Cal finally won a lightsaber duel against Trilla, but he managed to lose the holocron anyway. Since the holocron contains a list of a bunch of young force sensitives all over the galaxy, we can’t really let the Empire keep it. The Empire will round the kids up and stick them in the giant alignment-changing torture machine and turn them all into Sith.
Cere knows where Trilla went. There’s a secret Imperial base where they run their torture factory, and that’s where the inquisitors are based. So the only way to fix this is to assault the very heart of Sith power.
Cere decides that Cal has passed the test and should now be granted the rank of Jedi Knight. Being knighted in Star Wars apparently works just like being knighted in the United Kingdom, where someone needs to dab on each shoulder with a sword. Although here you need to be careful to not touch their shoulders directly, since you’re using a friggin’ lightsaber. I really wouldn’t want that buzzing, scorching, limb-severing thing anywhere near my ears or hair. Personally I’d just as soon stay a padawan and coast through my twenties as an undergrad.
It’s a cool moment that solidifies the student / mentor relationship between Cal and Cere, as well as marking the end of Cal’s arc. Although, it also seems sort of hilariously inappropriate that Cere does the knighting using Trilla’s bright red Sith lightsaber. Maybe she finds herself thinking, “Say, where did MY lightsaber get to, anyway? I seem to remember lending it to someone.”
Sensing that perhaps it’s ridiculous to send Call off on this mission alone, Cere allows herself to reconnect with the force. She realizes that she can’t hide from her past any longer. She arms herself with Trilla’s lightsaber, and they decide to assault this massive Sith base together.
It sounds like a stupid and futile idea, but then so was storming the Death Star to rescue Leia. Then again, the good guys were sort of forced into that position and they only escaped because the Empire let them. So I dunno. Who’s to say we aren’t going to run into the First Sister, Second Sister, and everyone down through Eighth SisterIf you remember, Ninth Sister recently lost a hand so maybe she’s on the injured reserve list. the moment we land? And are there numbered brothers as well? And maybe a thousand or so purge troopers?
And hang on, wouldn’t Trilla have opened the holocron by now? Why would she wait around for our assault? Wouldn’t that be the first thing she did once she got home and took off her cape and jackboots?
I nitpick, but it’s fine. Star Wars is filled with this sort of thing and you just need to roll with it. Still, I wouldn’t say no to a lampshade from either of our leads admitting that this is a suicide mission with no chance of success.
So we’re at the endgame. I hope you’re done rounding up collectible knick-knacks and lore items, because this is a one-way trip.
Merrin uses her Force-based witchcraft to hide the Mantis so they can get through the outer defenses. Then the Jedi dive into the water and swim to the base.
Like all AAA games, this one has a slog that sort of sucks a bit of momentum out of the story. If this was a movie, then the previous scenes where the bad guys obtained the holocron and Cal was knighted are the emotional energy reached a crescendo. The stakes have been raised, the conflict is both large-scaleSave the children. Save the Jedi Order. and personalSettle the grudge / conflict with Trilla.. Everything is on the line, all the good guys have reached their maximum potential, and now we’re ready for our final showdown. Normally a filmmaker would want to move from that scene to the final confrontation as quickly as possible to keep the momentum going. But this is a movie / game hybrid, so we need to pause our narrative crescendo so we can have our gameplay crescendo.
In a movie sense, imagine if Neo came back from the dead at the end, and then he spent twenty minutes effortlessly plowing through more military goons before he ran down the hall and destroyed Agent Smith. Or more hilariously: Imagine if Neo jumped back up, left the building, dicked around the city for six hours doing sidequests and gathering collectibles, and then came back for twenty minutes of mooks and then dashed down the hall to obliterate Smith.
The seams between gameplay and narrative are strange sometimes.
This problem is inherent to cutscene-heavy games, although I’d love to see what would happen if a AAA team skipped the slog. Would players complain that the ending felt “rushed” because they expected an hour of mook fights, or would everyone be cool with jumping right from the big emotional climax to the final boss fight? I don’t know if it would work or notIn this game, you really do need at least one or two brief mook fights as Cal comes in the door or else the base would feel tiny and empty., but I’d like to see someone try.
(I suppose you could argue they did this in Mass Effect 3. The game doesn’t really have a proper boss fight. All gameplay stops once you reach the beam. It’s hard to judge how well this worked, since the ending cutscenes are so controversial. Still, among all the many gripes I’ve heard over the years, I don’t think anyone complained about the lack of a huge gunfight at the end. Maybe the slog isn’t as necessary as game designers think it is, but I feel like we need to take a game with a GOOD ending and leave out the final mook marathon to see how people react.)
