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Topic: User Impressions/Reviews Thread

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Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

Yeah I know it wasn't quite what you asked @Th3solution but it's the best I could do with what I know.

Seeing as the UK has a vast number of regional dialects for such a tiny spit of land and japan being a collection of islands... I've no doubt they have plenty of regional accents too that they use for such a thing.

I'm sure I've heard of an anime that anthropomorphises various countries so I assume that might be worth taking a look at in the native japanese for something more of what your original question was asking (Though assuming you're not fluent in japanese it'd be a bit hard to tell) of course if Valkyria Chronicles IV has the japanese dub as well as an option you could always try that to see?


I'll add them both to the list! It'll probably be a while before I act on them though as there's a bunch of games I'd like to play first... Unless I get a REALLY good deal on them

"Well that was fun. Horrible, but fun!" Fargus The Jester - Pandemonium (After a summoning a monster that destroyed his home town)

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

Ralizah

@Th3solution Glad you enjoyed VC4. Still one of my favorite games this gen. Its improvements from VC1 are subtle, but had a big impact on my enjoyment of the game.

You're right that the game hardly looks different from the PS3 original, which is a testament, I think, to how well the watercolor-esque art style holds up.

Unsure how foreign accents are localized in Japan, if at all, but I do know that people with kansai dialects in anime/games are often localized with strong Southern drawls (that is, Americans with southern accents; often texan accents, in particular). They're not really the same thing at all, but it's the easiest way to localize a situation where a character from another part of the country speaks in a noticeably different way.

Now you get to play the post-game, where you're basically a necromancer who can revive the people who died during the course of the game; even Minerva's slain girlfriend Cristel, which is highly disturbing, when you think about how much that traumatized Minerva. Of course, the game doesn't address the fact that you're basically having your living soldiers live and fight alongside resurrected zombies. Except for Raz, which the game won't allow you to revive, lol.

Not only are there other main story squad stories you're missing, there are also post-game squad stories, more story cutscenes, a harder version of the final boss fight, a raised level cap, an unlockable True Ending, etc.

And then you get the DLC!

I'm slightly annoyed that people who bought the game at launch don't get cheaper access to the DLC now that the complete edition is out, though. At least, not on Switch. I think Steam purchasers got upgraded to the complete edition for free.

Current Games:
Super Mario 64 (Switch)
Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 (PS2)
Ys I & II Chronicles+ (PC)

PSN: Ralizah

RogerRoger

Despite being about games I'll likely never play, just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading the two long-form reviews by @crimsontadpoles and @Th3solution on the previous page. Great write-ups about a pair of sevens (or thereabouts), so thanks for sharing!

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

Th3solution

@Ralizah Ah yeah, it was a good time. I think it’s a great mishmash of game genres and I just love the combat.
The part I struggled with was the mission where you have to take on the Vulcan and Crymaria at the same time. And the AI was so much more aggressive and nearly impossible to take down, even from the high vantage point. I think it was Ch. 14.

Yeah, I am tempted to do the post game and extra squad stories. And now that you mention, I’d like to see Minerva reunited with Cristel and play through their story
In a way I’m already craving more of the game, but in a way, I feel the need to move to the next game. Fortunately this game is not twitch muscle memory dependent and can be picked back up after a break and easily back in the groove. I just loaded my clear save and looked over the post game menu and the Cenotaph but I didn’t really get into or understand how to approach it. Talking about it makes me want to try it eventually. We’ll see.
The game certainly did not skimp on content. There is a load to do here.
How many hours did you devote to the game, including doing all the post game?

