Posted on 19 Sep 2018 by L Coulsen

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

The Defence

Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action, Adventure
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: No
Release date: No data.

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel 1.8 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA: Nvidia DirectX 7 Compatible
AMD equivalent
RAM: 512 MB
Controller: Partial
Mod Support: Possible
VR: Possible
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 30

Soul Reaver is an amazing game. In fact, the Legacy of Kain franchise remains one of the best in gaming history. The games themselves have certainly aged, but they have done so gracefully. Unlike many over the years, they have not found themselves becoming archaic to the point of being virtually uplayable. Soul Reaver itself is possibly the one that has struggled the most, coming from a time when third person platforming had established itself, but the idea of analogue sticks and a mouse controlled camera had not quite caught on yet. As such, you have a dedicated ‘look around’ button, much like Eidos’ other smash-hit franchise, Tomb Raider.

But that’s the only complaint. Absolutely serious there, there really is not anything else to pick out as a fault. Sure, the visuals do not hold a candle to the ocular crack cocaine we expect today, and don’t even really look all that special next to some of the later entries in the franchise, but even there, it looks pretty darn good. Holding up solidly enough to be easily recognisable for just how advanced they were at the time. With blocky, but highly detailed environments and character models.

Oh hai Mark.

We had not quite hit the point of fully animated mouths yet, not as a standard at least. But Soul Reaver does not rely on character heads flapping around like a pinata during the lengthy, and frequent, fully voiced cinematics. And boy oh boy, what cinematics they are. Under the direction of the absolute legend that is Amy Hennig, the series has some of the very best dialogue and performances ever put to game. Dripping with gothic charm and the weight of aeons behind every single word, just as any good vampire tragedy should.

And the music, oh my, the music! Well nigh twenty years later, I’m still humming the main theme to myself on an almost daily basis. There are games that have come later with huge, million dollar orchestral symphonies, but the music from Soul Reaver is still the one the really sticks with me. Clearly built from the ground up to be an integral part of the experience, rather than being crafted later to fit with feel of what already exists, or created externally and awkwardly meshed in for effect. That’s a design philosophy that seems to run throughout the franchise. Everything is always intended to be part of a cohesive whole.

Beefcake. BeefCAKE!

Okay, okay, that’s enough gushing. Suffice it to say, it’s a great game and there is more than a little nostalgia preventing me from really seeing anything else. But it must still be noted that there are a few issues that have arisen over the year. However, none of them is related to the game itself. As hardware and software has progressed, getting Soul Reaver to run on modern systems has become increasingly awkward. I honestly didn’t have any real problems myself, it ran right out of the box with widescreen resolutions available. But for many, it just flat refuses to work, even with third party patches.

Another issue is controller support. Though it is supposed to be there as a built in feature, even with third party patches I just couldn’t get it to work at all. This is a fairly minor complaint though, as the control scheme is simple enough that a keyboard will do you just fine. Only keyboard though, no turning the camera with the mouse. Which is a bit weird, because Raziel doesn’t control like a tank, he can move in any direction, and the camera controls you do have are only to swing left and right unless you go into ‘look’ mode.

Knock, knock, knocking on Nosgoth's door.

But that’s it, genuinely, those are the only issues the game has. Of course, not being able to get it running is a pretty big one, and it does genuinely suck for the people who have that issue. But there are several different solutions out there, one of them is almost certainly going to work for you. And my oh my, but it is worth the effort to try them. Because, as already stated, Soul Reaver is an amazing game. One that is regaled as a classic for good reason. Of course, we aren’t going to turn down a remaster if you should be so inclined. Hint hint.

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