<– Chapter Two || SITH INQUISITOR ||
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third chapter of the Sith Inquisitor storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic. To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.
So where were we? Ah right, left for dead and saved by our friends again. The fact that I have to append again to that statement speaks worlds on how we got this far. Now that our super nasty ghost binding ritual has gone and blown up in our own face, it’s time to head back to the ship to recover. Only that’s pretty much not going to happen. The force walking ritual backfire is apparently now ripping apart your mind and body and if you don’t find a way to fix it and fast, there won’t be a… uh… ‘You’ anymore. Khem Zash has been researching a solution but can only find trace bits of info on a way to solve your problem. It turns out this is because Darth Thanaton has completely duplicated an entire volume of a widely circulated public multi-volume book series and no one has noticed till now. Just as a reminder in case you forgot between chapters that Thanaton is oh so smarter than you will ever be. Thanks game. So the only solution is to break into Thanaton’s secret library on Dromund Kaas and steal the books you need. Because apparently Thanaton just has a ton of super secret hidey holes all over the big Sith headquarters on the Sith homeworld that are ingeniously hidden by… ELEVATORS! So Thanaton’s a mastermind and likes to rub it in your face.
You can fight through the library if you really want, but a simple mind trick will let you just wander around without a single alarm being raised by anyone, even the guards you didn’t mind trick. There you find the books you need. One speaks of an ancient Rakata healing device in the bowels of Belsavis, and the other of the strange healing techniques practiced by the Voss. Since it’s mentioned in other storylines that the Voss was only recently discovered to the point where many don’t even know about it, one must wonder how old these books are. That or Sith are just generally #$%&s to map makers. Either way, we have our first two destinations and since they have set level ranges and the plot states that Khem Zash and Ashara need to research the Voss, it looks like we’re going to…
Yay. Prison world. So apparently we’re looking for an ancient Rakata healing machine and that’s going to be fun as heck since like 90% of this planet is just random Rakata junk. Luckily, Zash gave us a lead: The Circle, a gang of technology junkies imprisoned somewhere on the planet. Which is good. The planet is also in the middle of a massive break out and no one is where they should be. Which is bad. Luckily we can score some prison records to figure out roughly where they were and go from there. Which is good. Even better is when the person guarding the records knows exactly where they went, rendering the need for records to nil. The Circle has been hanging out in some ruins, and they will happily help you provided you help them set up a broadcast relay so they can send their signal out across the Galaxy. This just means fighting off several waves of enemies before fighting a big one, and boom. All done. You then get warned by a mysterious person speaking in a language no one has ever heard before but everyone understands (I assume the characters just read the subtitles along with you) telling you to stop your pursuit.
In exchange, the Circle provide you the means to break into a secure Republic research lab where some Rakata tech was being looked at before the jail break. Once you get in, you scan the hunk of junk which leads you to another research lab where the actual supposed healing machine is, but considering the Darth who came looking for it before you is lying dead in front of it (and perfectly preserved) I think I will be finding another solution. Luckily, a bunch of robots attack! Followed by that weird language speaking fellow who turns out to be a Rakata and calls you a ‘slave race’, but agrees to allow you to use their healing machine in exchange for letting them ‘borrow’ your genetic data to help their science project and to use a data chip to put the healing machine – “Mother Machine” – back under their control. Because apparently the lifeform generating genetic supercomputer became sentient. Funny how that always seems to happen.
You track down the Mother Machine deep in the tombs and you finally get a decent morality choice: enslave the machine (light side) or let it remain sentient and free (dark side). I am not joking about which of those is which. I think the logic is that Mother Machine will use its terrible power to maybe create a doom army and take revenge on being enslaved? Or something? I honestly am really confused on this one. But yea, it’s a light side choice to use the data chip to leash to computer. Go fig. Also, another fun fact that gets revealed here: the Rakata were essentially trying to pull a Jurassic World. Yea, in order to discover why their species lost its own force sensitivity (did you try injecting midichlorians into yourself?) they genetically engineered a bunch of new species to test how the ‘lesser slave races’ would gain the ability to use the force. Specifically, the Esh-Ka, the Twileks and the Zabrak. Is… is this canon? That the Twileks and Zabrak were the result of a lab experiment? Daaaamn. What a weird bit of trivia to drop here of all places. Is there anything the Rakata DIDN’T help create? Ewoks?