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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Forum Megapoll 2020 - Best Video Game Box Art: Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Special Edition

Ralizah

@Th3solution VC4 still has a number of issues. The physics in the real time movement sections are wonky, to say the least (I always get a kick out of trying to run my tank into characters). The boss battles... well... they suck. Sort of like with Fire Emblem games and side-scrolling brawlers, the well-tuned gameplay kind of breaks down into unfairness or tedium when you're faced by one or two really overpowered units. Some chapters still do this annoying thing where something happens partway through that COMPLETELY changes the calculus of the battle, and can often lead to you losing through no fault of your own, just because you didn't prepare for the scenario changing completely. The story... isn't bad, but it's tropey. Same goes for a lot of the characters. The game's treatment of sexual harassment is... not great. Worst of all, though, is that you can still basically scout rush huge chunks of the game, for the most part.

Despite all that, I still love the game to bits. There's really nothing else quite like it.

There's easily 100+ hours of gameplay in VC4. Probably more if you want to max out characters levels. Not including the DLC, of course.

I think, on my next playthrough, I'll do a 100% run with Japanese audio + all DLC.

Edited on by Ralizah

Current Games:
Super Mario 64 (Switch)
Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 (PS2)
Ys I & II Chronicles+ (PC)

PSN: Ralizah

Th3solution

@Ralizah Yeah, like we’ve said on these forums before — some games are greater than a sum of their parts. Most of us have favorites that can be dissected and critiqued harshly on a granular level, but when you take the experience as a whole, they just resonate as fantastic experiences.

An example for me is MGS5. I can’t argue that the game has its faults. But I just loved it besides all that.

I feel like VC4 is a great game, but I personally wouldn’t put it over Detroit Become Human or Red Dead Redemption 2 for GOTY 2018. But for you it clicked and transcended above all its little weaknesses to be your favorite. And that’s okay. I can’t argue with that.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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Forum Megapoll 2020 - Best Video Game Box Art: Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Special Edition

Ralizah

@Th3solution Detroit was extremely decent. Glad I played it. Not sure when I'll get to RDR2, though. I'm swamped in games right now, and after March my 2020 is pretty much booked.

Any idea what you're playing next?

Current Games:
Super Mario 64 (Switch)
Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 (PS2)
Ys I & II Chronicles+ (PC)

PSN: Ralizah

Th3solution

@Ralizah My last two games to complete have been Concrete Genie and VC4, both extremely unique and peerless games; then I started The Last Guardian, another very artistic game with a novel and distinctive style. After a couple hours of it I decided I want to take a break from the unorthodox and spend time in something familiar. I do enjoy games that trailblaze or are creative and different, but I kind of just feel like something conventional now, so I started Assassin’s Creed Origins, a game and a series I’ve been meaning to get into for a while. It doesn’t hurt that I was reviewing my 2019 gaming goals and one of them was to try out one of the new AC games. After playing the first 6 games in the AC series, it definitely grew a little stale and I haven’t spent time in an AC game in several years. Origins has been a ‘reinvention’ of the series supposedly so I needed to give it another chance.

Well, my first impressions after a few hours are mixed. My preconceived ideas of the experience are pretty accurate; the game is very familiar to what is popular now in the post-Witcher 3, Skyrim, Fallout, Dragon Age era of Western RPGs — that is, a large open world action stealth title with copious map markers, side quests, exploration, and character progression. A time sink to waste dozens of hours running around in and advancing a story at a snail’s pace whilst killing progressively harder baddies with progressively better equipment and skills.

In fact, in the opening hours I feel like I’m just playing a re-skinned version of The Witcher 3. I’m not sure how I’ll do with this. The reason I stalled on W3 was because it overwhelmed me with its sheer volume and for some reason I just couldn’t get into any momentum. AC Origins does have the benefit of having come out a few years later, so it has an extra coat of polish and quality of life improvements that might make things more palatable.

I’m extremely early, but I really like the falcon or eagle or whatever that bird is. I forget its name ... Senu or Samu or some-such. Anyways, that’s a great way to quickly explore and prep an area to visit or infiltrate. It’s a borrowed version of the buddies from MGS5, akin to what D-dog and Quiet can do for you in that game, although so far a little less useful since it doesn’t attack (at least not yet).

