Originally released for Oculus Quest over the course of 2019, Star Wars: Vader Immortal is a VR series that’s finally releasing for PlayStation VR. So, it’s time to see how this virtual reality side quest to the Star Wars saga plays out.
I should start out by saying this: If you were hoping to play as the Imperial Sith Lord himself, well, sorry, you’re out of luck. But you do get to meet him face to face in all his glowering glory. (At least, I think he’s probably glowering under the mask.) And there’s some lightsaber swinging and manipulating of the Force to master here as well.
This opening episode has you captaining a salvage ship (read: “smuggler ship”) called the Windfall. You and your sassy droid co-pilot have obviously been skipping around the galaxy in pursuit of cash for a while now, and your trusty craft has the battle scars to prove it. While exiting from your latest, uh, salvage mission, however, you’re suddenly yanked out of hyperspace by an Empire tractor beam aimed at you by none other than Darth Vader himself.
Seems Vader’s connection with the Force has pinpointed you, oh nameless captain, as being someone with a particular “Force-sensitive bloodline” you didn’t even know you had. But the fact that you’re able to unlock a certain puzzle artifact from the planet Mustafar’s distant past proves you’re special. After that, the towering, black-clad Sith Lord essentially says, “If you want to live, do as I say.” Your bloodline is key to finding a powerful thingamajig that will allow Vader to “conquer death itself.”
Is it so he can unleash destruction upon the universe? Will it give the dark side of the Force ultimate power? Is there a more personal resurrection driving Vader’s heated pursuit? You’ll soon find out if you simply follow through on his orders. “I sense a latent Force ability in you,” the helmeted baddie says with a deep James Earl Jonesian rumble. “Follow me and I’ll instruct you in its ways.” Hey, how can you pass up on an earnest offer like that?
Gameplay-wise, the first episode has you traversing quite a bit of territory in the depths of a lava planet in pursuit of a powerful object. And the story also features a betrayal and a rescue that give the tale a nice Star Wars feel.
The VR component here involves a number of pleasingly tactile puzzles that you work through with the PlayStation Move motion controllers—including climbing ladders and ripping open control panels. But let’s face it, the real joy comes from lightsaber battles and the picking up large rocks, robots and chunks of debris with your newfound Force abilities.
The manipulation of switches and controls to make that happen can be a little awkward and finicky at times; but the lightsaber fights, with the controller’s haptic feedback, are lots of fun. Deflecting shots from blasters, joining in battle with a saber-swinging opponent, and picking up a large robot attacker and chucking it toward a nearby stone wall are all particularly rewarding for a Star Wars fan.
Being a Mom fan, too, I can also report that this T-rated VR game doesn’t put younger players in situations that are overly intense or problematic. They’ll encounter the Force, but there are no references to a spiritual side of the equation other than Vader’s brief exclamation about the power that comes from letting your anger take control.
Other than that, your robot copilot pal sighs over your unlikely survival at times saying, “Thank the maker!” And a native “priestess” who helps us out at one point has a position of undefined spiritual power with her tribe.
Oh, and there are no language worries either, really. Occasionally our robo-pal spits out a bad-word stand-in such as “Oh, scrag,” or “Scrag it!” But that’s pretty much it.
Then there’s the violence side of things. The VR makes things much more immersive with thumps and blasts all around you. But the violen quotient is still relatively mild.
Robots attack with lightsabers swinging, characters with guns shoot glowing blasts in your direction and a giant monster grabs at you with multiple arms and huge hands. But what small splashes of blood we see are kept to a minimum. The worst visual is in a dark cavern where that huge beasty grabs a character and pops him into its mouth. Frankly, this first entry in a three-part series is a short but satisfying one. It will let fans bask in the red, glowing Vader villainy side of the Star Wars tale, without having to worrying over any of the glowering baddy heat.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.