UPDATE #2 - A new source has contacted me with a lot of interesting behind the scenes information, some of which gives some context to the cancellation.
UPDATE #3 - Click here for the latest updates, including the Square Enix E3 2012 Teaser Trailer, a video of the build up to a boss fight, and some interesting artwork!
For a quick recap - please see my previous research threads on this game here and here. The discoveries in this thread are the result of years of research and connecting to sources. For any external websites: absolutely feel free to report on the story if it would interest your readers, I’d appreciate credit and a link back to this thread if that’s okay. Many thanks.
This is the first time that gameplay has ever been seen by the public.
Warning for mild in-game nudity – a character’s breast is seen.
YouTube Full Video
YouTube – This abridged link skips the opening menu and blank loading and takes you straight to the content.
The linked material was supplied by a source who worked on the game in some capacity. The video, information, screenshots and art in the this and earlier threads have been provided by a variety of sources. They have my gratitude. A source explained that the game was in a pre-alpha state when it was cancelled. Any abrupt framerate drops and jumps would have likely been tidied up before release, as the game still had a lot of work ahead of it. Also, I have had to connect multiple video files together and upload them, this is not something I have done before, so any jarring jumps or drops in quality may be due to my inexperience at this video joining and compiling process.
The video contains some of the opening story sequences, exploration, combat and an array of gameplay mechanics from Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun. The game was cancelled by Square Enix in 2012 after three years of development at Climax Studios, with Crystal Dynamics acting in an advisory role. The game was not projected to meet Square Enix sales projections, and was scrapped, to the enormous disappointment of staff who had dedicated a lot of work to the project. One source recalled that staff came in at weekends to continue working on the game, while higher ups already knew it was cancelled. The game had included a multiplayer component, an online asymmetrical deathmatch mode completely disconnected to the story and era of the single-player campaign. This was the only part of the project to survive the cancellation, and has now been heavily expanded upon and released as Nosgoth.
The story of Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun seems to be along the lines of the following (with some information from insider sources and some from my knowledge of the franchise): Kain and Raziel's time-travel throughout Legacy of Kain: Defiance appears to have stabilised Nosgoth's far future. Humans spread across the land once more, and plant life began to re-appear. The vampire monsters returned to more elegant vampiric forms, though some maintained their bestial ancestors' hunger for souls. The vampires continued to block out the sunlight using huge ever-burning smoke stacks. The conflict between predators and prey continued as it always had done. Humans were able to regain enough control of the wilderness to re-establish trading towns, and became enamoured with worship of the obscured Sun.
The respite faded, and mass sterility plagued the human race. Asher, a human, was able to achieve a miracle and father an unborn child. From unseen machinations, a Saradin Soul-Eater vampire is sent to kill Asher and his family (with orders form on high to make the assassination purposely look like a massacre) but something goes wrong: As the vampire attempts to consume the human’s soul, a freak occurrence results in Asher taking complete control of Gein's body - leaving Gein’s vampire spirit impotent as ghost that only Asher can see and hear.
Their journey together across Nosgoth's future would have initially explored who sent Gein to kill Asher, and why. It would later link to the wider Legacy of Kain mythos. There would be substantial connections to The Elder God, the Spectral Realm and a mysterious vampire child. The large theme running throughout the story would be the religious beliefs of Nosgoth. Climax were instructed by Square Enix to introduce a new protagonist to the series (as Crystal Dynamics had done thirteen years ago with Raziel in Soul Reaver), but the events were to be a continuation of the established Legacy of Kain storyline.
The area shown in the video is The Wetlands. It acted as a gigantic hub, connecting the different areas in this region of Nosgoth together. Such areas would have included: "dungeons", huge boss encounters, intense use of shifting between the Spectral and Material realms, masses of exploration, combat and hidden/earned upgradable abilities. The game was described as being intensely story focused, and inspired greatly by Soul Reaver and Zelda (to quote a source: "think if HBO did Zelda"). The game was originally intended to be a XBox 360/PS3 retail release (note the use of XBox button icons in the video) but as development progressed, the game was strongly considered to be PlayStation 4 launch title.
