Why I Love: showing HK-47 the Light Side in Knights of the Old Republic

Conjecture: starting every article about HK-47 with a noun is predictable and lazy. Assertion: I don’t care, because I'll take any opportunity to talk about Knights of the Old Republic, and more specifically, my favourite dagger-eyed doombot.

Let’s slow down, though. There’s a problem. I played KOTOR as a Jedi Jesus, pootling from planet to planet in the Ebon Hawk, solving even the most mundane problems for free. I should have hated HK-47 and his pre-programmed indifference for human life (or, at the very least, huffed and said  judgemental things to other Jedi behind his back). 

But I didn’t. We were buddies. I loved the process of fixing him up, recovering his memories, improving his dexterity. I loved exceeding his (admittedly very low) expectations. But most of all, I loved dragging him on my altruistic adventures through space, making him stand there like a sad bronze mannequin while I made choices he despised. “Would you like me to blast him, master?”, HK-47 would ask, hopefully. “No thank you, HK-47,” I’d laugh, like a sanctimonious prick. “All life is precious. Or at least, all story-related life is precious. I shall resolve this via peaceful negotiation and judicious use of my Jedi powers.” If HK-47 had lips, he’d have snarled. 

His red-eyed devotion to evil helped frame the wonderful paradox I created. The artist formally known as Revan the Butcher was now helping Twi’lek strangers pass dance auditions. HK-47 was expecting murder, force-choking and vengeance - instead, he got the Light Side Dalai Lama. A man who cheerfully crossed time and space to rehome Gizka. Looking back, it must have been an special flavour of hell for HK-47. He knew Revan when he was the Dark Lord of the Sith. It was like the worst kind of jock reuniting with his childhood bro, only to discover he’d started an organic Kombucha bar called Teasy Lover. 

Best of all, he helped me see a side of the game I was afraid to experience firsthand. I feel guilty about even the smallest moral transgressions in videogames. Every attempt I’ve ever made to play a Bioware game as a smouldering badass has ended in self-loathing and failure. I tried to go Full Bastard on an alternate KOTOR save, but I barely lasted an hour, and I still feel guilty about forcing a Wookie who owed me a life-debt to murder his best friend. I'm sensitive like that. But by hanging around with HK-47, I could peer through the letterbox of the Dark Side, pretend to remember the awful shit that Revan used to do, and never actually feel any guilt. 

That’s why I love him. HK-47 is Bioware’s best bad character because I don’t need to worry about reforming him. He won’t leave my party if he disagrees with me. I don't need to pretend to like poetry so he'll sleep with me. He’s a trashcan of malice, incapable of any emotion other than hate, so I'll never feel bad about disappointing him. He can grump along with every Light Side act and our friendship will remain plasteel-strong. I can take him on missions to snark at Bastila and Carth, and I can snigger under my breath without saying anything. But most of all, he’s so bad that he makes me feel even better about being the Nicest Man in the Galaxy. So thank you, HK-47, you beautiful, evil bastard. You made me feel great. 

Matt Elliott
Matt is GamesRadar's senior commissioning editor. His ideal game would be a turn-based beat 'em up set in Lordran, starring Professor Layton and Nico from Broken Sword. There would also be catapults and romance.