[ Legacy of Kain: The Lost Worlds ]

"Time fades even legend..."

- Kain, describing the Soul Reaver

 

Every great story is pared down from a larger concept. The reasons vary, but the result is the same - a catalogue of the things that might have been.

This website is dedicated to preserving the deleted and altered material from the Legacy of Kain series of videogames. It is also a repository for the tools that are necessary to explore the remains of those Lost Worlds.

Because of the nature of the material discussed here, there are frequent plot spoilers for all of the games in the series. Even sections about earlier games in the series may give away the secrets of the later episodes.

An assortment of new content

Here's a batch of articles I've been meaning to post for awhile, but which to my dismay until now had slipped through the cracks for various reasons:

I've also updated the Nosgoth Community Day article to include some additional ways that the new game is referencing previous entries in the series (it's at the very end of the page). Since I'd already collected them for that update, I've added downloadable versions of the symbols for the human classes in Nosgoth to the Symbols article (the vampire class symbols are already there, as they're the clan symbols for Dumah, Turel, and Raziel).
 
Nosgoth - A new game that is really going to be released

Along with 15 other members of the fan community, I recently had the opportunity to visit Square-Enix's London studio for a preview of Nosgoth. You can read all about it in Nosgoth Community Day.

I've also added a placeholder section for the cancelled title Dead Sun.

There have been a number of other really interesting things that I've gotten stuck finding time to post here for the last year, and I am hoping to have them ready in a week or two. Stay tuned.

 
Further updates to the Dark Prophecy articles, and the possibility of a new game

After another unreasonably-long delay, I'm happy to present two additional chapters in Divine Shadow's series on The Dark Prophecy: Hylden Armour Wraiths and Earth Elementals. Please note that the delay is entirely my fault - DS had the work done in the fall of 2012, and I just haven't had time to get it ready to post since then.

In addition, Raina Audron wrote to me with some very interesting news: the evidence is mounting that a new Legacy of Kain game is nearing release. As most fans are aware, there have been quite a few rumours over the years that a new game was in development, and we know that at least one of these (The Dark Prophecy) was a genuine work-in-progress which was canceled. What makes this time different is that a domain name (warfornosgoth.com) has been registered (although it is only hosting a blank page as of this writing), and technical information in Valve's Steam software as well as AMD patches make reference to the game (alternately referred to as "War for Nosgoth", or simply "Nosgoth"). This is not an official announcement or a guarantee that the game will actually be released, but it will be interesting to see if it makes an appearance at E3 later this month, or at PAX in late August/early September.

For further discussion on this potential new game, please see this thread over at the Eidos forums, or this thread over at the Nosgothic Realm forums.

For anyone who's curious why I've been too busy to update TLW more frequently, it's because back in March of 2012 I switched careers from systems engineering to information security. It's been really great to be able to use my reverse-engineering and hacking skills professionally, but it hasn't left a lot of time for other things. Fortunately, I've always intended TLW as more of a historical account, as opposed to a news source :). There are a number of things I've been meaning to add for some time, though, and while it may take longer than I intended, they will appear sooner or later.

 
Previously-Unseen Footage of Turel's Territory

Brazilian fan Thiago Paulino tipped me off to a fantastic discovery - a previously-unknown video of Soul Reaver which contains footage of The Turelim Clan Territory which (to my knowledge) does not appear anywhere else. You can find some screenshots and download the entire video in the Video Demo - 1999-03-16 article. Thank you, Thiago!

A few people have also written in to let me know that the PC version of Soul Reaver is now available from GOG.com. This is great news if you've been trying to find a legitimate copy of the game and coming up empty.

 
More Dark Prophecy Articles, Soul Reaver Beta Comparison, And More

After a longer-than-expected delay, I've posted the next two articles in Divine Shadow's series on The Dark Prophecy: Ariel, and The Seer.

I'm happy to present another guest author - Raina Audron, who many of you already know of thanks to her involvement in numerous fan-projects. I had noticed Raina's comparison screenshots of pre-release/beta versions of Soul Reaver awhile ago, and she greatly expanded on this concept to provide a fantastic amount of detail. The result is a seven-article series! You can get started with the Beta Comparison - Introduction article, which links to the other six.

Thanks to Umah Bloodomen from the Eidos forums, I've been able to add a second variation on the text in the Early Versions of The Story article and some scans of the brochure she emailed me that hint at the deleted content.

Stefan Paker noticed that one of the Soul Reaver 2 videos from the old version of TLW was missing - the one that shows the remains of the Possession and invisibility abilities, The Full Ring Menu, and some of the graphics debugging options. It's been re-added to the appropriate articles.

 
Additions and Corrections

I just added some information on the very useful and amazing patches produced by the Russian Legacy of Kain community to the Running Blood Omen on Windows XP and Vista and Running Soul Reaver on Windows XP and Vista articles.

I've also applied some minor corrections to The Dark Prophecy section that went live today.

 
The Dark Prophecy and TLW's 10th Anniversary

The Lost Worlds is celebrating its 10th anniversary today!

