Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has found a way to make players understand the appeal of the dark side, and why Jedi could fall to it, better than Darth Sidious ever could. A huge part of Cal Kestis’ journey across Jedi: Survivor and its predecessor Jedi: Fallen Order is his better understanding of what kind of Jedi he wants to become, learning from the mistakes of the past from some of his closest allies.
[Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor]
It’s been nearly a decade since the Great Jedi Purge by the time Jedi: Survivor‘s story begins, and Cal, who was a Padawan when the Jedi Order fell, is now a full-fledged Jedi Knight. With this, he has an impressive skillset combining elements from across different areas of the Force, as well as a variety of lightsaber techniques he has mastered to make him one of the most skilled Jedi in the franchise, or at the very least the one with the most diverse set of skills. As a part of this, players see moments where Cal can even tap into the power of the dark side of the Force, and can feel its raw power.
Games Are A Great Way To Showcase The Power Of The Dark Side
Cal taps into the power of the dark side on a couple of occasions, noticeably when escaping Nova Garon, and then later when defeating his former ally Bode Akuna upon the revelation that he was an Imperial spy. The escape sequence shows Cal’s power fully unleashed as he defeats many enemies with ease, and through gaming’s interactive nature, players get to experience the power fantasy element and understand why so many can be corrupted by the dark side, much as they could with previous Sith-centric Star Wars titles such as The Force Unleashed, which offered a wealth of abilities that utilized the dark side of the Force as a Sith apprentice, Starkiller.
Despite this taste of the dark side’s power, Cal never fully succumbs to the power of the dark side. He even goes as far as to confide in Merrin about his concerns regarding his potential to do so soon after, to which she reassures him she will “guide him back” if he ever strayed from his path.
Jedi: Survivor Explores A Morally Complex View Of The Dark Side
Another way that Jedi: Survivor explores a morally complex view of what it means to embrace the dark side is through the story of Bode Akuna. As previously mentioned, it’s revealed late on in the game’s narrative that Cal’s best friend and a close ally of the Stinger Mantis crew is an Imperial spy, and furthermore, has become blinded from compromise to the extent that he can hurt and even kill those he cares about if they get in his way. His reasoning for doing so, however, is different from what many expect from those who join the Empire.
In fact, Bode is still somewhat reluctant about siding with the Empire, only making a deal with the Imperial Security Bureau to keep himself and his daughter Kata safe after losing his wife Tayala to – and spending years on the run from – Imperial Inquisitors. It’s the reveal of Bode’s backstory that makes his inevitable demise in Jedi: Survivor‘s final battle more tragic, as his intention to save his daughter at any cost is one that many fathers would relate to. Unfortunately, Bode’s fear of the Empire’s ever-growing power means that even when Cal pleads with him during their final duel, offering him and Kata safety with the Stinger Mantis crew, Bode doesn’t back down, and even injures Kata with a Force Push in the process to cement how far he has fallen before Cal has to strike him down.
Bode’s story in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a far more understandable one than others who have fallen to the dark side, such as Darth Sidious, who seems to simply want to rule the galaxy and convinces others to join him on his quest to do so through their thirst for power. Players get to experience this power first-hand through Cal, however, it only comes sparingly, and fortunately, while Cal seems to be forging his own path as a Jedi free of any particular code, it doesn’t seem to be one that will stray too far into darkness.