Though Oculus Quest still doesn’t launch until the 21st, Oculus has seen fit to give us full access to one of its biggest launch titles: Star Wars Vader Immortal – Episode 1. This “narrative virtual reality adventure” does a good job of immersing you in the Star Wars universe, but it feels all too brief. Thankfully there’s a surprisingly fun ‘Lightsaber Dojo’ that offers hours of engaging challenge.

Star Wars Vader Immortal Details:

Official Site

Developer: ILMxLAB
Available On: Quest, Rift (at a later date)
Reviewed On: Quest
Release Date: May 21st, 2019

Gameplay

Image courtesy ILMxLAB

Let’s put this right up front: Star Wars Vader Immortal, at least its story portion, is more of a VR ‘experience’ than it is a outright game. At about 45 minutes for the entire story playthrough, it’s not as long or as deep as you might hope from a game proper. But hey, this is ‘Episode 1’, so they’ve clued us in ahead of time that there will be more to come eventually.

Luckily Vader Immortal also has a ‘Lightsaber Dojo’—a standalone mode where you can engage in more extensive lightsaber combat than what you see in the story—which is worth a handful of extra hours of enjoyment.

With a price tag of $10 for the whole thing, the two modes add up to what feels like a very fair value.

The story is where you ought to start though. It’s a well paced and polished adventure set on the planet of Mustafar, where you’ll bump into Vader himself. It’s a pretty classic Star Wars scenario: you and your partner unexpectedly get tangled up in some serious trouble that you definitely weren’t looking for.

Image courtesy ILMxLAB

Without spoiling the story, you’ll be with your droid partner ZOE3 as you work your way through Vader’s castle on Mustafar. ZOE3 is very believably voice acted, and works as both an expositor and a guide for what the player should be doing. You’ll use a tool to open some control panels and figure out how to fiddle with the insides to unlock some doors. You’ll climb ladders on you way from A to B, eventually get your hands on a lightsaber, and see the story unfold along your way.

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It’s a purely linear experience, but good pacing ensures things don’t feel dull or too constrained throughout. It also strikes a good balance between being friendly enough for novices while not being boring for veteran VR players. The only pacing problem is the sudden ending which comes just as it feels like things are getting started. It’s an entertaining and authentic experience, but you hate to see it end after just 45 minutes.

Image courtesy ILMxLAB

Luckily the Lightsaber Dojo mode gave me more gameplay to sink my teeth into, and turned out to be quite a bit more expansive than I expected. In the Lightsaber Dojo you’ll face off with your energy sword against waves of enemies. It starts slow, but as you complete the waves, things get harder and you’ll be slowly introduced to more advanced lightsaber fighting techniques as you go. The lightsaber fighting and even the enemies you’ll encounter in this mode go a good bit deeper than I was initially expecting.

You’ll see enemies that you never see in the story mode, new attacks and attack patterns, and advanced techniques like parrying and fending off lightsaber ‘clashes’. It’s actually a bit of a shame that they couldn’t bring combat seen in the Lightsaber Dojo into the story itself.

I played the Lightsaber Dojo mode for at least three hours and I’m still just shy of the final stage. As far as wave-based VR content goes, I was surprised at how fun it was, and I can see myself pushing to make it to the last stage and sharing it with friends in the future. For the collectors among you, there’s a series of different lightsaber colors and hilts to be unlocked by scoring well on each wave.

Immersion

Image courtesy ILMxLAB

It’s clear that ILMxLAB spent a lot of time making Vader Immortal feel like an authentic story, and they’ve done a pretty good job. The whole experience plays out pretty seamlessly, mostly without loading screens. The graphics won’t blow you away, but it’s a pretty impressive achievement when you consider the mobile hardware that the game is running on, and there’s a few moments that play with scale very well and make you feel like you’re in front of something quite massive.

Writing was engaging, with good voice-acting throughout (even when ZOE3 was telling you want you needed to do to move the game forward), which helped keep the world feeling cohesive. Art direction is cohesive throughout, and there’s even a cool technical cameo in the form of a Quill drawing (Oculus’ VR painting tool).

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There were a few cool moments of player-to-character interactions which are nice to see, like when a character hands you an object directly, or reaches a hand out to give you something to climb up on. I thought however there were a few missed opportunities to make the player ‘act’ as part of the scene. For instance, when a Stormtrooper ran up to me with his weapon drawn, it seemed like a great opportunity to tell the player “hands up!” and actually make them do it. I hope that we’ll see more stuff like this in Episode 2.

On the Lightsaber Dojo side, there is a weird issue causing the lightsaber to jiggle as it swings through the air. For the most part it doesn’t impact the gameplay, but it’s annoying not to be able to swing a nice smooth arc through the air. It also would have been nice to have killing cuts on enemies slice right at (or close to) the point of impact, but instead they sort of just fall to pieces.

Occasionally in the Lightsaber Dojo, it feels like sometimes enemies can hit you even though you successfully blocked, which can be frustrating.

Because much of the game is dark scenery contrasted by fairly bright lights, the black-smearing caused by Quest’s OLED display can also be distracting at times.

