The most common complaint about games with morality systems is that they reduce the moral complexity of our world to a binary system. Star Wars games have always had a pretty rock solid defence against this because in the Star Wars universe morality is a binary system. For us post modern bitches it might be hard to imagine a world where the metaphysical is certain. In our world subjectivism has become so ascendant that people are beginning to believe in scientific fact less than their personal faith. The notion that there is an objectively right moral law is culturally archaic to us.
But Star Wars is a universe where good and evil is certain. If you kill Jawas for shits and giggles I’m going to know about it. For a Jedi the dark and light sides of the force are not just theories, abstract concepts or matters of opinion they are empirical observable truth.
Kreia rejects this.
Because for her even though the light and dark sides of the force are real, and even though they guide the actions of the universe this does not automatically make them right. She is like an atheist who having discovered that god exists believes the world would better off with out him. To explain why here is a grumpy old ex-Trotskyist (skip ahead two minutes for the really pertinent stuff).
Basically if the force has a will of it’s own and that will controls people and their destinies then how is it anything more than a celestial dictatorship? For example, reasonably early on you might come across a young Jedi padawan who has fallen to the dark side. Why did she fall? Was she angry? Lazy? Arrogant? Nope none of those. She read a book, she read a Sith holocron and merely being exposed to the ideas inside it turned her evil. Her free will was nothing against the power of the force. This is not an isolated incident either she is one of three characters who fall to the dark side not because of weaknesses in their character but because they are exposed to “dangerous” ideas.
For most of the game Kreia is content to play devil’s advocate. As you travel through the galaxy doing good deeds and farming light side points Kreia is always on hand to roll her eyes and say “Jedi Please!”. Perhaps her most convincing moment is just after you give a beggar a few credits out of pity. She shows you that after the beggar leaves, a group of thugs notice that he has credits and beat him up to steal them. In the end your actions have made the begger’s life more miserable.
Now you can tell Kreia that she’s wrong, that the world doesn’t always work like that and that you’ll continue to try and make the world a better place. The game will even reward you with some shiny light side points for your troubles but that still doesn’t stop her from being right. Her point is random acts of kindness don’t necessarily make the world a better place and even though the game is giving you light side points that doesn’t mean that what you did was right. She has proved that the force is fallible.
Clint Hocking coined the term ludonarrative dissonance in regards to Bioshock saying, roughly, that the game’s fiction is in conflict with it’s rules. The story tells you that certain actions are wrong but the game’s rules suggest the opposite. Here Kotor 2 is doing something similar except, unlike Bioshock, it’s doing it deliberately. Mechanically the morality system is identical to the original except now you’ve got a character throwing doubt on it. You need to decide whether you’re following the light side of the force because it’s the best thing to do or because you think, for all it’s flaws, it’s the right thing to do.
Whatever you deicide, it is clear Kreia can not accept an all powerful but morally fallible force. She is in a weird way the only atheist in the Star Wars universe.
This is the final entry in a series of posts about some of the characters in Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Siths Lords. To read the first post click here.