In one of the most extensive updates to TLW since the release of Defiance, I am proud to present an incredibly well-researched new section courtesy of Divine Shadow - The Dark Prophecy, a sixth entry in the series which was in the works during the mid-2000s, but cancelled. While you may have read some of this information elsewhere (probably in Divine Shadow's own forum posts), I guarantee that this section contains material you haven't seen anywhere else. Incredibly, this is just the beginning - there is still more to come!

I've decided to take a chance and set free a piece of Legacy of Kain series history that's been sitting in my collection for almost as long as this site has existed: the pair of Blood Omen Scripts that were given to me back in 2002. Hopefully the (anonymous) benefactor who provided them approves.

The Technical Documents section has finally returned (only five years later than I planned). This is a small archive of information from the early days of TLW, but a number of people had asked for it to be brought back online. Andrew Fradley contributed a brand-new article for the revived section: Soul Reaver 2 Gex Engine Notes.

Andrew Fradley has also released an alpha of a brand new version of ModelEx, which can read the models from Soul Reaver 2. Yes, you can now export the areas and characters from that game too :).

As a special bonus, I have released the source code to all of the applications I've written over the years related to the Legacy of Kain series. This is mostly of use to other hackers, but also serves as the best documentation I know of regarding the proprietary file formats that they handle. The source code is in a big bundle in the Source Code Collections article, and the source code for numerous applications of Andrew's (released and unreleased) is also posted there.

While I was getting the code together for that, I used it to build new releases of the Blood Omen 2 Control Station, The Eye of RAW, Only Skin Deep, Quintessence, the Soul Reaver PC Texture Utility, the Soul Reaver 2 Trainer, Soul Spiral, and The Sound of Her Wings. All of this software should run correctly on any version of Windows® now (as long as the .NET Framework is available for it) - including the 64-bit version of 7, which I know was a long-standing complaint in the case of at least two of those applications. I did the same thing for the old and new versions of ModelEx as well.

Jenny Pans contributed a high-quality recreation of the Soul Reaver as it appears in in-game artwork in the original Blood Omen. You can find it (in raster and vector formats) in the Blood Omen - Miscellaneous Artwork article.

Josh Modva mentioned a very impressive reimagining of Raziel, created by Tsvetomir Georgiev. This appears to just be a piece of (extremely high-quality) fan art, but if a Square-Enix executive happens to see it and greenlight another game as a result, I won't complain.

One last contribution from Divine Shadow - he discovered that Tension Studios' website has a couple of the cinematics from Defiance in very early draft form, with temporary textures and other elements. This is a rare opportunity to see what a game with high visual polish for its time looked like in its early stages!

By now, most of you will have already seen Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, but if you haven't, it is another outstanding action/adventure title by former Legacy of Kain series director Amy Hennig. Unlike most series which reach a third episode, Uncharted isn't a simple rehash of the original installment. Each sequel has been markedly different than what came before it, and Uncharted 3 is no exception. You'll see echoes of the earlier games (as well as a few of the Kain series), but this is most definitely a true sequel and (unlike games released by certain notorious publishers) not what would have been sold as an "expansion pack" back for half the price of the original game back in the 1990s. However, the new elements are woven into the game so well that I think if you play through this one, then go back to the first two, you will find yourself missing things you didn't even realize were new in 3.

I have been asked by another anonymous party not to disclose the reason that I am mentioning the new console release NeverDead, but I am going to discuss that game anyway even though I can't tell you why I am doing so. Gameplay-wise it seems to me like a cross between Batman: Arkham Asylum and Devil May Cry / Bayonetta, with bits of Vanquish thrown in. From a genre/style, and humour perspective, it reminds me again of the aforementioned Vanquish, but mostly the cult Japanese films Tokyo Gore Police, The Machine Girl, and Helldriver. In fact, I'm actually a little bit surprised that that genre seems to have registered enough on Konami's radar that they financed an entire game in that same general style. If you like very fast action and dark, quirky comedy, I highly recommend this one - especially because unlike most games in this genre, it's not table-poundingly difficult on the "Normal" setting.

PS: The menu bar on the left side should finally be a little easier to read.

 
Ben, You Jerk, Why Haven't You Updated TLW In Almost A Year?

As some of you know, I've been being a hermit, working to finish up some software for my multispectral photography project. That took me over a year, but the first release is finally done, and I feel like I can take a break for awhile.

In the meantime, some interesting events have unfolded regarding Legacy of Kain:

Crystal Dynamics released a DLC add-on for Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light which replaced the two main characters with Raziel and Kain.

The first playable demo of Blood Omnicide was released! This is a fan-made 3D update to Blood Omen, and is easily the most impressive fan project I've seen.

Vincent Chevalier released a complete playable fan-game - Legacy of Kain: Revival - done in the style of Super Metroid / Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

It's been long enough since the other major fan game (Legacy of Kain: Prodigal Sons) was announced by its creator that I still get emails asking me if I know about it, because the update where I posted a link has rolled off of the main page. It still seems to be being actively worked on, but there haven't been any releases since the original demo, which came out something like two years ago.

