[ Legacy of Kain: The Lost Worlds ]
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.

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