Reviews

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Review

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order delivers one of the best Star Wars video game experiences, and I will go so far as to say that it was far better than Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Respawn was able to provide a good balance – there will be many-a-Star Wars pun here – between the multitude of elements that they have opted to incorporate in EA’s latest Star Wars outing, and despite some stumbling points along the way, it is a masterful showcase; though, this might not be for everyone.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order is set after the events of Order 66; the Jedi Order has been destroyed, the Empire is at its strongest, and the remaining Jedi and Force-sensitives are being hunted down by the Inquisitors. Here we follow the journey of Cal Kestis, a Jedi padawan who has been in hiding, and must now face his destiny. While the story of Cal is not extremely complex or convoluted, it is still deeply personal, and in typical Star Wars fashion, he suffers tragedy from the opening of the title.

Early on, we are met with the game’s central antagonist, an Inquisitor known as the Second Sister; a brutal and unempathetic Empirical warrior, and one of the strongest members of the elite team. She, along with her fellow Inquisitors, have a singular objective: eliminate all remaining Jedi and Force-sensitives who were not killed during Order 66. The first impressions of the Second Sister paint a one-sided image of a fairly generic Star Wars antagonist which makes it difficult to feel anything towards her, focusing rather on our protagonist, Cal.

Cal is a rather quiet character to start, mainly down to him keeping his head down to avoid being noticed. Exploring Cal’s history, we learn of how he has lost his connection with the Force after the events of Order 66, as well as his Master. Seemingly isolated incidents are interestingly intertwined to weave a relatable narrative, as we form a connection with Cameron Monaghan’s portrayal of the Jedi padawan. Other characters we meet along the way are given personalities in their own right, and while their stories are not explored as in-depth as a select few, the glimpses we do see offer enough to make them 3-Dimensional.

Though, this isn’t just the story of Cal, but rather an introspection into what so many had to endure as a result of Palpatine’s act. We also dive into the past of one of your crewmates, Cere, whose story is what we could expect from a Star Wars epic, but thanks to the more poignant focus, it becomes a heart-breaking experience. In fact, most of the personalities you come across are written in such a way that the lines between light and dark are blurred.

All of this is brought to light by the excellent writing on the part of Respawn – the same developer that made me fall in love with a mech – which trickles all the way down from the over-arching storyline to the dialogue heard throughout the various worlds. Exceptionally included are the countless easter eggs heard, especially among the Stormtroopers that make you chuckle in between – even during – intense encounters. The Empire’s legion is often heard trash-talking you at the start of a fight, only to, and I quote, say “Oops, no, I am not ready, I regret taking him on”. Initially, this might seem to take away from the seriousness of the combat but as you progress, you realise that these are more than just quick querps, but add more life to otherwise random enemies. At the heart of it though, it also shows how the developers had fun on this project, which is translated into every aspect of the game.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order swaps mindless lightsaber swings for thoughtful and planned combat…

Despite the rebuttals of Respawn regarding the combat mechanics, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is reminiscent of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. However, it is spectacularly well implemented, making each combat encounter challenging but fun. You will need to learn to dodge, parry, and combine your Force powers, along with your lightsaber, to take various enemies down. The combat will be the most divisive aspect of this game, and the simple truth is that it will not be for everyone. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order swaps mindless lightsaber swings for thoughtful and planned combat, requiring you to formulate a plan before tackling enemies.

Bosses are brutal in punishing you for careless combat, requiring you to learn randomised attack persons, knowing when to attack and when to defend, as well as recognizing offensive opportunities rather than hack-and-slash. A theme that pops up throughout Fallen Order is that failing is a necessary part of any journey and that “persistence will reveal the path”, which is a fantastic summary of the gameplay loop. No matter how many times I failed, I was transfixed in finally conquering the obstacle before me, leaving each battle with a sense of pride and victory. The use of the From Software gameplay style also enhances lightsaber duels, turning them into dramatic, colourful, fluid, and satisfying action sequences that are breathtakingly intense.

No matter how many times I failed, I was transfixed in finally conquering the obstacle before me…

The other half of the gameplay revolves around platforming, and the inspiration from titles such as Uncharted and Tomb Raider are clear as day, and just as well-executed, resulting in beautiful set action-pieces that truly push the limits of the Unreal 4 Engine. Each location you visit is so vast, I often got lost in them, exploring the varied levels filled with puzzles to solve and progress. There are few occasions where it can be overwhelming but Respawn’s ability to combine such intricate exploration in a fairly linear and self-contained experience, is a testament to their expertise in story-driven games.

As with any Jedi Knight, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is not without faults. The controls can be clunky at times, which can be frustrating during some platform sections, as well as fast-paced action or combat confrontations. While I appreciate any opportunity to send my lightsaber through the flesh of my foes, some fights felt unnecessary, and while they weren’t forced, they just didn’t add any real benefit. Though, this only extends to some slightly tougher NPCs that you stumble across, rather than any of the mini-bosses. Some further optimisation is needed for Fallen Order, as there were a number of performance issues throughout our 25-hour playthrough, such as texture popping, collision issues, as well as the odd frame rate dip. In saying this, we were fortunate enough not to suffer from any game-breaking bugs or technical issues, which is – sadly – something to be exited in modern-day releases.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order delivers a magnificent Star Wars experience that lives up to so many expectations, and then some. The marvelous blend and execution of platforming, challenging combat, and developed characters woven into a singular adventure is simply mesmerizing, unfortunately, marred by some slight hiccups. However, this is a step in the right direction for Star Wars video games, and EA as a whole, as when you give a passionate developer the freedom to explore, they create something truly extraordinary.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
9/10

Summary

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order delivers a magnificent Star Wars experience with fantastic platforming, satisfying combat, and a truly extraordinary adventure.

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