It is a time of unrest…
From the first few minutes, it’s apparent that Vader: Immortal is made with care and attention to detail. There are tons of nods and “easter eggs” to spot for both super fans of the extended lore and more casual fans of just the movies. As a hardcore fan (yes, I have my own lightsaber) I appreciate these details.
Taking place between Star Wars Episode 3 and Episode 4, you start onboard your ship with your droid companion and copilot Z0-E3 or “Zoey”. A hilarious and endearing addition to the pantheon of lovable droids voiced by Maya Rudolph. As your character does not talk, Zoey provides most of the dialogue with the other interesting characters you meet along your journey. This first interaction with Zoey works as essentially your tutorial in controlling your hands and interacting with the environment. These are my favorite ways to get to know controls in games because it makes the whole experience seamless. Just as you start to get your bearings, though, your ship is caught and brought to Mustafar. Some of you may remember that as the planet where Darth Vader first arose, and it seems he’s been busy. The only structure you can see on the whole planet is his enormous castle, where you are about to be detained.
It is remarkable how the developers were able to really bring to life the sense of scale for both the Star Destroyers, the planet Mustafar and Vader’s castle itself. It is clear from the very beginning that the goal here was to make an experience for Star Wars fans that were wholly immersive. While some of the necessary movement controls can be a little immersion-breaking, it really doesn’t detract from the whole experience.
The story follows the player’s smuggler as they uncover Vader’s plans, the mystery of Mustafar, and interactions with Vader himself. The main story is broken up into three “episodes”, each having about a two-hour story with portions working as a sort of tutorial to the other half of the game: The Lightsaber Dojo.
The Power Of A Jedi, In The Palm Of Your Hand
It’s in the Lightsaber Dojo that Vader: Immortal becomes almost an entirely different game. Here you take hold of your lightsaber and face off against waves of enemies to earn emblems. The faster and more enemies you defeat, the more emblems you can earn (three possible with each round). With these, you can unlock different gloves (purely cosmetic) and lightsabers. This is one of the best rewards for a game like this (in my opinion) because it gives you a chance to play with different options. Not just cosmetically, either, since you can unlock the ability to dual wield lightsabers, and even unlock unique lightsabers like Darth Maul’s double-sided lightsaber. This allows for different styles of combat that you can try for yourself, and see what works best for you.
With each episode, the Dojo also changes. Adding new aspects of combat each time, with Episode II and III adding force powers and blasters. While Episode III has the best of all combat, each has its own charms. The force pull and throw are particularly fun, and you will need every weapon at your disposal to progress through the rounds. The Lightsaber Dojo can be physically challenging and a great workout.
There is particular attention to how you use the lightsaber. It can be used to deflect laser blasts when angled correctly, and for straightforward attacks, though enemies will try to block. Adding in new abilities along the way, like thermal charges, lightsaber throw, and using enemies as a weapon, the Lightsaber Dojo really allows you to feel like a Jedi.
With incredible combat, an awesome story, and a great cast of characters, Vader: Immortal is not just a great Star Wars experience, it’s a great VR game, period. The only downside is that it is released in three episodes, with each running about twenty bucks. However, if you consider what some sixty-dollar games on consoles have brought to the table, this is easily worth the price of admission. And, perhaps most importantly, in the Star Wars universe, it’s canon!