Archive Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver in Next Generation issue 47

  • November 1998
  • By Amy Hennig and Next Generation
  • Archived by Spirit Kalika and A Gathering of Reaved Souls
"Vampires abound in this 3D sequel to the original Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain"[1]


Playing the first Legacy of Kain was not unlike playing Gauntlet inside the massive fantasy world of Nosgoth. But the addition of a vengeance-bent, anti-hero Kain gave the top-down epic a deeper sense of character than the game's 2D graphics first revealed. The sequel to Legacy of Kain, however, is more comparable to Tomb Raider than it is to Gauntlet. This begs an interesting question: Will the followers of Kain get more of what brought them to Nosgoth in the first place? In a word, yes.

"The main similarity is the soul-sucking or soul-devouring mechanic," says producer and director Amy Hennig, who produced the first Kain as well. "Basically you stun or damage an enemy and then you have the ability to draw its soul out of its body, the same thing Kain was doing with blood."

However, the player does not return in the role of Kain, but rather, Raziel, Kain's firstborn vampire son. At the end of the first game, Kain has a choice to sacrifice himself and save the world, but "we assume he refuses," says Hennig, explaining that the world is subsequently thrown out of balance, and 1,000 years later, Nosgoth becomes a land overrun with six races of vampires. When Raziel grows wings and evolves beyond Kain, Kain kills Raziel in a jealous rage. But Raziel is raised from the dead by the underworld king to collect vampire souls and ultimately seek his vengeance on Kain. The plot unfolds from there within approximately 15 areas. Hennig estimates that this makes the game about as large as Tomb Raider II.

"We've tried not to create scads and scads of layout because it's very time-consuming and very shallow," Hennig says, addressing one of the criticisms of the original Kain. Instead, Crystal Dynamics is attempting to create a world that entices players to revisit areas when they've gained new abilities. For example, when Raziel gains the power to scale walls, unreachable areas in earlier levels become accessible.

The elaborate architecture within these 3D environments is some of the best Next Generation has seen on the PlayStation. On top of that, it morphs in real time. "The idea is that the world exists simultaneously in two dimensions," says Hennig, "the real world (the physical world) and then its nightmare flip side, the spectral plane, which is sort of a dark, funhouse-mirror version of itself."

As Raziel cannot die, he reverts to the spectral plane when he runs out of energy to exist in the physical plane. Players can then continue playing in the spectral plane, only their goal is to recoup the energy necessary to return to the physical plane. Also, since the switch between physical and spectral planes morphs the landscape, plane-shifting will be key to solving several puzzles.

And the combat? Like the first game, it drives the gameplay. Yet, instead of collecting an arsenal of traditional weapons, Raziel will be limited to the Soul Reaver, Kain's all-powerful sword from the original game. This title weapon has taken on spirit properties and can be powered up at elemental forges to incur a variety of damage. Also, combat will require some puzzle-solving as well. As the vampires are immortal, players will need to stun their opponents and then find some means of finishing them off, be it impaling them on a nearby object, like a lightning rod or fence post, or exposing them to sunlight or water.

At the time of this writing, the combat was barely present in the game, and the Soul Reaver itself was nowhere to be seen. Still, Hennig feels the January 15 shelf date the team is shooting for is possible; however, given Crystal has been extremely late with a number of projects in the past, Next Generation wouldn't be surprised if it slipped as much as six months. And if extra time is needed, so be it. This team of 26 has the potential to polish up and ship the best internally developed game at Crystal yet.

Next Generation[1]


  • Raziel falls to his second death
  • The water glyph statue
  • The portal to the physical plane
  • A bonfire just waiting to roast some fresh meat
Next Generation[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Archive Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver in Next Generation issue 47


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