It’s rare to get a full Star Wars trilogy in the span of seven months, but that happens this week with the release of Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series - Episode III. It’s the third and final installment in the ILMxLAB series made for Oculus Quest and the ending is the best of the bunch.
Vader Immortal as a whole, but especially Episode III, is one of those Star Wars stories that gives you a whole new perspective on the galaxy. Think of the Mortis Gods in The Clone Wars or A World Between Worlds in Rebels—stories that take everything you thought you knew about Star Wars and spin it a little out of control. In Vader Immortal, through the findings of Darth Vader, we learn why the planet Mustafar is so significant and some of its specific, fascinating connections to the Force. The difference is, this time, you get to witness it first hand, thanks to the VR technology.
In Episode I, released in May, you were captured by Darth Vader and tasked with helping him find an ancient artifact. One, he thinks, will help him cheat death. In Episode II, released in September, Vader taught you the ways of the Force, which allowed you to actually secure the item. At that point, Vader betrayed and tried to murder you. Typical.
Finally, starting Thursday, November 21, you can see how it all comes to an end. To set the table, watch the below trailer. You’ll see that Episode III has you not only having a big showdown with Vader himself but living out some other dream Star Wars encounters, like facing down an AT-ST and a TIE Fighter.
We were lucky enough to play through Episode III last week and found it to be, for the most part, a very rewarding Star Wars experience. Take those showdowns with Vader, the TIE Fighter, and so forth, for instance: Because this is already part three, the game assumes you know what you’re doing, and lets you tackle those however you see fit. Want to just use the Force? You can do that. Want to only use your lightsaber? That works too. A bit of both or maybe picking up something from around your environment? By all means. It’s a fairly personalized experience depending on what kind of Force user you want to be.
Sometimes though, quirks in the gameplay do force the issue, no pun intended. For example, it’s hard to get a grasp on some of the physics when it comes to climbing or deflecting laser blasts with your lightsaber. And, like in the second installment, sometimes using the Force can be difficult. So even if you want to use the Force to toss a container at someone, it won’t work, you just have to go back to good old fashioned lightsaber hacking (which is still pretty rewarding and fun nonetheless).
Really though, Episode III is all about getting to the conclusion of this excellent story. Of course we don’t want to spoil it, but things start big and get even bigger. Eventually, you find your way into Vader’s temple and are face to face with the big man himself. And, if you remember, the whole reason Vader wanted you to help him was to try and cheat death to bring back Padmé. So, it would be weird if that didn’t come up again, right? Same for lots of the backstory about the planet you’re on, Mustafar. And if you thought all you could do with a lightsaber was fight, well, Vader Immortal will change that perception too.
Like the previous chapters, one time through is probably sufficient for most players but there are reasons to going back through the game. You can figure out different ways to defeat some of the larger enemies, for example. Another is that you can experiment with different branches of the narrative. While most of the game is linear, we learned that at one crucial spoiler moment in the game, if your character doesn’t do what they’re told, new dialogue will spawn, providing you more information.
But even if you just play through once, the revelations and questions Vader Immortal leaves you with are certain to spawn many interesting conversations.
“Being a new medium, we had a certain freedom,” Vader Immortal director Ben Snow told io9 about the story choices. “We wanted to investigate trying to make you connect to Vader in a way that maybe you couldn’t as easily or effectively in another medium.”
“We were inspired by Rogue One, obviously,” executive producer Mark Miller added. “We’re back on Mustafar, and that’s where Vader is. Let’s tell a story there. And so [the Lucasfilm Story Group] were happy to dive deep into ‘Okay, let’s talk about the lore of the planet and how he ended up there and why there’s meaning in it.’”
So if those are questions you want to answer, while fighting with a lightsaber in an immersive first-person experience, Vader Immortal Episode III is right up your alley. It’s the finale of a three-part, two-hour, interactive Star Wars movie. It’s available on Oculus Quest and Rift starting Thursday.
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This article was updated after publication to clarify some facts.