Lo and behold, we now have a proper single player Star Wars adventure game that has been released in the tail end of the 2010s. Published by EA no less. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the Star Wars adventure game people have been praying for. A game that ticks all the right boxes to infuse enough lore and Easter eggs in its story to please even the diehard Star Wars fan. But how does it function as a game? Does the mishmash of various elements borrowed from various genres of games translate well into this lightsabre combat focused action game? Well, the answer is yes and no. And it is not even the developers’ fault. This is the review of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
The game has you take the role of Cal Kestis during the aftermath of Order 66, which saw the Jedi order all but annihilated. Cal has been in the hiding, until a certain event has him being pursued by the empire. This sets in motion, a grand adventure that has you hopping planets in the hopes of reforming the Jedi order to bring the empire down for good. It’s the quintessential Star Wars tale that one would except from a production of this scale. Only tweaked to good measure to fit the videogame format. There are plenty of twists and turns throughout the fifteen or so hour journey and the game manages to keep the story from being too predictable or getting stale. Much of this is attributed to the characters that are part of Cal’s journey. Cal himself transforms from a run of the mill good guy figure to a character that you would care for as you progress through the game. But the supporting cast steal the show consistently during cutscenes. Even the game’s main antagonist is a surprisingly layered character.
While Cal isn’t disposing storm troopers and hunting for ancient runes, he spends most of the time with his crew mate Cere Junda who brings some unexpected depth in her character which helps move the story forward in meaningful ways. Fellow crew mate Greez Dritus brings some comic relief to the mostly sombre story. But it is BD-1 that steals the show for me. Perhaps, the cutest droid ever in the Star Wars universe, BD-1 is your trustee companion through the bulk of your playtime. He will help you slide and propel you through ziplines, throw in health stims when you need it, jump off your shoulder to highlight points of interest while you roam the various planets, just to name a few.
Much of the gameplay mechanics are given contextual significance like this which makes the story feel more authentic. For example, every time Cal acquires a new skill, the game flashes back to a younger Cal when he was being trained as a Jedi and was learning said skill. This not only serves as a quick tutorial but also adds merit to the idea that he is slowly becoming the Jedi that his master trained him to be. Speaking of being a Jedi let’s move on to….
Developers Respawn had just over two years to put this game together. Which was probably why the amicable choice of borrowing various elements from various popular games was made. Honestly, this is both a boon and a curse for the game. There is the traversal element from the Uncharted and Tomb Raider series, Parry heavy Lightsabre combat design and meditation/save points borrowed from the Souls series and Sekiro, brilliantly layered map design reminiscent of a Metroidvania game with sound effects and music that feel authentic and true to the Star Wars series. It is all there and put together in a way that everything works in harmony while being contextually relevant to the Star Wars lore. This is truly commendable. And when it all works as intended, the result is a blast to play through.
But, it does not ‘always’ work the way it should. The game is riddled with bugs and glitches that very often take you away from the experience. The blemishes are very visible. Combat may feel cumbersome at times, leaps and jumps from ledges go off target a lot of times, wall running leads to glitching in some areas. And of course, these inconsistencies carryover to the graphics department too. Textures loadout inconsistently, Cal sometimes hangs on from an invisible ledge in the air and various other graphical hiccups. Perhaps, the most blatant proof of all this is the stark contrast between how rich the game looks during the first couple of hours and how it looks once and after you travel to the first planet. The difference is night and day. The flashback segments in particular with younger Cal looks like they are from the PS3/X360 era.
I am sure that the developers intended the whole game to look as good as the initial hour. But had to give in to EA’s demand to meet quarterly targets. Which is what saddens me the most. This game could have been so much better with six months of additional development time.
All the glitches and bugs could have been fixed. The gameplay would have been snappier. And the game would have looked as good as the E3 demo EA showcased for the game, which is all it takes to be an amazing game rather than just a good game. But we now have Jedi: Fallen order, and it still is a solid experience if you excuse the little annoyances.
There was clearly more time needed to finish this game and considering what Respawn have managed to deliver with the time and resources they had, it is simply put impressive. The aesthetics and sound fit right into the Star Wars universe. Pretty much every aspect of the gameplay is tied into the story in meaningful ways. And the story is compelling enough to fit in to the ranks of the ones told in other forms of art. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen order may not be perfect. But it avoids being a Frankenstein’s monster thanks to the talented team behind it. What we have here is an adventure game that is well worth your time and money. A game that is easy recommendable to anyone who is interested in story driven action games. If you are one of them, Jedi: Fallen order is a must play.