Out of curiosity, I'm playing the older, 'Book 1' version now, after having finished Awakening once. I was curious about the changes, and to my surprise, they are quite numerous! (and it's quite interesting to compare both versions from a design POV).
I'm not sure I'll finish this version though, so here are my impressions right now:
- the assets are similar, but there are definitely many small and big changes here and there. Overall, the art is lighter but also more readable and effective (and original, in places). Everything has been geared toward a slightly diffrent direction. 'Book 1' is darker, with less variety, at least in the first chapter. The Shadow realm has changed quite a lot, it's way more blueish (like in Soul Reaver), with less drastic changes in details (no more green archways). Portraits are different, the menus have changed a lot. Music too. The level design follow the same general layout but with several important changes which make it less linear, rewarding exploration and realm-switching more. Thole feels livelier, even though the map itself is actually smaller (less downtimes!). And no more ugly SSAO on backgrounds. Cutscenes (pre-made) have been remade.
I think the engine is different, it's probably Unity. Apart from oddly restrictive options, it feels better. Loading times are still a bit too long though.
Etc... As much as I liked the Book 1's artistic direction for the first minutes (I love a dark atmosphere!), after one hour it just feels too contrasted, shifting, and a bit stale.
- however the story seems to be the same in the first two chapters - still, it's just better laid out. Thanks to the design changes, the narrative is better too, as more moments stand out on their own. Boss fights in particular feel quite different, harder and more tactical. So the pacing feels more convincing (I'm replaying Awakening with a different char. too, so it's not simply because I know the story).
And maybe more surprising: the gameplay as a whole isn't really the same either. It's more responsive (some animations have been cut out for the better, Awakening feels less floaty), the health system has been redone (group 'soulstone', which forces you to think about the whole team in combat - souls still fill it, but as the enemies barely respawn, if at all, you need to be careful or buy them from a Shadow Trader). You can't resurrect puppets anytime either, you need to go back to sanctuaries - they are more of them though, scattered around more regularly.
Crafting has been ditched as it was. Essence is now used by the demon to enhance equipment, there are no longer any gems or ingredients - that I'd rather have kept, but mostly to keep the system more in line with Kult (I really wanted gems to be more than cash in Kult ^^'); it works very well though, and not having to juggle recipes makes you focus on characters' stuff and levelling. You'll get around ten of them in one playthrough!
There are more puzzles (easier to solve thanks to the more responsive characters), more hidden things (especially in the shadow realm), less breakables.
So for now, after almost 5h of play, Book 1 seems less convincing than Awakening (thankfully!). Awakening is just better, a bit harder, makes you think more about your skills and team... The best version, no doubt to me, even though the darker graphics, more striking shadow realm and some crafting parts were nice in Book 1. But it was 'form over structure', in a way. Awakening feels more cohesive to me, everything is made more interesting and catchy.
As to Book 1 still being sold, I don't know, it would be a better idea to include it as a bonus to Awakening, to preserve it and for people who want to know (and appreciate) the evolution between both versions.
Given that Awakening has finally come out years after Kult and Book 1, maybe they just want to avoid alienating newcomers who may think the game is too strongly linked to them and may thus skip it?
Post edited October 17, 2018 by Darucas