[Note: The following review contains spoilers from the story of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.]
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is one of the most surprising games that came out this year. Developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by EA, Jedi: Fallen Order is a single-player story-focused Star Wars game. Yes, there are no multiplayer components or microtransactions. Let that sink in for a bit. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the game itself.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order follows Cal Kestis, a former Jedi Padawan who must come out of hiding after the horrific fallout of Order 66. As such, the game takes a very linear approach, something we haven’t seen the franchise do in a long time. The storytelling here is easily inspired by other contemporaries like the Uncharted franchise, with Dark Souls being an inspiration for the combat. That’s something that a lot of my peers have noted, but it doesn’t mean that it takes anything out of the experience. Quite the opposite actually.
Jedi: Fallen Order makes a great case for why we need more games like these. Games that have a razor-sharp focus on storytelling and delivering fine gameplay mechanics. While it’s not technically an open-world game, there are multiple planets to explore here which vary from one another in both design and skill level. After the few introductory missions, you’re left on your own to explore the maps at your own pace. Of course, with the game marrying its storytelling and level system to such an extent, you’ll find it hard to explore certain areas if you don’t have the necessary skills. This, combined with the steady influx of learning new skills as the story progresses also helps in immersing yourself in this galaxy far, far away.
In my first impressions article (and concurrent video), I stated that the traversal reminded me a lot of Prince of Persia. After finishing the game, I can confidently say that the game does much more than that. Having abilities like the Force Pull and Push are not only fun gameplay mechanics, but they also serve a greater story purpose. While we’ve seen similar mechanics in previous Star Wars games like in The Force Unleashed series, here they feel more at home as Cal feels more human than a demigod. After all, while the Force is a powerful ally, its always been at its best when used minimally to further character interactions, much like the movies. Here, Respawn has done a nice job at making the Force feel powerful, but not too powerful as certain obstacles (enemies and environments) will require you to use other skills.
Coming to the story, many have stated their concerns on it getting a tad bit too predictable by the end of it. Personally, I had no qualms with the story. Star Wars at its core has always been about the eternal fight between good and evil. Jedi: Fallen Order does a pretty good job at exploring the middle ground, the grey area between the two with the Second Sister. While I didn’t see the reveal of her identity coming, I can see why some people might have been a bit disappointed by it. After all, it does do a fine job by keeping the story self-contained (that is, until the final moments). Similar to Kylo Ren from the sequel trilogy, the Second Sister is an interesting character who really helps in selling the fact that turning yourself over to the Dark Side can have serious consequences.
I didn’t go into any story details in my first impressions article, however, with the game being out for about a month now, I can finally discuss the finer points of the story. Let’s start with Cal, shall we? Honestly, even though I liked his character, he did feel a little too generic at times. Some gameplay elements such as the occasional memory blackouts became annoying, which only added to my frustration with him. Being a Jedi Padawan, it makes sense that Cal wouldn’t know all the tricks of the Jedi at the start of the game. However, it turns out he does know all the tricks, and only remembers them throughout the game at convenient points. I understand that Respawn wanted us to discover new powers throughout the game, but the in-game story reason given for this is borderline stupid at times. It also adds quite a lot to the game’s backtracking, which is there is a moderate amount.
Similar to the Dark Souls franchise, here the level design banks a lot on its assumption that you’ll want to backtrack. Which, of course, I did. Along the way, you’ll discover new shortcuts and overall levels will become more & more familiar to you. The holographic Metroidvania-esque map also is a nice touch, as it never tells you your objective directly. Even navigating the maps feels like a challenge, one which I was happy to confront. If there’s anything other developers (*cough* Ubisoft *cough*) should learn from Jedi: Fallen Order, it’s how to employ good use of a map.
Other characters like Cere and Greez are well developed, but the star of the game is undoubtedly BD-1. This little droid will be your AI partner for the entirety of the game and can aid you in combat, exploration and everything in between. Throughout the game, you’ll get to see Cal and BD-1’s relationship grow into a lasting and memorable friendship. As for his abilities, he can heal you, scan enemy remains for info, and project the map I wrote about above.
Combat in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a dance of parries, dodges, and slashes. Sure, you’ve got some Force abilities thrown in the mix, but the core combat really boils down to timed parries. The lightsaber has been a staple of Star Wars for a long time, and here you really feel its power. Radiating energy, the lightsaber can cut through most enemies and environments. But when it comes to more heavily armored enemies, you’ll have to use it in tandem with your Force powers. As you encounter more enemies your level will increase, which in turn grants you skill points to use in gaining and upgrading new skills.
In the end, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order proves to be one of the best games in the franchise, while simultaneously proving yet again that single-player narrative games are here to stay. While it does take a lot of inspiration from many other classics, it manages to carve out a unique identity.