followed the same format as the likes of the Darksiders series. The defining key to making a new addition to the series lies within distinguishing the combat and play style, as allowing it to be lost within a sea of hack n’ slashers would not do the series any justice. Alternatively, the game could take more of an RPG approach to game play, with a similar level design to the likes of Dark Souls but with the mechanics of something a bit more akin to its origins. The real answer to the question of what the rebirth of this unique series should look like is that it should retain an incomparable identity; creating its own style of mechanics, level design and narrative that doesn’t allow itself to be simply compared to other games. While it would be nice to see elements of pre-existing creations being implemented, it would be even nicer to see a game that players won’t be able to predict, facilitating the intrigue of the series’ dark lore and narrative.
IS IT LIKELY?
Sadly it seems that a return to any aspect of the Legacy Of Kain series may be out of reach for now, as Square Enix has cancelled all recent attempts to revive the series. A game entitled ‘Legacy Of Kain: Dark Sun‘ was scheduled to be the sixth installment in the series, but was cancelled and subsequently reborn as the free to play multiplayer game Nosgoth in 2015. The silver bullet then followed after Nosgoth was shut down during 2016, as it failed to reach success during its beta launch. In a way, this could be a blessing, as hopefully the series can be revitalised at a later date and reach its true potential. It’s hard to decipher the intentions of publishers when it comes to old IP’s, especially if those aforementioned already have a range of titles that can be easily used as a cash cow. There have been reports that there is an interest in bringing Legacy Of Kain back, such as mentioned by Crystal Dynamics‘ lead designer Michael Brinker, in an interview with Australian publication Finder.com.au. Brinker, who worked on Rise Of The Tomb Raider, stated that there are in-house developers who really want to make new installments, however, the chance of it happening is ’50/50′. This wasn’t really explained, however, an educated guess would point towards this being an expression of what pitches are excepted by Square Enix. So basically all we can do is play the waiting game, comparing new games to the inherent fame of the Soul Reaver games and the longing desire to have the Legacy Of Kain series given the chance it deserves.