The game is graphically and technically solid so far. Even the map is beautiful. I think it helps the immersion that the game looks so good, so we’ll see.

As opposed to The Witcher 3, I have a history with the gaming universe of Assassin’s Creed so I feel I might be able to stick with this since I ‘get’ this world better, narratively. Still, one of my early complaints about the game is how it drops you into the world so quickly without any exposition. The training is pretty streamlined and the foundation for who the characters and enemies are is lacking. So far the big antagonist I’m supposed to be trying to kill is just some priest guy who this random NPC friend of the protagonist basically says, “He’s a really bad guy, trust me. He needs to die.” and that’s about the extent of it. I don’t feel any animosity toward the bad guys, its just a little paint-by-numbers so far. I understand the desire to get players into the meat of gameplay quickly, but I really don’t feel attached to Bayek at all and the first town seems a little like a demo that exists in a vacuum. I’m sure it will crystallize at some point and I’ll care about what’s going on in the world, but I just hope it happens in the next 2-3 hours or I’m going to have trouble continuing. I guess I’m a guy that just needs a solid enticing story to compliment the gameplay.
Being a history buff, I feel like this might help me stick with the game too, although ancient Egypt is not one of my strong suits.

It’s a long response to your question, but I’d been meaning to drop an early impression post about ACO anyways 😅. If anyone has any encouragement or advice about ACO, then I’m all ears.

Edited on by Th3solution

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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Forum Megapoll 2020 - Best Video Game Box Art: Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Special Edition

Rudy_Manchego

Thought I would try my hand at a quick review on my lunch break:

For this, I'll pick Afterparty which I played on XB1 (but is available cross platform).

Afterparty is the follow up game from Night School Studio's, the creators of Oxenfree, a mauch lauded and very enjoyable narrative game from 2016. I was excited by Afterparty because of Oxenfree, which told a very interesting horror/sci fi thriller within a branching narrative that offered wildly different stories depending on the choices you made.

Afterparty loosely follows this template, in that the game is another narrative story with limited user interaction. The plot focuses on Milo and Lola, two lifelong best friends with social issues who find themselves dead and sent to Hell. There they find that Hell is largely made up of bars and heavy drinking and set about trying to challenge Satan to a drinking competition in a loophole that would allow them to return to their lives on earth.

I won't say more because this is a heavy narrative game. From a gameplay stance, the game is very basic. You control the characters and mainly navigate them around very linear worlds where you only real interactive is dialog choices and occasionally drinking. There is a drinking mechanic which means that depending on the type of drink, you can get different dialog options if you chug the drink during conversations and interactions.

If you don't like narrative games with minimal gameplay, obviously the game won't be for you. If you do like narrative games, I wish I could say that this was up there with the best but I'm afraid I had a few issues with the game.

Firstly, there are some points to the game that are just stellar. The voice cast is diverse and fantastic throughout. There are some interesting characters and some story mechanics that are very funny - including the concept of a personal demon that is created just for your personal torment that provides both laughs and drama. The dialog is very good and does an excellent job of conveying the characters. The soundtrack by Oxenfree alum scntfc is great, pulling on demonic elements with a beaty rythmn that has some great background tracks. The art design is also really nice and Hell has an interesting look.

On the bad side, at time of playing, there were some serious performance problems. Regular stuttering, items and NPC's popping in and out and some delays with speech or so on. For a not graphically sophisticated title, this is disappointing and I am not normally someone who minds a few slowdowns but it was very very noticeable for me.

Worst though, I am not sure how the branching narrative worked. I wasn't sure that my choices had really mattered in the same way they seemed to - I have only done one playthrough so not sure but from what I could, these make minor changes to the story and not massive divergent branches depending on what I did. From a story point of view, it felt a little predictable in places once you go the rhythm.

Overall, I liked the game but, for a title I was very much looking forward to, it was not as good as I had hoped. At approx 4-5 hours long, you aren't looking at a huge time investment. I enjoyed it for the characters, voice acting, music and world - all of which are very very good. However, technical issues marred it and I think the branching narrative was possibly too limited to make it a classic of the genre. 7/10.

