Rumour: Soul Reaver reboot in the works?
- Crystal Dynamics
Gamers of a certain age (that is, those of us just about old enough to at least remember the 80’s), will be familiar with Crystal Dynamics’ gothic saga of redemption and revenge that began with 1996’s Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. A top-down, side-scrolling action-adventure game, Blood Omen told the story of the nobleman Kain, assassinated one stormy night and subsequently resurrected as a vampire by the necromancer Mortanius. Kain’s quest for vengeance saw him travelling the realm of Nosgoth despatching the corrupted members of the Circle of Nine, sorcerers tasked with maintaining the Pillars – ancient edifices that held the world in balance. Ultimately a pawn in a greater game, Kain eventually found himself facing a choice: give his life to save Nosgoth, or damn the world and become its ruler.
Regardless of player choice, franchise canon dictates that Kain took door number 2, plunging Nosgoth into an era of darkness and rising to rule a vampiric empire, aided by six “lieutenants” - foremost of which was Raziel. When Raziel commited the cardinal sin of evolving wings before his sire, Kain tore them from his body and had him executed. Raziel was resurrected as a wraith to become the protagonist of the second game, Soul Reaver – a tale of rage and vengeance that stands head and shoulders above most modern games in terms of storytelling and narrative scope despite being released back in 1999. It spawned a direct sequel in Soul Reaver 2 (2001), and then shared a sequel with the Blood Omen plotline in 2003’s Legacy of Kain: Defiance.
"Raziel, you are worthy!" The wraith in all his soul-reaving glory.
Well, according to a report by VG247, Tomb Raider might not be the only franchise Crystal Dynamics are rebooting in the near future. It’s unclear at this point exactly what direction the Soul Reaver remake will take, or which of the charismatic leads will feature as protagonist – but there’s a fair chance more details will be revealed at this year’s E3.
VG247’s source suggested that the new title would be a complete reworking, with a new art direction and possibly an altered story line. It’s unlikely that the plot will deviate too far from what is already established lore (the fan outrage would be extreme), and more probable that changes made will reflect the advances in technology since the original title.
One of the central mechanics of the Soul Reaver series was Raziel’s ability to shift between the physical and spectral realms, either when his health was depleted or, later, at will in order to solve certain environmental puzzles. It was almost cutting-edge technology 13 years ago, but nowadays you could run such effects on an iPhone. It’s highly likely that Crystal Dynamics will take a similar direction but attempt to push the current envelope even further.
Graphics have come along way since 1999 - but so has gameplay. A modern reboot of a genuine classic? Yes, please.
An obvious (and major) influence on Vigil Games' 2009 apocalyptic action-adventure, Darksiders, Soul Reaver featured the mix of combat, exploration and puzzle-solving that has become so familiar to gamers – so it follows that if the series makes a comeback on modern consoles, it will move in similar directions to Darksiders II, perhaps including minor RPG elements and a revamped upgradable skill-set for its protagonist.
Of course, all of this is wild conjecture at this point, and we don’t want to move too deeply into wishlist territory so we’ll leave you with this thought: imagine Soul Reaver’s gothic, baroque universe and charismatic anti-heroes transplanted onto current-gen consoles, with HD visuals and a modern approach to storytelling and character progression, post Mass-Effect 3, post Dark Souls, post Arkham City.
If Crystal Dynamics go ahead with this reboot, it could be genuinely incredible.
For those of you who never experienced the original Soul Reaver, or those who just fancy a quick recap, here’s the intro FMV, lovingly polished to a HD shine by YouTube user DukeDantalion:
Words by Mick Fraser (Twitter: @Jedi_Beats_Tank)
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