A fan reverse-engineered 1995's 'Star Wars: Dark Forces' to make it easier to play on modern systems

Creator LuciusDXL spent three years on the project.

LucasFilm Games

By modern standards, 1995's Dark Forces doesn't look like much, but it's rightfully considered one of the more important Star Wars games ever released. Not only did it introduce important technical innovations to the first-person shooter genre, but it also went on to have an outsized effect on later Star Wars canon and spawned the Jedi Knight series. However, like a lot of games from the mid-'90s, revisiting Dark Forces can be challenging. Before today, your best bet was to buy a digital copy of the game from either Steam or GOG and use DOSBox to emulate it on a modern computer. Dark Forces is one of the easier games to get running on DOSBox, but the software can be intimidating if you've never used it before.

Enter The Force Engine. The project is primarily the work of LuciusDXL, who spent three years reverse engineering LucasArts' proprietary Jedi Engine to make the two games that were built with it — Dark Forces and 1997's Outlaws — easier to run on modern systems. With version 1.0, TFE is compatible with both the GOG and Steam versions of Dark Forces. Once you've installed the software, it will automatically detect the game's executable, and you can start playing without needing to do things like adjusting cycles in DOSBox.

What's more, it adds a handful of features to make it easier to appreciate Dark Forces in 2022. One big addition is support for modern widescreen resolutions, so you don't have to play the game at its original 320 by 200 resolution. Other optional quality-of-life improvements include full mouselook support and a new save system that allows you to make quicksaves. If you're a fan of Outlaws, LuciusDXL says they're working on adding support for the cult classic shooter as part of TFE's version 2.0 release. While there's no release date for that yet, LuciusDXL estimates it won't take them nearly as long now that they've gone through the process of reverse-engineering Dark Forces.

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