Now I may be an idiot, but there's one thing I am not sir, and that sir, is an idiot

https://jambags.co.uk

PSN: Rudy_Manchego | Twitter:

RogerRoger

@Rudy_Manchego Interesting; quite a few games have picked up on the notion of choice-based gameplay, only for it to wind up being a superficial addition that doesn't really impact outcomes. I see you had other issues but, with such a short run-time, do you think you'll ever play it again and make alternate choices, just to test how much you can grab the wheel, so to speak?

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

Rudy_Manchego

@RogerRoger Hmm good question (and thanks for reading). I may well give it another go through as I know that there is at least one variation from a brief google but it is just a little too long for me to give it that quick play through. I am more likely to play Oxenfree again because I have spoken to a few friends who finished that game and all of us had different paths.

Now I may be an idiot, but there's one thing I am not sir, and that sir, is an idiot

https://jambags.co.uk

PSN: Rudy_Manchego | Twitter:

Th3solution

@Rudy_Manchego Interesting review by the way. Great take on a lesser known entity.

I’ve been meaning to replay Oxenfree and try for the platinum. Just never have done it. I want to try the “be a jerk to everyone” approach.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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Forum Megapoll 2020 - Best Video Game Box Art: Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Special Edition

Rudy_Manchego

@Th3solution I was talking about that with a colleague yesterday - I just struggle to do be a jerk in these games. Something about wanting to be a good person maybe!

Now I may be an idiot, but there's one thing I am not sir, and that sir, is an idiot

https://jambags.co.uk

PSN: Rudy_Manchego | Twitter:

RogerRoger

@Rudy_Manchego Yeah, I'm often the same; I struggle to pick opposite choices and, more often than not, a quick Google can satisfy my curiosity. It's kinda why I'm watching the Eurogamer playthrough of Life is Strange at the moment; I was in the mood for it, but not enough to commit fully returning to the game myself, especially when I knew I'd just pick all the choices I did before.

And agreed; five hours is just the wrong side of "long evening in front of the telly" (if I'm honest, I struggle to play anything more than two before I need to take a break nowadays).

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

Oh nice review @Rudy_Manchego

I'll admit I quite liked the art style/direction of this even if it's not particularly my cup of tea. Shame the drinking mechanic sounds good in practice but doesn't seem to add up to much overall regarding the narrative

Seeing as it's such a narrative heavy game I could do quite happily watch someone play this to enjoy the story... Only problem is finding someone who I like lol

"Well that was fun. Horrible, but fun!" Fargus The Jester - Pandemonium (After a summoning a monster that destroyed his home town)

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

Rudy_Manchego

@RogerRoger Same here - I've already googled a bit of Afterparty after reading your message. I think if it comes to Switch and is on sale I may give it another go.

For Life Is Strange, I'd still play that the same as those were the answers I identified with and for me, that is part of the fun of the game. The answers should resonate with how you want to play.

@Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy I would recommend it if you like narrative games and realistically, a couple of evenings would see it through but equally I could see this being popular with let's players. Oh and thanks for the kind words!

As for my next review... well I am not sure. I may do AC: Odyssey or God Of War: Ascension on PS3 because I have nearly run through that... because there is one thing any forum needs and that is an amateur review of a 7 year old game on a previous gen system.

Now I may be an idiot, but there's one thing I am not sir, and that sir, is an idiot

https://jambags.co.uk

PSN: Rudy_Manchego | Twitter:

JohnnyShoulder

@Rudy_Manchego Thanks for the review of Afterparty, I loved Oxenfree so will give that a go at some point. Usually I would wait until it comes down in price, but I felt a bit guilty after how much I enjoyed Oxenfree so I pony'd up for extra content. So I don't mind pay a bit extra than I normally would to support the devs.

