its evil clutches across the galaxy,
consuming planets with devastating
results. Through many struggles, the
Rebel Alliance has learned of a new
Imperial battle station, the DEATH
STAR, with enough power to destroy
an entire planet.
Unable to acquire the plans to the
deadly space station, the Rebels have
employed the skills of Kyle Katarn.
Known to most as a mercenary for
hire, Katarn is a rogue figure who has
a partial alliance with the Rebels.
Armed only with a blaster pistol and
an intimate knowledge of Imperial
methods, Kyle prepares to infiltrate
the Imperial base where the plans are
Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995), the first game in the Dark Forces Saga, is a standard FPS with the trappings of the original Star Wars trilogy. It is an origin story for series protagonist Kyle Katarn, a spy working for Mon Mothma, leader of the Rebel Alliance.
The intro showcases Katarn as the one to steal the plans for the first Death Star and transmit them to the rebellion, thus leading into the events of A New Hope (Sound familiar?). Afterwards, the game time-jumps to after the Death Star's destruction and goes its own way, uncovering the Emperor's top-secret "Dark Trooper Project."
The game was a dramatic leap for graphics and level design, being one of the first to feature multiple floors. It was also one of the first successful examples of looking up and down, as well as jumping.
The game contains examples of following tropes:
- Airborne Mook: Imperial probe droids, interrogation droids and remote droids fly around freely and attack at range. There is also the Phase II Dark Troopers, who spend most of their time in the air due to having jump packs.
- Badass Normal: Kyle Katarn's connection to the Force is only hinted at in this game, leaving him a One-Man Army who mows down armies of stormtroopers, droids and Hutt Cartel thugs, and at one point brings down a kell dragon (potentially several) with nothing but his bare hands.
- Blood Knight: Rom Mohc is described as a decorated veteran of the Clone Wars with a passion for man-to-man combat, distrusting any technology that removes the need for troops on the ground (to the point of openly criticizing the Death Star project). When Kyle Katarn sets out to destroy the Arc Hammer, Mohc eagerly dons a suit of Powered Armor to challenge him.
- Checkpoint Starvation: Unlike Doom or Build Engine games, Dark Forces has no in-game save feature, only a level select screen and Video-Game Lives, so each mission has to be beaten in one sitting.
- Down the Drain: The sewers come into play as early as Level 3: they combine a confusing maze of corridors, underwater creatures that are very difficult to spot and hit before they spot and hit you, limited supply of ammo and battery cells and being all around just a chore to get through.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- You have no lightsaber or Force powers. Also, Kyle lacks his famous beard.
- Storywise, this game is the only one in the Katarn saga to explicitly take place before Return of the Jedi. The others are set in the New Republic era.
- The game was one of the many 2½D "Doom clones" of the mid-90s, though like those on the Build engine it included many innovations such as true room-over-room. All the later games were fully 3D.
- Unlike most PC first person shooters, you can't save whenever you want. The game uses a lives system instead. From Jedi Knight onward, you can save at any time.
- Elite Mooks: The black-clad Imperial Navy Troopers can take more damage and have noticeably better aim than the Stormtroopers (who are supposed to be the ones who are the Elite Mooks).
- Emergency Weapon: Your first weapon slot is given over to Good Old Fisticuffs, to save you from being completely defenceless when you run out of ammo. At the start of the No-Gear Level on Jabba's ship, you'll need to bring down a kell dragon with melee before being released to the rest of the level.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: When you are stripped of all your weapons and other equipment, it only figures you should try and retrieve it. What's the name of the item you need to pick up in order to get your gear back? "Your Gear".
- Fake Difficulty: Land mine placement in Level 10 and, though not to such an extent, in Level 14, pretty much defines this tropes. Not only are the mines themselves very hard to detonate and their blast radius is huge but they tend to be located in places that render them practically undetectable until they blow up right into your face, such as immediately behind closed doors or around corners. The only way to not get hurt by them at all on your first playthrough would be to keep throwing thermal detonators every step of the way clearing the path ahead of you.
- Final Boss: After setting explosive devices across the Arc Hammer, Rom Mohc shows up just before you can reach your ship. For the battle, he wears a prototype Phase III Dark Trooper suit that's more than twice as durable as a regular Phase II Dark Trooper and equipped with an Assault Cannon and a Homing Missile launcher that can do a lot of damage. He also has a jump pack that allows him to be airborne.
- Fisticuffs Boss: In one level, Kyle is captured and stripped of his weapons by Jabba the Hutt, then forced to fight a kell dragon unarmed (two in hard mode). After he is done punching it to death with his bare hands, another kell dragon-infested part of the level opens up, but the odds can end up a little more balanced in his favor if he chooses to force some grenade-carrying Mooks to part with their weapons.
