Prauf is the hero Star Wars needs. Jedi: Fallen Order’s hulking alien mechanic makes me want to ditch protagonist Cal Kestis, with his stupid, permanently shocked face and experience the Star Wars universe through the eyes of a man who can’t slow time by looking constipated. If he doesn’t get his own game, there’s no justice in the galaxy.
What makes Prauf so appealing, apart from his lack of Jedi powers, is that he’s the ultimate everyman. When Padme Amidala was pretending she hadn’t been impregnated by an angsty, entitled plank of wood, he was breaking his back building ships; when the Empire rose, he was doing much the same. Does this make him a coward? No, it makes him human.. er, alien, a perspective that Star Wars sorely lacks.
Prauf’s presence, brief as it may be, grounds Fallen Order. His quest to stay alive and stay fed is easier to identify with than Cal’s pursuit of some Jedi McGuffin and when he does make a stand, he’s not saving the galaxy — he’s saving a friend. The relationship between the two of them gives the game’s early stages real heart, which is ripped out the moment Cal ignites his lightsaber.
True, when a director has two hours to tell a fantasy story, there’s no time to look in on Joe Public. Luke Skywalker may have been a lowly moisture farmer, but he was always going to follow in his father’s footsteps and mechanic Rose Tico had already joined the Resistance by the time we meet her. But games can offer a deeper dive, whether through cutscenes, character interactions or having you stub your toe on carelessly discarded data logs. And Prauf’s story is ripe for further exploration. Did he put down his tools when he heard the Jedi had been executed or was it just another day on the job? How did Prauf end up at the yard? What happened to his family?
These and other questions go unanswered in Fallen Order and that’s reason enough for Star Wars: Prauf to exist; that and the joy of picking up a Stormtrooper and, thanks to Prauf’s immense strength, using him to beat another Stormtrooper to death. You could argue that’s Stormtrooper smashing is out of character for Star Wars, but Fallen Order is a game where use the force to dangle someone over a pit and, just when they’re resigned to plunging to their deaths, yank them back and impale them on your lightsaber. But you’re a Jedi, so it’s okay. Honest.
Assuming, that is, Prauf’s up for a fight. One of the fascinating things about Prauf’s appearance in Fallen Order is that, surrounded by the Empire, he uses his words rather than his fists against them. Star Wars games have traditionally featured some degree of action, but what if you were dealing with a protagonist who’d turned his back on violence? Does fighting the evil Empire justify forcing Prauf to break whatever promise he made, inwardly cursing you as he pounds Stormtrooper Dave into a fine paste?
The moral quandaries posed by a Star Wars: Prauf game might not end there, particularly if it was a prequel. The Last Jedi aside, the morality of the series is absurdly binary. Manipulating minds is just fine if you’re a Jedi, but zapping people with lightning somehow crosses a line.
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Forget It Prauf, It’s Jeditown
Prauf doesn’t have the luxury of a strictly-regimented moral code, complete with a Jedi Master who’ll smack him with a space-ruler if he transgresses. He took Cal under his wing, and his sacrifice arguably saved his life; but were there others before Cal? Was losing Cal just the tipping point for Prauf? There’s a moment in Fallen Order when it appears Prauf has betrayed the protagonist. Would you have made that choice? The reward for turning in a Jedi could set you up for life.
Without the rigidity of the Jedi code, every decision you made could have consequences. Games can give more interesting choices than, say, saving a life or punching a kitten; real-world (or this case, fantasy world) morality is infinitely murkier. Star Wars: Prauf would be the perfect opportunity to explore the shades of grey that make up life in the Star Wars universe.
But putting aside the low likelihood of this happening, there’s another problem. Even when new, original characters get a look in, Star Wars has tended to shoehorn in egregious cameos that risk breaking up the flow of the game. For instance, Star Wars: Battlefront 2’s Iden Versio is an engaging, morally ambiguous character — but Electronic Arts insisted on bringing in the series’ big names anyway.
It’s pretty jarring, as if they were afraid that, if they didn’t shove Han Solo in our faces, we’d forget we’re playing Star Wars. If Prauf did end up getting his own game, there’s a risk he’d be similarly outshone by other, better known Star Wars stars.
“Hey, Prauf! It’s me, your old friend Obi-Wan Kenobi, just taking a break from Tatooine! And I brought R2D2 and C3PO too!” You get the picture.
Prauf or Death
It’s not usually a good sign when a side character outshines a game’s lead, but Prauf is a breath of fresh air for a series that reveres space wizards and hotshot pilots but rarely gives you a glimpse of who they’re fighting for. This working alien, who wants nothing more than an easy life, counts every bit as much as Luke Skywalker, Leia, or Rey. And the courage he shows, stepping up without so much a laser sword to his name? At that precise moment, he’s worth at least three Baby Yodas.
So I’m counting on you, EA, to forget about lightsabers, loot boxes and superfluous cameos, just this one time, and make more Prauf more than a footnote in someone else’s story. I’m sure you’ve got a studio you were thinking of shuttering who’d be more than happy to take on the task.
And if not, may be the Force be with you, sweet, shovel-handed prince – you were taken from us too soon.