We are now in a world of people being offended for other people who they think should be offended, who arent offended.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

PSN: JohnnyShoulder

RogerRoger

@Rudy_Manchego Oh sure, absolutely agreed about in-game choice. I just feel that, with things like Life is Strange, things that border on being an interactive movie more than being a traditional game, it's a little more fun to see alternate paths unfold (and perhaps to see the reactions of others to said choices, and hear their reasoning why) rather than just reading about them.

I've played through the entire Mass Effect trilogy twice, second time around basically making all the same moves, building the same relationships, etc. because it created "my" story and I'd connected so much with it, I couldn't bring myself to think about anything else.

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

RogerRoger

ABZÛ
PC, PS4 (version played), Switch & XboxONE / August 2016

Fish are weird.

We know less about oceanic life than we do about space, and so it made me smile when the opening cinematic sub-surface dive of ABZÛ slowly transitioned into what appeared to be a classic science fiction starfield. Knowing nothing about the game as I booted it up (beyond a handful of screenshots) I was surprised by where its two-hour runtime took me. I thought I was signing up for some kind of Jacques Cousteau undersea safari, but that first fade to space proved to be more deliberate than a statistical cameo. I'd love to write more about how things went down, but I fear it'd spoil things for those who've yet to play ABZÛ... and you really, really should play ABZÛ.

After that brief introduction, you're given control of a nameless, faceless diver bobbing gently on the surface of a seemingly-endless ocean. Within the first two minutes, you're shown all the controls you'll need for the entire game. Standard stick-twiddling aside, R2 makes you swim forward, whilst the cross button will initiate an extra kick of speed. Square interacts with things (mostly small submersible cameras which cut open seaweed doorways for you) and L2 can be used to hitch a ride on some of the larger marine life you may encounter. That's literally it. When combined with zero HUD elements and light-touch environmental signposting, the impetus to simply explore can feel quite immersive.

Untitled
On Porpoise: Allow yourself to be guided towards the bigger, more imposing sea creatures and you're sure to have a whale of a time.

Now, fish may be weird, but they're also beautiful and intelligent creatures. Your actual mileage may vary depending on your personal levels of animal adoration, but I found myself strongly connecting with some of ABZÛ's representations of sea life. The game (perhaps wisely) avoids rendering some of the more unusual or unsettling citizens of the deep; this ensures that, even as giant squid and neon jellyfish loom out of the darkness, there's a degree of majestic cuteness that keeps you swimming towards it all, rather than away. Indeed, ABZÛ directly challenges the long-held, Hollywood-reinforced villainy of some specific species. One early moment had me freeze in terror but, should I ever replay the game, I'll likely smile and wave instead. This I liked. This I liked a lot.

Despite having a cel-shaded art style, there's a realism to these aquatic NPCs. Great care has obviously been taken to represent undersea life in a particular way; it's part-cartoon, part-documentary but whatever the ratio, it's really effective. Atop certain statues amidst all this teeming activity, you can direct your diver to sit and meditate, allowing your perspective to float away as you flick the left analogue stick from fish to fish, watching them swim about (and occasionally eat one another). This helps ABZÛ feel alive, in a way few other games have managed.

Untitled
School's Out: The temptation to stop and just play with these polygonal piscine pals could add a third hour to the game's otherwise-brief duration.

The other large attraction of ABZÛ's beauty is its soundtrack. It may be a floaty orchestral affair of the exact kind you'd expect from a slow-paced underwater game, but it's one of the very best examples of this stereotype, so I can't be mad at it; instead, it just enhances any hints of mystical, other-worldly splendour, rising and falling in perfect unison with the gameplay (during both scripted sequences and, somehow, free-roaming areas). For it to crescendo just as a pod of orca randomly brushed past me was enough of a surprising audio-visual treat to get me all misty-eyed. ABZÛ may be lacking anything directly designed to tug at my human heartstrings (yes, RiME, I'm looking at you) but it remains a very emotional experience, if only on a visceral, sensory level.

