Released: Jun 20, 2019
Virtual reality enthusiasts and Star Wars fanatics are finally given an opportunity to enter a galaxy far, far away in this first narrative installment from the developers at ILMxLAB that puts you face-to-face with the titular Sith Lord himself. Not only will you get wield a lightsaber, but you will also walk the steps of a volcanic castle amid stormtroopers, aliens, and a sidekick droid voiced by Maya Rudolph.
It's easy to imagine a VR world set within the Star Wars universe since we have been exposed to it in all other forms of media, from the famous film trilogies to the expanded novels. Obviously, video games were another way of experiencing the science fiction giant, but the technology of VR has welcomed it to groundbreaking results. The mechanics may be simple in terms of modern movement and tracking, but the overall controls are more than sufficient to easily master and craft a distinctive style when it comes to picking up the lightsaber in the story. It's smooth and slick, as if the force was part of the game's code to make it flow nicely and effectively against blasters and enemies.
Written by David S. Goyer (Blade trilogy, The Dark Knight trilogy), the series is set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, with Vader on a quest to discover the power of an ancient artifact that ties-in with you, the main character. You control a ship that gets hijacked by the Empire, kidnapping you and your droid companion onto the planet of Mustafar. The story is rather quick in progression (I completed it within an hour), but it was intriguing to discover more of Vader's castle and Vader himself, standing tall and mighty that creates more of a terrifying atmosphere when he's towering over you. The ending battle sequence, however, is the gameplay’s peak – I won’t spoil it for you, but it involves some intense lightsaber combat.
Every sound and effect that you hear throughout the Episode is ripped from the licensed worlds we all know and adore. The score of John Williams and other additional sounds ring beautifully with the blaster impacts, lightsaber mastering, dialogue from Maya Rudolph and Scott Lawrence who voices Vader, and all the beep-boop-beeps in-between. Verily, the sound design is almost excellent - nearly zero issues were encountered, in both the dojo mode and the storyline.
For a title that is merely ten bucks, the graphics look fantastic. As a Star Wars film fan, I felt like I was a part of an authentic science-fiction tale, set in a galaxy truly far, far away. While it is mainly set on the volcano-infested Mustafar and Vader's castle, it nonetheless feels incredible to tread, climb, and fight on. The darker corners of the planet that were teased in Revenge of the Sith can be explored with your floating droid buddy. Every model and highlight and sight make the whole experience worth trying out at least a couple of times.
Although the narrative doesn't really kick in until you meet Vader, the initial confrontation rattles the cages and stirs the pot when he presents a mysterious artifact that must be opened, evidently involving you as you possess the ability to open it. The smuggler mechanics and lightsaber-wielding feel polished and genuine, keeping your character grounded in this tie-in canonical journey to the main Star Wars storyline. The absolute best part of this game is the dojo mode, where you're standing in a small area in an extensive series of rounds against bot droids that either shoot or swing at you. It's Vader's training room where you can practice all you want. The better you get, the more stars you'll receive; the more stars you receive, the more lightsaber crystals you can unlock and use to your desire. The dojo mode makes it all the more addicting to keep coming back to, and it's only the first chapter in a three-part tale. This is probably the closest experience you can get in terms of kickass lightsaber dueling in the VR multi-verse.
The true aesthetic of this game breathes through the moment you strike down a battle droid while trying to deflect the blasters being shot from the training circular bots that fly from one direction to another, holding firmly onto the legendary space sword made famous by the Jedi we all grew up with.