--- Soul Reaver ---
Imagine you're a powerful vampire, one of the most powerful of all vampires--strong, respected, and immortal. Something like this:
Your boss is the vampire who created you, Kain. He rules a world changed by his coming. You're his favorite son, his first creation, and second in power only to him. As you age, you gain new powers, and you can see them as Kain gains them first.
After a thousand years of loyally serving your master, you are the one to change, before him. You gain wings before he does:
Kain isn't best pleased by this turn of events. His reaction, first, is to relieve you of your new burden.
After that, he has you thrown into the Lake of the Dead, an eternal torture for vampires, who can't abide the touch of its waters.
But your torture is not eternal. You wake, centuries later, in the ruined husk that was once your body. You have no jaw and little flesh left on your skeletal frame, but you somehow live.
The voice of a being speaks to you, claiming to be responsible for weaving souls into the world's destiny. He tells you that Kain has usurped the proper order of the world by granting immortality the souls locked into vampire's bodies. He grants you the power to consume those souls, in order to restore balance to the world, and in order to avenge yourself. He makes you into a Soul Reaver.
What would you do?
This is the scenario that begins one of the coolest games around--Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. It's an ambitious game, but well-rooted in the adventure genre. With this awesome story as a backdrop, you can't help but expect the game to fairly ooze "cool". And it does. Everything from the art style to the game mechanics, to the nice touches of detail are as cool as it gets. It's not often that a game as cool as this one is as good as this!
This is the hook: the gameplay mechanic that sets this game apart. Raziel can move from the 'spirit world' to the 'material world' at will. And he has to in order to progress through the game. He can't get through doors in the spirit world, and he can't traverse other obstacles in the material world (such as gates, or this level, where he needs to go up this tower...and look how his path appears for him in the spirit world). It's a gameplay mechanic that goes back to Zelda 3, but no game has ever used it as well as Soul Reaver.
Raziel's too cool to exert himself too much unnecessarily. This is one of the small touches I mentioned.
Here's a taste of combat, a look at Raziel consuming a soul, and another nice touch: the death animation of defeated vampires.
This is Melchiah, the youngest of Raziel's vampire brethren, and the game's first boss. After Raziel was condemned, all his brothers underwent unique transformations of their own over the years. Raziel hadn't "gotten ahead" of Kain after all--he was merely going his own way. All his brothers did the same, gaining their own abilities. Now Raziel can steal those abilities for himself, by consuming their souls.
I wonder what Raziel would have looked like, eventually, had he continued to evolve along the lines of a winged being...
Boss #3, brother Zaphon. He's become quite the ugly thing. And Raziel's mourning his lost flesh...could be worse, man.
And here's Rahab, the vampire who overcame his weakness to water. And he did it so well, he got all fishy in the process. When Raziel defeats him (or any other boss), he gets to do a scene from Highlander, just in case his game wasn't cool enough already. "There can be only one!"
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