It's easy for me to conclude these thoughts without discussing what ABZÛ actually is. As I've often found with these kinds of short, wordless journey games, the overall puzzle is only completed by the personal pieces each individual player brings with them. Its total value as a finished product is therefore highly subjective. It provides no definitive answers; all of the brief story hints are open to interpretation, and so stating "this is what happens" or "this is what it means" would cheapen the perspectives of others.

Especially since, whilst such ethereal uncertainty might merely make for a curious hook in other, similar games, it feels right at home throughout the entirety of ABZÛ.

After all, fish are weird.

PSN ID: GDS_2421
Making It So Since 1987

Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver for PS1, Dreamcast, PC and PS3 (Via the PS1 Classics range (Which is the version I played))

I played it for over 12 hours (Maybe 13) over the course of a week.

I ended up leaping at the oppurtunity to play something completely new and had always wanted to try (I'll get back to you Witcher 3... and Dark Souls 2... I promise!)


A Little Background

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is bizzarely both a sequel and a new beginning for the franchise it's a part of.

Why's that?

Well the previous game was called Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain for starts. Made by the developer Silicon Knights.

And whilst Soul Reaver (by Crystal Dynamics) is a sequel... It doesn't really require any prior knowledge to play. I didn't know anything about the series when I started and found it made perfect sense.

Soul Reaver is also 3D action adventure game rather then Blood Omen and it's 2D stylings so there was a complete gameplay and presentational shift as well.

Things however do take a slightly confusing turn later in the series when there's an actual related sequel to the first title on PS2 (The rights of the series firmly in Eidos' hands by this point after the dispute was settled out of court towards the end of Soul Reaver's development) that was titled Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen 2 made by a team other then Crystal Dynamics that buggers continutity up a bit according to fans and the last game in the series, Legacy Of Kain: Defiance, had to try and fix!

... Confusing much? I certainly think so 😅

Personally I find Legacy Of Kain a much nicer title for the series, Blood Omen sounds a bit generic...


Story & Characters

For this I really could just put the opening cinematic here and call it a day.

Here.

... I mean I won't just do that.

But there's not much more I really can say as it covers it really well.

Plus fairly decent 1999 CGI, great voice acting and crude polygonal PS1 models surely beats reading text from a 38 year old British woman doesn't it?

You play as Raziel. A vampire, and clan leader, whom has served Kain (the "protagonist" of the first game) for countless years in the world of Nosgoth.

Raziel however, upsets the balance of power by "evolving" before his master Kain. The head vampire only allowing his loyal underlings to do so after he has.

Kain, in a seeming fit of jealousy, rips the bat like wings Raziel has gained to shreads by channeling his inner "Mortal Kombat Kombatant" and tears the bones out from them in a single strike.

Raziel is then thrown in the Lake Of The Dead by his "brothers" on Kain's command, where apparently weaklings and traitors go (Water burns them like acid), to be tortured for all eternity for his transgression.

Fortunately for Raziel he finds there is actually a bottom to the lake after countless millennia of agony and torment...

The Elder God (He's not given a name in game), a swirling mass of tentacles and the spinner of souls, saves Raziel from the precipice of destruction and madness.

He sends Raziel on his way with new purpose and power. To kill every last vampire, as souls can apparently no longer be spun anew into the wheel of fate thanks to the immortal vampires and their reign of terror.

So with vengence in his heart, Raziel heads off into Nosgoth once more to kill Kain and restore balance to the world...

And that's seriously all you need to know.

Really.

In fact despite there being a whopping 9 characters... You only need to know Kain, Raziel and The Elder God.

Ok there's a character who's important... Only at the end and undoubtedly more so for the sequel

And a spirit who's introduced and completely forgotten about who might be important in the sequel too?

And the four "brothers" (Melchiah, Zephon, Rahab & Dumah) of Raziel's you fight? I think the Crash bosses have more depth and personality!

