Star Wars: Dark Forces Remaster Review - A New Hope For Old Software

RATING : 7 / 10
  • Visual upgrades and fidelity bring the game into the modern age
  • Updated and more accessible controls
  • A treasure trove of galactic extras
  • Level design can be just as frustrating as the original game
  • Some missed opportunities for additional modernization

A PC review code for "Star Wars: Dark Forces Remaster" was purchased by the writer for this review. The game is available now for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Ah, the nostalgia hits hard with this one. Remember the days when "Star Wars: Dark Forces" was the talk of the town? Nightdive Studios, the necromancers of the gaming world, have waved their magic wand again, this time giving the 1995 classic a facelift. But is it enough to satisfy both the grizzled veterans and the young Padawans of today? "Buckle up, baby" — we're jumping to lightspeed to find out.


First things first, the visual upgrades are like swapping your old, blurry goggles for a brand-new pair of cybernetic eyes. The transformation from the pixelated, muddy textures of yesteryear to crisp, clean 4K is nothing short of miraculous. Nightdive has done a commendable job making everything from the eerie corridors of Imperial bases to the vastness of space look stunning. However, not all is perfect in this visual paradise. Some textures and cutscenes feel a bit off — forced, even — as if they're remnants of a bygone era that didn't quite catch the shuttle to the present day. Unlike a Stormtrooper's aim, though, most of the visuals are hits.

Diving into the gameplay, the enhancements are like discovering you've had Force abilities all along. The updated controls and the introduction of a gamepad support are like the guiding hand of Obi-Wan making your journey smoother and more intuitive. The added weapon wheel and aim assist bring "Dark Forces" into the modern era, although, let's be honest, the original's clunky charm may be missed by traditionalists seeking that fully nostalgic experience.


Feeling the Force of Modern Gameplay

The original game's innovative (for its time) puzzles and exploration elements still stand strong — everything is simply wrapped in the new visual package. Yet, while navigating the levels, you may feel a slight disturbance in the Force. The labyrinthine design and rough navigation can turn your mission into a space odyssey of confusion.


To that end, let's chat about the levels. Venturing through the fourteen iconic missions is like a trip down memory lane, with all the original locations and objectives intact. But here's the rub: what was once revolutionary in 1995 can now feel a tad outdated, which is fair. While the remaster does a solid job of preserving the essence of the original, it also inherits some of its less endearing qualities, such as the sometimes cryptic level design and objectives.

The nostalgia factor is strong with this one, but it's a double-edged sword (err... lightsaber). Newcomers might find themselves bewildered by design choices that were acceptable in the mid-'90s but are considered passé by today's standards. Yet, for those of us who spent countless hours navigating these pixelated mazes, there's a peculiar charm in retracing our steps, now with clearer, crisper visuals.


Unlocking the Vault of Extras

One area where "Star Wars Dark Forces Remaster" shines brighter than a blaster bolt is in its additional content. The inclusion of concept art, a test demo level from 1995, and behind-the-scenes documents is like finding hidden holocrons filled with lore. These extras offer a fascinating glimpse into the game's development and are a treat for both history buffs and "Star Wars" aficionados as a whole.


However, the absence of a mid-level save feature is sorely missed — a modern convenience that would have been a welcome addition to this old-school adventure. It's a missed opportunity that could have made the remaster a bit more accessible.

In terms of performance, "Dark Forces Remaster" mostly runs smoothly. The promised 120 FPS on 4K resolutions makes the gameplay as smooth as Lando's charisma. However, occasional crashes and performance dips did rear their ugly heads, somewhat dampening the overall experience that should be far less janky than a playthrough on a mid-'90s eMachines desktop PC.

For Fans of the Original, This is the Remaster You've Been Looking For

"Star Wars: Dark Forces Remaster" is a loving tribute to a game that many of us hold dear. It's like reconnecting with an old friend who's had a bit of a facelift and learned some new tricks. The upgrades in visuals, controls, and additional content are commendable, bringing a dated but beloved classic into the modern era.


Yet, it's not all intergalactic celebrations and Ewok dances. The remaster carries over some of the original's flaws, particularly in level design and the absence of certain quality-of-life features. It's a reminder that, while you can polish a droid to a shiny new gleam, it's still the same droid underneath.

For "Star Wars" enthusiasts and nostalgia-chasers, this remaster is a no-brainer — a chance to relive the glory days with enhanced visuals and smoother gameplay. For newcomers, it's a worthwhile peek into the early history of "Star Wars" games, albeit with the caveat that this is still a product of its time, reimagined for today.

In the grand tapestry of "Star Wars" gaming, "Dark Forces Remaster" is not the brightest star, but it's far from being lost in the shadow of the Empire. It holds up to the enduring appeal of the "Star Wars" universe and the timeless joy of blasting Stormtroopers in the face. So, grab your blaster, adjust your helmet, and may the Force be with you on this retro revival adventure.