- "Tumbling, burning with white hot fire, I plunged into the depths of the Abyss. Unspeakable pain... Relentless agony... Time ceased to exist... Only this torture... and a deepening hatred of the hypocrisy that damned me to this hell."
The Abyss was a massive whirlpool in the middle of the Lake of the Dead that was seen in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. During the reign of Kain's empire, vampires were executed by being cast into the Abyss. At the bottom of the Abyss was a set of underworld caverns accessible only in the Spectral Realm where the Elder God resided. Ultimately the Abyss was the place Raziel's execution and the womb of his rebirth as a wraith as well as an important landmark in its own right.
The Abyss was a major landmark in Kain's empire in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.[SR1] Although the Lake of the Dead was first seen in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, the whirpool of the Abyss did not feature at this time[BO1][BO1-C6] and was first seen in the Soul Reaver era in the introduction to Soul Reaver, where - wtih contact with water being fatal to vampires - it was described as the execution ground for "traitors and weaklings". When Raziel evolved before Kain by growing a set of wings, he was condemned to suffer the same fate - "to burn forever in the bowels of the Lake of the Dead". Carried by his brothers Turel and Dumah, Raziel was taken to the Abyss and cast in on Kain's command.[SR1][SR1-C1]
For centuries Raziel endured this torment before finding himself resurrected as a wraith in the underworld in the lair of the Elder God beneath the Abyss. The Elder claimed responsibility for his revival and offered him a chance of revenge: to use his new existence to settle his dispute with Kain and become the Elder's soul devouring "angel of death". Raziel agreed and was slowly trained by the Elder God on his new powers as he made his way through the caverns of the underworld to the surface.[SR1][SR1-C1][SR1-C2]
After passing the Sanctuary of the Clans, Raziel made his way back to the cliffs of the Abyss and found the whirlpool was largely unchanged, and he was able to use it as a landmark of sorts to get his bearings in the new Nosgoth before travelling on to the territory of his clan.[SR1][SR1-C2]
The Abyss then served as something of an initial hub area, allowing Raziel access to locations such as Raziel's Clan Territory, the Underworld, the Sanctuary of the Clans and the City - with areas such as the Silenced Cathedral and the hub for the Ruined City and Oracle's Cave also positioned nearby. At any time Raziel could also jump down the abyss to the underworld, returning him to the Elder's chamber in the underworld. In addition, Raziel would be returned to the underworld beneath the abyss if his Health coil was depleted in the Spectral Realm, and each loaded game began in the Elder's chamber.[SR1]
Although it does not appear in later games - which are mostly set in earlier time periods - the Abyss looms large in later stories as the womb of Raziel's rebirth as a wraith - as such it is mentioned, directly or indirectly, several times in both Soul Reaver 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance.[SR2][DEF]
Design, Layout and ComparisonsEdit
When seen in the Blood Omen era in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain in the chapter Vorador's Mansion the Lake of the Dead was a fairly inconspicuous body of water, appearing directly after the Mist Form Dungeon and barring the entrance to the Termogent Forest, the lake effectively was a barrier forcing Kain to use Mist Form. At the time the Lake consisted of something of a 'Q'-shape with Kain crossing at the narrowest stretch at the south-east. The main body of the lake to the north-west was hemmed in by a set of cliffs and housed a large island at the center with a Megalith stone circle and a teleporter in the middle which led to the outskirts of the Lost City.[BO1][BO1-C6]
When seen in the Soul Reaver era of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver at least 1500 years later, the lake had heavily eroded becoming the massive whirlpool of the Abyss. Most of the lake had dried and the water level had dropped significantly, leaving only the northwestern area of the lake, and this was hemmed in by tall cliffs. At the center of the area formerly covered by the island a massive sinkhole had developed draining all of the water of the lake, which was fed by the steep waterfalls around its outer edge and a number of smaller waterfalls and streams coming over the cliffs. The island at the center was now featureless and was broken into two smaller sections either side of the sinkhole, each accessible from the outer edges by wooden bridges which spanned from breaches in the cliffs.[SR1][SR1-C1][SR1-C2]
Two versions of the Abyss were seen in Soul Reaver, with one seen in the rendered FMV 'Vampire Scourge' introduction cutscene and a slightly different version appearing in gameplay and gameplay-related cutscenes from 'Underworld' onward. It is unclear if the differences between the two were the result of behind-the-scenes artistic decisions taken by GlyphX and Crystal Dynamics or were in-universe and the result of several centuries of further erosion after Raziel's execution.[SR1][SR1-C1][SR1-C2]
The GlyphX FMV version of the Abyss appeared to be on a much grander scale, with islands, bridges, waterfalls and background all appearing to be much larger than the later interpretation. The pillars that remained of the islands appeared to be more rugged and rocky, as were the cliffs which were given a brown hue. The amount of water flowing into the sinkhole was much greater than the later version, giving the impression of a complicated swirling cascade of water. The background was also more detailed with a number of landmarks such as the pinnacle of the Silenced Cathedral and the Smokestack visible over the top of the cliffs. The water itself also seemed different, with more watery effects and a greenish hue to the liquid.[SR1][SR1-C1][SR1-C2]
Comparatively, the Abyss seen in gameplay seemed much smaller in scale, with the islands now close enough to be jumped across. Both bridges had fallen - although these could also be jumped across - and detailed rocky textures now seemed much smoother and dulled to greys rather than browns. The water level appeared to have receded even further, with less turbulent and more orderly, flatter water flow - this in turn meant that the edge of the bowl was more defined by the rocks underneath. The amount of water was still notable at the sinkhole which continued the swirling cascade seen before, although it was perhaps calmer, with a more blueish hue than had been seen previously. The same waterfalls and streams feeding the whirlpool were seen, although they too were notably calmer and less turbulent.[SR1][SR1-C1][SR1-C2]
The Elder God's lair beneath the Abyss - usually counted as part of the Underworld - was only seen in the later time period, although again there were differences between the GlyphX FMV and gameplay versions of the location. In the FMV the area was largely seen as a darkened room covered with the eyes and tentacles of the Elder God, a few feint spiral shapes, and with only a few broken featureless pillars dotted around. The gameplay version of the area was brighter and more detailed although less sharp in its graphical style. Here the eyes and tentacles of the Elder God were supplemented by a number spiral and shell formations in the walls of the cavern and feint spirals could also be seen in the sand on the floor of the area. A number of pillars were placed around the area giving the impression of a set of ruins - with each decorated with a number of inhuman faces. The raised Elder God's platform stood at one end of the chamber. Perhaps the most notable feature however was the blue whirling conical impression of the bottom of the Abyss which emanated from the center of the ceiling.[SR1][SR1-C1][SR1-C2]
Soul Reaver Beta versions of the Abyss area are largely identical to the retail version though they do demonstrate a number of minor touches that were added later in the design process or changed completely. For example, The beta versions lack the burning torches and the clan insignia flags on the walls, as well as the 'fence posts' at the end of the bridges. The Ruined City bridge is also changed with the far section completely missing and the near section raised to a higher angle with added collision detection so that it can be grabbed. Most of the area is also given an added green tint in the retail version (presumably using fog settings) that is not present in earlier versions, which makes the water and other textures appear grimier and dirtier. One of the earlier designs for Planar portals can also be found in the area.[SR1]
Perhaps the most noticeable change is that in the earlier versions the cutscene regarding the cataclysms in Kain's empire occurs as Raziel enters the Abyss area - where it appears at the Sanctuary of the Clans in the retail version. After this cutscene, the scene where Raziel regards the Abyss itself plays as Raziel walks to the edge of the whirlpool, whereas in the retail version that scene plays as soon as Raziel enters the area and walks across the first bridge.[SR1]
- The Abyss is said to be in the Lake of the Dead in dialogue. The location appears in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, but at that time it was simply a lake with an island that housed a megalith structure and a teleporter which led to the outskirts of the Lost City[BO1][BO1-C6] - the remains of this island are used to execute Raziel in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver and are later used by Raziel to traverse the lake.[SR1][SR1-C1][SR1-C2] Ruins in the underworld beneath the Abyss had led fans to speculate that the Lost City was directly beneath the Lake and that the lake had collapsed through and flooded the city beneath, although this was unconfirmed and developers simply indicated that the Lost City, Lake, Abyss and Underworld were connected. It is ultimately unknown what caused the creation of the Abyss. Later comments by Daniel Cabuco have indicated the possibility that the Elder God may have been responsible for pulling the lake and it's contents down, presumably to hide or destroy the city - although he was careful to state he was unaware of the supposed connection between the locations.
