Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the first single-player Star Wars game that we’ve gotten in years, but that also means that Star Wars fans are expecting a lot from it.
After playing through it from the beginning to the end and then some more, it’s clear that Falling Order was absolutely worth the wait and it’s easy to enjoy no matter how familiar you are Star Wars.
Taking place after the events of order 66, the empire’s purge of the Jedi, we play as Cal. A Jedi in hiding who for the first half of his life spent his day as a padawan training under his master, only to spend the second half of his life now hiding in the shadows of the empire.
It’s a world in chaos and despair as the universe falls under the iron fist of the Emperor. While I didn’t immediately fall in love with Cal’s character, his character arc did eventually win me over.
As I learned more about who he was before order 66 and how those details helped shape the character we play as now, the more I grew fond of him. However, the real stars of the campaign come from the variety of supporting characters that carry their weight throughout the story, making me truly care about them.
It’s a resistance story who’s pace flows smoothly dripping new lore and details throughout every mission, even pushing me to spend more time exploring the universe through its many sides’ objectives.
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order is a jack of all trades but a master of none. If you’re a veteran gamer over the last decade, you’ll recognize different bits from other popular franchises.
The action-platforming of Uncharted, the combat of Dark Souls and the exploration of Metroid. While it doesn’t master any one of these factors, it does recreate them exceptionally to feel like a solid remix between all three.
While you can take a linear approach to Fallen Order in the sense of going from the main objective to the main objective, it’s really a game that’s easy to get lost in all its other objectives.
Gameplay takes the approach of going from planet to planet as you take on the story missions. On these planets, the environments act like a dungeon of sorts, complete with main missions, side objectives and plenty of secrets to uncover. As much of a meme as it’s become to compare things to Dark Souls, Jedi Fallen Order’s combat truly mimics Dark Souls.
Like a Jedi master, this isn’t a hack in slash fight but one of thinking out your moves wisely. Like a fight between a sith and a Jedi, you’re not just blindly swinging, but choosing when to strike, dodge and parry.
It’s nothing new in terms of gameplay combat but it at least copies a system that’s pretty much nailed the genre. Applying it to Star Wars, it works fantastically. Enemies glow red when launching an unblockable attack and offer audible alerts when prepping an attack animation that you can parry.
You are a Jedi after all though so while you do have your lightsaber, you also have the force in combat.
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As a Jedi, that’s seemingly lost connection with the force while in hiding, Cal slowly recovers his Jedi training as he continues on his mission to become part of the resistance. Defeating enemies earns you XP that you can redeem at meditation spots to unlock new force powers.
These powers are listed on a skill tree that offers an easy to follow the path.
The meditation spots act as a checkpoint for the dungeons where you can heal yourself, use your skill points and save the game. These all come at the cost of respawning all the enemies in your area as well.
As I unlocked new powers and abilities, the combat continued to evolve while sticking to its basic souls like foundation. It’s fun and challenging, especially if you choose to go with one of the more difficult settings.
These can luckily be changed on the fly if you ever find yourself stuck on a fight. Exploration is constructed like a third-person Metroid Prime game with platforming right from Uncharted. It’s a beautiful mix that had me exploring the deepest parts of planets to solve puzzles, unlock new powers and backtracking like any other Metroidvania.
The mix of puzzle-solving and cinematic platforming meshed wonderfully.
Some of these puzzles are designed similarly to something out of a Breath of the Wild puzzle, only more challenging.
Part of the encouragement to keep on exploring even beyond the main objective was the unlockables customization options. Being able to create my own lightsaber, customize Cal’s outfits and even his adorable little droid and ship. There’s so much to customize here that I never really expected to care about as a casual Star Wars fan.
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Pretty early on though, I found myself wanting to spend time on my lightsaber and that only further got me to explore every corner that could be hiding another treasure chest. While I did love my time with Jedi Fallen Order, it wasn’t a flawless experience. Hitboxes for platforming could be vastly improved.
