Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first 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.
Ah, the Sith Inquisitor. Are you a raving madman or cunning deceiver, brilliant tactician or brutal murderer? I will say this, more so than any other class in the game the Sith Inquisitor has a very clear line between Light and Dark sides, to the point where you could easily make a Goofus & Gallant style comic about the two paths. With most classes, you can see the merits of mixing things up and sometimes making light and dark choices by need. I would argue that is very much NOT the case with the Sith Inquisitor. The Light Side choices are almost always about freedom/kindness/manipulation, the Dark Side ones just boil down to ruthless torture and murder. So you can kind of see how the two concepts REALLY don’t mesh well.
To those who don’t recall where we left off – because it has been a while – we defeated a ghost that turned out to be our great-great-great-great-great-grandpa and have been tasked by our master, Darth Zash, to find four relics of Tulak Hord, none of which include that cool armor set from the Nightlife cartel packs. So it’s essentially a mcguffin hunt, but as you’ll see this one is a bit more interesting than the early Consular mcguffin hunts. Because it’s rarely not about finding the relic, but finding a way to get to it.
This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. You know exactly where the relic is as soon as you arrive in Balmorra. The real problem is that it’s at the bottom of a toxin filled mine shaft that would instantly kill you as soon as you got even halfway to the bottom. Indeed, it’s explained to you by the kindly Imperial officer you meet that the only thing that can survive the toxin is the mutated genetically engineered colicoids. So the task is simple: become a colicoid.
While that does sound insane, there is merit to it. You’ll need to get some additional research and the de-defect a scientist to help construct a formula to resist the toxic waste. The scientist is hesitant but you can persuade him by promising that no harm will come to him and he’ll be allowed to return to the Republic once his work is finished, or you can just taze him bro with sith lightning. Once you recruit the scientist, your Imperial officer liason uses his cooperation as leverage to force you to go save his Sith son who was caught by the resistance while looking for an ancient sith relic. You have to do this mission sadly. The good news is you can just kill the kid and get the relic yourself (Note: it’s a crappy lightsaber. Not work it other than to piss off Officer-Dad.) or just send the kid on his way and dealing with his lip. I mean it too. Whether you help him or attack him, he will not shut up about how you are lousy Sith compared to him, how dumb his Dad is, how pathetically slow you are at saving him. They REALLY made it easy to want to kill him.
Of course if you do that you have to deal with the Sith’s Dad, who will promptly try to kill you if you harmed his son. Either way you then deal with the scientist by letting him go or killing him and take your injection to climb down the glowing green hole and get your relic. I hope you can start to see what I mean about having a hard time with a ‘gray’ play through of the Inquisitor. Dark side is torture with lightning and kill, light side is bargain and honor your deals. I suppose you could always promise to reward them and then kill them instead, but it certainly doesn’t work the other way around: “Zap! ZAP! Do as I say! Zap! Okay, now you can go. Toodles!” Unless you are completely insane. Of course, there’s enough dialogue options for the Sith Inquisitor that work in that vein that you could easily play your character as someone who makes the majority of Batman’s rouge gallery seem like down to earth sensible folk.
The Gambler’s Moon is where we see the introduction of the second major theme in the Sith Inquisitor storyline. Along with usual lost and ancient techniques & relics for power, there is also the ever running concept of the ‘power base’. While it won’t play a major role in the story until much later, we are introduced to it here with the opportunity to establish a small cult in your name. Why would you do this? Well, so you can take down another Sith’s cult. Another Sith who happens to have a relic of Tulak Hord.
Your cult starts with just two people: an angry young man who is fed up with the world, and a young woman who idealistically is hoping for change. Yes, that is cheesy. But how are YOU going to start a cult? With well rounded and fulfilled individuals? Ha! Anyway, it’s time to start spreading your good-ish name around. You get a choice of how to accomplish this: you can either break into a pharmaceutical company and steal a cure to a disease called the Rot and cure people with it, or kill of a local gang that has been terrorizing the locals. The choice is really up to you, it’s a light side/dark side choice though even the light side choice of stealing a cure is a bit dark. After you complete the task, your cultists will contact you about finding a new location for your ‘church’ and ask you to meet them there, where you are immediately jumped by the other Sith’s goons. Yay for security!
There is a bit of a hidden dialogue at this juncture where you can actual have an ‘intimate’ encounter with at least the female cultists – not sure about the male one as I never played a female inquisitor. You just need to talk to them before you head off to the next mission. Though be warned, it is dark side points to have your way with them, and the non-dark side points option is pretty much “Ew, your icky. Go away. Stupid head.” So you’ve been warned.
