It's time once again for a mystery bombshell to drop from the heavens and blow open the Legacy of Kain Fandom. In the same vein as our previous expose on the Blood Omen alpha and Soul Reaver movie room updates from last year, this promises to be the single largest outpouring of cut content in the series history. As Ben Lincoln of The Lost Worlds once eloquently put it: “Every great story is pared down from a larger concept. The reasons vary, but the result is the same - a catalogue of the things that might have been.”.
Infamously Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver had its final third cut as time pressures meant swathes of content was left on the cutting room floor – believed to be lost forever. For years a group of fans have been striving to recover and illuminate as much as we can about those darkened and long forgotten corners. Now the time has come for us to unveil our biggest find - the holy grail of cut Legacy of Kain cut content. In partnership with Aesir Hod, Kevin Chatmajo, The Lost Worlds, The Ancient's Den and Divine Shadow/Mama Robotnik the Legacy of Kain Wiki presents – the Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver Alpha.
Much like previous exposes the Soul Reaver alpha comprises of some of the earliest developmental versions of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. Three distinct versions exist dating from 23rd January, 4th February and 16th February 1999 that showcase the largest treasure trove of cut content that is close to our hearts ever seen – and yes it includes all the big ones. Like other alphas and betas it soon becomes obvious why things were cut and removed with much of the puzzle and effects non-functioning or ineffective, rooms not loading and horrendously unoptimised and huge trouble loading things but the base of the game remains with huge swathes of areas that are missing from the final game included.
Coverage of this is multi-faceted and will be covered on multiple sites. Here’s a quick round up of what else is going on:
- The Lost Worlds has in depth coverage of the cut content here and has been working on a special toolchain allowing the whole world of Soul Reaver in each version to be viewed simultaneously. You can find his YouTube channel covering a lot of this content here
- The Ancient's Den has a different perspective on this here and detailed comparisons between versions. They'll also be doing a new 'alpha' version of the SR1 soundtrack. We've also partnered with Raina Audron to bring you the Lost Content Playlist which goes in depth walking and talking through the changes.
- Kevin Chatmajo has been working on unlocking some of the animations. You can find some of his work here and here. You can find his YouTube channel here
- There are also a few more threads to this still coalescing so more will be updated as things come in.
As ever we'll be working to put these on updating and filling in our articles, with a big outpouring of content immediately available. But for those who don't yet feel upto clicking through individual articles here are some of the highlights/ major differences:
Is very much present, reached by a pipe coming off of the city 11 room, the pipe leads down into the bottom area of the undercity which consists of a large room with a number of tall towers crossed by various bridges. A few smaller rooms dot around the area - much of them involving puzzles to change water level or reach higher areas. One notable area – features a tall multi-tiered pillared structure: the “olific” vampire illustration found in the fire glyph area in the final game actually originates from here. The whole area comprises a large puzzle to ascend the room to get to the top an almost feels like a prototype of the Janos Audron Retreat puzzle in Soul Reaver 2. At the top one of the towers leads up to a spiral staircase which leads up to the Priestess. An apparent exit leads to a previously unseen tower in city 9 – meaning the side building here is effectively the outside of the temple building and probably the location of Raziel's observation of “mysterious figures”. The place where the Undercity was located in retail is effectively taken by the “mrlock” fountain room – itself moved from elsewhere.
Is called 'lair' in the area list (although it also has some areas from the nearby 'Morlock') and is surprisingly complete. Turel's territory is actually reached from a building in the same position as the Oracles' Cave is in the final game (the Oracle's Cave is actually elsewhere in this version, see below). The initial parts of the area feature a stunning large orrery before Raziel crosses some lava areas to reach the lava bottomed Smokestack. Much of the area involves ascending around the outside rooms of the smokestack (and activating some water level puzzles) to return to the Smokestack and activate levers on the blades of huge fans to gradually ascend to the top. Part-way through Raziel reaches Turel and his battle before continuing to reach the top of the Smokestack and the final lever. This unlocks all of the orrery puzzle which can then be constricted to power up the fans of the Smokestack and allowing Raziel to glide to Kain's Mountain Retreat.
