Of all the returns and reboot ideas that turn up when people start making lists there’s one that always crops up: a Soul Reaver Remake. The PS1 classic, starring Raziel, is over 20 years old now but its name is still whispered in reverential tones. Directed by Amy Hennig, of Uncharted fame, its darkly gothic take on vampires fighting for control of a Tolkienesque fantasy world, packed an incredible amount of atmosphere into its levels. Largely thanks to an amazing cast, a story full of twists and undead familial drama, and a fantastic dimension shifting mechanic that saw you slide between the real world and a spectral plane to progress.
If Soul Reaver was ever to return it makes a lot of sense to take the remake route, crafting a ‘new’ version of the original with a more modern sensibility. Reboots and glossy sequels might sound flashy but they’re likely not the best way to resurrect this classic game. Let’s take a look at why.
Not one Soul Reaver follow up was as successful, so recreate what worked
Soul Reaver was the second in the Legacy of Kain series, and saw three follow-ups, (four if you count the quickly cancelled multiplayer-only Nosgoth). Most of the sequels had their merits but were only really cashing the cheques Raziel’s debut earned. Although there are six released games in the series, Soul Reaver is the only one that people really remember, so start there. Something about it stood out and lasted years so don’t throw that away.
There have been seven canned follow-ups: trying to reinvent the wheel doesn’t work
There have been seven attempts to make a Legacy of Kain game that never went anywhere, if you include spin-offs and linked projects. They include the failed direct sequels Kain 2, The Dark Prophecy, and most famously Dead Sun. Nosgoth was a multiplayer spin-off canned almost as soon as it was launched. Plus then there were the related projects, Sirens and Chakan, and a Kain RPG simply called Omen. There have been plenty of attempts to create something new, perhaps it’s time to stick with what works and focus on a remake or remastering.
A Soul Reaver Remake would allow the original plane shifting
The whole ‘thing’ with the original Soul reaver was a plane shifting mechanic that let you move between two dimensions. The real world and the spectral realm, which was basically a twisted, alternate version of it. In the original game, they were both basically the same place, with only colour swaps and geometry shifts to represent each side. More recent sequels approached this mechanic by having two separately modelled levels running at once, with ‘shifting’ changing which one you saw. Obviously that’s pretty intensive for any console to run (the canned Dead Sun apparently struggled to hit 20fps, for example). Going back to the original would be a perfect reason to reuse the original system of a single, shape-changing level, and cut out a major development hurdle.
It would be the perfect way to update the series rather than reinvent it
As pretty much all the sequels, and failed games, have proven, the Legacy of Kain series has never really managed to hit the heights it did with Soul Reaver. So rather than trying, again to make a whole new game, focus on updating the original to today’s tastes. The Resident Evil 2 Remake is a perfect example of that - it’s basically the same as the original, just through a modern lens. The world, combat and story of Soul Reaver is still strong enough that you can use it all wholesale, just with updated mechanics.
Tap into that nostalgia
For a game over 20 years old the original Soul Reaver still has active communities, fans and interest. Nearly all of which stems from that one game. It would be anywhere between risky and stupid to throw all of that away trying to make something different, especially given the track record for this series with reboots and sequels. Stick what people know and remember, and just make a new version to tap into that rich nostalgia vein.
Maybe get Amy Hennig back?
Okay, this is a bit of blue sky wish but Cory Barlog came back for God of War. Most of the ex-Infinity War team behind Modern Warfare came back for the new one. Both Resident Evil 2 and 3 Remakes have original team members involved. Soul Reaver was ex-Naughty Dog/Uncharted director Amy Hennig’s directorial and writing debut so if it was remade you’d have to wonder if she’s considering coming back. She’s setting up a new division at Skydance Media right now, though, so it’s unlikely, but we can dream.