"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.
|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 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.
|Posted by Ben Lincoln, 2013-06-02 @ 22:00|
|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.
|Posted by Ben Lincoln, 2012-05-28 @ 02:00|
|More Dark Prophecy Articles, Soul Reaver Beta Comparison, And More|
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.
|Posted by Ben Lincoln, 2012-05-13 @ 21:30|
|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.
|Posted by Ben Lincoln, 2012-02-20 @ 19:30|
|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.
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.
|Posted by Ben Lincoln, 2012-02-20 @ 00:00|
|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.
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.
|Posted by Ben Lincoln, 2011-03-14 @ 01:00|
|Blood Omen Decompressor and Umah Concept Art|
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.
|Posted by Ben Lincoln, 2010-4-30 @ 14:00|
|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.
|Posted by Ben Lincoln, 2010-4-18 @ 22:30|
|A Deleted Pirate Ship in Blood Omen|
Some of you may have read Rusminin's post at the Eidos forums or Divine Shadow's post at the NeoGAF forums about a surprising discovery - an area deleted from Blood Omen which can still be reached by using a walk-through-walls cheat. I've created an article about this ship - the HMCS Bitter - with quite a few screenshots, maps, and a saved game file that PC gamers can use to access it themselves if they don't want to use the Blood Omen Trainer for some reason.
This is not an April Fools joke. Rusminin's post was originally made back in February, but I didn't see it until Divine Shadow tipped me off. I deliberately waited until well after April 1st to post this, which also gave me time to investigate Blood Omen in depth to see if there were any remaining buried secrets. Unfortunately there do not appear to be, but the results of my investigation are available in the Map Survey article. There is also a new build of Soul Spiral available which recognizes most of the filenames in Blood Omen (and incorporates an experimental hex editor feature that Andrew Fradley sent me several years ago). A version which correctly recognizes all filenames for that game should be forthcoming.
The Russian fans who discovered the Bitter did so while doing research for their ambitious project to recreate Blood Omen in 3D. If you haven't seen their work-in-progress Blood Omnicide) yet, it is most definitely worth a look.
|Posted by Ben Lincoln, 2010-4-11 @ 17:45|
|April Fools Retrospective and Missing Content Restored|
For April 1st this year, Divine Shadow was kind enough to let me post not one, but two of his epic April Fools jokes from the early 21st century.
Some of you may remember the first - Doll Reaver - Legacy of Turelzevir. This was a fairly involved production on the part of Divine Shadow that had its own website at the time (although it is no longer available at its original address). This presentation includes not only all of the original content, but some special bonuses such as the full-resolution trailer videos.
The second is a bit of a "lost world" all its own - Anacrothe's Adventures was an even more ambitious project from the early 21st century which would have resulted in a fully-playable fan game. As it is, Divine Shadow graciously provided the fourth (and final) playable beta to give everyone an idea of what direction it would have taken. Most of the regular visitors to Nosgothic Realm were in on the secret at the time, but I had no idea until a few months ago.
I've finally reposted Andrew Fradley's excellent article Creating The Defiance PC Trainer, which describes some of his hacking work to create that piece of software. That article was one of a handful that got lost in the shuffle when I rebuilt the site in 2007, and I apologize for taking so long to get it back online.
Finally, I've posted the 1.02 patch for the English version of Soul Reaver 2 (see Soul Reaver 2 PC Patch version 1.02). I've gotten numerous emails indicating that Square Enix no longer makes it available, and it fixes numerous common issues with that game.
|Posted by Ben Lincoln, 2010-03-31 @ 21:00|