There are some exciting things planned for The Lost Worlds this year, but I'm going to keep most of them a surprise for now. One of the things I can reveal is that I'll be working to update a few of the applications (e.g. Soul Spiral) that don't work correctly on Windows 7 (or, at least, the 64-bit version).

In some of the time I've taken off for the last couple of weeks, I finally got around to playing Darksiders, which is a game from 2010 that several readers recommended to me. Now that I've played it, I wish I had paid more attention when it came out.

Darksiders is by far the most Legacy of Kain-like game I've ever played - even more so than inFamous, which is quite a feat. Hilariously, the game's creator claims that Legacy of Kain was not really an influence, but don't let that laughably ridiculous statement dissuade you from checking it out. It seems to be extremely polarizing in terms of the opinions it inspires in gamers, but I am definitely one of the people who thought it was excellent. In my mind, it is the closest thing we are likely to see to a modern remake of the original Soul Reaver, reimagined in a somewhat different setting, but built the way that Soul Reaver was originally intended: a stand-alone, complete story, with a nearly unbelievable amount of abilities and items (for an action/adventure game) to unlock. The writing isn't as strong as the Kain series, but the rest of the game is so strong that I'm willing to overlook that one minor flaw.

Here are a few of the many ways that Darksiders reminded me of the Kain series. Most of these are minor spoilers, so ignore the rest of this post if you want to play it without knowing anything.

  • The game is set in the post-apocalyptic ruins of a world that was destroyed a century before the bulk of the main story takes place.
  • ...however, the introduction takes place prior to that apocalyptic struggle.
  • The story borrows heavily from various mythological depictions of heaven, hell, demons, and angels, but reshapes them to its own ends.
  • The protagonist is a sword-wielding outcast on a quest for revenge who can glide (but not fly), can see into a shadowy alternate world, and consumes the souls of his slain enemies.
  • Like Soul Reaver, the adventure/ability/puzzle aspect of the gameplay is (very) obviously influenced by the Metroid series. In particular, it is an open world, but most areas require earned abilities to access, and as one progresses through the game, they will notice little hints about things they will be able to do later on once more abilities have been earned.
  • The bosses are of the Soul Reaver / Blood Omen 2 style where they are puzzle-based, in contrast to the regular combat used against non-bosses.
  • The ruined future-world is presided over by an enormous tower, constantly looming in the distance.
  • The introduction plays out as a cinematic, then a playable sequence prior to the protagonist's fall, very much like the beginning of Blood Omen.
  • The "Serpent Hole" areas look exactly like a modern recreation of the more supernatural parts of the Eternal Prison in Blood Omen 2, and function identically to the Warp Gates of Soul Reaver.
  • The major characters all have tribal-style symbols, just like in Soul Reaver.
  • Like Defiance, it combines Soul Reaver-style action/adventure gaming with Devil May Cry-style combination-based combat.
  • Most of the weapons can be "imbued" with either different powers or elements, and they change colour to indicate this.
  • Like Soul Reaver (but taken to a whole new level), in addition to the standard weapons, it's possible to grab objects from the environment and use those instead.
  • Numerous areas are extremely similar in appearance to the Human Citadel in Soul Reaver, some of the more fantastic Steampunk areas of Blood Omen 2, and the Sarafan Stronghold of Soul Reaver 2 / Defiance.

There are quite a few lesser aspects of the game that I could add to that list, but hopefully that gives you some idea of why it feels to me like a "spiritual remake" of the original vision of Soul Reaver. There are even a few block puzzles (but nothing like the block puzzle onslaught of Soul Reaver). If you liked any of the Kain games - but especially if you liked all of them - I highly recommend giving Darksiders a try, especially at its current bargain price. I liked it so much that I feel a little badly not having paid the original retail for it.

Finally, a bit of Darksiders: The Lost Worlds. I dusted off my hacker's hat and went poking around in the game code to see if there were any unreleased codes (besides "The Hollow Lord"). There aren't, but I discovered that the "Shadowflight" ability appears to have been originally named the "Tempest Cloak", and the "Mask of Shadows" was called the "Eye of Lilith". For you Zelda fans that are convinced that it was that series and not Metroid that influenced Darksiders), the "Abyssal Chain" is referred to internally as the "Ghost Hook", and the "Crossblade" is in fact referred to as the "Boomerang" in a couple of places.

 
Blood Omen Decompressor and Umah Concept Art

Umah Bloodomen from the Eidos forums was kind enough to negotiate the release of Daniel Cabuco's previously-undisclosed concept art for Umah in Defiance. Thank you Umah and Daniel!

The Blood Omnicide team asked me if I could help decipher the compression method used on the image tile and map files used in Blood Omen, and after a bit of reverse-engineering work I succeeded. The result is the Blood Omen Decompressor, whose main use at the moment is to convert the GRPnnnnn.CTM files into regular TIM images.

 
Soul Spiral 1.4

I've added a new build of Soul Spiral that recognizes nearly all of the filenames in Blood Omen and corrects some minor bugs. Thanks to Andrey Grachev for providing me with some of the filename information.

The filename list is complete enough now that I've been able to verify that there is no map 66 in the game, so the Map Survey article has been updated accordingly.

 
 
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