Comfort

Star Wars Vader Immortal has a decent set of comfort options. Teleport is the default for locomotion, but smooth locomotion is an option too, including the ability to use instant or smooth teleportation. Snap turning is enabled by default, but smooth turning is an option. I found myself not needing any artificial turning, and just rotating in place as needed (thanks to Quest’s 360 tracking). I never felt uncomfortable throughout my time playing Vader Immortal.

Because enemies in the Lightsaber Dojo rely so heavily on sound to telegraph their attacks, there’s also a ‘visual assist’ option which lights up the screen to alert you to the sounds of an enemy before they attack; a thoughtful option for those who are hard of hearing.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
8

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  • Krasimir Nikolov

    “It’s a well paced and polished adventure set on the planet of Mustafar, where you’ll bump into Vader himself.”
    I know the game is called Vader Immortal, but that’s a spoiler in my book.

    • Wippobcray

      No it’s not. All the promo material leading up to this point indicated that you’d confront Vader.

    • thatGuy

      so should they call it ***** Immortal then?

    • Ian Shook

      In the movie “Jurassic Park” you also bump into Jurassic dinosaurs in a park, but I feel like it wasn’t a spoiler.

    • DanDei

      your book is wrong

      • JesuSaveSouls

        My book is God’s book…its the bible.

        • VR4EVER

          Which is a fantasy book.

          • sfmike

            Second rate bronze age fantasy penned for domination of the weak minded.

          • Seanm57

            Truly intelligent people realize they don’t know crap. I never pretend to know that something is fantasy or truthful if I have no first hand account. Even then, you can’t be sure of what you witness. I would be doubtful of anyone that claims to understand anything in its entirety.

          • Jonathan Pratte

            You are such an insecure person if you don’t believe your own eyes. Can you get out of your home alone? Do you put salt around your house to protect you from bad spirits? Do you have the feeling that people are staring or laughing at you? If yes, please consult a psychiatrist.

          • Seanm57

            You’ve got it all figured out. Congratulation.

          • thatGuy

            of fiction

        • Jonathan Pratte

          Your God never wrote a book. Humans wrote it.

          • Jerald Doerr

            I can see it 20,000 years from now…

            Na man… This Skywalker force stuff is real bro… We came from a galaxy far far away! He had his second coming in 2019 “The Raise of Skywalker!”

            Chapter 9 verse 2… And he has risen from the depths of the Death Star!

            Church son! It’s real!

          • Jonathan Pratte

            Jediism is already an etablished religion lol.

          • Jerald Doerr

            Lol…

        • HybridEnergy

          Disagree as I don’t believe, but I enjoy the bait for all the edgy defensive pathetic fedora hat neck beard Atheist comments that usually follow.

    • NooYawker

      “I know the game is called Vader Immortal”
      ’nuff said.

  • Jarilo

    Seems like most of the meat of the game is in a wave based light saber experience.

    • thatGuy

      what if i told you there was a game like that BUT music was involved!?! jk

      • Jarilo

        :P but music is everything ;)

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    I’ve been waiting since VR started for a real SW game, and it’s only 45 minutes… I hope it’s not over $20 in that case.

    • Fluke

      It’s $10.

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    I wonder, if you buy a game for QUEST, will you also own it on Oculus? I’d rather play this on the higher res version on the oculus, but want to show it to people remotely on the Quest. Not worth buying twice for that. I wish it was like steam account.

    • FireAndTheVoid

      From that other major VR website: “Oculus declined to comment on if it would support cross-buy”

    • Tam Phan

      Oculus announced that cross-buy between Quest and Rift works, but they left it up to each dev to decide whether they want to provide that option for their game/app. So it’s per app/per dev.

  • oompah

    I wonder , if this kinda game
    is rendered with ray/path tracing
    ppl will go gaga over it
    someday this will happen

  • Tommel

    I read somewhere else that it costs only 9,99 €? is this confirmed? I think this is more than fair for a well-polished product, 45 mins of an engaging story plus a fun action part that makes sense of the Quest 360° capabilities.

  • Original-Juice

    i’m looking forward to this. I have a Mixed reality set and it’s fun but the Quest you can set up shop quickly and anywhere from what i’m reading. the Darth Vader game sounds really cool and fun to share with friends.

  • Amazing! I can’t wait to try it…

  • MosBen

    I pre-ordered a Quest, which should ship to me in 11 days. I’m super excited.

  • impurekind

    Eh, I think most people are coming for the light sabers from the get-go–and to see some classic Star Wars characters and ships and stuff.

  • Mithrandir

    I guess its a bit like the Batman VR game on psvr? in that its not an outright game, more of an experience, which was $20 for a similar play time but definitely was worth it.

  • Ero

    Ugh, why is Facebook splitting up the oculus stuff so much. They already have 3 stores for oculus products: Oculus Rift / Go / Quest … Are they competing with themselves? I was hoping this game would be out for Rift on the 21st, looks like us Original CV1 adopters will have to wait indefinitely for a release on rift.

  • Grimfrost1

    After hearing of the release today, I decided to buy it like anyone else would. Except apparently its only for Quest and Rift S. If you’re a Rift player like me; sorry fam. I guess the Rift just isn’t cool enough. Booooo….