We’ve all watched the tragic tale of Annakin Skywalker and his journey from poor slave boy to menace of the galaxy. It’s a tragic tale that only got told in part by the original Star Wars films, with the rest of Vader’s backstory coming in the prequels. I remember thinking, as a young teenager in the cinema watching Revenge of the Sith, “I wouldn’t have turned to the Dark side.” We all thought that, right? We all thought we could wield the force without falling to the temptations of the Dark side. We all thought we’d be suave as hell with a fancy lightsaber, too. Vader Immortal doesn’t quite give us the chance to prove our worth, but it’s the closest a video game has come to pulling you into that universe and letting you be a part of its world.
Star Wars: Vader Immortal – Episode I is billed as a Star Wars “experience,” rather than a fully-fledged game. That’s not to say it’s not a game – it is – but the level of interaction within the game’s world isn’t quite as much as one would expect.
Set between Episodes III and IV, Vader Immortal gives us a look at what the galaxy’s heaviest breather got up to on the planet Mustafa. The experience starts with you, a nameless captain of a smuggler ship, and your sassy droid companion flying through space only to be dragged down to Mustafa. Vader has sensed your presence and he wants you to help him recover some mystical doo-dad. There’s not much time for exposition as you’re whisked away to a holding room where Vader steps in and gives you a puzzle to solve. Of course, you solve it (no effort required, actually) and he lets you live, saying that he will send for you later before him and his big cloak go walkabout in his castle.
First impressions are everything, and I was slightly terrified standing in front of VR Vader. I know, I know, he’s not real. Yet I still kind of cowered when he stood looming over me. I’m not a small guy myself and I still felt intimidated. God help you vertically challenged folks.
It’s not long before a fellow prisoner helps you and your droid escape with a tool he was hiding… somewhere on his person. It looked clean, so maybe it wasn’t in that orifice. Or maybe the stormtroopers give out wet wipes every hour. Who knows…
Things trot along at a fair pace and soon enough you’ll have what you bought the game for: an actual VR lightsaber, and not a drum and bass beat to be heard. Bliss.
The experience runs for around 45 minutes to an hour, and once the credits roll after a climactic fight sequence that sees you and Vader fighting together against waves of blade-wielding enemies, you’ll probably feel a little hard done by. A tenner for an hour? What kind of value is this? For Star Wars fans who lap up every little bit of lore that LucasFilm and Disney throw out there, it’s worth its weight in gold. For the average player? Maybe not so, but there is a way to get some mileage out of Vader Immortal – Episode I.
Once you’re done with the story, head into the Lightsaber Dojo and practice your swordsmanship against training droid and those little ball things that fire shots at you. You can actually go straight into the Lightsaber Dojo before playing the story (I did!) if you just can’t wait to bust your best Obi-Wan moves. It’s a nice time-waster and there are hours of play to be had as you progress through the increasingly difficult waves. Sure, it’s a little samey after a while and the lightsaber combat is perhaps a touch too basic, but it’s still fun and I’ve put in over ten hours so far. $1 per hour of play? I’d call that alright.
Graphically, Vader Immortal – Episode I is a good looking game on the Oculus Quest. It has its moments where things can look a little crummy, and texture work does leave something to be desired. That being said, this is all running on a wireless VR headset, so of course there will be compromises. Thankfully the framerate holds up for the majority of play, though I did have a couple of hiccups towards the end. I also had a couple of glitches that forced me to close the app and reboot it from the Oculus Home menu. Those troubles aside, I can’t fault the game. Being inside a Star Wars world with the sights and genuine sounds? There’s nothing else like it. Well, Episode II, but whatever.
Star Wars Vader Immortal - Episode I Oculus Quest Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Vader Immortal – Episode I is a fantastic little experience, but it’s just that – an experience. Gameplay isn’t given priority here, story is. You can still go nuts in the Lightsaber Dojo for hours on end trying to beat the scores, but once you’ve been through the story there’s very little reason to do so again. Come for the story, stay for the Lightsabers.
- Lightsabers in VR!
- A decent enough story that seems to be going somewhere interesting (it’s all officially canon, too)
- Good movement options with teleport and free movement available. No pukes here
- Well animated and acted by the cast. I know it wasn’t the real Vader, but he sure sounded a lot like James Earl Jones. Creepy stuff
- Lightsaber Dojo is a genuine challenge and I’ve been entertained for hours
- A little too short on the story side
- The lightsaber combat is cool, but the enemy attack patterns don’t vary all that much
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using Oculus Quest (64GB)
Also available on:
Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift S
May 21st, 2019 (Oculus Quest)
June 20th (Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift S)