- Foreshadowing: Kyle's Force sensitivity is hinted at by Darth Vader in the ending.
- Game Mod:
- While there is currently no 100% feature-complete mod to play the game on modern systems with OpenGL graphics ( like ZDoom for Doom or EDuke for Duke Nukem 3D), the DarkXL mod comes the closest, being completable from start to finish. However, some of the cutscenes are glitched, the weapon scroll doesn't work properly (as the keys for next weapon/previous weapon have been replaced with debug keys), a few of the endgame weapons may not work properly, flying bosses may get stuck in one spot, and there are a couple of bugs that may prevent progress in some of the later levels, though they can be worked around.
- Work on DarkXL has since been discontinued, with the most current attempt at a Dark Forces source port now being The Force Engine, which attempts to build upon DarkXL's foundation. It has been in an early development alpha state for some time, but finally became playable from beginning to end with all features around late 2021, with a bug-fixed 1.0 release planned for mid-to-late 2022.
- Glass Cannon:
- Trandoshan goons aren't any more durable than regular mooks, but they carry powerful concussion rifles that deal heavy damage and will even blow you backwards a couple dozen feet.
- As Giant Mook enemies go, the Dark Troopers are relatively below-average in terms of tankiness (the Phase IIs are about on par with Doom Hell Knights in terms of their hit points, with the Final Boss having about the same hit points as a Baron of Hell), but they're quite fast with their jet packs and equipped with powerful rapid-fire plasma assault cannons that deal massive damage and can even fire rockets.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Darth Vader. He appears frequently in cinematics, overseeing the Dark Trooper project as General Mohc's superior, but he has no involvement otherwise and is never encountered in-game.
- Giant Mook: The Dark Troopers are huge Stormtrooper-shaped battle droids who can soak more than 40 blaster bolts or several direct explosive hits before falling, and are armed with rapid fire plasma assault cannons. Unlike most examples of the trope, they're also Lightning Bruisers with jetpacks who can fly around surprisingly quickly.
- God Mode: Players can enable the Super Shield in the options which will make them impervious to energy weapons and explosions; however the player is still vulnerable to physical damage like falling, punches, medical droid and dianoga attacks, and Dark Trooper Phase I blades.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: This game was the first to provide an in-universe explanation for the infamous stormtrooper aiming skills. The standard issue blaster is mercilessly inaccurate. No two shots fired in the same direction will ever land in the same place.
- Inconveniently Placed Conveyor Belt: Since half of the game is spent slogging through the various construction facilities of the Dark Trooper project, these are available in all shapes and colours, culminating in a horrific sequence made up entirely of these and long falls in the final two levels.
- Kaizo Trap: The Robotics Facility level on the ice planet ends with a boss fight against your first Phase II Dark Trooper. Immediately afterwards, you get chased through a maze of vents by a pair of Phase I Dark Troopers, with the tight maze-like corridors giving them a significant advantage over you as you're unable to properly use explosives against them and can't just shoot them because of their blaster-deflecting hand shields.
- Mighty Glacier: Gamorrean guards are slow and limited to melee attacks with their axe, but they can soak more damage than any other regular enemy.
- No-Gear Level: The game had a level where Kyle had all the weapons he'd been acquiring throughout the game taken away, and had to fight with what he could scrounge off killed enemies until he could locate his weapon stash.
- One-Man Army:
- Just a few Dark Troopers deployed on Talay as a test wipes out an entire Rebel force.
- Kyle fights his way through two large Imperial ships, countless Stormtroopers and every remaining active Dark Trooper by the end.
- Powered Armor: The final boss, the Dark Trooper Phase III, is General Mohc wearing a specially designed Dark Trooper exosuit.
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The cover art features a Stormtrooper blasting at you, while you get a hit in on one of his squadmates. The different cover art for the PlayStation version features this as well, minus you shooting back. It's also pretty amusing that both covers have the Stormtrooper's aim being rather off-center.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Anteevy. Downplayed, as only specific patches of ground are slippery, and they are easily identified. Kyle also has retractable ice cleats in his boots to dampen, if not eliminate, the effect.
- Sticky Shoes: Kyle has ice cleats for use on slick surfaces.
- Tentacled Terror: The Anoat sewer system of the third mission is home to tons of Dianogas, which just love to lurk around in the sewage and scare the hell out of you. And you have to wade through a ton of sewage, often in the dark. Have fun. Dianogas still appear sparingly after Anoat; true to A New Hope, where there's a trash compactor, you'll probably find a Dianoga.
- Variable Mix: Dark Forces did this with MIDI using the iMuse system, previously used in LucasArts adventure titles and the X-Wing/TIE Fighter series.