As a lifelong Star Wars fan (who is old enough to have seen Return of the Jedi in theaters, but only in its 1985 re-release), I’ve learned to be wary of Gammoreans bearing gifts. For every great bit of new media we get (The Zahn Trilogy, Knights of the Old Republic), there are a hundred Star Wars Holiday Specials I’m trying to forget.
So when Star Wars Uprising was revealed earlier this summer, I met it with a mix of excitement and skepticism. Kabam has been on a hot streak lately in the mobile space, and they know how to handle a licensed game — but could a new game set in the days between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens really deliver where it needed to?
After playing Uprising for a few days (thanks to a soft launch in New Zealand), I’m ready to slap a bona fide “so far, so good” sticker on the imaginary box art in my head.
As we’d guessed previously, Star Wars Uprising is a Diablo-lite in a familiar universe. Players will control their hero through taps and swipes as they clear
dungeon after dungeon planet after planet of monsters and villains droids and stormtroopers. The combat is a very by-the-numbers affair, but it still manages to be a good time. You’ll have four different moves at your disposal at any time, and perfecting the experience means knowing which skill to use when. For example: when a stormtrooper gets ready to discharge a wide arc of laser fire, I’ll double-tap to dodge/roll to the side, get close enough to knock them back and dizzy them, and then pull back on my hero to unleash a shotgun-style blast of hot laser death.
The gameplay feels an awful lot like Kabam’s last dungeon crawler, Spirit Lords. If you’ve played it, you’ll know that’s a good thing.
And the familiarity goes beyond the combat mechanics. Like Spirit Lords, Star Wars Uprising draws a lot of strength from its story. Mission after mission, you’re watching a new Star Wars narrative unfold in the days after the fall of the Emperor. As a smuggler, you’re trying to break through Imperial blockades (the Empire is trying to stop word of their potential collapse from spreading throughout the galaxy), and the story takes shape from there.
It’s this attention to story, however, that could prove to be Uprising’s one real weakness.
When the game was first announced, there was a lot of talk about how deeply customizable the RPG elements of the game were. That you could, in essence, craft your character to be just about anyone. In my first few hours with the game that hasn’t really been the case. While I could choose between three races (why just three?), and I can buy abilities and choose equipment to my heart’s content, there only seems to be one narrative path in Star Wars Uprising.
It’s possible that my experience is limited by the nature of the game’s soft launch, or perhaps I just haven’t delved deep enough to see where the story has a chance to branch out. But as of this writing, my experiences have yet to go off the rails in any meaningful way.
Whatever the situation, it won’t be too long before you can step into the boots of a smuggler and find out for yourself. Star Wars Uprising is destined for a worldwide releases on iOS and Android this September.