Review: Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series
A lesson in cinematic VR entertainment.
After reviewing episode one of Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series the temptation was to review each episode 2 & 3 individually, looking at each chapters merits. However, with all three released in relatively quick succession and with the series now complete it felt right to review them as one whole, just as you would with a normal videogame or film. Because that’s an important point to make, Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series hovers in that grey area in between, taking an iconic franchise which has been covered in every medium and actually managing to do something different.
And that’s all thanks to virtual reality (VR), with the technology once again highlighting its unique properties that just can’t be emulated on a flat-screen. Videogames have tried numerous times to put fans into this universe of rebels and imperial Stormtroopers with different levels of success. Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series offers Star Wars fans one of the best reasons to invest in VR.
Firstly this is canon material. With a storyline set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, the cinematic experience offers a natural bridge between the two whilst presenting its own unique narrative to keep you enthralled. Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series possibly wouldn’t have worked if ILMxLAB had put you in the shoes of a known character but as an unknown entity you can become that person, enabling a deeper connection with the events transpiring.
While keeping your character nameless was important it was just as essential to have an iconic Star Wars character take the lead, and you don’t get bigger than Darth Vader. Offering an inspiring performance that shows both his caring side dealing with the love and loss of Padme and the darkness born from it, Vader’s central role as both your teacher and enemy help to support the experience throughout.
But it’s worth remembering that Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series isn’t a videogame as such, so if you’re looking for plenty of non-stop action then you may be a little disappointed. Each episode is a series of set pieces designed to help you learn new skills before the final assault on Vader’s stronghold. So episode one introduces you to the lightsaber while episode two is more about the force. Episode three then brings thermal detonators and Imperial blasters if the first two weren’t enough.
Those latter two really do only make a short appearance as most of the time knocking back laser bolts with the lightsaber and force throwing guards proves to be too much fun. As you’d expect, the blasters’ accuracy is woefully erratic – hence why Stormtroopers comically can’t hit much – so only the closest of enemies are worth taking a shot at. Blasters can only be gained from Imperials with a force pull, allowing for a quick switch-up mid-battle.
The campaign might be the main draw in Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series yet it’s the Lightsaber Dojo which will keep you coming back for more. The story offers around 2 hours of content which skips through at a fairly steady pace. In the dojo, however, the action is far more hectic even if it is constrained by its wave-based mechanics.
Episode three’s dojo provides the greatest gameplay variance and as such the most difficult challenges of any of the dojos. You really need to keep an eye on the entire arena as flying drones and Stormtroopers appear in abundance, thus this is the closest you’ll possibly ever get to being a Jedi – if that’s an aspiration.
Videogames like Stormland may showcase how far VR gaming has come and its potential but so does Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series. It can feel a little stop/start at points, lacking the fluidity of a movie yet the interactive elements connect you with this rich franchise in a way that can’t be overlooked. If you’re a Star Wars fan then Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series is a must, for everyone else, there’s still fun to be had.