Let's... just get on with the next section... I'll come back to my thoughts on the story in more detail later.


Gameplay & Design

Untitled
Certainly an iconic look!

Soul Reaver (Made with an updated Gex 3 engine) is an Action/Adventure game in all it's vague genre defining glory.

There's a smidge of Legend Of Zelda thrown in there regarding how abilities are gained, a nice helping of old school Tomb Raider with puzzles, some cumbersome and dated PS1 era combat for good measure, L2 and R2 for camera control & finished with a vampire apocalypse coat of paint.

Plus it almost feels a bit Dark Soulsy (I'm a professional reviewer now bringing DS up in completely irrelvant games!) with how there is no death fail state.

There's a lot of grey and brown (Or blue if you're in the shadow spirit realm). For the time it no doubt was quite different and unique looking... But it's fairly drab nowadays. Post apocalypse is sooooooo last year.

(As KalOfKrypton told me though and upon taking a look at a few videos, the Dreamcast version is THE version you want to play with better graphics, 60fps... But this review is about the PS1 version emulated via PS3 sadly!)

The fact the game doesn't have a map doesn't help with it's overly complex and labyrinthine like layout.

Plus when you save the game and quit, you return to the very start of the game in the underworld and have to travel back to where you were.

Thankfully the game A. has no loading screens baring the initial boot up thanks to some particularly genius coding and B. There's a warp gate system that'll allow you to hopefully get back to the closest area you were at.

Only the game gives each warp gate a symbol for reference. No text or anything to help you remember where you were. So good luck on that.

Luckily none of the puzzles, block platforms, or even weapon items are reset once you save & quit... so you should be able to make it back to where you were fairly easy.

... So long as you actually found a warp gate.

The game is a bit stingy at placing these down at times (some are even hidden in very weird places) and you could end up having to replay a section for a good 10 - 20 mins.

Oh and when in the physical realm you very slowly lose health... so you need to beat enemies and consume their souls.

Losing all your health sends you to the spirit realm where you slowly recover health. But if you end up "dying" there you'll be sent back to the game's very first room.

Despite being rather clunky, the combat isn't that hard though.

Plus... none of the powers you get are particularly well used.

Melchiah's "walk through iron bars whilst in the spirit realm" ability is almost purely for gating player progress.

Zephon's "wall climb" is only really used twice for the main story and again only really to gate progress.

Don't even get me started on Rahab's swimming ability that's ultimately used once to progress the story.

Dumah's abilty to trace "circles" round very particular objects and cosmically move them (You can also bind enemies but why would you?) is unbelievbly naff (Couldn't have a switch or lever do that?)

They're just not cleverly used or in a meaningful way unfortunately.

In fact the only mechanic used well for puzzles is the shifting planes one. Ya know the ability you start with.

Even then it's usually to impede progress as you can only shift back to the physical realm at certain designated places (and the reasoning for it is... I'm not sure it really even gives one).

Only a handful of times does the potentially shifting architecture really come into play... it's usually just this platform shifts from a spike, this platform will raise up/down a few inches, or this pipe bends and becomes a ramp.

There's a grand total of one physic puzzle in Melchiah's area and one timing puzzle in Zephon's that's kinda clever using the shifting planes (The spiritual realm freezes time, makes you weightless and allows you to walk through water)

Bit more on this later on too.


Sound

The voice acting is sooooooooo gooooood!

  • Raziel is voiced by Michael Bell (whom was 60 at the time!)
  • Kain is voiced by Simon Templeman
  • & The Elder God is voiced by Tony Jay (Count Frollo from Disney's Hunchback Of Notre Dame & MegaByte from Reboot)

The trio really lend themselves to the roles, going in all on the voice work. They're really great!

Raziel usually has a little monologue to each new area he comes across.

The Elder god having an almost delightful sneer of something far beyond mere mortals and knowing more then he lets on...

and Kain has some great lines when you see him

The soundtrack by Kurt Harland on the other hand has nothing I'd reccomend you listen to... But it's wonderfully atomospheric and suits the dying world of Nosgoth and Raizel's lone journey through it to a T.

