Unveiling History: The Lost Level of Star Wars: Dark Forces Brought to Life

The remaster of “Star Wars: Dark Forces” by Nightdive Studios not only rekindles the flames of nostalgia for fans of Kyle Katarn’s inaugural adventure but also serves as a bridge to a nearly forgotten piece of FPS history. Thanks to meticulous restoration efforts, players can now experience the ISD Avenger level, a demo once showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show before the game’s release in 1995 but ultimately cut from the final version.

The Tale of the ISD Avenger

The ISD Avenger level was envisioned as an alternate opening mission, where players, embodying Kyle Katarn, infiltrate the titular Star Destroyer to steal the Death Star plans, culminating in a daring escape aboard a commandeered TIE Fighter. However, LucasArts decided to replace this mission with the now-familiar “Secret Base” due to concerns over its initial difficulty for newcomers.

Despite its absence from the game, a hint of the Avenger’s existence tantalized fans for years—a screenshot of its wireframe map was subtly included on the spine of the original game’s big box release, a detail that fueled speculation and longing among the Dark Forces community.

Restoration and Revival

The recovery and inclusion of the ISD Avenger in the “Star Wars: Dark Forces” remaster is a testament to the collaborative efforts between Nightdive Studios and the open-source Force Engine creator, luciusDXL. Hidden away in the LucasArts development vault, the level required conversion to a modern file type and extensive reconstruction to become playable once more. Now, it stands as a separate entity from the main campaign, accessible directly from the remastered game’s main menu.

A Nod to the Past

Playing through the ISD Avenger is more than just a trip down memory lane; it’s a deep dive into the design philosophy that shaped Kyle Katarn’s adventures up until 2003’s “Jedi Academy.” The level’s complex process to uncover the Death Star plans—complete with hidden switches and concealed entrances—echoes the series’ penchant for intricate, exploration-heavy gameplay. This design trait, encouraging players to engage deeply with their environment, often to the point of bewilderment, has been a hallmark of the franchise.


The inclusion of the ISD Avenger level in the “Star Wars: Dark Forces” remaster is a significant moment for both long-time fans and newcomers to the series. It not only offers a glimpse into what could have been but also celebrates the legacy of a game that dared to challenge its players in ways few others did. Thanks to Nightdive Studios’ dedication and the contributions of the fan community, this piece of gaming history is now preserved for posterity, ensuring that the adventures of Kyle Katarn continue to inspire and challenge future generations.

Novara Skuara

When I was 7, I saw Star Wars: A New Hope in theaters a week after it opened. My parents were nice enough to take me and I have been a fan of Star Wars and almost all science fiction in general. I am an amateur writer who has been published for contributing flavor text to a RP game. I also have a copyright on a novel I hope to be able to publish sometime soon.