- In earlier drafts of the Soul Reaver storyline, the Abyss was apparently originally located in the Lake of Lost Souls rather than the Lake of the Dead.
- At least two warp gates could be considered to be associated with the Abyss. The first gate is between the Sanctuary of the Clans and the Abyss and bears an image of a spiral (presumably indicating the whirlpool itself) between the island cliffs used to execute Raziel - this may indicate that the spirals used throughout the series may be thematically inspired by the whirlpool of the Abyss. Another gate that may be considered related is the initial gate in the underworld which is positioned a short distance away from the Elder's chamber in the underworld beneath the Abyss.[SR1][SR1-C2]
- The Abyss first appears as part of the rendered GlyphX introduction FMV to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. As such the area as seen at that stage only existed as a video and was not accessible in game.[SR1][SR1-C1] The in game version of the area could be accessed in the chapter 'Underworld', with the bottom of the Abyss and Elder's chamber appearing as the first room and Raziel able to access the top of the Abyss shortly after passing the Sanctuary of the Clans.[SR1][SR1-C2] The top in game area is labelled as "Cliff 1" in Debug menus and the bottom as "Under 1", under the "Cliff" and "Under" location headings respectively.[SR1]
- The Abyss in gameplay features two bridges that cross to the central islands, with one of these, which leads to the Ruined City hub, fallen and unusable - effectively preventing access to that area until Raziel could swim. The earlier FMV shows only one bridge (from the Sanctuary of the Clans) and does not show any trace of a bridge on the far bank of the lake.[SR1][SR1-C1][SR1-C2]
- Along with the mentions of the Abyss as background to Raziel's story in Soul Reaver 2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance, the Abyss and the Lake of the Dead were both mentioned in the same way in the background story to the multiplayer spinoff Nosgoth.
- The term "The Abyss" is also used occasionally in the series as a descriptive term which refers to death or the Spectral Realm or underworld in general rather than the location itself. The term is used in this manner by Vorador in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (where the Abyss is not a physical location) and by Raziel in the background story found in the Soul Reaver manual.[BO1][BO1-C6]
- Lake of the Dead
- Lost City
- Mist Form Dungeon
- Underworld (SR1)
- The Abyss at Dark Chronicle (by Marie Tryhorn).
- Map at Nosgothic Realm (by Tenaya, Guilherme Coelho and Andrew Fradley).
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Beta Comparison - Graphics at The Lost Worlds (by Raina Audron)
- ↑ Warp's answers from Amy at the Eidos Forums (by Blincoln)(Preserved at the Legacy of Kain Master Interview Archive on the Square Enix Forums)
- ↑ The Connection between the Lost City and the Abyss at DCab Design (by Jake Pawlowski/Daniel Cabuco)
- ↑ Early Versions of The Story at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- ↑ Vampires at Tales of Nosgoth (by George Kelion)(preserved from the official Nosgoth site)
- ↑ Sentinel at Tales of Nosgoth (by George Kelion)(preserved from the official Nosgoth site)
- ↑ Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver manual (US version). Crystal Dynamics. (Eidos Interactive). (August 16, 1999) Download.
- ↑ Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver manual (UK version). Crystal Dynamics. (Eidos Interactive). (August 16, 1999) Download.
- ↑ Soul Reaver: Background Story at Dark Chronicle (by Marie Tryhorn)
- ↑ The Abyss at Dark Chronicle (by Marie Tryhorn)