There are numerous allusions to the previous games:
- One of the echoes of the dead, a market seller, claims to be selling produce from Willendorf. Willendorf is a huge city from Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (1996), and has never been mentioned in the series since then. The assassination of Asher, disguised as a purposeless massacre but orchestrated by higher powers, mirrors the human Kain's own murder by brigands directed by Blood Omen's Mortanius the Necromancer.
- Gein’s execution by being cast into water – and the subsequent fall and acidic burning of his flesh - is a clear allusion to the opening sequences of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (1999). Concepts such as soul consumption, the spectral realm, the decaying world, evolving vampires, blacked out skies and a hopeless future are all continuations of the themes started in the PlayStation classic. In the video, Gein holds a sword that looks extremely similar in shape to the physical Soul Reaver blade. Dead Sun appears to have been considered internally as the successor of the original Soul Reaver.
- Vampires with black wings and the ability to fly – a power Gein himself manifests halfway through the video – were a pivotal plot point in the past segments of Soul Reaver 2 (2001). The sterility of Dead Sun’s humans while faced with an overwhelming adversary, is a parallel to the sterile Ancients of Soul Reaver 2.
- The echoes of bustling cities and marketplaces, humans going about their lives while brigands protect their civlisation, echoes the city of Meridian in Blood Omen 2 (2002). The green glow around one of Dead Sun’s powerful enemies, is highly reminiscent of the corrupting possession energies (Blood Omen 2 spoilers) of the Hylden race.
- The worship of false deities, the cancerous presence of The Elder God, the abandonment of gods and ritualistic sacrifice all feature throughout Legacy of Kain: Defiance (2003). A decade later, Dead Sun seemed intent on continuing these story themes.
My personal thoughts: It is outright devastating that this was cancelled, as so much effort seems to have gone into creating a vision of Nosgoth's future that could succeed where Soul Reaver left off. There are substantial gameplay mechanics on show – combat looks fun, the exploration potential appears to be vast, and the power of flight across such sprawling landscapes looks nicely realised. The implementation of the spectral realm, with immediate controlled transitions between the worlds of life and death – looks absolutely incredibly implemented – a true contemporary implementation of Raziel’s most defining power! The story looks interesting too, it appears that Climax were intent on building their own lore and giving it space to breathe, while later in the game bringing explicit connections to Kain, the Elder God and other important parts of the mythos. Until more content surfaces, it may be some time before we know what these connections are.
I know that some people would have preferred to see Kain back as the playable character, but recall the success of Soul Reaver: Kain's legacy is equally fascinating when explored through his own eyes, or the eyes of others. Raziel's own introduction may have caused consternation in some when he was revealed as Soul Reaver's playable character, but through him we experienced one of the best stories in the series. The optimist in me would have hoped that the same could have been said about Asher/Gein.
Some of Dead Sun continues to live on in Nosgoth. For example, Gein’s mastery of flight is an innate ability of the Razielim vampire clan, and the wall-climbing mechanic is a basic power of all the vampire combatants. A number of Dead Sun’s graphics assets are repurposed in Nosgoth’s human cities (note the white sun mural shown in the Razielim link appears throughout the Dead Sun video). As an aside, Nosgoth started as the multiplayer companion game to Dead Sun, but has since become a unique independent entry in its own right. It’s clearly absolutely not the expansive single-player adventure that Legacy of Kain fans have waited for since 2003’s Legacy of Kain: Defiance, but I find it fun to play, appreciate it as not being pay to win, and generally like its additions to the lore. For example, the lost vault of the Razielim is a story addition that I feel works very well indeed. With many scrapped projects, so much work is forever lost. Although Dead Sun's cancellation is extremely disheartening, at least some of the work that went into it lives on.
Thanks and Additional Discoveries
I also have some concept art and renders from portfolios of artists who worked on the game - these are still being processed, so expect an update to the thread over the next day or so. Thanks for reading!