Beta Comparison - Versions
Beta and Retail Versions
There are two unreleased betas which can be compared to the final version. The betas are only for the PlayStation (the game's native platform). The first one is an early version (dated 12 May 1999), but it is the closest full version of the game to the original story as intended. I'll refer to this one as "the early beta" version ("TEB"). The second one (dated 28 June 1999) is a more polished version and is very much like the final release (which was published 16 August 1999), though with less deleted content. I will refer to it here as "the later beta" version ("TLB"). The final version of the game is referred in this article as the retail version ("RV").
It is very interesting to compare the state of the game four months and then two months before the release and how much was changed or added during that short period. Both betas have an accessible built-in debug menu while in the retail release it has been removed from the disc altogether.
The title screen in each version is different. In TEB, the figures look different than in the final game and the menu has also cheats option. In TLB, the figures change into vampires randomly. In RV, their faces have been changed for unknown reasons.
While in RV, the top right figure (representing Raziel) after turning its head looks like the wraith Raziel, in TLB he looks like his vampire self instead. His eyes also don't glow blue in TLB and he appears to have black tears. The top left figure might be Dumah, though his face in RV is more human like. The middle figure (possibly representing Kain) has a more inhuman look in RV than in TLB. The middle left figure's half of face is fully covered in RV, while in TLB, his/her face is fully visible. Also, his/her eyes glow white in TLB, unlike the rest of the figures (however, they are red in RV). It might be possible that it is the Priestess (character's lips are much larger and female looking). The middle lower figure in RV resembles a zombie (Melchiah?), while in TLB, the figure has a beard and visible sharp teeth (Rahab?). The bearded man (possibly Turel due to long ears) in the middle right has a white beard in RV, while in TLB his beard is gray. The figure in the bottom right corner appears to have hair in TLB (Rahab?), unlike in RV, where he is bald (Melchiah?). The figure in the bottom left corner (probably Zephon due to the similar hair style) has a dark area around his eyes in TLB.
TEB is a very glitchy and unstable version. It is possible to trigger a wide array of bugs like the camera moving below Raziel, objects or Raziel have misplaced textures sometimes, or the game freezes because it can't load a certain level, object or an enemy. Sometimes the sound effects will glitch, causing them to loop. It is also possible to trigger the flying glitch. When solving puzzles and returning to the previous area, often times the state of the room is reset making it impossible to solve most puzzles.
TLB is more stable, though some sound or music glitches occur from time to time. The final version is the least buggy though it has a few remaining bugs. Raziel can sometimes run at super high speed (very rare), flying glitch can be triggered and snow and rain only fall at half of the screen, unlike in betas, where this issue wasn't present.
Besides the betas, there is also a very early prototype version (possibly an alpha stage of the game) including the Lighthouse area which can be found in a PlayStation magazine disk. The Lighthouse demo exe is dated 15 September 1998 while its bigfile is from 6 January 1999. It has a different entrance to the area (the one from Cathedral is blocked off and the tunnel which leads to the Warp Gate in the final version is prolonged and has an underwater gate - though it leads to nothingness). There are also rare prototype versions of Melchahim and Raziel's move scheme is from the KainDemo Trailer (where he can continuously attack during moving.). Raziel's attacks also leave a colourful trail (which was removed from the betas and retail). The demo has clunky controls, unlike the betas or final version and some sounds are different (attacking, swimming, vampire sounds). Raziel can swim in the demo, but he can't switch to spectral realm.
The Lighthouse demo has the earliest Raziel model present. It is the only published playable version with this model. The early model can also be seen on some very early screenshots and in the Salvation, Revelation, Deceit trailer. Raziel's blue colour scheme is lighter, his toes are not sharp at their tips, one of his eyes is smaller than the other (as seen on one of the concepts), his idle stance and attacking animations are different and he can't move while crouching. Raziel can also very rarely suddenly look behind him, animation which returned in Soul Reaver 2.
Salvation, Revelation, Deceit Video
The SRD video appears to be from even earlier stage of development than the Lighthouse demo. It has Raziel's earliest model but the souls are different and there are no blue particles implemented when Raziel devours a soul. It appears some of the locations were already built at this stage of the game (Nupraptor's Retreat, Water Glyph area, Melchiah's chamber, the Lighthouse, Sarafan Tomb and the chapel area, the City and one Reaver forge). The video doesn't show any footage from the spectral realm, so it might have not been implemented yet, just like in the Lighthouse Demo.
|Underneath The Tomb|
Raziel fights a prototype Melchahim under the Sarafan Tomb. It appears that Morlock was added later.
The KainDemo Video shows different locations than the ones seen in the SRD video and seems to be from a later stage of development with an improved Raziel model. The date on the disc reveals it was made 19 January 1999. The trailer shows Nupraptor's Retreat, the Drowned Abbey, the Silenced Cathedral, Turel's Territory, the Oracle's Cave, the fight with Melchiah, the Pillars, and the Water Glyph area with the statue. The video shows also the final versions of the vampires, unlike the SRD video. When Raziel attacks Melchiah in the video, there are blood particles, while in the betas and retail, Raziel is unable to damage Melchiah with his hands. The torch also appears to be reusable in this video, since Raziel sets on fire two vampires, while in the RV, the torch always goes out after igniting one enemy. The footage also shows Raziel shifting between realms with eight glyphs in his inventory and different shifting animation than in the betas and final version.
The video also shows the only footage of Raziel attacking a Rahabim underwater, an ability which was cut for unknown reasons from the game (possibly hard aiming or camera problem).
Fire Glyph Demo
This demo is almost the same as the final game. The only exception is that Raziel's lunge claw attack is the same as in TEB and TLB. In the German version of the demo the blood of the vampires is green instead of red. The demo ends after Raziel casts the Fire Glyph. This demo is also a part of TEB and can be loaded through the debug menu.
|Fire Glyph Demo Area in TEB|
The early version of the Fire Demo is loadable in TEB but doesn't end after casting the Fire Glyph.
They have the same amount of deleted content present on the disc and vary only slightly:
The Soul Reaver Development Timeline
This timeline speculates on the possible development of Soul Reaver:
|1.||[ Traditionally, in software development, a "beta version" was a feature-complete test version of a particular piece of software. The term is used correctly here, as both of the beta builds that Raina describes have all of the features that would make it into the final version of the game, even if some of them are buggy. This is in contrast to an "alpha version", which is somewhat usable but is not feature-complete. It is also in contrast to the marketing term "beta", which numerous corporations are guilty of abusing to mean "anything that isn't finished yet". —Ben Lincoln ]|
|2.||[ I know I'm going to get a lot of emails asking about this even if I include this note, but no, I can't help you obtain either of the beta versions of Soul Reaver. Sorry :\. —Ben Lincoln ]|
|3.||See also The Lighthouse Demo article.|
|4.||See also The KainDemo Video article.|
|5.||See also the Salvation, Revelation, Deceit article.|
|6.||See also the The Fire Glyph Demos article.|