Soul Reaver 2
Playstation 2 Game & Manual
Soul Reaver 2 is an action-adventure game developed by Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Interactive. It is a sequel to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and the third game in the Legacy of Kain series. Originally developed as a PlayStation and Dreamcast project, it was reworked into a PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Windows title in early production, and was released in 2001. Soul Reaver 2 was followed by two sequels, Blood Omen 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance, in 2002 and 2003. The game continues the adventures of the vampire-turned-wraith Raziel, the protagonist of Soul Reaver. Though Raziel initially seeks to exact revenge on Kain, his murderer and former master, this objective is superseded by a higher quest for knowledge. Traveling through history, he gradually exposes the truth behind his own past and destiny. Hoping to deliver a more story-focused, cinematic experience than Soul Reaver, Crystal Dynamics researched time travel fiction, theology, and the works of Joseph Campbell when creating Soul Reaver 2's narrative. Critics praised the game for its involved storyline, visuals and puzzles, but criticized it for lacking replay value and ending without a definite resolution. Its developers felt the final product fell short of their ambitions, but it performed well commercially, and was included on Sony's "Greatest Hits" list.
Soul Reaver 2 is a single-player action-adventure game. The player controls Raziel, a ghostly "ex-vampire", from a third-person perspective. Gameplay, which is based on the original Soul Reaver, prompts the player to shift between two planes of existence—the material and spectral realms—to progress. The material realm represents the physical, living world, whereas the spectral realm is a warped mirror of this environment. In the spectral realm, the player cannot manipulate objects and weapons, and water is insubstantial. Raziel's health slowly regenerates in the spectral world, whereas it gradually depletes in the material realm. If Raziel runs out of health in the material world, he is shunted into the spectral realm, and if killed in this plane, he returns to the nearest checkpoint. Save points enable players to record their progress and continue their game. Raziel retains most of the powers he possessed in the previous game, such as the abilities to glide, climb walls, fire bolts of telekinetic energy, and swim. To sustain his strength and travel between the planes, he must devour souls; this is typically accomplished by defeating enemies. The game's combat consists of a hack and slash system, entailing the use of combinations of attacks before executing a finishing move. Human enemies exist only in the material world, and include mercenaries, demon hunters, and the Sarafan, a monastic order of vampire hunters; other material creatures include dogs, thralls, and mutants. Sluagh are enemies who exclusively inhabit the spirit world, whereas cross-planar beings such as demons and shades can pursue the player between both realms. Enemies leave behind souls when killed, which replenish Raziel's health once consumed. The player's primary weapon is a ghostly version of the Soul Reaver sword, referred to as the wraith-blade. The wraith-blade is symbiotically bound to Raziel, and can be summoned or dismissed at any time in the material world, but, if overused, the sword can turn against Raziel, siphoning his health. Other weapons include claws, swords and spears. As the game progresses, the player encounters magical forges which imbue the wraith-blade with elemental powers associated with darkness, light, air, and fire. These enhancements have various uses, but are only available in the material realm. If Raziel shifts, he loses his active elemental imbuement, and must re-forge the blade at locations scattered throughout the game world.
Soul Reaver 2 is set in Nosgoth, a fictional land with fantasy elements. In the first game in the series, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, the vampire Kain embarks on a journey to restore the Pillars of Nosgoth—nine supernatural edifices which are inextricably tied to the health of the land, but become corrupted. During his adventure, Moebius, a manipulative sorcerer, tricks Kain into orchestrating the destruction of the vampire race: Kain is left the last surviving vampire in Nosgoth. After restoring eight of the Pillars, Kain discovers that he would need to sacrifice his own life to restore the final corrupt one. Realizing that his death would ensure the annihilation of his species, he refuses to kill himself. This triggers the Pillars' collapse, and dooms the world to eternal decay, but enables Kain to live on and revive the vampire race. By the time of Soul Reaver, 1500 years later, Kain is a despotic emperor, his vampires dominate the land, and Nosgoth hinges on the brink of collapse. The Elder God, a demiurge-like entity, lurks beneath Nosgoth and controls the cycle of reincarnation; the vampires, whose biological immortality opposes his doctrine, are his enemies. In Soul Reaver, Raziel—Kain's lieutenant—is executed by Kain, but The Elder God resurrects him and encourages him to exact revenge. Traversing the wasteland and murdering the vampires, Raziel confronts Kain, who attacks him with the Soul Reaver sword, imbued with a spirit which absorbs its victims' souls. The Soul Reaver shatters when it strikes Raziel, and the blade's spirit binds itself to his arm. His motives still mysterious, Kain lures Raziel through a time portal into Nosgoth's past. In Soul Reaver 2, it is established that, in Nosgoth, fatalism is an actuality—history is immutable, and all individuals are subject to predestination. Raziel, due to his paradoxical destiny, is the only exception to this rule—his presence enables temporal paradoxes to be triggered, altering history for better or worse. Kain relies on Raziel's free will in a bid to outsmart Moebius and resolve the dilemma he faced in Blood Omen, ultimately hoping to enable both the restored Pillars and the vampire race to co-exist in the future. Soul Reaver 2 opens as Raziel emerges from the time slip and is greeted by Moebius, having arrived in an era 30 years prior to the events of Blood Omen. Two further time periods, 100 years after and 500 years before Blood Omen respectively, are also explored as the story progresses.