Anyway, regardless of your choice, Mother Machine will boot up and let you rebuild your body. Yea, apparently the “Healing Machine” actually just reconstructs your entire body from your genetic code, and yet my face is still covered with scars. Go fig. But we still got voices in our head that are not our own, so it’s time to head to our next destination. But wait! There’s a call coming in!
It would seem that a big wig moff named Pyron is trying to figure out who he should back in the battle between you and Thanaton. He says that the Imperial Military would definitely be swayed if you could help them finish a little ol’ superweapon that Thanaton axed: The Silencer. All it needs is this not-technically-legal-anywhere chip that hey it sounds like your cult on Nar Shadaa might have access to. What’s that? You forgot we had a cult? So did I! But we do. So it’s off to Nar Shadaa.
However, it looks like the intel that my cult had the chip wasn’t exactly right. It seems that another black market dealer that turns out to be three dudes whose minds are cybernetically linked and synced have taken over the entire market on these computer parts. What jerks. However, they’ll happily give you them and so much more if you relinquish the cult over to them to lead instead of the Sith and/or orphan cultist pair. Honestly, since the Sith has proven to run cults for his own vanity and Sith tradition dictates he eventually try and kill me – he’s out. But what about the two cultists that helped me in the first place? If you left them in charge you would periodically get emails from them talking about how they almost ran the bloody thing into the ground. So yea, putting a trio that “single”-handedly took over an entire corner of the black market sounds like a much better management team. Oh, they cry and moan when I tell the old leaders they’re not in charge anymore. But they’ll get over it. Or die. Probably die.
With the chip secured and off to Moff Pyron, you seem to be making a lot of connections but you still got a broken noggin. Time to Voss it up!
Hope you got a d20 ready because Voss is pretty much where we ditch any aspect of science fiction left in this space opera and go on full Dungeons & Dragons. Let me break this down for you: The healing ritual is being held by a cult of outcast voss called ‘Dream Walkers’ who despite being outcasts have their own area in the Shrine of Healing where the ritual is kept, but to access this room you must join their cult and dream walk where you fight all the ghosts in your head. Now you go get the ritual but in order to complete it you’ll need a force-sensitive gormak, a species that can’t use the force, and then free him from his prison. Then you go to Nightmare Lands, convince the gormak not to smash everything, have the gormak use the “dream rock” to turn your “nightmares” into reality so you can kill them and then take the dream rock from the gormak which will then remove the “Nightmares” and heal your mind. All the while you need to walk carefully because the Voss fricking HATE you because a Mystic foresaw that you would destroy the Voss by leading the gormak to the stars, which you do since you trade safe passage off of Voss to the gormak shaman in order to help you. Got all that?
I was NOT joking about this planet being Dungeons & Dragons. On top of the ridiculously long string of events needed to complete this quest and each step usually requiring its own substeps, there is an abundance of what can only be described as ‘magic’ used to make it all work. Oh you can dress it up as ‘The Force’ but between rocks that turn nightmares into reality, a lone magic-using outcast member of an already outcast race that normally can’t use magic, and everything from silly robes to a shrine of healing, you may as well be throwing magic missiles at the darkness here. It just seems really weird to do a magical ritual with a dream rock in the ruins of a temple called the Dark Heart in the Nightmare Lands one minute, and the next minute be flying off in a space shuttle. That is what I call mood whiplash. Voss is full of that crap, especially in this storyline. I mean, the Inquisitor already kind of danced that line. We had an immortality ritual in Chapter One, binding g-g-g-ghosts to increase your power via a blood pact, and now this. This is a STAR Wars game still, isn’t it?