There were moments where I’d reach for a rope only to completely miss it.
Sliding down mud or ice feels uncontrollable and at points frustrating when the game asks you to swerve in certain directions but fights you when you do it. Checkpoints also felt unforgiving with them being so far apart.
This meant that if I die against an enemy or boss, I’d be sent to the last meditation spot, usually meaning I’d also have to backtrack a large section before fighting the enemy that killed me.
Luckily if you die while platforming it’s an instant respawn and hitting the enemy that killed you recovers your lost XP and health too. This list of complaints build up and help keep this game from truly being the masterpiece it could have been.
Playing through its 20ish hour campaign was a blast and I could easily spend more hours backtracking the dungeons. However, the lack of polish peeks its head constantly and while it didn’t keep me from loving this game, it did keep me from giving it a 10 this could have easily been.
Star Wars has never had trouble building its world both in terms of writing and its visuals. Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order captures the magic of Star Wars by perfectly recreating the universe visually. From the barren caves and ancient ruins to the empire’s ship interior, Jedi Fallen Order looks fantastic.
Character models perfectly encapsulate the actor’s expressions and performance. What really caught my eye was the environmental design on these planets. Some of these areas have little to no civilization around them but my gosh are they stunning. The way the sun’s rays peek into the smallest crevices or how my lightsaber illuminates the dark abyss I’m exploring.
The reflection of water as it reacts to me walking through it. It’s easy to get lost in it all. Performance-wise, Jedi Fallen Order is certainly a demanding game on console, showing that if you’re still on a base console, it might be time for an upgrade.
On console, Jedi Fallen Order runs at 720p on Xbox One and 900p on PS4. That’s bumped up to 1440p on PS4 Pro and native 4k on Xbox One X. The base consoles target 30 fps but can frequently drop down to the low to mid-20s during heavier combat sections.
On the higher end consoles, you can choose between playing at higher resolutions at 30 fps, or playing at 1080p with a 60 fps target. The 60 fps target is hardly ever met on either PS4 Pro or One X with them usually hovering around 45 to 50 frames per second instead.
The PC port certainly feels like the way to go with this one. With my GTX 1070 and i7 4790k, I was able to maintain a solid 1080p 60 throughout my playthrough on max settings.
If there’s anything Star Wars has always excelled at in video games is in its sound design. It was fantastic in the previous Battlefront games and it continues to amaze in Jedi Fallen Order. The attention to detail here is immaculate.
Walking through the many planets that encompass the Star Wars universe, Jedi Fallen Order knows when to use its music wisely. As I made my way through an environment for the first time, I was left to the sounds of nature.
My steps on the mud as I leaped from cliff to cliff and the screeches of furious aliens inhabiting the planet. As I made my way into combat, the hum of my lightsaber would sneak its way into the orchestra delivering the cherry on top of it all.
What’s surprising and frankly I’d never expected anyone to catch it, but the sounds of the lightsabers even change between the different colors. It’s that level of detail that best describes the love and effort put into this game’s sound design.
When the music does finally come in, it’s used in clever ways to guide you towards objectives and building up the anticipation of a fight against the empire or a deadly alien. While John Williams didn’t work on this game’s soundtrack, you can hear the inspiration of his original work throughout the Fallen Order. Equally as impressive is the voice work here.
Debra Wilson and Cameron Monaghan absolutely steal the show as Cal and Cere. Both being new to the Star Wars series didn’t take too long to win me over and get me invested enough to hope this isn’t the last I see of them.
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order isn’t a masterpiece and that’s a tragedy for me to say because boy do I love this game. It’s an easy contender for Game of the Year for me, remixing so many fantastic series into one package.
The platforming of Uncharted, the combat of Dark Souls, the exploration of Metroid Prime all within the lore and charm of Star Wars, it’s almost my perfect Star Wars game.
Technical issues and game design hiccups keep it from being that dream game, but playing as Cal, making him my own personification of a Jedi as I experienced his story, was easily one of my favorites adventures this year.