The Most Important Star Wars Hero You’ve Never Heard Of Is Back

Somehow, Kyle Katarn has returned.

Star Wars Dark Forces Remaster
Nightdive Studios
Inverse Recommends

Star Wars history is littered with great video games. From Battlefront to Jedi: Fallen Order, some of the greatest storytelling in a galaxy far, far away has taken place with a controller in our hands. And, as is typically the case, so much of this storytelling hinges on great characters to anchor the experience. Now, nearly 30 years after his auspicious debut, one of those characters is getting a much-deserved tribute in the form of an equally deserved remaster.

Dark Forces is a game revered by many as ahead of its time and incorporates lots of complex elements compared to most first-person shooters of its day. Gaming in 1995 was, to put it lightly, far less sophisticated, and we were years away from games like Halo and Call of Duty revolutionizing the first-person shooter. More important than the game itself, however, was its protagonist.

Kyle Katarn was a former Imperial who became part of the Rebellion and would go on to have a long life in the franchise well beyond this game. Though no longer part of official canon, the character’s history is very rich and, while we don’t have time for an exhaustive overview of his impressive resume, let’s do our best to cover the highlights.

In the overall franchise timeline, Kataron was born around 23 years BBY (before the events of the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope). Following his mother’s tragic demise, he applied to the Galactic Empire before eventually defecting to the Rebellion. He joins a rich history of other characters who walked a similar path, such as Han Solo and Wedge Antilles.

Katarn joined the Rebellion following the passing of his father, who himself was aligned with the rebels. Rather crucially, his first mission was to steal the plans for the Death Star, which eventually became the plot of Rogue One, minus Katarn’s involvement. Teaming up with Jan Ors, he was next tasked with stopping the Empire’s top-secret Dark Trooper Project. The Dark Troopers eventually became a major plot point in The Mandalorian. That’s largely what he deals with in Dark Forces, but that is truly just the beginning of his epic journey.

Kyle Katarn with Rebel leader Mon Mothma.

Nightdive Studios

In the Jedi Knight series of games that followed, Katarn learns that he is Force-sensitive and would, eventually, become a Jedi himself, albeit one who struggles with the allure of the Dark side. The series began with 1997’s Star Wars: Jedi Knight - Dark Forces II, but also includes 2002’s Jedi Knight II - Jedi Outcast and 2003’s Jedi Knight - Jedi Academy. Elements of the whole defected Stormtrooper who aligns with the Rebellion who discovers he can use the Force storyline can be recognized in Finn’s story arc from the Star Wars sequel trilogy, even if Lucasfilm didn’t go full Jedi with John Boyega’s character.

In Dark Forces II, Katarn travels to a place known as the Valley of the Jedi, which is where he gets his lightsaber. As a result, the sequel is more lightsaber heavy, whereas the first game was a blaster-focused affair. He spends much of the sequel defeating Dark Jedi before becoming a mercenary for the New Republic in Jedi Outcast. After nearly giving into the dark side, he cuts himself off from the Force entirely. In Jedi Academy, he teams up with Luke Skywalker after the events of Return of the Jedi to reconnect with the Force and help rebuild the Jedi Order. This is extremely truncated but it illustrates the wild, complex journey this character underwent.

The original game might have been ahead of its time, but the graphics weren’t.


So, what about the future? As of this writing, nothing has been confirmed but the upcoming open-world game Star Wars Outlaws features a character who looks an awful lot like Katarn. It feels like the perfect place to potentially bring him into the new canon. And fittingly enough, it would be in a big, groundbreaking game, much like the one he made his debut in all those years ago. If Grand Admiral Thrawn can make his way from Legends to official canon, why not Kyle?

Circling back to the past, many of these games remain loved by fans to this day. More than that, Kyle Katarn and his rich history within these games influenced so much of Star Wars as we know it. From stealing the Death Star plans to foiling Dark Troopers, and even characters like Kanan Jarrus and Cassian Andor who borrowed some of his traits, this is a character whose presence is still felt today, albeit indirectly. It only seems fitting the character’s beginnings are immortalized for people to enjoy once again.

The Star Wars: Dark Forces remaster arrives on February 28 for Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.

Related Tags