The sound effects are what you expect... Nothing else really to say!


Spoilers regarding the Story & Design

Ok so I don't feel my above reflections will quite do the game justice on why or how I'll eventually score it.

So this section has my extended thoughts on the Story and Design in full spoilery glory

With tags of course so people can skip over it if they so choose

The Story

The game ends on a cliffhanger and unfortunately nothing of import is really done over the course of the game in my opinion. Sure you beat Melchiah, Zephon, Rahab & Dumah. But that hardly feels like any accomplishment. They're woefully easy puzzle bosses that you learn nothing about and Raziel learns his human body was originally from a religious faction in the past.

That's it.

Ok sure Kain escapes into the void of time and the rest of the franchise has now been turned into a time travel plot. But honestly it feels like you can watch a youtube edit of just the "cutscenes" or skip this entry. Nothing of value is particularly lost.

Really the only thing that holds this game together is Raziel. He's an interestingly written, well designed and amazingly voiced protagonist. Kain's also a nice villian in the woefully short amount of time you see him and the Elder God is a great disembodied voice... But Raziel (Or rather Michael Bell's performance) is the glue that binds the game together

Untitled
A picture of the in game graphics while you scroll through

As for the design

The fact that upon reading about the development of the game I learnt that whole chunks of the game were hacked off... I wasn't surprised in the slightest. I had my suspiscions when Zephon's area felt about twice as long as Melchiah's and upon getting to the third area it was painfully short in comparison and the fourth brother's area wasn't that long either

It definitely feels like it'd been rushed out to release. I don't know if the lawsuit caused any problems with what they were allowed to put in the game though, which could explain a bit.

However... the fact that there's a cheat code that allows you to shift planes at will (with no problems at all seemingly, I only tried it after I beat the game) makes the game seem designed to be a LOT longer then it needed to be.

The magical glyphs you can get to learn new spells are all hidden... But pointless. I found only two. The first by complete chance and the second was in an entirely new and completely optional area that ended on another motherploughing block puzzle.

The combat is never hard enough to need them and you have to really go out your way to get them anyway. In fact I used another cheat code for infinite magic and the other glyphs too once I finished the game to test them out and they aren't even that great either! Can't use them against bosses either! S'really not worth the effort!


Final score and thoughts

Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver is a game that unfortunately started off strong, exceptionally so in fact, only to take a wrong turn and end up swan diving off a mountain.

It hit every rock on the way down and yet somehow managed to crawl it's mangled mess of a body across the finish line somehow and was still breathing.

4/10 for me personally

But, for the first time ever, I will officially give it an increased score compared to my viewpoint and give Soul Reaver a 5/10 overall.

Despite my low score... I am actually looking to at least try Soul Reaver 2 to see if it's improved/holds up better then this.

I quite like the lore and most of Soul Reaver's faults are more so on the passage of time and gameplay changes over the years... baring those other points I mentioned.


Pro's

  • Great, dare I say near flawless?, voice acting
  • A very unique and atmospheric soundtrack
  • For it's time a graphical powerhouse and made great technical strides and milestones with it having no loading past boot up...

Con's

  • ... But the game looks terribly drab even in context for the most part. Combat is very middling too.
  • Puzzle bosses are all very easy and the usage of their powers is very uninspired.
  • The narrative, for all the dialogue's grandioscity, (unfortunately) has the depth of a puddle.
  • Bonus spells are utterly useless.
  • Block Puzzles are bad and you should feel bad Crystal Dynamics!
  • Much longer then it needs to be, possibly underdeveloped

Edited on by Foxy-Goddess-Scotchy

"Well that was fun. Horrible, but fun!" Fargus The Jester - Pandemonium (After a summoning a monster that destroyed his home town)

"Words don't make changes. Wounds do." Agent Black - Iconoclasts

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