It’s no secret that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order borrows liberally from other established game franchises. One might call that karma for all of the storytellers who have cribbed from the Holy Trilogy. I can’t think of a single project that “borrowed” heavily from Star Wars that managed to capture even a fraction of the magic, and that is the question here. Does Jedi: Fallen Order, with its original single-player story and all of it’s borrowed parts form a compelling and fun game? Keep reading to find out.
Controversy seems to follow Star Wars these days. The recent movies and games, including both of EA’s Battlefront’s entries, have been wildly divisive amongst the fan base. I’m not going to get into why I think that is, but when something gets as big and popular as Star Wars, the “vocal minority” isn’t so minor. And while they might not speak for the majority, they always speak the loudest. It’s this reason I’m actually shocked that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order from Respawn and EA has been as well-received as it has. Not everybody likes it, of course, including some here at Pure Playstation, but as most of us know, Kyle’s taste in entertainment is suspect at best (search your feelings, Kyle, you know it to be true). Plus there is the Electronic-Arts-are-the-devil crowd, who are going to hate it no matter what. But in all seriousness, the most surprising positive for me in Jedi: Fallen Order is the story. It’s not only really good, it feels important to the greater universe.
Set five years after Episode 3 Revenge of the Sith (which means 14 years before A New Hope), you play as young Cal Kestis. We soon learn that Cal was actually a Jedi Padawan when the infamous Order 66 came down. He and his buddy Prauf are living on the planet Bracca, where they work as scrappers salvaging ships from the Clone Wars. In a sequence I don’t want to spoil, Cal is forced to use his force powers, effectively blowing his cover. The event is recorded by an Imperial Probe Droid, and the Galactic Empire sends two Inquisitors, the Second Sister, and the Ninth Sister to hunt him down. Confronted with the extremely menacing Second Sister, the overmatched Cal is saved by former Jedi Knight Cere Juda and her alien pilot Greez Dritus.
Onboard Greez’s ship, the Stinger Mantis, Cal meets his new best friend, droid BD-1. This adorable little droid channels his inner R2D2 and shows Cal a hologram video from former Jedi Master Eno Cordova that suggests a Holocron containing a list of force-sensitive children may be hidden in a vault on the planet Zeffo. I don’t know about you, but I think maybe a list of force-sensitive kids would be nice to have in a world void of Jedi’s and run by the Galactic Empire. From here, you’ll be jumping from one planet to the next and back again. For the next 12 to 20 hours, you’ll be learning how to be a Jedi via repressed memories from Cal’s training. It’s a cool way for Cal to progress organically through the story. Jedi: A Fallen Order is a dark game full of serious issues with characters, both good and bad, who deal with them the best they can. Basically, Call suffers from PTSD and is full of trauma, just as about everyone else we meet in this game. Sympathetic bad guys and good guys full of flaws always make the best stories, and Fallen Order has this in spades.
The story is a highlight for me, but how is the gameplay? It’s a game and not a movie, after all. As I already mentioned, Jedi: Fallen Order borrows a few of its gameplay components from Uncharted and the Souls Universe. But then again, who doesn’t steal from the Souls Universe, these days. The combat is parry based with some dodging thrown in. It’s difficult, but not nearly as punishing as Dark Souls. The similarities don’t stop there, however: you’ll find each planet is riddled with meditation points where you can spend skill points on various skills in a branching skill tree. You can also replenish your health and refill your Stim packs (Potions), but doing so means all of the enemies you’ve defeated in the area will return. It adds a bit of strategy to an otherwise no-brainer decision. It also features the now-common mechanic where you lose all of your current progress towards your next skill point when you die. You can reclaim your lost progress if you can make it back to the spot you died and strike the opponent who killed you. You don’t have to kill them, but only connect with one good shot, which is yet another way that they have taken the Souls formula and made it all just a bit easier.
