Without lightsaber # 2: Dark Forces

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The Jedi Knight series is one of the most talked about series of video games in the Star Wars universe. The story, whose central character was Kyle Katarn, absorbed the plot told on the fringes of the film saga and made it possible for the first time to feel like a real Jedi. The one that started it all remains overshadowed by the newer series titles.

I don’t know if you are aware, but it’s been 20 years since Dark Forces was released. He was the first representative of the FPS genre with the Star Wars logo, although back then all first-person shooters were simply called Doom clones. In 1995, everyone was delighted with the dynamic gameplay that the new genre brought with it, so it was only a matter of time before a game like Dark Forces was born.

Get the Death Star plans

Dark Forces threw players into a story firmly fixed on the world created by George Lucas. All perfect fans knew that it would not be possible to destroy the Death Star from Episode IV if the Imperial battle station plans had not been stolen earlier. But who was behind this audacious feat? Kyle Katarn, a former Imperial soldier and mercenary in the service of the Rebellion, whose fate could be directed by the player.

“You Rebel scum!”

The game by Lucas Arts is a great example of what fans loved the non-canonical Expanded Universe for today. Each mission added another brick to the world known from the Lucas trilogy, developing its plots, filling in gaps and clarifying secrets so far unsolved. From a character created especially for the game, Kyle Katarn has become one of the most popular heroes of the extended universe.

Much more than a Doom clone

After its release, Dark Forces was naturally comparable to its great predecessor, from which it drew the basic mechanics of the game. The engine is said to have been reverse engineered and developed creatively by Doom. In Doom, the design was devoted to fast and brutal gameplay, so hardly anyone cared that the levels of the base that the player was traversing do not make much sense. It was different in the case of Dark Forces, where the missions were expanded vertically, logically planned, and moving from one point to another often required solving puzzles and good orientation.

“It’s too easy”

The game was not the easiest one, especially considering that each mission had to be completed in one sitting. It was possible to save the game progress only after completing the entire level and the number of lives in the mission was limited. From today’s perspective, these solutions are not very playable, but just after the premiere, hardly anyone paid attention to it.
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Much more important was the feeling of participating in an entirely new Star Wars story, told in the cinematics between missions and in the texts thrown by the heroes during the game. Dark Forces was also one of the first games to tell a story and create an atmosphere just by designing levels and gameplay. Unlike Doom, each mission was different, the player immediately knew when he was on the roof of the imperial base, in the caves of a desert planet or inside a giant cruiser-factory.

A cult classic

The first FPS from LucasArts studio gave birth to the cult series and laid the foundations for the further development of the genre. Today only the brave ones, driven by nostalgia for games from their youth, return to it. Even the story of Kyle Katarna has been buried with Expanded Universe being kicked out of the Star Wars canon, and we won’t see a new version of the story about the theft of the Death Star plans until next year at the premiere of Star Wars: Rogue One.

However, if everything that I wrote above stimulates your curiosity or brings back memories instead of discouraging, do not forget that Star Wars: Dark Forces is still available on Steam and GOG. Christmas promotions are coming up.


It does not matter if you had the opportunity to play this classic or if you are hearing about it for the first time – you can leave a comment on Facebook.