The next objective is to steal the Sith Cult Leader’s followers by performing a miracle during his big meet & greet shindig. To pull this off you convince a municipal employee to blow the gas pipes under the building when you give the signal (how you convince him is entirely up to you) and thus create a ‘groundquake’ – a name that only make sense once you realize there’s no ‘earth’ so what else are they gonna call it? This is enough of a feat to steal a good chunk of the Sith’s followers, and successfully tick off the Sith Lord. Which was the goal, I think? Either way, it works and the Sith invites you to his base of operations to deal.
And lo and behold the whole thing turns out to NOT be a trap. No, serious. There’s a bunch of enemies standing around in the usual pack layouts like you would have to fight them, but they stay green and non-hostile. It’s probably one of the better psych outs in the game, because you totally are waiting for them to start attacking and they NEVER do. Instead you just run in to meet with the Sith Lord, who has his own surprise in store. It seems that the Tulak Hord relic drains people of their force power and then he attacks you himself. This fight is really annoying because of the aforementioned force drain. You don’t recover force naturally, and all your abilities take twice as much to use. The one way to actually sneak by this whole thing is to die and then resurrect, which removes the debuff. You won’t get it re-applied because the Sith Lord doesn’t put it on you, it’s triggered by the cutscene ending and since you don’t have to watch the cutscene again, you are free to beat the Sith senseless.
So you got the thingamajig but now what is left to deal with but the cult. You again get three choices: Screw’em and leave, leave the Sith in charge, or leave your loyal flunkies in charge. As far as I know, the only thing this really changes is a few letters you get as you level up. I might be wrong on that, and I’ll be sure to mention it in future installments should these people ever re-enter the picture.
Interlude – Ghost Great Great Grandpa’s Hat
After completing Nar Shadaa and Balmorra, you will be visited once more by Ghost Gramps who tells you that Zash is planning something. While the general response is “No duh.” you can actually respond in the hilarious “No! Zash would NEVER do that to MEEEE!” way that leads to Ghost Grandpa plainly stating, “You are naive.” Why call attention to that? Well because it is probably the best way to summarize the Sith Inquisitor storyline as a whole. We haven’t got there yet, but trust me – your character is dumber than rocks at times. Anyway, to prepare you for battle the Ghost Granpappy sends you back to Korriban to retrieve his helmet. A mask model that is usually reserved for level 40-something Sith Warriors, so that’s cool.
The whole mission is fairly short and just involves fighting through a dude’s house and then either killing him or persuading him to give up the helmet, then running back to the ship. Really, the worse part in my opinion is getting back to Korriban to do this whole thing. The entrance is right by the Dark Council chamber so you have to go all the way to the Academy, up the elevator, and down the hall and that’s before the mission STARTS. Gah!
Okay, I’ll be straight with you here. This is the worst planet in the entire first chapter. I mean, the others are not about FINDING the thing but how to GET the thing, right? Yea, this is just find the thing. With a side order of revenge for your new companion Andronikos Revel. The mission is literally: 1. Find Andronikos, 2. Find the Pirate, 3. Find the Sand People, and 4. Find the Thing. This is quite literally a straight line across Tatooine. The only thing that diverges or affects anything is whether or not you deprive Andronikos of his revenge and kill the guy yourself. That is it.
Even Andronikos is a weird mixed bag. You are first told that he doesn’t like people or trust people, but by the end of one job that doesn’t even end well he wants to sign on to your ship’s crew. His backstory is also familiar: a pirate captain that was left adrift and almost went mad after his crew mutinied, only for his former crew to end up going insane from a cursed relic. Next he’ll be insisting that he’s CAPTAIN Andronikos Revel. Blah, can we just move on?
Compared to where we are coming from, Alderaan is my favorite world in Chapter One. This is just one of those times you get to be manipulative and sneaky as an Inqusitor and it really feels like how I wish the entire class would play. The whole situation is that the final relic is stored in a vault, and only House Organa has the key. In order to get that key, you will need some sort of dirt to manipulate them which you find in House Alde. It seems that the heir to the House abandoned his duty and more importantly his fiance to go train as a Jedi. A Jedi in love? Tender.