The big pay off at the end of this is of course being rid of the ghosts in your mind. Which doesn’t much do much but reduce the number of voice actors needed for the storyline. Supposedly they’re in your mind, twisting your thoughts and actions in some sick game for their amusement, but all you see of that in-game is that they chime in on the dialogue every now and then like some kind of spectral Mystery Science Theater. They do try to mess with you by taking on the forms of people you’ve betrayed or used during your adventure… and a wampa, but it isn’t convincing at all. Like I really am going to believe that Zash is in the dream world striking up a casual conversation. Heck, the only one who calls you out for your actions is the Jedi from Alderaan. If it’s really a dream, I would have rather seen the whole thing go to some real mind **** territory. Like waking up on your ship to have all your companions turning on you, or when Thanaton shows up actually play it up like he could actually dream walk as well and has come here to put an end to you in a dingy cave on some backwater planet like Voss. Instead we get a few people we KNOW can’t be here spouting the usual “You suck” lines and the ghosts going on and on about how you will lose and they will win. In the end, the whole thing was rather forgettable.
There’s also the matter of the vision of the mystic that says you will bring doom to the Voss by leading the gormak to the stars. You are warned by a voss commando as soon as you step out into the airlock about this and they don’t let up. They harass anyone that helps you about it and keep trying to shoo you off the planet. You ignore them, say you won’t do that, say you’ll stop it from happening, say it’s all just stupid mumbo jumbo, and then… you uh… lead a gormak to the stars. It’s not even a fricking option as far as I can tell. You just do. Worst of all? NOTHING HAPPENS. There’s no doom, there’s no threat at all actually since the gormak shaman wants to go to space to find a new home for the gormak so they won’t try to kill each other. The only way this spells doom is a) waaaaay down the line and b) you are aware of all the storylines that happen on Voss that bring up that the voss and the gormak were once one species, and that if they don’t reunite they will both die out. So naturally the gormak leaving would kind of spoil that reunion. But in terms of this singular story? Nothing. Zilch. No pay off to that threat. Just a voss yelling at you as you leave and a diplomat who gets upset if you anger the voss. Of course you can always just do what I did and mind-wipe them both and head off.
This interlude has two parts: first is to go check on your new apprentice. Apparently they’re just finishing up their final trial on Korriban. And the winner is…. The Twilek! Wait, wha? Oh nevermind. Xalek comes in and beats him to death. Harken has a fit over someone dying at the Sith Academy (and being caught) and goes off to tell Thanaton. Xalek then joins your party. The end. No seriously, that’s all that happens. Xalek barely speaks. Heck for me he just grunted at me then wandered off to the ship. So glad to have such a story rich character along for the ride. He’ll fit in nicely with Pirate Who Tagged Along For No Reason, and Scientist Who Quit His Promising Career For No Reason To Come Bum Around With You. Seriously, the only companions that seem to have any significant plot reason to tag along are Khem and Ashara. Damn.
Moving on, you soon get a call that the superweapon is complete. You head off to the ship carrying it and test it out on an unsuspecting fleet of Republic goons. Also there’s apparently another Imperial ship in the fray. It’s headed by a Darth that’s a lackey for Thanaton, so we’re presented with a choice: Kill him with the fleet, or tell him to GTFO while we kill the fleet. Either is a valid choice really. Opting to let him live will get you a transmission with a string of insults and threats that he would totally make good on if you hadn’t just saved his life. Either way impresses the moffs who pledge their loyalties to you. Also it catches Thanaton’s eye… somehow. Who is impressed that the superweapon project that he canceled for no reason works. Did he have reason to think it wouldn’t? Who knows! Because before we can talk about the superweapon, Thanaton declaes a “Kaggath” – an ancient sith duel that will pit power base against power base across the arena of… all of Corellia. Wow, really? Dang. Okay dude. Now… does anyone have a power base I can borrow?