Raziel returns as the protagonist of Soul Reaver 2. In Soul Reaver, Raziel discovered that he was once a human and a leading member of the vampire-hunting Sarafan brotherhood, and his epiphanies drive the conflict in the story. Kain, the antagonist of Soul Reaver, appears as a non-player character in cutscenes, urging Raziel to unearth his destiny. Moebius the Time Streamer, a sorcerer who was a villain in Blood Omen, attempts to manipulate Raziel into destroying Kain—it is revealed that he is an agent of The Elder God, Raziel's ally and guide in Soul Reaver, who is slowly established as a more sinister entity. Ariel, a specter bound to the Pillars who featured in Blood Omen and Soul Reaver, returns, and the vampire Vorador, also from Blood Omen, assists Raziel early in the game. The ancient vampire Janos Audron, a new character who was previously only mentioned in Blood Omen, acts as Raziel's mentor towards the end of the story.
The game begins by summarizing Soul Reaver's ending: Raziel confronts Kain in Nosgoth's wasteland, and pursues him through a portal leading to the past. Moebius, the leader of a vampire-hunting crusade in this age, coerces Raziel to re-embrace his former heritage as a Sarafan vampire hunter by killing Kain. Though Raziel is initially eager to do so, his enthusiasm wanes over time as he witnesses the ruthlessness of Moebius's soldiers. Kain, who is destined to die at Raziel's hands in this era, implores Raziel to thwart fate and instead facilitate his quest to restore the Pillars. After he learns that Moebius serves The Elder God, and that he has thus been duped, Raziel faces a decision: indulge his lust for vengeance but submit to fate by killing Kain, or defy his cohorts and exercise his free will by exerting mercy. While exploring this period, Raziel discovers evidence that two ancient races waged war in Nosgoth's distant past. One race created the Pillars to banish their adversaries, but the enemy race—the Hylden—retaliated with a curse which transformed the Pillars' architects into the first vampires. Kain explains that, had he sacrificed himself, the vampire race—the rightful inheritors of the Pillars—would have become extinct. Raziel chooses to spare Kain, causing a paradox; history reshuffles itself to accommodate the extension of Kain's life. He, however, refuses to indulge Kain's plans any further, instead opting to explore his own past. Vorador tells Raziel that the last of the ancient vampires, Janos Audron, held the key to Raziel's destiny, but Janos was murdered by the Sarafan five centuries ago. Deciding to speak with Janos, Raziel orders Moebius to send him further back in time. Moebius deceives Raziel, instead conveying him over a century into the future, where he and The Elder God highlight the consequences of the Pillars' destruction to turn Raziel against Kain. Raziel navigates the future era and finds his own way back to the age of the Sarafan and Janos Audron. There, Janos presents Raziel with the Reaver, a younger version of the physical Soul Reaver blade which will later house a soul-devouring spirit. Suddenly, a group of Sarafan led by Raziel's former, human self launch an ambush, and Janos sacrifices himself. Raziel swears vengeance as Janos dies, and pursues the attackers. He uses the Reaver to kill them and his younger self, renouncing his Sarafan past. The wraith-blade attached to Raziel's arm, over-aroused after the deaths of the Sarafan, suddenly seizes control of the physical Reaver, and impales Raziel; Raziel, horrified, then realizes his destiny. He himself has always been the ravenous spirit inside the Reaver, and therefore is fated to be stuck in a time loop; the sword shattered against him in Soul Reaver because it was unable to consume itself. While his soul is being drawn into the sword, Kain emerges and tears the Reaver from Raziel's body, saving him in reciprocation and forcing history to reshuffle again. However, this paradox strains Nosgoth's history too far, enabling the Hylden to return and jeopardize his ambition to restore the Pillars. Amidst Kain's dismay, Raziel realizes that the wraith-blade is still bound to him, and laments that his destiny has not been changed, but merely postponed.