Announced today without any release date beyond “coming soon” or a price, Nightdive Studios shared this trailer today for the classic Dark Forces FPS from LucasArts to get a remaster. The footage in the trailer has a warning that this is pre-alpha footage, so not in any way final. So, I’ve got mixed feelings about this, one of the most significant games for people who enjoy Star Wars and First Person Shooters. It’s rare to find good Star Wars games in the first place, especially back in 1995. Fortunately it’s still possible to buy the original Dark Forces (gog, Steam), so it isn’t a case of the original being unavailable and brought back. What Dark Forces Remastered has on offer is instead updated controls with modern gamepad support (no more gravis gamepad needed!), graphics (Nightdive says it’ll support up to 4K resolutions), trophies and achievements, and most importantly the game is coming to a ton of platforms. You’ve got your PlayStations 4 & 5, Xbox One & Series X & S, Nintendo Switch, and Steam for Windows. The remaster uses Nightdive’s KEX engine, which as I understand it acts as a kind of wrapper around the original game.
I’ll say I have some mixed feelings about this remaster that are hopefully somewhat resolved by the fact that this trailer isn’t necessarily indicative of the final version. The updated cutscenes in the non-final trailer look kind of ridiculous to me but I have no idea what they would look like to someone who isn’t over 40 that had a chance to enjoy the original game, the lack of harshly pixelated tone may just make the game more approachable to a modern audience which is a great thing. Game preservation is sometimes about making games accessible and approachable. Presently, your options for playing the original Dark Forces are DOSBox and DREAMM.
There is also The Force Engine, a reverse-engineered version of the engine that powered the original Dark Forces and another LucasArts classic, Outlaws. Like all modern re-releases and remasters, the main issue with these is that they’re software released at a particular point in time and will stop being updated and support new platforms. Open-source software like The Force Engine can continue to be updated into the future.
Here’s what the original looked like: