Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order makes you feel like a Jedi. Okay, maybe it’s not the closest approximation, but it did do wonders at getting me into the Star Wars spirit.
When Fallen Order was revealed, everyone thought it would be a middling clone of the Uncharted franchise wearing a coat of Wookie pelts. What they didn’t count on was Respawn delivering what is essentially Metroid Prime meets Sekiro, which is a combination that feels about as weird to type as I’m sure it does to read.
Fallen Order follows the adventures of Cal after the genocidal Order 66 is carried out against Jedi across the galaxy. Cal is a bit on the milquetoast side, but he develops as the game progresses and serves the role of a lonesome Jedi seeking purpose well enough. It’s his relationship with the excellent supporting cast that gives his story the consequence and emotional depth it deserves. The narrative of Fallen Order a strong suit, but it’s a little thin near the middle of the game. Regardless, there are some great reveals and your crew, Greeze and Cere, make for excellent traveling companions with motivations and backgrounds all their own.
As mentioned above, Fallen Order absolutely nails the feeling of Star Wars. The sights and sounds of each unique location, along with the hilarious banter of both the Stormtroopers and your warmhearted crew sell the universe better than half the films ever did, and that’s a feat commendable enough in its own right.
Combat, curiously, has all the parrying and stamina meters and “dodge this glowing red attack” quirks found in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Along with “bonfires” in the form of meditation points, the FromSoftware inspiration is interesting, if a bit sparse. The difficulty, for instance, is pretty standard for a big AAA release, and I can’t say the limited healing and parry mechanics really benefited the game’s combat all that much. In the end, whacking away on enemies with a lightsaber being less efficient than whittling down their stamina meter made me feel less like I was using a Jedi’s weapon of choice and more like I was wielding one of those plastic extendo-sabers from Walmart.
The combat isn’t bad, though, but there are certainly times when it works better than others. When fighting human enemies – parrying laser blasts and weaving between multiple foes – Cal can feel like a force of nature. But as soon as two giant spider enemies awkwardly pounced at me from two directions and I was left backpedaling for dear life, I felt more like a scared youngling.
Boss fights, on the other hand, were (mostly) a highlight for me. When fighting opponents that had a history with Cal or the crew, the emotional weight gave the combat some bite. Some mini-bosses were a bit of a pain, like the infamous frog boss on the first planet, but headliners were well-designed and the closest the game came to really emulating the Sekiro formula.
Each of the planets is given some background that lends them a sense of history, making exploring each that much more rewarding. Exploring is a surprisingly large chunk of the game’s content, and shortcuts can open into vast areas that push the limits of each world’s geometry. Wandering off the beaten path was addicting thanks to plentiful secrets ranging from optional mini-bosses to an array of cosmetics for Cal’s goofy poncho, BD-1, and your ship. Backtracking is also made much less painful by way of – you guessed it – Dark Souls-esque shortcuts.
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New force powers, obtained from sprawling dungeons full of puzzles and unique enemies, open up possibilities in both combat and exploration. It’s easy enough to find where to use them thanks to the maps color-coding, and the force push (and pull) fundamentally changed the way I would tackle certain foes. There’s a skill tree to be leveled up using experience, but it’s these powers that gave me the biggest sense of reward because each time I found one the game felt just a little bit bigger.
But there are some unfortunate technical gaffes that work against the game’s scope a bit. Random loading screens, sound bugs, and visual faux pas weren’t uncommon during my playthrough. These sat aside a general feeling of light roughness that pervaded the experience, from slightly wonky combat (like Cal getting cornered by large enemies) to some off-putting animations. As an example: every time Cal sheathes his lightsaber, he sticks his other arm out to the side so it looks like he’s trying to give someone a hug.
When Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order works, it really works. Giant setpieces involving impossibly precarious situations or explosive battles feel epic in scale, and the relationship between Cal and BD-1 resonates as well as any human-droid friendship ever could. It’s when the cracks start to show – be it some less-than-perfect combat sequences or the myriad technical issues – that the grandeur comes tumbling down. Unlike George Lucas’ original trilogy, this is one Star Wars property that could benefit from some post-release touch-ups.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 Pro version of the game. A copy was provided by EA.
The Star Wars spirit is strong with Fallen Order, and it came as close to making me feel the way I did when watching the Original Trilogy for the first time. However, unlike those movies, this one could use some post-release touch-ups.