Monday, November 8, 2010

Retro Review: Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was released in 1999 by Eidos Interactive and published by Crystal Dynamics. It's from the same company that created Gex and the later Tomb Raiders.

Before owning a PS3, I had never heard about this game before. After seeing it as a PSone classic and doing some research, I decided to fork over the six bucks and buy it.

It seemed like standard 64-bit era fare when I started it up. Pre-rendered cutscenes and all that jazz. After the opening cutscene ended, I was treated to the smooth, booming voice of Tony Jay, explaining gameplay elements as I went through a sort of introductory stage. The voice acting is nothing short of fantastic. None of the characters sounded bored or wooden, unlike several other games I could mention. The writing is great as well, with the story almost on par with classic RPGs of old. The combination of storytelling and voice acting immediately won me over, and I kept playing.

Raziel, the protagonist of the game, controls really well. The controls aren't frustrating or confusing and you don't have to worry about whether or not you'll miss that jump. The gameplay is very reminiscent of the Metroid series, in that you have a giant world to explore, but areas are blocked off until you gain extra abilities, such as phasing through gates. Combat is very simple, but it works well for the game. It's all a manner of dodge/attack/dodge until you can finish off your opponent and absorb his soul. Weapons are plentiful in this game, often found along the walls. Later on, you can eventually get the Soul Reaver, so you won't even need a weapon to combat your enemies.

You can't really lose in Soul Reaver, due to Raziel's situation. Since he's already basically dead, all that happens when his life bar empties is that he goes back to the spectral realm, where he may regain his health by absorbing souls. The most that you'd lose is progress, since you'll have to backtrack a little to find a point where you can go back into the material realm.

The layout of the world of Soul Reaver can get a little confusing at times, though. There is a portal system allowing you to travel between points, but that requires a bit of memorization as to which portal goes where.

Final Summation:
+Great controls
+Fantastic story
+Voice Acting is incredible
+Metroid-styled gameplay (I'm biased for Metroidvanias)
=Combat is pretty simplistic
-Really confusing world layout

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