It’s perhaps gaming’s biggest open secret at this point: Aspyr, the studio behind recent current-gen ports like Republic Commando and Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, is reportedly working on a remake of the seminal RPG Knights of the Old Republic, arguably the greatest Star Wars game ever made. Rumors of a remake have made the rounds for years, but it’s uber-reliable Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier who has finally given the hearsay a bit of credibility.
Speaking on The MinnMax Show podcast (via IGN), Schreier confirmed the existence of the project and that Aspyr is the studio handling the long-awaited remake: “This is public at this point, I’ve basically confirmed that Aspyr, which is the company that has ported a bunch of KOTOR games, is working on [the remake].”
Schreier first alluded to Aspyr’s involvement in February 2020 when he reported that if the remake was in fact happening, it wasn’t being handled by Electronic Arts, which at the time still had the exclusive rights to make Star Wars games. A year later, Lucasfilm’s own gaming branch, Lucasfilm Games, is handling all future titles set in the galaxy far, far away, including a new story-driven game being developed by Ubisoft. Presumably, Lucasfilm Games is also working with Aspyr on the KOTOR remake.
Beyond reports of the project’s existence, we know very little regarding what a Knights of the Old Republic remake actually entails. In fact, neither Lucasfilm Games nor Aspyr have officially acknowledged the project as of yet, so it’s worth taking all this with a grain of salt.
Will this be a remake emphasizing modern visuals that at the same time preserves the core gameplay and narrative of the original? Or will tweaks also be made to modernize other parts of the game, such as the turn-based combat system, which in 2021 feels slightly dated? Adding real-time combat, for example, would certainly be an exciting way to make Revan’s journey feel fresh two decades later.
But is it possible that there’s even more to this remake than a visual upgrade and modern gameplay flourishes?
Last year, Square Enix completely subverted expectations with its Final Fantasy VII Remake, the first part of a multi-game adaptation of the 1997 PlayStation classic that seriously expands and at times completely changes the story fans know and love. In fact, it might be more apt to call the remake a “reimagining” of the original game’s events than a modern recreation. Some might even feel the game is closer to a sequel.
While there’s no indication that such an extensive reworking of Knights of the Old Republic is in play at Aspyr, it’s possible a potential remake could afford a studio the opportunity to expand on levels and storylines from the original. Could the Hutt world of Sleheyron, a Star Map location that was cut from the original, be added back into the remake? How about an alternate dark side ending that would have seen a dark side female protagonist choose to die on the Star Forge with Carth Onasi?
Adding back content BioWare cut from the game would be the most logical way to expand the Knight of the Old Republic experience but this could also be the perfect time to beef up the ending. If you’ve played the original, you likely remember KOTOR‘s largely buttoned up canon ending: Revan saves Bastila from the dark side, defeats Darth Malak once and for all, and destroys the Star Forge. The game’s final scene is a celebration on Lehon, where Revan is awarded the Cross of Glory just as credits roll. It basically plays like an homage to iconic ending of A New Hope. The galaxy is saved and the brave heroes are honored.
But that’s hardly the end of the story as it pertains to Revan. Players learned more about what happened to the Jedi hero directly after the events of the first game in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords as well as in the novel The Old Republic: Revan by KOTOR writer Drew Karpyshyn, but we never saw these moments on screen. Not long after the Star Forge was destroyed and Darth Malak’s Sith forces fell, Revan married Bastila Shan, a decision that somewhat strained their relationship to the Jedi Order, and settled into a quiet life on Coruscant. But when he began to receive visions of an ancient Sith Empire lying in wait in the Unknown Regions of space, Revan decided that he must stop the impending threat and left the known galaxy behind.
Stepping into the shoes of Jedi exile Meetra Surik in KOTOR II, players learn through exposition that Revan traveled into the Unknown Regions and was never heard of again. In fact, part of the sequel’s core mystery revolves around why Revan disappeared and later who these secret Sith are. The end of the game, itself begging to be expanded upon, sees Meetra escape a Sith Temple on Malachor V and head out in search of Revan.
Now, The Old Republic MMO from BioWare and the aforementioned Karpyshyn book do flesh out Revan’s later adventures in great detail, including his time fighting this mysterious Sith Empire. Most of those events wouldn’t need to be added into a KOTOR remake, but there’s a case to be made that the things that happened directly after the final scene of the first game, things that happened between the two games and inform the sequel, could be added in for a more definitive ending that leads into KOTOR II and beyond.
An extended cinematic after the celebration, or perhaps even a brief playable epilogue, would arguably be a more appropriate ending to Revan’s story in the game, showing how his time with the Sith continued to affect him, and how he didn’t really find peace after the party on Lehon. It would be a more somber ending but definitely more true to the life of tragedy that awaited Revan in later stories.
When players first picked up Knights of the Old Republic II in 2004, they learned little about what happened to Revan and his friends after the Star Forge and why he chose to leave the galaxy. A KOTOR remake could give us this unseen ending that’s been almost two decades in the making.