Glyphs also known as Elemental Glyphs or Glyph Spells were a set of environmentally sensitive spells that could be optionally gained and used by Raziel in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. A different set of Glyph spells were planned to feature in Soul Reaver 2, based on the Pillars of Nosgoth, but these were ultimately cut.
Glyph spells were first featured in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. Raziel began the game with a single glyph, the Shift Glyph, which allowed him to Shift into the Material Realm while standing upon a planar portal.[Soul Reaver][Soul Reaver/1] Throughout his travels in Nosgoth, Raziel could uncover six elementally attuned altars - each altar contained a puzzle which would gift Raziel with a new Glyph spell when completed and once he gained his first glyph, Raziel was able to acquire the Eldritch energy with which to power them. [Soul Reaver][Soul Reaver manual (US)][Soul Reaver manual (UK)][Soul Reaver strategy guide (Prima)]
When a new glyph was gained a symbol for the glyph would appear in one of the vacant spots of the Ring menu and could be selected at will, though only the Shift glyph could be used in water or the Spectral Realm. When activated, the glyphs had varying ranges and effects which could be used to damage, stun, knock enemies into environmental obstacles or destroy them completely. The glyphs each cost diffing amounts of Eldritch energy to cast, relative to their power and discrimination between enemies.[Soul Reaver][Soul Reaver manual (US)][Soul Reaver manual (UK)]
The Glyphs in Soul Reaver were originally intended to have been much more integrated with the story and each of the glyphs (except the Shift and Force Glyphs) would have had an accompanying Reaver enhancement most of which were ultimately cut. A single glyph spell, the Spirit Glyph is known to have been removed from Soul Reaver, along with its companion Spirit Reaver.
The alpha version of Soul Reaver publicized in 2020 showed the Glyphs earlier in development. The ring menu had distinctly different symbols for each of the glyphs which included the cut Spirit Glyph. As in the retail version each was intended to be gained from a specific glyph altar - some altars were moved between builds and not all were functional, so some glyphs had to be activated from the debug menu. The Glyphs themselves were reshuffled in this menu reflecting differing comparative power levels. In this version the Glyphs were ranked in order from weakest to strongest: Shift, Sunlight, Water, Fire, Stone, Spirit, Force and Sound. Eldritch energy was yet to be implemented so there was no cost associated with the use of glyphs.
The following table illustrates the known effects and costs of the various glyph spells, both present in and removed from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver:
Discussing abilities planned for Raziel to earn in a May 2000 interview concerning Soul Reaver 2, Amy Hennig followed details on the planned Reaver augmentations with a mention that the game would include "nine additional spell-type things. It's not really spells; it's all kinds of things. Instead of having a spell menu, he just has the ring menu, and he there's things he can do from that, he can summon the Reaver from that, he can shift, he can influence the environment in other ways. Some of these things are more physical abilities, some of them are more mystical, but there are nine more of those. So there's actually more things to earn in this game than there were in the last. Less physical abilities, I mean it's not like now I can fly, or now I can burrow underground, it's more like new ways to interact with the environment that you couldn't do before". She caveated this information, saying it "could change", "based on our schedule and what we're going to have to adjust as we go".
The final version of Soul Reaver 2 incorporated no side-quests - neither the "spell-type things", nor the Reaver augmentations intended for Raziel to obtain.[Soul Reaver 2] The game's debug menu revealed that the spells were apparently glyphs related to the Pillars of Nosgoth. Though the full ring menu with positions for the nine missing glyphs can be enabled by debugging, the glyphs are only represented by uniform white dots (or by placeholder symbols from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver in the Air Forge demo), and they have no functionality.
Though probably more closely related to puzzle-solving than its Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver counterparts, it is unclear what specific abilities many of the 'Pillar Glyphs' would have bestowed upon Raziel.
The following table illustrates the Glyphs planned for inclusion in Soul Reaver 2 - all were ultimately cut.
|Glyph||Icon/Principle||Associated Pillar||Gained from||Cost||Effect|
|Balance Glyph (cut)||Pillar of Balance||unknown||unknown||unknown|
|Conflict Glyph (cut)||Pillar of Conflict||unknown||unknown||unknown|
|Death Glyph (cut)||Pillar of Death||unknown||unknown||unknown|
|Dimension Glyph (cut)||Pillar of Dimension||unknown||unknown||unknown|
|Energy Glyph (cut)||Pillar of Energy||unknown||unknown||unknown|
|Mind Glyph (cut)||Pillar of the Mind||unknown||unknown||unknown|
|Nature Glyph (cut)||Pillar of Nature||unknown||unknown||unknown|
|States Glyph (cut)||Pillar of States||unknown||unknown||unknown|
|Time Glyph (cut)||Pillar of Time||unknown||unknown||unknown|
- The Glyphs of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver are known to have undergone some modifications and reshuffling during development - several also had their symbols changed.
- The 'Pillar glyphs' of Soul Reaver 2 were to have been based around "new ways to interact with the environment" rather than having direct combat applications. As such, the Reaver augmentations were intended as a successor to the combat applications of the Glyphs of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.[Soul Reaver] The Reaver spells of Legacy of Kain: Defiance are also arguably a development of the Glyph-spell combat mechanism.[Defiance]
- In Legacy of Kain: Defiance, Kain collects several Pillars-related fragments of the Balance Emblem. Again it was planned for Kain to collect nine fragments representing the nine pillars but it is unclear if these abilities were similar to or influenced by the 'Pillar Glyphs' cut from Soul Reaver 2.
- Glyphs (category)
- Ring menu
- Reaver spells
- Eldritch Energy (Glyph Energy (SR1)) at Dark Chronicle (by Ardeth Silvereni)
- Glyphs at Dark Chronicle (by Ardeth Silvereni)
- The Pillar Glyphs at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- The Spirit Glyph at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Soul Reaver 2: Director's Interview - PlayStation 2 Feature at IGN (by Douglass Perry), page 6
- The Debug Menu at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- The Pillar Glyphs at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- The Full Ring Menu at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Reaver Upgrades at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)