This month’s Band of Bloggers prompt is all about water levels, and while I’ve played through a lot of them the issue I've found is that very many of them are really, really, not good. Aesthetically I really like water levels, but there are many games that change up your controls when water is involved. It can take a lot of getting used to, and during the early days of gaming it wasn’t uncommon to find yourself fighting against a timer in addition to new controls and physics. I really want to think positively for this entry though, and a really good water level came to mind as I read this month’s prompt.
(Que incredibly John Williams score)
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a narrative-driven role playing game set nearly 4,000 years before the battle of Yavin (ie: the events of Star Wars). You build a character, choosing between a warrior, a tech expert, or a scoundrel type, who eventually becomes one of several classes of Jedi. Hidden in a dilapidated temple on the planet Dantooine, your Jedi and their party discovers an ancient artifact and a message left by Darth Malak, current ruler of the Sith Empire. From here you’re sent out to find more of these artifacts and ultimately the source of Malak’s fleet in an effort to end the Republic/Sith war which has been ongoing since before the game begins proper.
One of the worlds you visit while searching for hints of Malak’s movement is Manaan. The planet Manaan is an ocean world with one large hub city above the waves, though a vast majority of its society live in underwater cities. The native species of Ahto City and Manaan is a then-new species to the Star Wars galaxy, The Selkath. They’re a Force-sensitive species of humanoids with large, rectangular heads. None of them will join your party, but you do fight some later on.
(Selkath are featured on the official Knights of the Old Republic poster, so maybe one might have joined you in an early draft)
Part of what I love about Manaan’s Ahto City is that it’s a neutral zone. You’ll be able to interact with Republic, Sith, and local law enforcement. Most other worlds are occupied by one faction or the other. Depending on how you complete the main and side quests on Manaan, the Selkath could expel the Republic or Sith from their world. What makes Manaan such an important part of the war effort on both sides is kolto, a form of plant life that only grows on Manaan and which is used in those healing tanks you may remember from Empire Strikes Back (only not really, because in Empire it’s Bacta which is better than Kolto, but it’s the same idea).
While on Manaan you’ll get the chance to investigate a high profile murder, search for missing Selkath youth, look into why The Republic are hiring mercenaries, get in on some Swoop Bike racing, and eventually search a secret base on the ocean floor. Ironically, the portion of Manaan where you’re roaming the sea in an atmospheric suit is the most limiting. You move slowly, and you can only defend yourself with one attack. Even towards the end of the Manaan quest, there’s some really interesting world/Galaxy building, and a unique set piece.
(This may or may not be God)
I realize this may be kind of a cop-out. A vast majority of what you do on Manaan is done in Ahto City, above the tides. Even so, I consider Manaan to be the pleasant, resort alternative to the ever-stormy Kamino from the prequel trilogy. I never go here first after Dantooine, because I prefer to build up my party first, but it’s my favorite part of Knights of the Old Republic. It’s an old enough game that just about any PC can run it, so if you’re interested in experiencing a good Star Wars narrative with a diverse cast, a world with established stakes, and fantastic subversion, check out Knights of the Old Republic.
(I want to retire here, though I imagine it's ungodly hot)