So apparently my ‘Power Base’ is just that one moff I helped out. Corellia is essentially one big brawl across the planet that plays out with Thanaton doing something and you trying to stop him followed by Thanaton running away. The only exception to that plan is your very first mission that Moff Pyron suggests which consists of pumping Thanaton’s apprentice for information. You can do this by either beating it out of him or making him a better offer to join your side. The apprentice is kind enough (or willing enough depending on how you pried the intel from him) to let you know that since your entire power base is that one moff’s fleet, Thanaton plans to blow up the fuel dispensary so they can’t refuel. Beyond the fact that it boggles my mind that a frickin’ star ship in the Star Wars universe still requires the use of a gas station, Thanaton’s actions are tantamount to treason for acting against the Empire. Of course, he’s also a Dark Council member, so he gets a ‘Do whatever I want’ card (Sith Warriors know what I’m talking about.)
So begins the song and dance of chasing after Thanaton around the planet like looking for Princess Peach. You stop him at the refinery, beat him, and he runs away. You attack his base in a museum, he sics a robot on you, and runs away. He attacks your Moff dude and before you even get there – He. Runs. Away. So finally, you have your final showdown of the Kaggath. Everyone’s watching. You beat him in a duel and then… you guessed it – he runs away. I don’t know what’s worse the fact that the mastermind villain for two chapters is reduced to Zoidberg-esque levels of fleeing or that he pulls rank about being a Dark Council member when he loses. Yea, the punk actually tells you that since he’s a Dark Council member, you don’t have the authority to defeat him in the Kaggath. Nice to know that I was doomed from the start.
Though I should be fair about something. I said your entire power base was just that one moff, but that’s not true. If you save the Sith during the Silencer superweapon test, he will refuse to fight you when Thanaton asks him to, and that one less annoying assistant from Balmorra (the aide to your liaison that you may or may not have killed when you may or may not have killed his son) is here and he’s happy to see you. So that’s something. I suppose. But no, your cult regardless of who is running it has no power here. The superweapon doesn’t come into play at all. Lord Cindaquil never comes back from partying on Nar Shadaa. It’s pretty much that one guy from Balmorra, the Darth you didn’t kill with the superweapon, and Moff Pyron. That’s your power base to throw against Thanaton. Maybe if I had actually spent time in the storyline cultivating a power base instead of looking for relics/ghosts/a cure, there might have been some merit to it all but nope. /sigh
So Thanaton being the wimp he is runs all the way back to Korriban to ask the Dark Council for help in killing you. You give chase only to be stopped by a Darth and his stooges at the door to the chambers. He tells you that there are many others who agree with what Thanaton is doing. By that I’m assuming ‘purifying’ the Sith Order with an emphasis on tradition and ancient values (I hear he wants to post the Sith Code outside the Dromund Kaas courthouse too) but any point he wants to make is quickly rendered moot once you realize that he’s just here to be one more fight before the actual final boss.
Speaking of which Thanaton is making his passioned cry about how you should be put to death for ‘corrupting traditions’. I swear that this man is becoming more and more like a weird Sith Fox News anchor or something (Thanks Obi-Wama.) But it seems that even the Dark Council is sick and tired of hearing this guy whine on and on about this crap. To the point where they actually are chatting to each other that if someone doesn’t shut him up, they will after all they just got done listening to Darth Baras’ long winded speech (I like to pretend that the Sith Warrior ending was just a few hours earlier.) Luckily, you are there to help with that.
The final battle is actually pretty much the same as the other times you’ve faced Thanaton, only it appears that he’ll deal some extra damage and have shorter cooldowns. He mostly will just drop massive AOE death fields on the ground and spam Lightning Storm, with an occasional whirlwind or stun tossed in for good measure. It does however seem that his AOEs are at least somewhat based on Line of Sight, so you can use the thrones around the room to dance circles around and keep him from casting some of his nastier abilities. If an AOE gets dropped, just switch to another throne and continue smacking him when you get a chance with your saber or instant cast abilities. It may take a while, but he’ll go down. Just don’t count on your companion last long unless you are actively healing them.
After you beat Thanaton, the other Dark Council members finish him with a force neck snap. They congratulate you and over you his seat on the Dark Council. Of course, to be on the council you need to be a Darth and in what is probably the coolest part of this ending that sets apart from all the rest is you are actually granted a Darth title based on your alignment: Dark side characters get Darth Nox for your mastery of the Dark Side, light side gets Darth Imperius for their loyalty to the Empire and the select few gray morality Sith get the title Darth Occlus for having an inscrutable reputation.
