Not only is Soul Reaver nice to look at, it is also very playable. Combining elements seen in the Tomb Raider series and other action/adventure games, the majority of the time you will be searching areas to complete puzzles and the other time battling enemies in gruesome to the death battles.
Raziel's journey takes place across two worlds or physical planes in a similar fashion to what Acclaim used in Shadowman. It is important to note however that Soul Reaver appeared long before Shadowman. Anyway, in the Spectral Plane, Raziel can jump, fight and glide but he can not move physical objects such as blocks or weapons. In the Material Plane, Raziel can use weapons, move blocks and other special moves that are collected throughout the game. To survive in the Material Plane Raziel must reave souls as he travels. If his life meter runs out he will be sent back to the Spectral Plane where he must rejuvenate before heading into the Material Plane again. Therefore, the B-button is used to 'inhale' souls after Raziel has defeated an opponent.
Moving Raziel is quite easy with his basic jumping, crouching and attacking moves. He is able to push, pull, flip and lift objects in order to solve puzzles and discover secrets. The battle modes are made easier with an autofacing function. While autofacing your opponent you can move around and pick up objects to use against your enemy. Switching between opponents is also made easy.
An important facet of the game is the ability to move the in-game camera as needed. While it is not as free roaming as those found in games like Zelda, it is efficient enough for the purposes in Soul Reaver.
The Jump Pak is utilized quite well in the game. You will sense heartbeats when Raziel gets close to danger or things he cannot see. For example, walking up a circular staircase I felt pulses as I rounded the end of the case to find an enemy awaiting to devour me. A nice touch to the overall experience.
Simply put, Soul Reaver is a massive game that involves complex puzzles, exploration, and experimentation. There are a large number of portals that need to be unlocked in addition to secret passages. You will have to go between the two planes a number of times to unravel the puzzles and mysteries behind the brilliant story. Of course there is some intense action along the way with bosses that are no easy push over and you may even have to kill them two or three times along the way as they jump between the two planes.
The old strategy of simply blasting a boss with your best weapons is no good here. You will have to actually use your brain in order to put them down. Expect to spend a long but rewarding time playing through Soul Reaver. The average gamer can expect to spend 40-60 hours on the game if you want to find everything the game has to offer.
A very admirable addition to the Dreamcast software library and the first worthy action/adventure game to appear on the console. The game would have received an additional star if Eidos and Crystal Dynamics had added special stages or options exclusive to the Dreamcast version. If you have already played the game on Playstation or PC then you know what it has to offer. However, if this is your first outing with Soul Reaver it is a title that should not be overlooked. It is an exciting game filled with danger and mystery that evolves thanks to an incredible developing plot and richly textured environments.
Review By: Mike Weatherup