Final thoughts

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  • TigerQuoll

    So I just finished Dark forces, and the fact that I made it to the end should be some indication of whether I liked it or not!
    I’ll get the few things I didn’t like so much out of the way first.

    My biggest gripe: why the heck was there no mid-level saving!? (Note: I played this in its original form, not through a port or emulator that would allow save states etc)
    I had to repeat a number of levels because I had to be somewhere and had to exit before I had finished. Sure, I guess this was 1995 and aimed at kids and teenagers with nothing better to do, but even one or two checkpoints per level would have greatly reduced my blood pressure.

    Screw the lives system too, for very similar reasons. Putting hard parts at the end of a level when the player is sure to be low on health and lives is stupidly annoying.

    I thought the level design got a little bit samey toward the end. There was still enough variety to get me past the finish line, but I thought it could have been two or three missions shorter.

    The weapons selection was a bit underwhelming. A lot of them were just functionally slight variants on other weapons – there are 4 barely distinguishable rapid fire energy weapons for example. The rest of the weapons were explosives which I found prohibitively finnicky to use in most situations. I gave up on the mortar quickly and I never once found a good use for the mines. I very occasionally used the thermal detonator though, and the secondary fire for the last weapon was pretty useful.

    That’s pretty much it for complaints. Reading them now, they might sound a little harsher than they deserve (except for the lack of saving!)
    But I thought there was much more to like about this game.

    The iMuse system seemed to work really well and seamlessly. It seemed to be very ahead of its time, and something a lot of games still don’t do to this day.

    Taken individually, the level design was actually pretty good. It did a pretty good job of making it feel like Star Wars, given the technical limitations of the day.
    I like that mid- to late- 90s style of level design where most locations look like a real place, and only on examination do you realise how abstract it is.
    (It’s a bit like those mind-bending “name one thing in this photo” pictures floating about on the internet)
    Dark Forces does this really well.

    You might accuse the mission objectives of being window dressing – they could just as well be just a series of arbitrary switches to get you to the end of the level – but I think they’re more than that. The way they’re presented and spaced out and tied in with the story makes it feel like you’re on a proper multi-objective mission and increases engagement.

    On that note, the story is pretty good. Sure it’s straightforward but it is well thought out, written and paced, and is integrated nicely with the gameplay without getting in the way. Proper cut-scenes are also a rare treat in an action game from this era.

    So yeah, I liked it. If I can compare apples with oranges, I would say it is better than episodes VII, VIII and definitely IX. It’s not as good as Rogue One, and it is probably on par with Solo and the Mandolorian.

    Compared with other games though? Not as good as Doom or Hexen, undecided about Duke3D. Probably better than Shadow Warrior (it’s certainly less cringey!), and maybe on par with Blood.


    Glad to hear someone else finished it, and without quick saves no less!

    Better than Doom single player IMO, but that’s because I care more about story than weapon or enemy variety.

    Hard agree on the objective systems. It works pretty well, especially for the era. Supposedly a lot of the logic is elevator based triggers because they programmed those early.

    BTW the mines were great against melee enemies, you can kind of roll the thermal detonators. I do wish enemies used and dropped non-blaster ammo. Often felt like I had to use the trooper rifle to save other ammo for bosses or bigger groups.

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