Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Review- A Wild Ride with the Force

Posted November 21, 2019 by Thomas James Juretus in Video Games

Developer: Respawn Entertainment

Publisher: EA

Release date: November 15, 2019

Available on: PC, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One

Despite being one of the most popular franchises out there, Star Wars games have been hot or miss over the years. We would reached highs like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and then hit lows like Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. Fresh off their success with Apex Legends and the excellent campaign of Titanfall 2, developer Respawn Entertainment now takes their stab at this vernerable series with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. So, how did they fare?

In a word, spectacularly.

Filled with incredible action sequences and the same outstanding mix of platforming and combat that highlighted the campaign in Titanfall 2, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is one of the best Star Wars games ever, containing the strongest single player narrative since 2008’s Star Wars The Force Unleashed. The story, which takes place after the infamous Order 66 was given in Revenge of the Sith, follows a young Jedi named Cal Kestis (well voiced by Cameron Monaghan of the Showtime series Shameless) as he strives to maintain a hidden life on the planet of Bracca.

Needless to say, Cal doesn’t get to stay hidden long, as the Empire, led by the Inquisitor Second Sister, arrives looking for a fugitive Jedi. Cal makes his escape with the aid of former Jedi Cere Junda (excellently portrayed by Mad TV‘ s Debra Wilson) and Greez Dritus, captain of the Mantis. Cal is then taken to Bogano, where he meets the droid BD-1 and is set upon a quest pursuing the artifacts of an ancient race steeped in the ways of the Force. His journey ends up spanning five different worlds, including two familiar to fans- Kashyyyk, home of the Wookies, and Dathomir, home of the Nightsisters. Always needing to stay ahead of the Empire, Cal must race to find a relic that could help restore the Jedi Order.

The characters Cal comes across on his journey are for the most part nicely developed. Greez provides a lot of comic relief, and Cere has an interesting past that’s nicely revealed as the game goes on. BD-1 makes for the most adorable droid companion since BB-8, and he proves quite useful as you find upgrades for him. Even the main villain, the Inquisitor Second Sister, is fleshed out nicely, and is properly menacing as well as being a three dimensional character.

The planetary environments are nicely diverse, and each one you’ll have to revisit to get to areas you couldn’t the first time around because you lacked the necessary skills. The game doles out your abilities nicely and at the proper time you need them for progression. The environments will have you traversing ice caves, jungles infested with carnivorous plants and giant spiders, old ruins, and Empire established installations. No two planets are exactly alike, and each one will test your skill in both combat and platforming.

The platforming is very reminiscent to that Respawn used in the campaign for Titanfall 2. Wall running, jumping over gaps, walking along pipes and branches, and timely use of Force powers are all on display here, and they’re done fantastically. The game teaches you how to do each task through flashbacks as Cal was trained by his Jedi Master. Failing a sequence sets you back to the beginning of that sequence without penalty, allowing you to try again. Some lengthier sequences may test some players’ hands, as you’ll need to combine several skills to pass through an area. There’s nothing insurmountable here, and the game’s controls are solid and give you the tools you need to survive. There are some places that how to proceed is puzzling at first, but the solution is usually apparent. There are puzzles to be solved as well. Most of these aren’t too taxing, and BD-1 can provide a hint should you get stumped.

As your traversal skills are doled out in a timely manner, so too are your Force powers. You won’t get the same amount of powers Starkiller had in The Force Unleashed (no Force Lightning, for example), but you will be able to slow time and use the Force to push/pull enemies/objects to aid you in both combat and traversal. You increase your Force powers by spending skill points at Meditation Circles, the game’s equivalent to the bonfires in the Dark Souls games. Like the Souls games, resting at a Meditation Circle will respawn enemies, along with your Health Stims. In a move to make things a little more player friendly, you can choose just to spend skill points and leave a Meditation Circle. Your health won’t replenish and your stims won’t refill, but the enemies won’t return to force you to fight them all over again, especially if you just took out some tougher foes. Bosses do not respawn, but they’re also not plentiful. They are some optional bosses to track down outside of the main story (including four legendary beasts) for extra rewards, but they’re not needed to complete the campaign.

Combat is solely centered around your lightsaber. Your can customize your lightsaber (as well as the color of your poncho, BD-1’s skin, and the look of the Mantis) through parts found in crates scattered throughout the game. You can choose, among other things, the style and color of your hilt, emitter, and even the color of your blade (note that some customization items are only available through the deluxe edition of the game, as any type of DLC is not being offered at this time) to make your lightsaber your own. The choices are all cosmetic and don’t influence gameplay. Upgrades to your combat techniques are done through the skill tree at Meditation Circles, and it is possible to unlock everything during a single playthrough, though many may not do so until after the credits roll, where you return to prior to the last mission so you can engage in further exploration.

The game’s campaign is a nice length, taking around 20 hours or so to complete the game’s six chapters. There are four difficulty levels, so players of all abilities should be able to find one that suits them. There is no New Game +, but starting a new game won’t override your previous save, so you can start a new journey at a higher difficulty if you wish without losing what you accomplished in a previous playthrough. This allows you to return to a game to explore other areas with all of your abilities intact while also reliving the story from the beginning. There are plenty of secrets to be found by listening to Force echoes, and it’s often worth your while to venture off of the beaten path.

While Respawn does a lot right with Jedi: Fallen Order, the game is not without its flaws. There’s nothing here that’s game-breaking, and I experienced no crashes playing on the PS4. There are some bad camera angles, especially during close combat and when Cal gets backed up against a wall or other object. Load times can be a bit long, especially after dying and waiting to respawn. The game suffers other minor technical issues. I most noticeably saw minor clipping, where figures merged in with the environment. Other players have reported other issues, such as enemies floating above the ground or falling through environments. They don’t appear to be widespread, and are noticeable enough to be worth mentioning here. However, none of these issues really dampened my enthusiasm or my enjoyment while playing the game.

In all, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a spectacular achievement for developer Respawn. It takes a lot of ideas from other action-adventure titles- the traversal from the Uncharted and Tomb Raider games, the platforming from Respawn’s own Titanfall 2, the exploration of a Zelda game, and save points and combat reminiscent of the Dark Souls franchise. One might think that makes the game too derivative, but it doesn’t. Those influences mesh well together, and are coupled with a well written story, strong, developed characters, and an obvious love for Star Wars. This is a game that allows you to feel like a Jedi without being overpowered, and delivers a strong single player game unhampered by microtransactions or being shortchanged by putting in a multiplayer aspect. Jedi: Fallen Order delivers a quality Star Wars experience, as well as one of the best action adventure titles for 2019. Don’t miss this wild ride with the Force.

9/10 stars

About the Author

Thomas James Juretus