Vader Immortal: A Star Wars Series is a three-part VR experience developed by ILMxLAB and published by Disney Interactive Studios. The game was a finalist for an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Media in 2019. It was also awarded the 2020 Game Developers Choice Award for Best VR/AR Game and the 2020 Producers Guild of America Award for Innovation.
Why is it engaging?
Vader Immortal is an immersive experience for any Star Wars fan and anyone wanting to try a VR experience for the first time that makes your Jedi fantasies come true. You will be put into a story where you get to take control of the action during the key moments of the story such as engaging in lightsaber duels and using the power of the Force against the stormtroopers and even facing off against Darth Vader himself.
Features well done
Star Wars games rarely fail to impress us visually and this is especially true with Vader Immortal Series. This AAA narrative based adventure VR experience makes good use of the VR strengths while avoiding its shortcomings. For example, the environments are more conservative in size which allows the developers to focus on the resources they have in higher detailed textures, character animations and more sophisticated lighting which results in game worlds that are true to the Star Wars universe.
Like the visuals, there is not a Star Wars game that sounded bad and with access to the Lucasfilm sound vault, Vader Immortal sound effects are no exception. From the scream of a TIE Fighter overhead or the hum of a lightsaber, all the sounds in this experience is in 3D audio. This ensures players feel fully immersed into the experience in the Star Wars universe.
The gameplay’s goal is accessibility and mainstream appeal by keeping the game mechanics straightforward, competent and intuitive. Combat wise, Vader Immortal teaches the player a few abilities across the three-episode story arc with lightsaber combat being introduced in episode 1, force grabbing and throwing in episode 2 and adding in some blaster gunplay in episode 3. Towards the climax of the series, players can use a combination of the abilities learnt throughout the experience to duel with Vader himself. The best part about the combat is that players have the ultimate control to the lightsaber such as when to utilise it and turning it on and off at will. These combat mechanics brings about more options as to how players take on waves of stormtroopers and other random minions. While the gameplay may often feel simple, the game does succeeds in making you feel like a powerful Jedi towards the end of the series.
Areas for improvement
There are some texture pop-ins and jagged edges in large 3D models which could be due to technological limitations and optimisation concerns. Despite the shortcoming, the environment still does look impressive. The main problem could be that the paint-by-numbers and simplistic gameplay offers little replay value. This only end-game content that players have are the three training dojos at the end of each episode with various degrees of difficulty. However, completing them only offers some cosmetic unlocks such as different lightsaber designs seen in the Star Wars cinematic universe. Since Vader Immortal is marketed to be more of a VR experience then being an actual game, I think it is justified that there is not much replayability and that the three training dojos are a bonus for players who bought the game to continue to satisfy their Jedi fantasy at the end of the series.
Despite being a short experience, Vader Immortal: A Star Wars Series provides the most immersive and authentic Jedi experience that every Star Wars fan would love to experience due to its impressive visuals and immersive gameplay. Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series is an excellent example of what current VR technology can offer and a proof of concept that current-generation hardware is capable of producing amazing VR visuals with enough resources.