- Game: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
- Consoles: Xbox One, PS4 (reviewed), PC
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Developer: Respawn Entertainment
- (Review copy supplied by Electronic Arts.)
When it all clicks, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order transports you into its world, transforming every day you into a master of the Force. You’ll effortlessly wield a lightsaber, deflecting blaster shots back at poor Stormtroopers that were foolish get in your way. It’s an engrossing experience, one unmatched by any previous Star Wars game released. Yet, Jedi: Fallen Order doesn’t always stick the landing, as it boasts some frustrating platforming and story choices. But this wasn’t enough to sour my experience throughout the 20+ hour campaign.
You play as Cal Kestis, a Jedi padawan in hiding several years after the Empire executed Order 66. Living out his life as a scrapper, Cal is quickly discovered by the Empire’s Jedi-hunting Inquisitors after using his powers to save a co-worker. Rescued by a former Jedi and her crew, Cal sets off on a planet-hopping adventure in an attempt to rekindle his connection to the Force.
Fallen Order boasts a noticeably darker story that doesn’t shy away from the cruelty of an Empire-controlled universe. While some sparks of the Rebel Alliance exist, there’s always a persistent, looming dread that covers everywhere you visit. The Inquisitors are terrifying villains and the game does a terrific job establishing them as real threats. They’re extremely intimidating, especially since the game puts you up against them multiple times. One of the Inquisitors – the Second Sister – also receives some terrific character development that helps sell the game’s most emotional moments.
Unfortunately, Cal isn’t that compelling of a hero. Even though Cameron Monaghan delivers a terrific performance, his character’s story is simply overshadowed by Debra Wilson’s former Jedi, Cere. She is a far more complex character, who’s emotional past quickly consumes the game’s central plot. This makes Cal’s journey from scared padawan to competent Jedi deeply underwhelming. It lacks impact, especially since the game crescendos around Cere and not Cal.
But for all of Cal’s character faults, playing as him is perhaps the best representation of what it’s like to fight as a Jedi. The lightsaber is a powerful weapon and Fallen Order doesn’t compromise in displaying its power. Most basic Stormtroopers can be killed with one or two hits, allowing you to cut through ranks of soldiers within seconds.
Stronger enemies, such as the Jedi-hunting Purge Troopers, offer a more substantial challenge. Boasting a plethora of different weapons, these units are more than capable of deflecting, parrying, and dodging your strikes. This forces you to not only master the game’s melee combat system but the various Force powers you unlock throughout the campaign.
You’ll also come across a variety of creatures such as giant toad-like monsters, spiders, and other horrific lifeforms. Fighting them is not nearly as engaging, mainly thanks to the lack of any nuance around these enemies They typically just charge at you, wildly attacking without any rhyme or reason. There are some fun interactions when the wildlife and Stormtroopers meet, but these encounters are few and far between.
Bosses are also hit and miss, with many of them simply acting as introductions to common enemies you’ll face throughout the game. Yet, there are a handful of bosses scattered throughout that will truly test your lightsaber-wielding prowess. These are some of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’s best moments, as they test everything you’ve learned about the game’s mechanics and how to best exploit them. It’s this small handful of boss encounters that beautifully demonstrates this title’s potential.
Upgrades are obtained via experience which is earned by killing enemies, finding lore entries, or other collectibles. Once you have enough experience you’ll unlock a Skill Point which can be put into various abilities you’ll have access to as the game progresses. Taking inspiration from Dark Souls, Cal can only spend this experience at predetermined spots where he will meditate. This is also where he can refresh his stim packs which are used to recover health.
The catch is once you refresh all the enemies – except for bosses – will respawn, forcing you to fight through them again. If you die then you’ll lose the majority of your experience until you land a hit on the foe that killed you. It’s a less punishing system than any of the Souls games, while still adding a layer of challenge to the overall experience.
When you’re not cutting the local aliens into pieces, you’ll be exploring a handful of colorful, wonderfully diverse planets. Taking inspiration from games like Uncharted, you’ll often be presented with a number of platforming sections. It’s all quite simplistic, even when you obtain a few upgrades that make traversal easier. Yet for all of Cal’s Jedi training, he seems incapable of grabbing onto ledges even if you brush right up against them.
Helping you navigate this universe is Cal’s adorable droid companion BD-1. Not only does BD-1 obtain various upgrades throughout the campaign, but he can hack into enemy droids later on in the campaign. BD-1 also allows you to scan dead enemies and objects in the environment to obtain lore entries. Respawn Entertainment has done a superb job bringing this droid to life. Cal the droid has a great back and forth, even if you can’t really know what BD-1 is saying.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Takeaways
Despite its issues, Jedi: Fallen Order is one of the best single-player Star Wars games ever released. Respawn Entertainment’s understanding of the universe and what it means to be a Jedi. Lightsaber combat is engaging, especially once you begin to weave various Force powers into your arsenal. The cast all deliver solid performances, even if Fallen Order’s story seems unfocused at times. If you’ve been waiting for a game to make you truly feel like a Jedi – Fallen Order is for you.