Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order Review - Jedi Souls
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Respawn Entertainment, Lucasfilms
Platform: PS4, XB1, PC
Genre: Action Adventure
It has been quite a while since we had a Star Wars game of this nature. The last time an open world type was made was with Force Unleashed. It fared commercially well but the game director afterward left to make Mafia 3 and I still have vivid memories of that terrible concoction.
Respawn Entertainment hired Stig Asmussan of God of War 3 to helm this project after 3 years of development. And, I can say with assurance that it is of superb quality, albeit with some hindering issues of course. Jedi Fallen Order had me jonesing for the entire time I've played thanks to the challenging but fairly constructed combat, Metroidvania level design and some of the high tier visuals you'd expect from a Star Wars game.
Even if EA had created some rift between the majority of gamers for the past few years, I think it's high time to look past that and finally, recognize what a great landmark of a game this turned out to be.
You play as Cal Kestis, a former Jedi Padawan who happens to be one of the sole survivors of Order 66 that wiped out the Jedi Order and now the galaxy is ruled by the Empire. Set somewhere between the prequels and the original Star Wars trilogy, you've been tasked by a small group to find a hidden relic that has coordinates to all the force-sensitive children around the galaxy in order to restore the Jedi Order and bring forth the balance once more.
This is a Star Wars video game truly at its best, pays homage to both trilogies while it picks up a lot of lore from the franchise and adds them to a deeper, darker story in the same namesake as the vast number of games that came out from LucasArts. Not that it best even the most prominent titles of yesteryears, it manages to retain a great presence of narrative thanks to its overarching themes of despair, family drama, friendship, horror, and newfound hope. This all comes from the main protagonist's inner turmoil while figuring out whom to trust for this daunting task, facing new kinds of adversaries while surviving the omnipresence of the Galactic Empire.
You have solid writing and great acting coupled together that pillars the emotional beats of the main story, it could be also said that the story of Jedi Fallen Order is a lot more condensed while it manages to be a somber story about redemption that also fills the gap between Rogue One and Revenge of the Site. Saw Gerrera of the former makes a return in his younger form bringing you into his rebel cause for freeing the Wookiee planet, Kashyyyk.
There's also the matter of MC's droid companion BD-01. Because every MC needs that affable droid to help them on their journey. BD isn't just a means to reaching your objectives, your friendship with him grows as you progress through the story, finding out more about his former owner while your bond with him deepens to the end. This little bundle of beep-boops is a great addition to the Star Wars mythos.
Jedi Fallen Order manages to maintain a high standard for storytelling, it doesn't change the game nor does it provide something deeply important that'll probably factor in to the upcoming film this December. But it still provides a great story that'll stay with you for a long time.
Jedi Fallen Order was cited to have taken big inspirations from Dark Souls series with Metroidvania level design. But once I've played within the first few hours, it seems like there was a lot more going on. The platforming straight up feels like Prine of Persia, you being able to wall-run, slow objects with your force stasis and solve some of the most well thought out puzzle sections I've played in years. The greatly challenging but balanced combat definitely feels like God of War which knowing Stig, had definitely brought that feel into each battle as well as the climactic sequences that take place. The parrying system is something definitely borrowed from Sekiro which actually works pretty well for this lightsaber focused combat type and there's definitely some Jedi Knight homage when you're jumping.
Combat in this game is intense, strikingly nuanced and balanced. There's so much you can do fighting NPCs from planetary wildlife to the Stormtroopers and Purgetroopers of the Empire. You have two different lightsaber attacks. One is which you can combo in sequences, the other is Force Attacks which costs your force energy to use but can dish a lot of damage provided you're not vulnerable to enemy attacks. Then there are your force attacks, Force Stasis is one that's available to you first-hand before you unlock both Force Push and Pull after you progress through later chapters of the game. You'll unlock new abilities and lightsaber combo sequences using skill points.
As you progress along, you unlock skill points which you spend on skills when meditating. Meditation acts as your checkpoint where you can rest which replenishes you but also respawns all the enemies you've killed and lets you unlock new skills from skill trees. Your bar will deplete entirely if you die but will be reacquired once you've stricken the enemy who killed you. Trademark Dark Souls. Saved by the fact that you won't lose your skill points when you die, just the bar.
Of course, this game is open-world, allowing you to explore each entirety of the map for the planets you explore on. You can find hidden boxes that unlock cosmetics for your character, droid, ship Mantis and customizable lightsaber. Basically a lot of leisuring unlockables that acts as good old fashion bonus content. You can also find Life and Force essence that will increase your max health and force meter as well as finding echoes using Cal's Psychometry to unlock certain indexes letting you read more into the lore provided with the game which also feels your skill bar. Including ones that increase your stim health kit.
The boss battles in this game ramp up as you go along but once you've unlocked your arsenal, you feel like full-fledged
Jedi Knight. Putting everything you've learned into the test and winning them makes you feel like you've earned it considering all the tough battles you've trudgen through. There are hidden bosses that you'll find, once defeated, lead you to areas rewarding great finds. However, some of the boss battles get way too intense at the last act of the game, it's as if they've consumed large amount of speed and have gone berserk absolutely. Thankfully, you have the option of choosing between 3 difficulties, first obvious one should be for those who aren't fans of Dark Soul games.
One other thing I should mention is BD, your droid. As you trek through each of the planets, you start unlocking new ways to open passage or boxes like repairing his Scomp Link, ziplining upwards and so on. BD-1 can even hack robots to assist you in combat provided you've beaten it hard enough to take advantage of. Of course, previous places you've explored which had areas locked away require you to backtrack when unlocking these features but again, there's always something rewarding about it that keeps you motivated to do so.
I loved almost every minute of playing this, though it needs to be said that the camera is a little wonky and platforming doesn't always work out the way it was designed to be. In fact, there's a bit of polish lacking in certain areas that demeans my experience so far. Nonetheless, the 20+ hours I've spent were definitely worth it.
The scope of this game is very massive as if they've spared no expense in making this one of the most lively Star Wars game to date. Breathtaking scenery, superb visuals, and great rendered effects among others. Stunning graphical quality is up there with exclusives from Sony. Of course, provided you have a beefy rig to run this game well enough. It's very demanding even on the installation drive. My suggestion would be to play it from the SSD as I've stumbled upon various stuttering issues when moving to the next levels. I've even seen visual oddities like artifacting and such, was almost certain my GPU was acting odd.
Sound in here has the makings of any high budget Star Wars flick. They're clear and poignant, as well as being intuitive for combat. Just to wrap this up short, it has everything you'd expect from a Star Wars game and more including the incredible voice acting provided for everyone as well as the main characters.
Also great original soundtrack as well as some renditions of John William's old music from the early trilogies.
Pros & Cons And Score
- Combat is exhilarating, challenging and tons of fun
- Intricate and well-designed puzzle solving
- Visually gorgeous and the ambiance is of top tier
- BD-1 is memorable as Droids come and go
- Each character distinguishes themselves pretty well
- Rewarding collection hunts
- Insanely created action set pieces
- Camera can be little fickle
- Performance issues
- Boss battles get way too crazy in the end