Wednesday, May 8, 2019

David S. Goyer and Others Discuss The Story And Experience Of 'Vader Immortal'

By: Dominic Jones

In a new feature by Entertainment Weekly's Anthony Breznican, Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series writer David S. Goyer and other key creatives gave fans new insight into the story of the upcoming virtual reality experience, developed by ILMxLABs. The first episode of Vader Immortal will be available for $9.99 on the Oculus Quest headset on May 21st (just two weeks from now).  Two more episodes are slated to come out later this year.

One of the focuses of the EW feature is how the creatives behind the experience aren't really sure how to describe what Vader Immortal actually is.  As Goyer puts it, "We didn’t want to say ‘player’ because that connotes a video game.. We didn’t want to say ‘viewer’ because the experience is much more immersive than just viewing."

From my own experience, trying the demo they had available on the show floor at Star Wars Celebration last month, I can definitely see where Goyer is coming from.  There are moments where events are simply taking place around you (though you are a key aspect of what's taking place), and other points where you take an active role in what's going on (such as fighting training droids in the lightsaber dojo).
But, Goyer and company promise there is more to the game than just watching events take place around you and occasionally swinging a lightsaber.  It's an immersive story, that puts you in the center of the action and explores the psychology and philosophy of Darth Vader.  Vader Immortal's narrative director, Mohen Leo, says about the project, "It’s less about a military aspect of Vader’s role and much more about his own spiritual mystical interests."

How exactly, you may ask.  Obviously you'll have to experience it to find out, but the EW story does tease that your character (a smuggler with an untapped, but powerful, connection to the Force, who finds them drawn to Vader's castle on Mustafar) will help the dark lord track down powerful artifacts.  You'll be joined on your journey by your droid, ZO-E3 (voiced by Saturday Night Live alum Maya Rudolph).

What makes Vader Immortal most exciting is the opportunity to explore a corner of the Star Wars galaxy like never before.  The experience promises fans the chance to really look around the Mustafar castle, encounter locals (like the Mustafarian priestess who is not happy about the Sith Lord's presence on her world), and perhaps even gain new understanding of Darth Vader--forty three years after he first debuted in Star Wars: A New HopeBreznican describes the experience as follows,

"Vader Immortal is less about puzzle solving or surviving and more about exploring the space of this foreboding and forbidden place. In that way, another less-obvious comparison might be a Halloween haunted house. You have to get yourself through the labyrinth, but the thrill is what you discover in the shadows as you make your way."
A Mustafarian priestess (and her people) who is, per EW, "determined to prevent Vader from accessing her civilization’s secrets"
For those involved, they see a bright future for VR storytelling.  Goyer told EW, "You have to understand that no one has attempted to do what we’re doing before, to create this robust, serialized kind of adventure in VR."  ILMxLAB head Vickki Dobbs Beck, added, "What we’re really aspiring toward is this idea of living stories and persistent worlds. The way we think about it is taking a really holistic view to a narrative and then designing individual stories that all add up to a greater whole."

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