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How KOTOR - Remake Could Add Nuance To Light & Dark Side Choices

The upcoming Playstation 5 Remake for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, helmed by developers at Lucasfilm Games and Aspyr, has generated a lot of excitement among fans of BioWare's premiere Star Wars RPG along with many questions. Some may be wondering how will graphics and gameplay be improved, or if the storyline will change. Others may be wondering if the Karma system in the KOTOR Remake gains more nuance, giving players more chances to make Light Side choices that are more pragmatic and Dark Side choices that aren't so cartoonishly evil.

The gameplay of BioWare's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, a video game adaption of the D20 tabletop system from the 2002 Star Wars Roleplaying Game, hasn't aged particularly well, often coming across as clunky and awkward in comparison to more modern computer RPGs. The story of KOTOR, however, is still lauded by fans for being a quintessential Star Wars tale of adventure, nobility, and redemption, for having a really good plot twist near the end, and for iconic characters such as the assassin protocol droid HK-47 and the enigmatically practical Sith Lord known as Darth Revan (seen in the remake's reveal trailer).

Related: What Star Wars: KOTOR Remake Could Learn From FF7 Remake's Story

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic - Remake is bound to rework many things from the original. For starters, the graphics should take a massive leap forward thanks to the processing power of the Playstation 5 (on the level of the Demon's Souls Remake, at least). The remake's gameplay will probably take more cues from The Old Republic MMORPG and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, letting players engage in more fluid, fast-paced combat scenarios. Ideally, KOTOR - Remake will also draw inspiration from the refined moral choice systems of more modern RPGs, giving players more chances to make Dark Side and Light Side choices that seem less exaggerated than they were in the original game.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic wasn't the first computer game to implement a Karma system – a record of good/bad player choices that unlocks different upgrades and story paths. The big innovation of KOTOR lay in how developers put the Karma Meter mechanic at the heart of a story about redemption and temptation. As the players and their Force-sensitive character travel around the galaxy, searching for the secrets of the vanquished Darth Revan, they are faced with the choice of either rejecting - or embracing - the Sith Lord's power, goals, and methods. Thematically, a Dark Side playthrough of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is supposed to be a gradual descent into villainy, the PC aligning more with the ways of the Sith every time they make a ruthless, cruel decision for the greater good, advance their ambitions at the expense of others, or lash out at people who slight them.

At least, this is how Dark Side choices in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic work sometimes. Other times, these choices in KOTOR lean toward the cartoonishly evil spectrum of behavior: extorting the destitute, torturing people with Force powers, murdering for fun, and antagonizing companions. Evil for the sake of being evil, rather than for the sake of clear goals. To a degree, this contrast between "Pragmatic Evil" and "Over The Top Evil" is personified with the rivalry between Darth Revan and his protege Darth Malak – Revan representing evil that frowns on pointless cruelty, and Malak representing cruelty for cruelty's sake.

In the main questlines of BioWare's more recent Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, following the Jedi Code doesn't always make someone a good person - just as following the Sith Code doesn't necessarily make someone evil. This narrative approach made it possible for Old Republic players to create characters who are Light Side-aligned while upholding Sith values, or patriots of the Galactic Republic who fall to the Dark Side in their zeal to defend it. This could just as easily give the Karma system of the KOTOR remake extra depth.

Related: What Star Wars: KOTOR Remake Is Changing

To properly rework the Karma system of the original Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, the KOTOR remake will need to take cues from other Star Wars games (and other BioWare MMOs) and give players several different ways to gain Light Side or Dark Side points during questlines and dialogue segments. A Knights of the Old Republic player in the middle of a Light Side playthrough should be able to rescue NPCs from their problems like a (Jedi) knight in shining armor - or slyly give them the training, guidance, or tools they need to solve their problem themselves. Similarly, someone trying to create a Dark Side-aligned galactic tyrant should be able to Force choke NPCs and slay companions who disagree with them, or use lies and manipulations to murder inconvenient people, corrupt innocents, and amass power, all while keeping their external reputations squeaky clean.

In the Obsidian Entertainment sequel, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, an enigmatic Force-wielding companion called Kreia reflects on the motivations of Darth Revan, vocally wondering if their fall to the Dark Side and embrace of villainy was actually a well-intentioned attempt to strengthen the Jedi and the Galactic Republic against a greater threat from beyond charted space. The Old Republic MMO built on this ominous portent and introduced a main story centered around the emergence of a "True" Sith Empire led by an immortal Emperor, wielding manpower, military resources, and Force abilities that dwarfed Revan's own.

If the developers of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remake wish to retroactively foreshadow the plot developments of these sequels, then adding more nuanced Light Side and Dark Side choices would be a well-welcomed addition. Changes to the Karma system could also give player characters a chance to learn about the so-called phantom menaces Revan fell to the Dark Side to defeat. The remake could even allow players to dramatically decide whether or not Revan had the right idea.

Next: How Star Wars KOTOR 2's Big Bad Might Be The Force Itself

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