- "These ancient obelisks were mysteriously attuned to my spiritual essence.
By simply touching the symbol, I could safely preserve an imprint of my soul – and thus create a milestone to which I could return when weary, and from which I could resume my journey."
- ―Raziel — Listen (file info)[src]
Save Altars, also known as Save Obelisks, Save Pillars or Save Points, were structures featured in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and Soul Reaver 2 which allowed Raziel or Kain's progress up to that point to be saved. Once saved, the game could be resumed from that point at any time as long as the save file was not overwritten or deleted.
- "Within the walls of these chambers I could find respite. And, if I so chose, resume my journey when my weariness abated."
- ―Kain — Listen (file info)[src]
Save altars were first featured in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, where they allowed the player to save progress - or provide Kain with "respite" as it was framed in the game. They consisted of a raised platform dominated by red coloring, covered in arcane symbols with a central obelisk atop a larger symbol with two smaller obelisks at the back corners of the platform. Kain discovered the first save altar in his mausoleum shortly after emerging from his grave in Seeking Revenge and thereafter they were seen fairly regularly throughout Nosgoth, allowing progress upto that point to be saved. When activated the option to save would be presented to the player followed by a list of save slots and when loading or resuming a game, gameplay would start from the last activated save point, with Blood and Magic energy quickly filling to their set levels.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/2]
The altars returned in Soul Reaver 2, albeit with an altered design. Although functioning similarly to those in Blood Omen the devices were given a bit of expanded explanation - that they were attuned to Raziel's spiritual essence and by using part of his soul he could leave an imprint of himself within the edifice to which he could return to when weary and from which he could resume his journey. The appearance of the platforms was similar to the shape of Kain's save points in Blood Omen except the central obelisks were now a flamberge shape like the Soul Reaver. There were 5 of these altars in Soul Reaver 2, positioned on the 'outer Great Southern Lake, the Subterranean Pillars Chamber, the Swamp, Uschtenheim and inside the Fire Forge - allowing them to be easily accessed between the major set-pieces of the story. When activated the option to save and select a slot was given to the player and when loading or resuming a game, gameplay would start from the last activated Save point (or Checkpoint if Raziel had 'died' in the Spectral Realm.)[Soul Reaver 2][Soul Reaver 2/1]
Although very similar in appearance, the save altars of Blood Omen and Soul Reaver 2 did have some design differences - arguably with a certain amount of theming to the protagonist character.[Blood Omen][Soul Reaver 2]
Blood Omen save altars consisted of a bronze or red-brown stone platform surrounded by a red border containing several white arcane symbols. At the front of the platform were two steps which led up from the floor, each of which was fronted by the same red border containing white symbols. At the back of the platform stood three obelisks, two of which were positioned in the back corners of the platform and were made of the same stone texture as the platform itself: there were also variants which had five obelisks - with the extra two positioned a short distance in front of the platform, at the front corners. Dominating the center and back of the platform was the last obelisk, much larger than the others and colored a much brighter red tone. Beneath the main obelisk was a small square raised platform with a large rune symbol on the side somewhat resembling a three-fingered hand-print colored bright red. The same symbol decorated the floor of the platform beneath the main obelisk colored a darker red shade.[Blood Omen]
Soul Reaver 2 save altars were slightly different and consisted of a steel-blue reflective platform surrounded by a grey stone border. At the front of the platform were a set of three stone steps which led up from the floor, with the same stone style as the outer platform border. Around the sides of the platform it was decorated by a set of red arcane symbols on a black background. The platform was now surrounded by four small obelisks - two at the back corners of the main platform with two additional obelisks (that were absent from the Blood Omen altars) at the front of the platform on smaller platforms beside the steps, each one decorated with the same grey platform base and rune symbols sides as the main platform. Each obelisk was colored a light blue color and were partially transparent with a hand print styled rune symbol and decorative marks observable in white, dark red and grey shades. Dominating the center and back of the platform was a much larger fifth obelisk, colored white and fashioned in a flamberge-shape resembling the Reaver blade. On the side of the main obelisk was a small grey diamond shaped plaque decorated with another small red handprint styled symbol. Beneath the obelisk was a small two tiered raised platform in dark grey shades against the reflective main platform.[Soul Reaver 2]
Save altars can be seen in several of the Soul Reaver 2 pre-release images which show there were relatively few design changes in the latter stages of development, although some do appear plainer and the camera angles used in their cutscenes appeared to have been slightly altered for the retail release.[Soul Reaver 2]
- Save altars are given a variety of titles in various sources. They are not directly named in the games and dialogue only gives descriptions such as "these ancient obelisks", however stage directions in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain label them as "Save altars", while those of Soul Reaver 2 mention "Save points".[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/2][Soul Reaver 2][Soul Reaver 2/1] Blood Omen manuals refer to "Save points",[Blood Omen manual (Windows)] while Soul Reaver 2 manuals refer to "ancient monoliths" and "Save points".[Soul Reaver 2 manual] Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain—Official Game Secrets refers to "Save Pillars" and "Save rooms", while Soul Reaver 2: Prima's Official Strategy Guide calls them "Save points" or "Save obelsks".[Blood Omen strategy guide][Soul Reaver 2 strategy guide (Prima)]
- Although the Save points have a very similar design, they react slightly differently to interaction and usage. In Blood Omen, Kain merely had to step forward onto the symbol in the middle of the platform and the player would be presented with the option to save followed by a list of save slots. No visible sign would be given from the platform but upon return to the game Kain's Blood and Magic energy would be empty and quickly refill to their previous state. In Soul Reaver 2 Raziel had to press the hand print symbol on the obelisk. The hand print would briefly flare gold before the obelisk was showered in blue sparkles, the symbols in the smaller obelisks glowed red and the camera receded briefly into the distance. Both games featured a small monologue regarding usage of the points on the protagonist encountering the first one, however only Soul Reaver 2 featured any special cutscene to indicate this.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/1][Soul Reaver 2][Soul Reaver 2/1]
- There are dramatically fewer Save points in Soul Reaver 2 compared to Blood Omen, with only five seen in the entire game - whereas in Blood Omen there was at least one for every significant area and item. In part this is due to the smaller game world of Soul Reaver 2 but also due to the differing level design, with many of the objectives of Soul Reaver 2 requiring Raziel to backtrack and return to previous areas - even visiting them in different eras; this ensures that no matter where Raziel is on his quest he is never far away from a save point.[Blood Omen][Soul Reaver 2]
- In terms of gameplay mechanics, the Save altars are similar to the Checkpoints, seen in Soul Reaver 2, Blood Omen 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance - with the checkpoints working in tandem with the altars in Soul Reaver 2. Both devices allowed progress upto a point to be saved and loaded later - with the save points ultimately phased out and replaced by checkpoints in the later games.[Soul Reaver 2][Blood Omen 2][Defiance] Although not directly related, the warp gates of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver could also be used for similar reasons - allowing the protagonist to quickly return to a desired area after loading a game, providing they had first been activated before the initial save.[Soul Reaver][Soul Reaver manual (US)][Soul Reaver manual (UK)][Soul Reaver strategy guide (Prima)]
- The new Reaver shape of the obelisks later took on added significance at the end of Soul Reaver 2, when it's learned that Raziel was always the ravenous spirit trapped within the Reaver blade and his imprisonment within the blade created the Soul Reaver. By saving throughout Soul Reaver 2 Raziel is already placing fragments of his soul in a similarly shaped container.[Soul Reaver 2]