A comparatively much smaller area consisting of 3 rooms that are isolated from the rest of the game making determining their actual intended position difficult although some of the unused constructions around may suggest atop the mountains opposite the entrance of the Turelim (or the position of the Oracle's Cave entrance in the final version). The area features impressive décor with a familiar feel to it – the textures that survived were adapted for use in the Chronoplast. The first room consist of a wide arcing corridor topped by several ornate arches decorated with various statues, figures and faces. The two ends of the arc end in open 'dead' ends either suggesting connection to other areas or perhaps open vista – possible they could even be copied to create a circular corridor to mirror the arrangement of the Pillars. A door in the centre of the arc lead into small circular chamber that again feels familiar – this a chamber that has featured in previous imagery (where it was thought to be an early Chronoplast because of the décor) the ability gained here is still unclear – but its position could indicate this was where Ariel is summoned to gain the Ariel Reaver for the final battle. The final room is another much larger circular chamber that is untextured with a distinctive throne atop a staircase at the other end. Kain is not present and it is unclear how the battle would have progressed as there appears to be no cover to repeat the previous battle format. The room used in the Chronoplast visions movies is not present at all, suggesting it may have been created purely for that purpose.
Easily missed if you don't know what you're looking for – a small passage leading up behind Zephon which ascends higher in the Cathedral. In the earlier builds it's a tight spiral passage leading to a blank textured room (resembling clouds) which appears to copy the layout of the central fire glyph area. The later build has a totally new climbing area with an open 'dead end' doorway at the top, beyond which is a mystery. Once again the movie room is absent, perhaps suggesting it could have been added for that purpose alone. Several previously unseen puzzles through the Cathedral hint at late-game pipe manipulation so a return to the Cathedral to unblock the pipes before reaching the pinnacle is a possibility.
Yes she's here too – and appears veeerryy differently than concept art and comics might have you believe – the Seer is a good example of the modest dressing style seen here. The Priestess comes with an interesting headdress and is largely bare chested saved for a thin band covering her breasts. Her body is covered with clan symbols tattoos (including Raziel's). Her battle does partially work and involves her summoning various vampires to battle Raziel but the battle itself appears to be somewhat broken – with the Priestess spawning on the floor of the battle along with the vampires rather than on the high ledge she appears to be intended to spawn on – which of course makes her rather easy to defeat. No dialogue is heard
The original vision of the big bad boy. He is slightly different to how previous looks indicated and does seem to have a few things in common with his later Defiance incarnation. He is only present in the 4th Feb build and even then is only static but its clear to see how his battle would have worked. Raising the water levels around the Smokestack means the water pressure is a lot higher. Turel's audience chamber is a stepped room leading to Turel's chamber – apparently directly under the water reserves. Similarly to Defiance the trick would've been to lure Turel into taking out the pillars beneath the water reserve to cause the ceiling to fail spilling the water out. There is no action and no cutscenes to illustrate, but the layers present in the model files indicate an epic scene with the ceiling gradually cracking before unleashing a huge torrent of water from above. Although they are not active in these builds activating the smokestack fans would allow us to glide to on to the next area.
While his throne room is present Kain is entirely absent – from all of his encounters, so there is no telling how his encounters would have played out.
Is included in the ability list as “Shift Any Time” - the same entry appears in retail, but it's treated as more of a debug feature than an ability.
Is included in the ability list but appears to be non-functional in all versions. It is apparently to be triggered via projectile but these aren't properly implemented at this stage.
Turel's ability is present in the ability list but the awkward usage of projectiles means it is difficult to identify and test.
Glyphs and altars
Although most of the Glyphs were present in retail, there was one notable absentee - The Spirit Glyph - which is present in the alphas. There is also some notable reshuffling that has occurred during development. Interestingly the alpha highlights that the glyph altars can be seen to have a similar base layout – which was then modified to make them more unique – to the extent that it's very difficult to tell in the retail. The following lists have the glyphs in the order indicated by the Debug menus – suggesting both the order they would be acquired and their relative strength.
While it's still in the Lighthouse area the area itself has moved. Instead of being reached by the moat of the Silenced Cathedral as it is in retail the Lighthouse is actually accessed from a passage leading from the small water jump in the training area (where the first vampires are encountered in the retail – the area actually houses a barred health upgrade in the final game). In the alpha it's the first glyph found and the weakest.
Still found in the pipes beneath the Human Citadel.
Same place but untextured and unfinished – it appears some of its textures in retail were actually ripped from areas of the Undercity.
Still found in Nupraptor's Retreat off from the Necropolis. Interestingly the block puzzle here is more difficult, with more block and occasion where the blocks have to be used as a platform for other blocks to complete the puzzle.
Found in a cave in the passage between the Sanctuary of the Clans and the Tomb of the Sarafan rather than under the Silenced Cathedral as it is in retail.
Found underwater near the start of the drowned abbey rather than the Necropolis as it is in retail – and as it is completely flooded - its usage relies of force projectile here. Is one of the more powerful Glpyhs in the alphas but is reduced to the weakest in retail.
