Posted in Retro Gaming, Star Wars: The Old Republic

KOTOR: Leviathan levity

(This is part of my journey going playing through 2003’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

As the Ebon Hawk blasts through hyperspace for the next planet, it’s suddenly ambushed and caught in a tractor beam by the Leviathan — Malak’s ship. Things don’t look promising for our rag-tag group, so a plan is quickly devised to camoflage Juhani and let her be the jailbreaker once everyone else gets caught.

Considering that “non-stop torture” is on the menu, courtesy of Admiral Saul, this may not be the best of plans. This segment of KOTOR really is the Long, Dark Night of the Soul for the game — the moment when all goes from bad to worse and it seems quite hopeless for the heroes.

At least Juhani is free, and she’s kicking tail. I spent some time upgrading her lightsabers on the Hawk with the crystals that I got from the Tatooine dragon, and she’s now Death Incarnate with them.

For whatever reason — perhaps man-hours invested in making this work — the KOTOR devs were sure in love with the idea of putting the player in these bulky EVA suits to waddle around for a while before coming back to the action. I always felt like they were painfully pointless segments.

With a beefed-up party, it’s kind of fun to go around the Leviathan, smashing up the place and chewing through waves of elite Sith troopers and dark jedi. There’s a big boss battle on the bridge against Admiral Saul, who whispers a devastating secret to Carth right before he dies. What is this secret? No time for that, the game says, and if that’s not suspicious, I don’t know what is.

I wanted to say that the Leviathan stage is one of my favorites in KOTOR. It’s got a strong narrative flow that feels, for a lack of a better term, very “Star Warsy” in sequence. The odds feel stacked against getting back to the Ebon Hawk and making an escape, but the team keeps trying.

But there is one big obstacle standing in the way of freedom — Darth Malak. He shows up and demands to know why Syppi is here, why the Jedi spared me. This makes no sense until the game kicks into gear and delivers a series of flashbacks from various points in the game so far. Various throwaway quotes that were probably misread by the player. Things about the Force erasing minds, of Jedi not killing prisoners, of the counsel accepting someone a little older than normal for a recruit. This brings us to one of the biggest WHAM! moments of all CRPG history:

That I, the player, am actually Darth Revan, the big bad guy from the Mandalorian wars who was trying to overthrow the Republic and use the Star Forge to my own advantage. Apparently, a combination of Malak’s betrayal and a Jedi strike team combined to capture Revan instead of killing her. The counsel, trying to find the Star Forge, decided to Force-wipe my mind, give me a new identity as a common soldier, and assign Bastila to tag along as I hopefully led them to where they wanted to go. There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’ve always felt disgusted at both sides. There’s no defending Malak, but the Jedi are just as bad to erase a person’s memories and life while using them like a puppet.

Anyway, Bastila stays behind on the Leviathan to slow down Malak while the rest of the Ebon Hawk crew escapes. There’s a pow-wow with all of the companions to see if they still support Ex-Revan, and apparently they do. I love that Jolee knew who Revan was the whole time and was like, eh, she’ll figure it out sooner or later on her own.

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