‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’ Had a ‘Fight Club’-Inspired Twist
Since 1977, the Star Wars franchise has captivated and entertained people all across the globe in several mediums, including video games.
One such game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, has garnered critical acclaim for its innovative story, gameplay, and the amazing twist that few saw coming. Today, let’s talk about that well-executed and memorable twist, as well as how the 1999 hit movie Fight Club served as the inspiration behind it.
Star Wars: An RPG in a galaxy far, far away…
Released in North America on July 15, 2003, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (often abbreviated as KotOR) is an epic RPG from Bioware and LucasArts. Set roughly 4,000 years before the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the game focuses on a small group of heroes, under the leadership of the player character, striving to defeat the Sith Empire, led by Darth Malak. At the start of the game, the player chooses one of three classes (soldier, scout, or scoundrel) and is immediately thrust into the action.
Over the course of the game’s playtime, the player character discovers a connection to The Force and trains as a Jedi, advancing their class to Guardian, Sentinel, or Consular depending on desired play style. Slowly, the game’s narrative reveals the story of Darth Revan, the Jedi Knight-turned-Sith Lord who inspired and trained Darth Malak and was presumed dead by Malak’s hand at the time the game began. Finally, at a high point in the plot, the player and their main character both discover that they are actually Darth Revan, who survived the betrayal of Darth Malak only to have his memories altered by the Jedi. The rest of the game deals with both the fallout of this shocking twist and the path to either save the galaxy or condemn it.
The influence of Tyler Durden
Based on the best-selling book by author Chuck Palahniuk, the 1999 movie Fight Club tells the story of an unnamed narrator, portrayed by Edward Norton, who becomes disillusioned with his white-collar job. He encounters a soap salesman named Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt, who convinces the narrator to start a fight club with other disenfranchised men. From there, the film escalates as the Fight Club becomes an anarchist organization dedicated to erasing consumerism and materialism. At the film’s climax, it’s revealed that Tyler Durden and the unnamed narrator were the same all along, in a twist that film buffs still marvel over today.
The film scatters little details throughout that subtly reveal the truth. But the acting chops of Norton and Pitt combined with the compelling story laid out by Palahniuk’s novel and David Fincher’s spectacular filmmaking ensured that there were plenty of factors obscuring that truth from audiences until the very end. While not a critical success at the time of its release, Fight Club gained a cult following in the years to come thanks to its twist, as well as its philosophical undertones.
How ‘Fight Club’ and ‘Star Wars’ came together
Knights of the Old Republic’s big twist was a driving force behind the plot of the game. It’s easy to say that without it, the character of Revan and the game itself may not have gained the amount of cultural influence that they have today. Upon the game’s conceptualization, BioWare knew that they wanted a twist on par with the now-famous reveal in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. For that, they turned to the game’s lead designer, James Ohlen.
And this is where Fight Club comes in. Ohlen took his inspiration for the game’s twist from Fincher’s 1999 film, along with another classic film known for a big twist, The Sixth Sense. Like these films, Knights of the Old Republic placed small clues throughout, with little moments that were seeded in the gameplay. “Ten percent of the audience needs to figure out your twist before it happens,” Ohlen has stated, which is what helps make the twist feel more natural.
The future of the Old Republic saga
The story of Revan didn’t end with BioWare’s 2003 RPG. In 2011, LucasArts and BioWare released Star Wars: The Old Republic, an MMO set 300 years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic. That game is still going today, with millions of players being reintroduced to the world of the Old Republic and the story of Revan. It stands as a testament to the power of BioWare’s storytelling that Revan’s influence can still be felt almost 20 years later. And it all started with a twist that gamers never saw coming and never forgot.