Recently I decided to play Knights of the Old Republic, a wRPG set in the Star Wars universe. I initially ignored it because I’m not into Star Wars, but I decided to give it a shot to see what all the fuss is about; it’s supposedly one of the Great Story RPGs.
There are in fact two KOTOR games, and I found them a fascinating study in contrasts. The first was made by Bioware (the Dragon Age guys), and the second was made by Obsidian (the Planescape: Torment guys), making them a uniquely perfect comparison point between the two RPG giants.
The Bioware one is garbage. The Obsidian one is a fascinating deconstruction of the franchise that understands stories need to have themes and an actual point. But there’s actually a third side also worth examining here, which is audience reaction. See, after KOTOR2’s director said outright that one of the characters is his mouthpiece, a lot of players accused the game of being a one-sided author screed. This is despite the fact that, to me, he couldn’t have been more obvious telegraphing his intent to have a dialogue with the player, not a monologue. I think it’s worth analyzing what contributed to that reaction, and I think it’s related to the differences between Bioware and Obsidian.
(As games, they are both agonizingly terrible and Obsidian should just give up on trying to attach game mechanics to their stories. Seriously, how did everyone say “Combat is so tedious we need to automate it” and not realize something had gone horribly, horribly wrong. Someone please kill D&D with fire it is so bad and I hate it so much.)
Spoilers for both games if you care, but I was spoiled for KOTOR2’s major twists and it didn’t harm my enjoyment of the story. It actually even mocks the idea of revolving around a central plot twist.