Hiding right under our noses for 20 years, the Spirit Glyph altar is actually a place that was repurposed and ended up being in the game – and its original position connects some dots. In retail what was originally the Spirit Forge is found in the Human Citadel in rooms unexpectedly labelled “mrlock” which contain a fountain and a health upgrade. In the alpha these rooms aren't in the human citadel but come off from a cave in the final snowy clearing of the frozen wastes. The cave only contains a bonfire in retail and was long suspected to be related to the entrance of Turel's clan territory – well in the alpha this area is the entrance hub to Turel's rather than the Oracle's cave, so the “mrlock” tag is justified. The puzzle here spawns a Melchahim which Raziel must lure (or possess) onto the target platform for the glyph altar to power up. The Glyph summons a green vortex that is supposed to steal multiple souls (think a soul version of Blood Shower). Just to twist the knife: In hindsight the mrlock fountain rooms in retail pretty much occupy the space that the undercity was planned to have originally – coming off from the same room and ending up inside the same building side building… and the footprint of the room screams “glyph altar” even in retail.
Forges and Reavers
Many of the Reaver enhancements were hidden away in the retail version and most of the Reaver forges were removed entirely leaving only the Fire Forge present, but all of them are here – there is even an extra one. Most give some kind of forging cutscene, although they do not actually imbue the Reaver with the appropriate element as such: instead they can be activated manually and reimbued at their forges. Files and other details give each forge away – again order is from Debugs and reflects the order gained and relative strength:
Found beneath the Sarafan tomb and beside the chapel area, Like previously seen imagery it contains a beam of sunlight from the ceiling being focussed by a lens onto a font. The room is replaced in retail by the “Bonus1” area containing an Eldritch recharge and covered by a 'Valkyrie' stained glass window.
Found underneath the Drowned abbey in an area occupied by the Fire Forge in the retail game. The stained glass window to get there gets a more generic design for starters, but the forge itself has a vortex of water flowing into/our of a hole in the ground matching with previous images suspected to be of the area.
Found in one of the passages off the rotating statue/constrict puzzle in the Ruined City/Ash Village – in an area that is replaced by a wide room with an Eldritch recharge in retail. Consists of a largely darkened stone walls with a distinctive anvil like altar/font at the end.
Found in one of the rooms off the drawbridge tower in Razielim territory rather than under the Drowned Abbey as in the retail game. The forge itself is only given a basic stone texture and appears unfinished.
Found in the City/human Citadel in a passage that leads to a health upgrade in the final (down some stairs where the stairs haven't been added). The area has the same brickwork as the city and a stone altar at the end with a number of pink tipped talons at the end which appear poised to strike. The presence of a human hunter nearby suggests this may have required possession to make a sacrifice to acquire – as with the Spirit Glyph. Unlike Defiance (and the removed Soul Reaver 2 version) this is not the final all powerful blade but merely another elemental Reaver.
Found in one of the last passages encountered on the second level of the Silenced Cathedral off a ledge in the room “Cathy 42”. The forge itself appears to be a copy of the Sunlight forge textured with a plain crème color.
Found in a passage off the new snowy mountain pass leading to the Oracle's Cave is another unexplained forge. All known forges have been accounted for and this one is unlabelled. It appears to be using a copy of the Stone Reaver forge with plainer textures.
There are far too many minor changes to list here but fully here and these will be slowly added to individual articles but here are some of the more striking changes seen:
- The Oracle's Cave changes position. In the alpha it is reached from the constricting statue area inside the Ruined City/Ash Village is reached from a passage (a passage completely covered by a snow drift in the retail.) The passage leads to a wide snow-covered mountain pass leading up to a more cave-like entrance for the Oracle's cave. The Turelim territory occupies the place where the Oracle's Cave would end up.
- The Dumahim are represented by the smaller bug-like enemies seen in previous pre-release images – they are difficult to hit, but not too intimidating.
- There is a distinct alteration in the order of levels. Whereas retail progresses Necropolis>Pillars>Cathedral>Tomb, the retail instead progress Necropolis>Cathedral>Pillars>Tomb – with no Reaver door and only phasing required to reach the Cathedral and a new high passage bypassing the walls of the Sanctuary of the Clans to apparently access the Pillars by climbing.
- The Necropolis has a different Melchiah mural, more atmospheric textures/lighting and a higher platform for Melchiah.
