So, we’re getting Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – Remake. Even a couple weeks later removed from the news, it’s still genuinely surprising. Rather than remake LucasArts’ other classics, many of them have simply been ported to current-gen hardware. A remake implies something grander than a remaster or port. It suggests that the famous CRPG may take players by surprise with changes to the epic journey. And I am totally for that, except for one thing: KOTOR – Remake should absolutely, in no way, concern itself with aligning to the Disney Star Wars canon.
The new Star Wars Expanded Universe has its fair share of issues it’s working through. I’m not Marcia Lucas, but I think we’ve seen enough awkward pivots by the franchise for a while. As tempting as it may be to try to integrate Darth Revan, Bastila, and the rest of KOTOR into the Disney canon, the Star Wars storyline is presently a directionless soup. As such, more than ever, Lucasfilm should capitalize on the benefit of the Old Republic era being self-contained.
Knights of the Old Republic is set 4000 years before the Star Wars films, but even if it were 1000 years, it would be a sizable time gap from any upcoming projects. What’s more, MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic is still successfully trucking on, celebrating its tenth anniversary earlier this year. Considering the Knights franchise already contains various nods to Star Wars lore that’s now non-canon with Disney, trying to shove a KOTOR – Remake into either timeline is fraught with narrative perils. So, just let it be its own thing.
At this point, there’s a not insignificant number of fans of the Old Republic era who aren’t even fans of the greater franchise. Whether for the era’s brilliant CRPGs, the MMO’s vast sprawling storylines, or even the excellent comics and novels, there’s something unique about the sub-series that keeps people hooked. Lucasfilm should lean into that for KOTOR – Remake instead of recoiling from or trying to readapt it for Disney Star Wars canon.
Not only would this allow developer Aspyr to do whatever it believes will serve the remake best, but it would also free it from accommodating all the retcons by The Old Republic that rubbed fans the wrong way. If anything, the team could pick and choose from all manner of sources to craft a fresh vision of the classic setting. That could mean anything from Zayne Carrick and characters from Knights of the Old Republic II showing up to drawing on ideas from the High Republic or Tales of the Jedi — or entirely unique new stories that have nothing to do with either timeline.
That’s the exciting prospect when you do something unrestrained by continuity. When players first booted up Injustice: Gods Among Us, they didn’t expect to see Shazam and Lex Luthor die, let alone Harley Quinn start on her path to becoming a hero. The subsequent comics went bolder, finding ways to integrate outlandish characters like Detective Chimp and make them emotionally impactful. Quinn herself was reimagined as an R-rated Mary Tyler Moore, bringing with her reinterpretations of Joker and Poison Ivy that found depth you likely wouldn’t have seen if they’d been played to canon.
Though Star Wars might not have the multiverse of DC, the creative success Warner Bros. has found with its reinterpretations and wild creative gambles across multiple mediums is undeniable. Its willingness to try things in isolated yet flexible sandboxes has created a perfect testing ground for ideas that have since been rolled into countless other projects. Star Wars used to do something similar with its layered canon method, letting the best ideas float to the top. ARC troopers, Mandalorians, Aayla Secura, Quinlan Vos, Delta Squad, and even Darth Revan weren’t ideas born strictly of George Lucas, but they have become embedded parts of the franchise’s storyline. Now Lucasfilm has the chance to establish a new creative testbed with one of its most popular series.
I don’t expect KOTOR – Remake to shake the foundations of Star Wars in or out of Disney canon, but it can still surprise us. Much as it was a defining game for translating CRPGs to consoles and 3D graphics, BioWare also explored new angles for the franchise, which were fleshed out beautifully by its sequels. With decades of growth in what we can expect from RPGs, now is the time for KOTOR to be at the forefront of not only its genre again but of the franchise that birthed it.
With the erratic state of the Disney canon, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – Remake is pretty much all I’ve got left to hold out for at this point, so — please, Lucasfilm, just let KOTOR do what KOTOR does best. There are few universally beloved tie-in games, especially one as fondly remembered as KOTOR. It would be a shame if its remake were to fall short for the sake of continuity over quality.