Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is an action-adventure game from Respawn Entertainment and published by EA.
Let’s get this bit out of the way, Yes, Fallen Order is a single-player game, it doesn’t feature and Multiplayer or Micro-transactions and it does ‘prove’ that gamers desire single-player narrative-driven games. That’s about all I’ve got to say on that matter, this is a review of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and I won’t be using the game as a soapbox for the state if the video game industry.
When Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order came up for review I was super excited as I’m a huge Star Wars fan. To put that into context, if we ever start discussing Star Wars I’m going to ask what level of Star Wars fan you are. Now, this isn’t an elitist nerd question, it’s just me attempting to understand your level of exposure a galaxy far far away. What I’m basically asking is, How much Star Wards media to you consume? Are you movies only? TV? Novels? Games? Comics? While your answer isn’t particularly important it may affect your feelings about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Having finished the game I can honestly say that the game’s main achievement as far as I’m concerned is its story. There are moments in this game that elicited huge emotional responses from me and at one point tears.
Fallen Order is set approximately 5 years after Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith and the galaxy is feeling the effects of ‘The Purge’, the Jedi are gone, the Empire has risen and its imperial jackboot is being felt all over the galaxy. Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis is hiding out on the salvage planet Bracca. I shall attempt to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, with that in mind events unfold and Cal is forced to use his force powers, this is observed by an Imperial Probe Droid, from there, events unfold rather quickly. Inquisitors, Second Sister (First introduced in Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith issue 19) and Ninth sister (DV:DLoS issue 6, if you’ve not read Soule’s run on this book, I heavily recommend you do so, all 25 issues are fantastic and you get some great insights into Anakin’s mental transition to Darth Vader).
During an confrontation Second Sister Cal is rescued by Cere (Former Jedi Knight) and Greez the Latero pilot of his beloved ship the Stinger Mantis. From here you’re off to uncover the secrets of the Zeffo and ancient and long since forgotten race that Cere’s former Jedi Master Eno Cordova himself was obsessed with (for more about Eno check out the games prequel comic). During the course of the game, you’ll visit some key locations throughout the Star Wars universe, including Dathomir and you’ll spend time backtracking to these locations as Cal reestablishes his link to the force, unlocking new abilities allowing him to access locations on said planets that were inaccessible before.
This brings us to the gameplay of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, although I’m hesitant to call the gameplay it’s own. Remember when I said the games selling point was its story? Well, that’s because it’s gameplay is lifted from several highly successful franchises of recent years. If the game were called Star Wars: Uncharted Tomb Souls you’d immediately understand what you’re in for as far as the gameplay is concerned. The combat is a souls clone, the levels are so similar to Tomb Raider that I half expected to find a pair of pistols and a tank top hidden in a corner, and exploring said levels is as uncharted as it gets. Speaking of the combat the first few hours of the game are laborious, you’ve only one force ability and you swing your lightsaber with the effectiveness of a Stormtrooper firing squad. Just like in a souls game, your attacks do minimal amounts of damage to your foe’s health and of course, their attack animations don’t stop despite being hit with a Lightsaber. I can accept that your saber can’t be as effective as it should, as all fights would be over in a moment, but a scout trooper taking several hits to dispatch makes an elegant weapon for a more civilized age feel more like your swatting foes with a baguette. As you defeat the forces of darkness and oddly murder native species (many collectibles are in the lairs of natives beasties, something about entering a creatures home and kill it for personal gain feels decidedly more Sith than Jedi and never sat well with me while playing my way through the game) you’ll earn skill points that you can spend in the games skill tree. The skill tree functions as you’d expect, spend skill points to upgrade force abilities, lightsaber skills and health and force meters. You access the skill tree by resting at fires..wait no, ‘Meditation Points’, doing so also acts as a checkpoint and allows you to recover health and stims (health kits). You are able to lock onto your foes (indicated by a red dot on appearing on the foe) and it’s immensely helpful for being able to recognise enemies attack animations so you can parry or dodge away from danger. As you progress through the game you’ll reacquire force powers through flashbacks. These take the form of training sessions from Cal’s youth with his Jedi Master Jaro Tapal. I loved these, we don’t see enough Jedi and Apprentice moments in Star Wars as far as I’m concerned.
I’ll be entirely honest, so frustratingly dull did I find the first few hours of gameplay that if it wasn’t for this review I’d of stopped playing the game there, now that would have been my loss entirely. Again, I adored the narrative of this game and as more force powers are unlocked the combat becomes much more enjoyable. Respawn Entertainment managed to keep the combat engaging and challenging throughout the game, eventually, you’ll cross paths with the Purge Troopers. Specially trained troopers of the inquisition, equipped with special weapons and armour to help defeat what they see as the Jedi menace. I think the single most frustrating aspect of combat in Fallen Order is how boss fights are resolved. Bear in mind that combat in the game is challenging and boss fights become pulse-pounding duels of intense action, during which you whittle down their screen spanning health bars until victory is within your grasp…but just as that moment arrives, a cutscene starts, control is taken away from you and the bout is resolved in a cutscene. The first few times this happens it’s logically necessary for plot reasons, however, when the end games boss battle ends in the same fashion I was immensely annoyed. Dying will happen a lot in this game. especially on Jedi Master difficulty (the setting I had the game on), when you die you lose your current experience level (Although not any unspent skill points), to regain them you’ll have to damage the foe that stuck the fatal blow. You’ll know which enemy this is as they will now be highlighted in gold. Gold, a gold that covers their entire body, the body that normally glows red when a foe performs an attack which can’t be blocked. This becomes extremely frustrating, you finally battle your way back to the purge trooper who took you down only to walk into an attack you couldn’t tell was unblockable due to the gold shimmer. You’ll battle a variety of foes throughout the game ranging from troopers of every variety, to beasties of Dathomir all the way up to force using inquisitors themselves.
The maze-like tombs…I mean ruins and environments you explore are beautifully rendered and full of life, adorable little creatures, and some truly stunning looking fauna. They are also littered with things for your droid companion BD-1 ( who’s claimed the position of 4th favourite droid, the list is of course topped by HK-47) to scan, these unlock data entries that are interesting enough, but not enough for me to explore every nook and cranny. As well as unlocking data entries you can also unlock collectibles that in my opinion are pointless, for the most part, they are new skins for Cal, BD-1 and the Mantis, but i mean, who cares. To flog a dead Bantha the game’s story and characters are the reason to play this game, Cal is the best example of a Jedi that we’ve had in years. Or at the very least how I see true Jedi, I’d love to see many of the more of these characters, be it a sequel or have them pop up in other media.
To wrap up, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order doesn’t do anything new aside from giving us more Star Wars cannon to enjoy. Is this reason enough to buy it? For me, Yes, It’s Star Wars and I’ll always take more. Just don’t expect to see anything you’ve not seen before as far as every playable aspect of the game is concerned.
A PS4 Review code was provided by EA.