- The Silenced Cathedral has a large statue on the lower levels and the pillars there bend differently in Spectral. The level has many external pipes covered by webbing which moves with the wind. In the upper levels there is a previously known branching corridor with a large puzzle object placed there which seems to have been intended to unblock pipes.
- The Sanctuary of the Clans is accessed by climbing through a mountain pass and the dome of the building can be seen. The textures of the hexagonal corridors are a mix of styles. The pillars themselves have several changes through builds including changes to Kain's throne and the pillars – along with prototype symbols.
- The Tomb of the Sarafan has a different facade, but the tomb area itself is simpler with no names and more generic patterns
- The Drowned Abbey has a moving boat and that area features a wide curving passage which reaches the top of a waterfall in the main area of the level. The main area has a distinct pentagonal design on the church plainer design, incremental changes to Rahab's roof and harder jumps.
- The Ash Village has different passageways – suggesting alternative routes through the level. The large obelisk is more ornate and breaks rather than toppling over. Dumah throne room has different stained glass designs. The constrict puzzle at the back of the level leads to an impressive mountain pass and onto the Oracle's Cave.
- The Oracle's Cave contains more obvious Raziel murals, a new trapdoor shortcut and a number of altered puzzle elements. The Chronoplast area itself is much plainer (its textures were taken from Kain's retreat) and it has visions corridor and no portal at the end.
A lot of Wiki articles will have changes coming through the pipeline or already done because of this. As part of this we've been working on these behind the scenes for a while. Here are all the articles which have had preliminary work done and will have work added in the next few hours. Some work may be ongoing on these for a while so note these are not necessarily completed articles but articles where information about the alpha content is being added:
- Amplified force projectiles
- Amplified Reaver
- Ariel Reaver
- Chronoplast visions
- Constrict objects
- Debug menus
- Drowned Abbey
- Dumah (Soul Reaver boss)
- Elder God's platform
- Eldritch energy
- Fire Forge (Soul Reaver)
- Fire Glyph
- Fire Glyph Altar
- Fire Reaver (Soul Reaver)
- Force Glyph
- Force Glyph Altar
- Health coil
- Health power-ups
- Kain (Soul Reaver Chronoplast boss)
- Kain (Soul Reaver Pillars boss)
- Kain (Soul Reaver Retreat boss)
- Kain Reaver
- Kain's Mountain Retreat
- Legacy of Kain Wiki:Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver transcript/Cut content
- Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (Feb 4, 1999 prototype)
- Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (Feb 16, 1999 prototype)
- Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (Jan 23, 1999 prototype)
- Material Reaver
- Melchiah (Soul Reaver boss)
- Oracle's Cave
- Oracle's Cave (chapter)
- Phasing through gates
- Pillar of Balance
- Pillar of Conflict
- Pillar of Death
- Pillar of Dimension
- Pillar of Energy
- Pillar of Nature
- Pillar of States
- Pillar of the Mind
- Pillar of Time
- Pillars of Nosgoth (Soul Reaver)
- Pinnacle of the Silenced Cathedral
- Planar portals
- Priestess (boss)
- Pupating Turelim
- Raziel's Clan Territory
- Reaver bolts
- Revived vampires
- Ring menu
- Ash Village
- Sanctuary of the Clans
- Scalable walls
- Scaling walls
- Sealed doors
- Shift At Will
- Shift Glyph
- Showdown With Kain
- Silenced Cathedral
- Sluagh (Soul Reaver)
- Soul devouring
- Soul Reaver (chapter)
- Sound Forge
- Sound Glyph
- Sound Glyph Altar
- Sound Reaver
- Spectral Realm
- Spectral Reaver
- Spirit Forge (Soul Reaver)
- Spirit Glyph
- Spirit Glyph Altar
- Spirit Reaver (Soul Reaver)
- Stone Forge
- Stone Glyph
- Stone Glyph Altar
- Stone Reaver
- Sunlight Forge
- Sunlight Glyph
- Sunlight Glyph Altar
- Sunlight Reaver
- Telekinetic breakables
- The Silenced Cathedral (chapter)
- Tomb Guardian
- Tomb Guardian (boss)
- Tomb of the Sarafan
- Turel (Soul Reaver boss)
- Turel's Clan Territory
- Underworld (chapter)
- Underworld (Soul Reaver)
- Vampire wraiths
- Vampire wraiths (enemies)
- Villagers (Soul Reaver)
- Wall spikes
- Warp gates (Soul Reaver)
- Water Forge (Soul Reaver)
- Water Glyph
- Water Glyph Altar
- Water Reaver (Soul Reaver)
- Wraith Blade
- Zephon (Soul Reaver boss)