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Cut Scenes is Josh Wise’s regular column on the intersection between films and video games. This week, it’s Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver vs. The Crow.

There was always something of Eric Draven’s grief in Raziel’s downfall, a suffering borne of loss, carried on the wings of cruelty. Perhaps it’s the perpetual Devil’s Night Kain damned the land of Nosgoth to, or the way a craven coven of lieutenant’s carried out the hit, but when Kain decreed Raziel be thrown into the Lake of the Dead, saying, “Cast him in,” he may as well have said, “Fire it up!”

But it was never just the fall that bound Raziel with Eric: it was their return from the depths. “The descent had destroyed me… and yet, I lived,” says Raziel, at the outset of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. His corroded form a shell, he stands in the blue void as a discarnate voice coaxes him back from the aether: “You are worthy.”

Eric didn’t have the luxury of a guide that spoke, but he awoke in similar fashion: disoriented, his skin the colour of bone, his back bearing two bullet-holes. He stumbles through alleyways, drawn hypnotically to the site of his trauma – the apartment he shared with his girlfriend, Shelley. The pair were the victims of a gangland hit ordered by Top Dollar, a criminal kingpin with similar heir apparent swagger to Kain.

Eric is guided by his totem, a crow, which communicates in squawks and beckons with its beak. But the cogs driving Eric turn just as Raziel’s mysterious benefactor describes: “The Wheel of Fate must turn; all are redeemed in the cleansing agony of birth, death, and rebirth.” And there is a force behind Eric’s quest for vengeance. He may only have its feathered envoy to guide him, but we are given a legend: “People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead,” goes the film’s opening narration. “sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.”


The ‘wrong things’ in Raziel’s case are his former brethren, the generals in Kain’s vampire army and the ones who carried out his execution. For Eric, they are the top brass of Top Dollar’s criminal enterprise, sent to murder him and shelley as part of a real estate grab. In carrying out their mission, both anti-heroes have their feet planted in two worlds. Eric is on loan from the land of the dead, his fate tied to the crow that perches on his shoulder. His wounds heal when freshly cleaved; he falls from great heights; he is shot and stabbed. He is incapable of death because he has one foot in that world and one in ours.

The same is true of Raziel, in a literal sense. He is capable of shifting between the Material and Spectral realms, flitting between the folds of two concurrent realities. If he is killed in the material world, he becomes a spectral entity, and can return to continue his crusade beyond death. He also has a similar spiritual totem: he is bound to the essence of the Reaver, a legendary sword that Kain used to conquer Nosgoth. The wraith-blade coils around his arm, a spectral version of the material weapon, and a constant reminder of his mission.

For both avenging angels, there is a palpable sense of, not just invulnerability, but destiny: that they are not being allowed to die. There is business unfinished, and, despite their being granted preternatural powers, both are ultimately bound on the wheel of fate. Victims, aren’t we all.

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