After that you get to go all the way back to Dromund Kaas where you meet your followers in YOUR new meditation chambers. While many of these characters are just generic stand ins there are a handful of people you will recognize from your journey along with your companions. Most notable however is that apparently your old Sith Academy instructor and all around legendary hard ass Harkun is at the ceremony. Apparently he decided to jump on board once Thanaton was dead? He’s in for a rude awakening. Finally there’s the matter of the ghosts. You may have promised/lied to free them once its done. Your given a choice to either enslave them permenantly or let them leave and in the case of the latter a few will actually stick around with you. There’s actual a third option I stumbled upon though in which you use your “light” to release them from their ghostly trappings and free them to the afterlife proper. I dunno if this is only for light side characters or not, but it’s neat that it’s an option.
While I can’t in good conscious say that the Inquisitor storyline was worse than some of the others, I can say that it does something worse than be bad: it wastes potential. The entire storyline has so many amazing bits that could easily bump this into one of the best storylines in the game, but it doesn’t go for them. It plays it safe and simple, it prefers to do the predictable and the dull, and it never tries to escape the trappings of a plot designed to go along with a rigid MMO leveling experience. The relics in chapter one have no significance and even their bizarre powers are only mentioned a few times and have zero impact on the story. The ghosts are actually interesting in the sense that you can choose to forcefully bind them or bargain with them. The broken mind/body aspect has zero gameplay effect other than a few scenes where the ghosts talk to you. They don’t take over your actions or manipulate your senses and when they try to make you see things in dreams they are flat out BAD at it. The whole power base thing comes right out of left field and I had no idea I was even supposed to be bothering with a power base the first time I played this. In the end, the whole thing felt like it had a ton of neat ideas and wanted to touch on them all but not commit to any one of them. The result is a mish mashed plot where nothing feels like it has any weight to it. Who do you leave in charge of the cult? It doesn’t matter. What if you let that scientist on Balmorra live? Nothing. Lord Cineratus? Might as well call him Lord Not-Appearing-After-This.
To make all that feel even worse, you have a villain you is played up at being so completely competent at every aspect of politics and strategy that you can literally never get the upper hand on him until you beat his face in at the last planet. Ah yes, Thanaton’s vital weakness: pain! Thanaton honestly turns from ‘Villain you can’t hope to defeat because the writers keep pulling the rug out from under you’ to ‘complete joke’ in the matter of four quests on Corellia. It’s hard to believe the man who knew not only that I had survived his instant kill blow, was returning to kill him, and the location and time of where I was going to do it so he could be there and ready for me ends up whining to the Dark Council and begging them to maim me because he got his butt handed to him in what the other Sith literally call a playground game. What’s worse is that there is another villain who does all this and does it SO much better: Darth Baras from the Sith Warrior story. Baras remains a vital threat to you through the majority of the third chapter and sets up a scenario that makes it so that every move you make actually helps him win, so your only choice is to strike him down in combat. As opposed to Thanaton who never feels like he’s earned his victories. He just knows things to make the player’s life difficult. He’s the SWTOR equivalent to a meta-gamer.
So was it bad? Eh, it had it’s moments where it shined. A handful of individual planet stories really show where the story shined and where it could have been used as an inspiration to become amazing. But if anything that makes it okay and that’s the best I can say for the Inquisitor story: It was okay. There’s some great ideas, but your character is treated like an idiot. The planet stories can be really enjoyable, but the overall story and villain are a complete mess. I honestly felt like they were just making it up as they went along and didn’t have any sort of concrete idea or theme for the class in general. So it becomes very hit and miss. If anything it feels a lot like it WANTS to be like the Consular storyline only evil, but doesn’t want to put the work into getting to that level of interconnecting storylines. Yea, so this one was a firm, middle of the round ‘Meh.’ I won’t be bothering leveling up another Inquisitor, that’s for sure.
<– Chapter Two || SITH INQUISITOR ||