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‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’: Exploring the darkness of the ‘Shadow of Revan’

‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’: Exploring the darkness of the ‘Shadow of Revan’

Warning: Contains spoilers on the Jedi Knight class story, the Revan novel, the Forged Alliances expansion and the Shadow of Revan expansion (including Ziost).

The story of Revan has got to be one of the best stories in the Star Wars video games, and in the Original Expanded Universe of the Old Republic. Delivered to us by none other than Bioware and LucasArt, Shadow of Revan presents a return to this great character and an introduction to new characters who are just as rich and roundly developed, with story lines that have more depth than “run around this planet and run around that planet, while you forget parts of the story because you’re trying to gain levels.”

You see, as far as I’m concerned, most of the storylines in SW:TOR thus far have been quite linear despite the various Light Side or Dark Side choice options, since it is an MMO above being an RPG. However, the expansions  Forged Alliances and Shadow of Revan begin to present more choices and more characters and at that, a variety of choices that can be explored through many playthroughs with different characters. So, if you’re like me and you have 13 characters, or like some guildies, have some on multiple servers, you can truly explore ALL options. I personally plan on mixing and matching LS vs DS options with factions, romances with factions and truly exploring what happens with all the dialogue options as well (let live, kill, etc.). I have to note that I was not motivated to explore all options with the basic class stories. The Agent story is noteworthy of several playthroughs though, the others, not so much. So the fact that these expansions make me WANT to play them again and again, is already playing in their favour (pun intended). Plus who doesn’t like a Wookie walking around with a talking droid’s head as his armor.

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KOTOR 2 ended, I was left rather unsatisfied. I think many of us feel the same. We wanted more out of that story, we wanted to find out what the heck happened to Revan. The Revan novel gave us just that. Meat. Substance. Something to chew on and enjoy. The concept of the Emperor wanting to ravage all life and feed off fear and despair causing mistrust in him from his own most loyal follower said something about who this villain truly was. Lord Scourge is an interesting character and I couldn’t wait to find out more about Scourge, Revan, the Emperor. I mean, if you recall, Revan was captured by the Emperor and kept alive, in stasis, for centuries, linked to the Emperor’s mind, in a semi alive torturous state. That has to have serious consequences on someone. So I thought TOR was going to be all about that. My mistake. Other than a few flashpoints, we didn’t get much of Revan. I liked having Scourge as a companion though, it was diverse and interesting, a Sith teaming up with a Jedi. Oh and the Revanite storyline on Dromund Kaas wasn’t much to quench my thirst.

So when Forged Alliances emerged, I was eating those flashpoints up like candy, playing them over and over again, wanting more of that story. I enjoyed meeting Lana Beniko, a Sith willing to work with the Republic, how “pragmatic”. And let’s not forget the introduction of Theron Shan, descendant of Revan and Bastilla Shan. I remember saying that it’s not really Revan, at the end of Forged Alliances. I was convinced it was someone impersonating him, that the real him was either alive somewhere else or dead. “We’re going to meet the real Revan as a ghost or something, this can’t be him.” Hehe, guess I was half right.

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You see, all this presented possibilities, exciting plotlines and Shadow of Revan takes this story a step further, adding more development and two more characters whom I’ve come to truly appreciate, characters we speak to throughout the main class stories and other expansions, such as on Makeb with Rise of the Hutt Cartel, but whom we never truly feel a close attachment to until now: Darth Marr and Satele Shan. Satele Shan, as we know, is mother to Theron Shan. In the case of Darth Marr, it’s unclear if he is related to Visas Marr from KOTOR 2, and we don’t know if he’s Miraluka, which was her species, but I’d like to think so. It’s nice to think of him in that way. I actually enjoy Darth Marr’s character more than Satele Shan’s. The difference in their approach is clearly different, since one is Sith and the other is Jedi, but both recognize that the Emperor cannot be brought back into physical form, both know that the Emperor has gone too far and cannot be stopped if brought back, and both know that Revan has gone mad and must be stopped at all costs. It’s one thing coming from a Jedi, but coming from a Sith who once was unquestionably loyal to his Emperor, it bears a lot of weight on the story and impacts some choices.

My guildies kept telling me “You’ll see,” about Revan, and when I saw, I really liked how they did that. The split into two Revans, the Light and Dark. It symbolizes the Light and Dark sides we all have within us and how we should not let revenge drive our lives, but turn to understanding and self acceptance. It might seem simple to some of you, but it touched me, that part. I think probably because of some things I’m going through personally. I’m healing from PTSD and my struggles with wanting revenge on the person who caused me psychological trauma, and wanting to understand and accept myself with who I’ve become from that experience in my life, and all the while recognizing that I can use my experience and knowledge to help others. And I believe we all have a shadow. But you see, without the shadow, without the shade, we cannot see that the light shines, and I think, like with Revan, it’s important to embrace both in order to truly be ourselves.

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The touching scenes don’t end there. Maybe it’s just me, all empathetic, but there a scene on Ziost that just stays with me. It’s when you can choose to kill Master Surro. She claims she will never truly be free of the Emperor. To me choosing to kill her was the humane option, the choice that will liberate her, it’s sad but it’s not Dark Side like the game labels it. It’s really a gray zone. There was a moment between my Assassin and Master Surro that cannot be put into words, no dialogue either, but there is so much that is understood in that moment that it is very meaningful. I felt sad. Once again, maybe because of some of the things I lived in the past that gave me a level of understanding, but I believe anyone can have such empathy and sensitivity to story content. And that’s what makes good stories great, when they can reach out to you and into you, and bring out emotions you never thought you would feel playing a game.

I’d like to mention a speculation, and I admit I am one who believes this: That the Emperor and Darth Nihilus from
KOTOR 2 are one and the same. The Emperor, as the Emperor, hides his face, and we never see the face of the being behind the hood. Darth Nihilus, wears a mask. The Emperor has also been known to have lost physical form before and then found it again, after being destroyed from physical form and finding ways to regain his body, and potentially the same looking body at that. So defeating Darth Nihilus does not mean he is truly dead. The other big clue is that Darth Nihilus is able to ravage worlds, the very same way the Emperor did on Ziost and destroy all life, feeding off fear, despair and death in order to gain power and stay alive, whether in physical form or not. This is something both Darth Nihilus and the Emperor can do and they are the only ones to have been able to do it. The whole reason Darth Marr is able to see that the Emperor cannot retake physical form and that Lord Scourge had wanted him destroyed is because the Emperor was wanting to cause so much chaos, fear and death, and had planned on feeding off that in order to ravage and destroy whole planets. About that, I don’t know how to describe the feeling when I saw Ziost being completely wiped and become devoid of all life, but it was something akin to “Whoa”, “Oh my God!” and “well, shit” all together. 

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Back to speculation the Emperor then just goes from physical to nonphysical and back to physical. Also, between the time the Jedi Knight defeats him and the time he ravages Ziost, not very many years go by, and there is little enough to explain a brief absence from his “other home” on the other side of the galaxy, which we eventually discover where and what that is. And that brings us to Knights of the Fallen Empire, which I will cover later on.

In conclusion, if you were wondering whether to subscribe, start playing, or to unsubscribe, it’s all worth it for this storyline, which leads into the next and believe me, the next one’s even better. I was satisfied with these expansions. I wanted more Revan, I got more Revan. A meaningful conclusion to an excellent story.