Some time ago, a Star Wars game sale at GOG gave us the chance to pick up a large number of titles from the Dark Forces, Jedi Academy, and and Knights of the Old Republic series. The latter two had already made our research list based on rumors that they had potential for a decent pacifist challenge run.
|Dark Forces II|
In theory, any game featuring Jedi knights would have strong potential for a good pacifist challenge run with few or no kills: After all, many Jedi have had a lot to say about the importance of avoiding anger, hatred, aggression, and so on— also implying that they might well go out of their way to avoid unnecessary kills on their journeys through the star systems....
|Knights of the Old Republic: Maybe if I wear a spacesuit like this then no one will notice me, and I won't have to use violence...|
In practice, the Star Wars franchise famous for its Jedi speeches is just as well-known for hour upon hour of action in which scores of beings are ushered off the mortal coil amidst explosions of fireworks and the neon flash of lightsabers. A majority of the victims tend to be low-status underlings of the Empire, some of whom die by the thousands when gigantic spaceships and moon-sized bases like the Death Star get blown up by the rebels. These underlings also have a tendency to show up in force in Star Wars video games, blasting at the protagonist assiduously with imperial weaponry.
|Screenshot of someone blowing up imperial troops in Jedi Academy|
Still, one of us had fairly good results even in a pacifist run through the retro DOS game Dark Forces 1 (made in the days long before stealth gaming had gone mainstream), so are optimistic that these other Star Wars games might produce some good pacifist challenge opportunities, as well as interesting non-combat encounters with interesting alien beings, talkative droids... perhaps even Ewoks?
|Dark Forces II|
Where non-lethal solutions are concerned, Dark Forces II definitely has at least one thing going for it: The designers did not take away the "bottom line" defense of letting the player swing Katarn's bare fists. (After learning that Katarn was going to end up becoming a Jedi in Dark Forces 2, we feared the designers might replace the fists with a far more lethal lightsaber, but it appears that exalted Jedi weapon is only added to the arsenal later in the game.) We're also optimistic that we might be able to swing a lightsaber to deflect laser fire (without being forced to deflect it back into the face of the enemies who fired the shots), but hopefully the presence of the trusty fists will at least leave us free to K.O. any foes who refuse to be bypassed with purely nonviolent methods...
|I wonder if there's anywhere we can sell this Stormtrooper rifle for some Spacebucks this time around...|
Other features rumored to be available in some of these Jedi games sound like even better assets for a pacifist challenge run: In particular, the new "force skills" in which Jedi can do neat things like using telekinesis, telepathic mind-control (aka "Jedi mind tricks"), immobilizing foes (i.e., without blasting them or hacking them with lightsabers)— or if all else fails, at least running around on walls to get away from enemies, and giving Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog a run for their money when it comes to high-jumping skills.
jedi from Knights of the Old Republic: No doubt he's just using that
lightsaber to deflect laser blasts without hurting anyone...|
We'll have plenty more to say later after we've done more detective work about each game's zero-kill/pacifist potential. [ Brief update as of 2018: One of us has finally now gotten around halfway through an experimental pacifist run through Knights of the Old Republic, and while by no means perfect in pacifist run terms, it's definitely a worthy honorable mention for letting you use stealth and Jedi powers to avoid dozens of violent encounters, even though the game's scripting still makes it impossible to pull off a zero-combat run. It also deserves some credit for giving you a lot of scripted in-game opportunities for avoiding violence in a lot of the plot scenarios written into the game. ]