The Soul Reaver series was on sale recently on GOG.com. This series is one of those that takes me back to my childhood even though I never actually played most of them. In fact, I only ever read about Blood Omen, played the Soul Reaver demo once in my early PlayStation days and actually started my blog with Defiance, but ended up abandoning it due to a game breaking bug. I remember being sort of scared of the Soul Reaver demo and having a hard time figuring it out, but I also remember how cool it was to throw a spear at an enemy or impale it with one.
As I said, I abandoned playing Defiance, but I liked the style of the series, so I decided to give it a shot with the first game in the Soul Reaver series, after finding it on sale. I know Blood Omen is the actual first game and I know it’s supposed to be awesome, but it seems to be quite different in style to the other ones, so I decided to skip it for now.
Does Soul Reaver work on Windows 8?
Short answer? Yes, yes it does.
A slightly longer answer would be that it runs fine, but it has some issues. The GOG version runs in full 1920×1080 resolution and my generic DualShock rip-off controller works, but it has issues with analog controls, so I have to play with the d-pad.
The sound also sometimes has issues where it stops working or works on a delay, bit this only happens after lengthy playing sessions. Other than that, the game works nicely and the experience is very enjoyable, provided you don’t have an issue with graphics.
Actually, I’d even say the graphics are fine, even impressive, considering the era. The models are of low fidelity, of course, and there are no facial animations, but this is offset by extremely nice voice-overs. The soundtrack is amazing and very atmospheric. It fits the game perfectly. Raziel’s wing animations and the shift between the material and the spectral realm are also very nicely animated. I wonder if the game looked as good on the PlayStation as it did on the PC, because I don’t remember it.
The story of the game is that Kain doomed the world of Nosgoth by not sacrificing himself to restore it. Instead, he raised a bunch of vampire lieutenants and basically besieged the entire world. Now, vampires mutate over time, gaining new abilities, etc., so Raziel, the protagonist, somehow managed to develop actual wings.
In an act of jealousy, Kain tears of Raziel’s wings and throws him into the Lake of the Dead, a large, natural whirlpool. Since Raziel is a vampire, the water kills him, but some time later, he gets resurrected by an entity calling itself “The Elder God”, as a soul reaver – a creature that feeds on souls like a vampire would feed on blood. Apparently, the vampires threw the flow of souls out of balance, so it’s now Raziel’s job to kill his brothers and restore the balance.
The first part of the game was sort of a tutorial. This game was quite complex for its time and it introduced a few very original elements, so the Crash Bandicoot style of introductions was pretty much out of the question. Still, the game doesn’t consider the player completely incompetent, so quite a lot was left for me to figure out on my own. This caused me to get stuck on some puzzles along the way, but also made it feel so much better when I finally did figure it out.
Eventually, after familiarization with the realm shifting feature, some relatively easy block pushing puzzles and a lot of fighting with zombie vampires, I got to the area belonging to Raziel’s former clan. I got all the way through it, circled back and unlocked a shortcut to the back area by pushing a block on top of another one and creating a new route, I got really stuck.
I couldn’t find any way to continue. Every single new route I found and tried ended up needing another ability to get further and the Melchahim clan lands seemed to be fully explored. I actually ended up wandering into the human city and took note of a lot of items I’ll be able to pick up later, but I wasn’t able to advance the story any further.
Eventually, though, I did figure it out. The shortcut in the Melchahim area wasn’t a shortcut. I was supposed to move the two blocks to the side a bit to unlock a whole new route, which lead me to a larger block puzzle. After using some braziers to collapse a whole floor, I finally opened the gate to Melchiah, Raziel’s brother and the first boss.
Defeating Melchiah was another puzzle. I had to lure him under a bared gate and drop it on him. After that, I needed to do it with a second gate and finally lure him into the cage in the center and drop a huge grinder on top of him.
Defeating Melchiah gave me my first ability. I could now pass through bared gates in the spectral realm. Nearby in the area, there was a gate like that which lead to a room with an item that increases my health, so I collected that soon enough. I need to collect five of those to actually get an increase, though, so there wasn’t any change in my stats yet.
The Elder God let me know where to go next, but for now, I think I’ll do some exploring of the areas I was already in, to see if there’s anything else I can collect.
By the way, did I mention the music in this game is awesome?
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