Star Wars needs no introduction, and neither does BioWare. If you’re like me (and I certainly hope not, you’d have more fun with media) you’re probably more than burnt out on both. After hearing the pedigree of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, a collaboration between BioWare and LucasArts, I was interested to give it a chance when it was announced for Nintendo Switch. After all, it’s considered by many RPG fans as one of the best Star Wars games of all time. While I didn’t fall madly in love with it, I can certainly see where the love comes from.
You start by making a character and customizing their profession and attributes. After a short section to learn the gameplay segments, you’re sent down onto a planet to teach you how you should be interacting with the dialogue mechanics. It teaches you without doing so directly, and I think it was very effective.
I can’t say the same for the battle system, which admittedly hasn’t aged the best. It feels like an awkward 2D CRPG’s combat slapped into a 3D game. You have an auto-attack and a series of special actions, with items you can queue up to use in battle. A word of advice is to really abuse grenades and shields. It’ll save your life, because I feel like even if I tried to avoid combat often there’s a lot of it. I typically try to play these kinds of games as pacifist as I can, trying to put all my points into conversation.
It didn’t help that I played this right off the high of the masterpiece that is Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, so perhaps I was going at it from the wrong perspective. I think weird combat from a nearly 20-year-old RPG can be forgiven though, just make sure you save often. Saving and loading are rather slow, which brings the pace to a screeching halt every time you die. I died quite often, so I saw that menu more than I liked. The port is also maybe too faithful to the original release, showing a set amount of storage space available for save files.
Despite some nitpicks I think the port is pretty good. The resolution seems to hit 1080p docked and 720p undocked, and runs great. The models look crisp and the textures are solid for the age of the game, but the font is a bit blurry (especially on a TV). The controls get some getting used to, but they’re responsive enough with enough time to understand them. There weren’t too many bugs outside of two major ones I came across. Even months after launch, these have not been addressed yet but I’d hardly call them game-breaking. The first is a speed glitch where by going to the home menu and then back will launch the character forward. The second is a lighting glitch, where the lighting engine will freak out and everyone will get covered in darkness.
The story is well told and goes in-depth into the politics of the galaxy in ways I loved, but I think things are played just a tad too safe. That’s not entirely a bad thing, don’t misunderstand. I’m not immune to nostalgia, and in that safeness is a sense of comfort. It feels like classic Star Wars, and that was pretty refreshing for me after having not vibed with most of the new Star Wars titles. I like the story, even if I was hoping for more nuanced moral dilemmas in the story. The morality system seems to be a bit too black and white for my taste, but it at least makes for an entertaining story.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a solid evolution of the CRPG genre, and the Nintendo Switch is a wonderful way to experience this classic. For $15, it’s basically a steal. I’m hoping Aspyr gets a chance to revive its sequel next, because from what I’ve heard that seems to take more thematic risks. I’m also glad that this version is as good as it is, because it’s great for it to be preserved before the upcoming remake comes out.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Aspyr