To lure the Jedi back to Alderaan, you go and break into House Rist and find their heir, the scorned woman from the holo that totally doesn’t still have feeling for the Jedi, not at all, b-baka. And this is where it gets fun, you can actually take the story down a few paths here. The first is to lure the Jedi back by forcing the Rist woman to call him and ask to meet at their ‘special spot’, you can kill her if you want and then go and kill the Jedi for the key. On the other hand, you can convince the two to work things out. They’ll both meet at the special spot and you can help them reconcile, convincing the Jedi to abandon his oath to the Jedi Order to be with his beloved. To reward you, he gives you the key. So instead of killing your way, you can actually manipulate a Jedi to fall from grace.
I really like the whole manipulation angle and using your enemies weakness against them. It was really what I was hoping the Inquisitor would be for the most part, and this world really shows how strong that approach is. You can mastermind a way to either have a Jedi fall, or lure a Jedi to his doom in a way that no one will be able to find his body or even know where to look which simultaneously strikes a blow against the Jedi, House Organa, and gets you the key to go and nab the relic from the vault.
The end of the story comes in two parts. The first is another visit by Ghost Grandpa who wants you to retrieve his lightsaber that has given to a retainer of your ancient family before Tulak Hord destroyed everything. The ancestor of the retainer is now working off her father’s debt at a Nar Shadaa casino, a debt incurred when her father bet everything – including the lightsaber – to a corrupt known-for-cheating gambler. You need to go and get it back so she can unlock the case for you (because Bioware wanted you to visit the casino twice since it wasn’t being used for much else). Now that you have your grandpappy’s lightsaber, it’s time to go and deal with Zash.
Now here’s where you either saw it a million miles away or got an awesome twist: Zash wants to betray you! You can’t say there wasn’t ample warning for it. In fact, her wretched form is starting to rot away. So she wants to put her soul in your body. Which sounds a bit too fantasy even for Star Wars, but hey I’ll roll with it. Your morose monster of a pet, Khem Val, disrupts the ritual and somehow ends up body sharing with Zash. The two of them now trading off who controls the body. Of course, Zash is furious. All her planning gone to waste. She even made sure that her loyal apprentices were to become YOUR apprentices, and to ensure YOU became a Lord of the Sith so when the conversion happened she would be ready. So she tries to attack you in Khem’s body but that pesky loyalty oath is apparently biologically ingrained so even when it’s not Khem, Khem Val cannot hurt you.
So the chapter ends with all your new loyal servants coming to hail you as the new Lord Kalig. Yay you!
The first chapter of the Inquisitor’s story is… good. I can’t call it great because it does have some missteps, but at the same time it fixes the biggest issues I had with the Consular story. With the exception of Tatooine which is honestly just a straight up treasure hunt find-the-thing mission, each story explores a different facet of working around complications to obtain your goal. You have the deal with Imperial command and bargaining on Balmorra, you have to build a power base and use it against an opponent on Nar Shadaa, and you have to manipulate your enemy into a trap on Alderaan. While you are still looking for the same Mcguffin over and over, it’s handled so different each time that you never really notice. It makes for a very enjoyable playthrough that keeps you engaged fairly well.
The downsides on the other hand are more so to do with the over arching plot. Zash’s scheming is poorly handled, and this really carries over from the Prologue. Every single person you meet flat out tells you not to trust Zash, and at no point past Korriban are you ever given a worthwhile reason to trust her. She constantly makes enigmatic promises of your rise to power, but that’s all it is – vague promises. By the time Lord Kalig shows up and flat out tells you she wants to betray you, well what reason do you have to keep going along with this plan? But for some reason, you do. You bring her all the relics, and then guess what? She betrays you! Shocker. The only reason you don’t die is because Khem Val saves your butt, establishing sadly what will be a long series of “Someone saving your butt” moments that extend well into chapters two and three. I would rather have had one of the interludes be something along the lines of finding some means to counter Zash’s ritual, the two counter rituals exploding and resulting in Zash and Khem Val sharing a body. SUPPOSEDLY this is what Kalig’s helmet is for, but when the time comes it is never brought up, so I have no idea.
The only other thing would be a small one but I would really have liked to see the relics have more effect than just be a macguffin. I mean, on Tatooine we establish that one can drive you insane (something we hear about but never see) and the one on Nar Shadaa can drain force power. The other two are essentially trapped under rocks, but still could affect things around them. The Alderaan vault IS guarded and the Balmorra altar was surrounded by colocoids. It was just a little something that I think would have added some flavor. Not a big complaint.
No the BIG complaint is going to be next time as we dive into Chapter Two of the Sith Inquisitor story.