When you do spend your skill points, you can focus them on Lightsaber skills, Force skills or Defense skills. Increasing your Force skills and improving how much health you have are inarguably more useful, but upgrading your lightsaber skills does make combat a little more fun. There are a lot of skills to master here. Despite these fancy skills, the combat managed to challenge me throughout the entirety of the campaign. I never felt overpowered, even after I acquired the (!! spoiler alert !!) double-bladed lightsaber. Sorry about the spoiler, but if you haven’t seen any footage of Cal going full Darth Maul on a pack of Storm Troopers by now, then you haven’t been looking, and therefore, probably wouldn’t be reading this review. The double blades are undoubtedly cool to use and helpful when dealing with multiple enemies, but it doesn’t pack the same amount of damage per blow so keep that in mind when facing bosses. But when you absolutely, positively have to kill every mf’er in the room, accept no substitute to the double-bladed lightsaber.
The combat started to flow for me when I finally broke my habit of dodging most of the attacks. Parrying is the name of the game here. You can parry most anything accept when your enemy turns red. When it glows red, you know you have about to second to jump out of the way. But everything else, parry. You have to time it just right, but when you do, it leaves a huge opening for you to deal some serious damage. The higher the difficulty you chose, the more precise your timing must be, but at the default setting of Jedi Knight, it feels just right. You can crank it up to Jedi Master if you want to relive the frustration of Dark Souls, or you can raise it to Grand Master if you’re tired of self-flagellation and want to feel some real pain. On the other side of the coin, you can select Story Mode, which is a more relaxed stroll through the game. I kept it at the default setting, but I appreciated the option to switch it to Story Mode if I would have found a section that kept pissing me off, and I simply want to skip it. The story and the combat are great, but there is actually more exploration/platforming then there is combat in Jedi: Fallen Order, and unfortunately, I didn’t find it as fun. This is where the similarities to Uncharted come in. You’ll be wall-running, wall climbing, vine-swinging, and sliding down icy hills for hours. I enjoyed it initially, but this aspect of the game dominates the first few hours of playtime and the vine-swinging is especially frustrating. The wall running and climbing isn’t difficult and is kind of cool, but the vine-swinging seems very erratic. It’s possibly (probably?) just me here, but I didn’t like this gameplay mechanic at all. I died a lot due to missing a jump for the vines. It never seemed fluid or consistent, and I was always glad to get past those sections and forget about them. Despite this, exploring these big, beautiful, and dangerous planets was a joy. Like a Metroidvania game, large sections of each planet are inaccessible until you learn a certain skill. I enjoyed going back to a planet where I struggled initially, only to bitchslap some of the enemies with my new powers. I know that’s petty and unbecoming a Jedi, but it turns out that there is much anger in me. Exploring could have been better if the combat-to-platforming ration would have been at least even, but it was still rewarding. Collecting the collectibles, on the other hand, wasn’t very rewarding at all. I don’t care for cosmetics and that is mostly all you’ll be collecting here. I know some folks love to dress their characters up in different clothes, but that has never interested me. Especially my lightsaber. You can’t even see the damn thing! Why would I care about changing the color or texture of a handle I literally can not see? You will also find much back-story scattered about, which I appreciated, but finding a hidden chest in Jedi: Fallen Order was the most anticlimactic treasure reveal in video game history. Despite all of this, the gameplay, combat, story, breathtaking graphics, and the always amazing John Williams score, make this an experience worth taking for any and all Star Wars fans.
It really did look brilliant, but it seemed to be redlining my OG PlayStation throughout most of the game. It never crashed, but it did slow a few times and didn’t always load the entire screen in a timely manner. It didn’t seem to affect the combat, but this and other glitches happened a lot. Despite this, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is beautiful to look at, and the sound effects, music, and voice acting are all top-notch. In a time where single-player games can sometimes feel like a Jedi after Order 66, Respawn has created a fantastic story inside the Star Wars Universe just when we needed it most.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order PS4 Review
Overall - Must Buy - 9/10
The rise of the single-player Star Wars game has arrived in the form of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and I couldn’t be happier or more surprised. I mean, c’mon, EA via Respawn did this? It’s fun to be a Jedi again, and the story of Cal Kestis is a worthy one, full of complex characters, and dark subject matter. I didn’t think the platforming was as fun as the combat or as good as the story, but it’s an experience every Star Wars fan should enjoy.
- Great Star Wars story
- Challenging but fun combat
- Looks and sounds beautiful
- Planets loaded with secret shortcuts and collectibles
- Some of the platforming aspects felt inconsistent
- The game was a bit glitchy and suffered occasional slowdowns.
- Most collectibles were cosmetic making them inconsequential
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.