Star Wars: The Canceled Jedi Knight Game No One Remembers 

There is no shortage of cancelled Star Wars games, but one of the franchise's most fascinating unproduced projects has oddly been lost to time.

Jedi Outcast
Photo: LucasArts

LucasFilm has recently opened up a new studio dedicated to the creation and launch of games based on George Lucas’ iconic cinematic franchises. While LucasFilm Games might not quite measure up to the LucasArts of old just yet, it’s clear that the Star Wars series is going to be a priority for the studio, as it was for its predecessor. This expansion of the brand has already led to original titles like Squadrons and Jedi: Survivor getting launched to phenomenal success. 

However, LucasFilm is also dipping into the archives and celebrating older titles with remastered editions of the likes of Battlefront and Jedi Dark Forces. The latter is an especially important title in Star Wars history that spawned many sequels. However, the Dark Forces series also highlights a major culture of cancelation at LucasFilm, with a mysterious, suspected final Dark Forces entry seemingly getting canned before it could ever get out of the starting blocks. Not many people will remember that this title got left behind, and there’s a reason for that. 

The Dark Forces Franchise Expanded The Universe 

It’s first important to look at the impact the Dark Forces franchise had on the wider Star Wars universe. For those who don’t know, Star Wars: Dark Forces was released in 1995, and was developed and published by LucasArts. The title introduced players to the Jedi Kyle Katarn: a figure who would go on to star in multiple video game spinoffs and become a fan-favorite character within the Legends canon. The first-person shooter was heralded at the time for its fast-paced action and unique narrative. It continues to be a nostalgic favorite, as do its sequels. 

Dark Forces inspired the release of subsequent titles, which showed just how much the original concept was able to evolve. Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy all followed, with Kyle Katarn still at the center of the action, even if he wasn’t always the lead character. Fans had formed a real connection with this hero and needed to see how his story came to an end. The franchise had built genuine momentum and from the outside looking in, a final sequel was the logical next step. 

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The Potential Sequel 

In 2008 a book called Rogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts showcased an array of unproduced video game titles, some of which had seemingly been in active development at LucasArts. In total, there was a list of 20 logos, many of which were alternative versions of the same basic game. However, to fans, one notable inclusion truly stuck out; a game named Jedi Knight III: Brink Of Darkness. It seemed that LucasArts had begun early development on a new title featuring Kyle Katarn, but the idea was canned before seeing the light of day. 

Rumors and speculation regarding what Brink of Darkness may have been began to spread in certain circles. With a return to the Jedi Knight name, many were certain that the narrative would have focused on Kyle Katarn once more. However, the Brink Of Darkness name could have referred to any number of things, from the rise of the Dark Side of the Force to the corruption of the leading hero. It’s likely that it would have been co-developed with Raven Software and Activision as previous titles had been, perhaps on the id Tech 3 engine.

In truth, there’s no way of knowing for sure. Details around the project remain hazy. Yet, for a small portion of the Star Wars fandom, a mythology has been created around Jedi Knight III. Without any confirmation of what Brink Of Darkness was or may have been, the very idea of the game has taken on a life of its own.

A Culture Of Cancelation 

For many, it did seem like the Jedi Knight saga had come to an abrupt end, and thus more stock was put into the notion that Brink Of Darkness was the final hurrah we were denied. The perceived reasons why that follow-up was never released began to vary wildly.

However, with the success of Jedi Academy, it seemed plausible that LucasArts didn’t want to double back on Katarn’s narrative after starting to explore new corners of the franchise. Other Star Wars titles would be released in the years that followed, with major series like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed capturing the fan base’s imagination. 

In all those discussions, a new possibility (more of a realization) began to emerge. What if Brink of Darkness was simply an idea? What if it was just another name for a game we may have already gotten or some other project lost along the way?

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For starters, there are no substantial verified details about what the game could have become, nor are there enough details about its cancellation. In fact, most people only discovered its very existence with that logo drop. Since then, there have been no reports about the development of the game, its cancellation, or what it may have been if it was ever really a proper new game in the first palce. Despite all the speculation and all the built-up mythology that followed, Jedi Knight III may have been a mere concept caught up in a wave of cancellations.

Star Wars has a rough history of games getting canceled before their development can make much progress or even begin. Famously, titles like Star Wars 1313 and Battlefront III stand out, as experiences that audiences were genuinely excited for but never got to play. Recently another title set in the galaxy far, far away (Respawn’s bounty hunter FPS title) was canceled by EA, showing that this culture has continued.

Even Brink Of Darkness was accompanied by a range of other potential projects like Scum and Villainy, Rebel Jedi, Vader, Rogue Jedi, Rebel Scum, and Rise of the Rebellion. It’s hard to say what the state of any of those projects may have been or how many more ideas have been left on the cutting room floor over the years. Yet, Brink of Darkness‘ rise to the top of that pile reveals quite a few things about the significance of its existence and what it says about the long history of promising Star Wars games we’ll likely never get to play.

The Future Of The Franchise 

Although it could be argued that LucasFilm and Disney are testing deeper waters by approving the recent remaster of Dark Forces, it’s unlikely that story will ever be properly continued. And if for some reason Jedi Knight III was to be developed anew in some capacity, it’s almost certain that Brink Of Darkness’ rumored and planned concepts wouldn’t play into the final product. 

But really, the story of canceled and lost titles like Jedi Knight III is the story of Disney’s acquisition of LucasFilm. When the company purchased George Lucas’ studio, it went about axing any projects that were still in development in the name of a fresh start. What’s more, by wiping out the Expanded Universe timeline, figures like Kyle Katarn were stamped with the Legends branding instead. Not only would it not make canonical sense to revisit these previous games, but unless they are released under the Legends banner, there’s also not a lot of hope of Disney’s interests being piqued by games they didn’t greenlight in the first place. 

Unfortunately for Star Wars fans, the lost concepts of this era and the franchises they may have kicked off or continued will likely never see the light of day. And with that culture of cancellation extending to today’s era, it’s only a matter of time before similar titles are lost to the archives. From Amy Hennig’s Project Ragtag to EA’s recent Star Wars concept, the list of stories that will never be told continues to build.

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Yet, there’s always some hope that the ideas and arcs of these previous games could influence future titles in unexpected ways. Even the fervor over the suggestion of their existence speaks volumes. For Kyle Katarn fans, there’s also a deep desire to see a new iteration of the character brought into the modern canon, perhaps through a future title or in a movie like Rey’s New Jedi Order picture.

What will come of LucasFilm Games’ new era is unclear, but for the sake of developers and players, there needs to be optimism that history doesn’t continue to repeat itself. What was Brink of Darkness? Was is the Jedi Knight sequel some dreamed it was? Was it ever really going to happen? We may never know for certain. In its own ways, though, it has come to capture the complicated, frustrating, and perhaps ongoing legacy of Star Wars stories that go unrealized.