Dark Forces: Jedi Knight

November 20, 2017 at 7:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

knightDark Forces: Jedi Knight by William C. Dietz

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As the title suggests, Jedi Knight is a retelling of the events from the LucasArts video game Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. This isn’t bad, necessarily (the story was praised during its release), but for anyone who already knows the story, it’s a bit redundant. I’m a mix of both audiences, really; it’s been so long since I’ve played the game, I don’t recall many of the details.

The thing is, after listening to the audio presentation, I still don’t recall many of the details. I think this is because the stories in most first-person shooters are just a means to give the player purpose, with the central focus of the story being on the player guiding the game. Jedi Knight may have been somewhat ground-breaking for its story, but that’s not to say it can stand on its own.

Kyle Katarn is now a Jedi, still on the tail of Jerec, the dark Jedi who murdered his father. His pursuit takes him to the Valley of the Jedi, where a great battle took place over a thousand years ago and trapped the souls of over one-hundred Jedi and Sith. What’s cool about the reference is that, having read the books in chronological order, I already know about that battle. It featured in the Darth Bane trilogy, even though the story of Jedi Knight came out almost ten years before.

One of the key elements of the game was the ability to develop Force powers, either light or dark, which played into how the game progressed. The ending of the game split between the two, so playing the light side would grant one ending, while the dark side revealed another. Here, the writer(s?) decide to go with the light side ending. I’m fine with that choice (I imagine that’s how the game designers wanted to steer the players), but having this story told with that choice in place limits the potential of the story from the game. I don’t see a way out of it, unless the writers went with a Choose Your Own Adventure or Clue style to the story.

Like the previous audio dramatizations, the voice acting is sub-par, the dialogue is cheesy, and the events move too quickly. It gets worse when the Bouncers hit the stage, sounding like Pee Wee Herman on helium. Again, part of me wishes I had read the graphic novels instead of listening to these productions.

The story here isn’t terrible, but neither is it memorable. I get that Dietz wanted to delve more deeply into the story of Kyle Katarn, but the whole arc, from his days with the Empire to his confrontation with Jerec, don’t resonate with the same kind of importance as that of any of the other central characters from the Expanded Universe. In the end, it’s that resonance that has made the other stories so timeless, and that characteristic is missing here.

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