The slog in SWJFO is actually quite brief by AAA standards. This isn’t like climbing the tower in Mass Effect or hacking your way through cannon fodder for an hour in KOTOR. According to my footage, it’s about 15 to 20 minutes from arriving in orbit to reaching Trilla. Even better, that’s not all mook fights. We get some cool scenes in orbit, some cool vistas as Cal approaches the base, and a nice moment of catharsis as we get to see Cere unleash her powers and waste a bunch of troopers. She has a really cool fighting style where she uses a lightsaber in one hand and a blaster in another, and it makes for a fun show.
Basically, this slog isn’t bad, but there are definitely three or four rooms full of troopers that – in a narrative sense – didn’t need to be there. I’d be fine with skipping them, but I don’t know if journalists / mainstream gamers would accept that.
Second Sister, Fifth Round
Cal finally reaches Trilla, who still hasn’t opened the holocron for some reason. Technically Cere is on her way here. She took an alternate path through the complex and she’ll show up eventually, but you can’t exactly ask Trilla to wait for your backup to arrive. That’s bad news for Cal, but good news for the player who’s probably looking forward to settling up with Trilla after the last few fights got cut short.
Like I said earlier in the series, I’ve never spent any real time with this genre of melee combat and I was pretty uncomfortable with it at first. I had a hard time intuiting the proper timing of things and it took me a lot of trial and error to figure out what the game wanted from me.
Strangely enough, I was more prone to jumping the gun than missing my mark. The game actually gives you a nice long visual wind-up for the big attacks. You can tell you need to dodge, jump, or block at various points, but it’s not always apparent when you need to hit the button. I’d see the wind-up for (say) a big shockwave attack, immediately hit jump to go over it, and then land again before the attack started. I was way too early. Then the wave would crash into me before I could manage to jump a second time.
My biggest challenge was waiting for the right moment instead of reflexively smashing the button the instant the stimulus appeared. Batman was always about quick responses, so I’d never really cultivated the habit of letting a threat “cook” for a half second until the time was right. It was really hard to break the habit of jabbing the button too soon.
On my first trip through the game, this Trilla fight wrecked me a half dozen times. I wasn’t even close to beating her. If you fail, you respawn right outside the room and the game doesn’t attempt to show you the introductory cutscene again. You just appear outside, and then run through the door for another go at her. And yet, even with that very gentle failure I was still really frustrated during the process of learning to beat her. I hate failure and I hate not knowing what I’m doing wrong. I hate having to use trial-and error via death to learn the timings I need.
I had to leave the fight until the next day, and when I came back I just barely snuck through with a sliver of health and no healing stims left.
On my most recent trip through the gameFor the record, I’m still talking about a game on normal difficulty., I smacked her down with little fuss. I never needed to use a healing stim and I still had most of my health. It feels pretty good to overcome something like this and trivialize a task that used to feel impossible. This is one of the reasons I’m so glad this game exists.
If this fight had featured a Dark Souls style run-backs (or any run-backs at all, really) then this fight would have created an insurmountable frustration barrier for me. But the game designer didn’t just mindlessly copy the Dark Souls template. They kept the demand for careful timing and deliberate movement, but made sure every boss fight had a nearby point for respawning. That gave me a foothold in the genre and let me stick with it until I could “git gud” enough to really enjoy it.
Near the end of the fight, Cal makes an appeal to Trilla. He tries to empathize and encourage her to let go of her hate. This is a nice sentiment and a 100% cool thing for a Jedi to do. I love that Cal wants to do it, although as a member of the audience I had no desire to see Trilla repent.
There’s nothing in the story to suggest that Trilla was open to redemption, and there hasn’t been anything to make us want to see it. So far she’s been evil and loving every minute of it. She never expressed any regret for anything she did and she’s been brimming with hatred for everyone. She’s been nasty, irrational, mocking, cutting, vindictive, and hateful.
In the real world we’re always glad for any time a dangerous / irresponsible / damaged / person is able to repent and become a better person. In real life, salvation is heartwarming. But in fiction – particularly Star Wars style fiction – we want the likeable villains to repent and our detestable villains to stay evil so they can earn their righteous and appropriately brutal comeuppance. Trilla always felt like the latter sort of villain, and I didn’t want to see her redeemed any more than I wanted to see Palpatine repent and open a soup kitchen for displaced Ewoks. This is why the bad guys are space Nazis. It allows us to cheer for their horrible death and not worry that maybe we should have given them another chance. Sometimes we’re just here to watch the bad person fall down a big hole and explode for no reason.
We’ll see how Trilla responds to redemption next time.
 If you remember, Ninth Sister recently lost a hand so maybe she’s on the injured reserve list.
 Save the children. Save the Jedi Order.
 Settle the grudge / conflict with Trilla.
 In this game, you really do need at least one or two brief mook fights as Cal comes in the door or else the base would feel tiny and empty.
 For the record, I’m still talking about a game on normal difficulty.
Good Robot Dev Blog
An ongoing series where I work on making a 2D action game from scratch.
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