Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is finally here. After so long without a full-fledged, single-player Star Wars game how does this one stack up? Check out Kidzworld to see what we thought!
A Long Time Ago…
It has been far too long since we’ve had a true single-player Star Wars game. Over 10 years have passed since we have been placed into the shoes of a Jedi Knight, bounty hunter or white armor wearing trooper in a story-driven game. Star Wars Battlefront II had a single-player campaign, but it was short and far from the main focus of the game. Jedi: Fallen Order changes that. It takes inspirations from so many different types of games, from the wondrous exploration of The Legend of Zelda and Metroid Prime to the high-octane action of Uncharted. All wrapped up in a bow of Dark Souls-like combat that is easy to learn but hard to master. It is difficult to describe Fallen Order without comparing it to other games because the inspirations are so clear. Does it all come together well? Or does it break under the weight of so many different features?
A Galaxy in Turmoil
The story picks up a few years after the Clone Wars and the rise of the Galactic Empire. Emperor Palpatine has executed Order 66, and the Jedi Order has fallen. Cal Kestis (played by Cameron Monaghan) is a young former Padawan who managed to escape into hiding. He lives on Bracca, a planet wholly taken over by the Empire and spends his days in the Scrapper’s Guild working in shipyards, where he helps endlessly salvage spare parts from fallen ships and weapons from the Clone Wars. He isn’t totally alone, he has a friend in Prauf that keeps him company. However, things quickly get dicey and Cal is thrust into a galaxy of peril, curiosity, and wonder and must figure out who he is as well as the keys to his past that he has tried so hard to bury. Cere Junda, a former Jedi Knight that has been separated from the Force takes Cal under her wing, the sarcastic ship pilot Greez Dritus always has some fun banter with the crew, and the small and lovable droid BD-1 more than proves to be an essential ally for Cal. All the while, the shadowy Imperial Inquisitors tasked with hunting down the surviving Jedi are hot on their heels. The crew is well-rounded and provides constant inspiration and banter to Cal throughout his journey. I don’t intend to spoil any of the story in this review, because it is very well done and I wouldn’t want any of it to be ruined. If you’re simply looking for an entertaining Star Wars tale, you cannot go wrong here.
A Civilized Weapon
The lightsaber is the glue that holds Fallen Order’s combat together. Similar to games like Dark Souls and The Legend of Zelda, combat boils down to locking onto a specific target, strafing around to avoid hits, and striking when the time is right. The lightsaber feels powerful to use, and slicing an Imperial droid in half is satisfying every time. I don’t think I prefer this combat system to the likes of Jedi Outcast, but it is one that is going to feel familiar and easy to pick up for most players. But that is not to say that the game isn’t challenging, far from it. I was surprised just how much trouble the enemies gave me on the regular difficulty. It is tough, and its Dark Souls heritage shines through in the most heated battles. There are several difficulty modes to help you enjoy a challenge if you want it, or make the game easier if you just want to enjoy the story. And most welcome, you can see exactly how the difficulty affects the experience when choosing one, which is something more games should take notes from. When you fall, you lost all the experience points you have gained up until that point until you make your way back to the enemy that took you down and strike them. This can make things a bit frustrating if you are forced to backtrack across the level to get back to the spot you died so you can get your EXP back, but it also makes the eventual battle when you do all the more personal.
Healing takes the form of Stims, that BD-1 can give to Cal in the middle of a fight if he takes too much damage. You start with only two available, and they take a second to work so you can’t just heal all of the time without consequences. You get more while meditating, which can be done at specially marked areas covered in runes on the ground. Meditating allows you to level up your skills, refill your items, and heal up before going back out. The unlockable skills are divided up into three branches. Force upgrades your, you guessed it, Force powers. Lightsaber skills gives Cal more moves to play around with, and can be the difference between life and death. Survival gives you more health and upgrades Cal’s blocking. Be careful though, every time you meditate, all the enemies in the area respawn. This feature can be really useful if you want to practice your lightsaber skills or get EXP for the next upgrade you want, but it makes it harder to feel immersed in the world. The level feels like a static place, with all of the same enemies always in the same place. It only gets more obvious when you die over and over again and are forced to traverse the same areas several times, engaging in the same battles each run. Fallen Order undoubtedly feels like a video game, and it isn’t shy about that. The combat shines brightest when you are engaging a single, powerful foe especially if they are also using a lightsaber. Lightsaber duels in Fallen Order are some of the best in any Star Wars game and are when you most feel like a Jedi Knight.
Force Powers are the other major tool at your disposal in combat and exploration. Cal is an inexperienced Force user, so he only has access to a few but they are all useful in both combat and exploration. They are unlocked by reliving Cal’s memories of training with his master before Order 66. After the war, Cal pushed himself away from the Force and has to relearn everything his master taught him as he sets out across the stars. It is a unique way to handle upgrades in a game like this since he needs to be a Jedi right off the bat for the sake of the gameplay, but also so the player has new and interesting abilities to try out throughout the game. Having Cal’s connection to the Force be gradually restored throughout the story was a welcome way to explain the classic game mechanic of gaining new powers. The various abilities like push, pull, freeze, and wall-running go a long way to reminding you that you are playing a Star Wars game, and Force pushing enemies of ledges is always satisfying. Cal can block blaster bolts with his lightsaber, but only for a limited time. Jedi get tired too! This keeps the blocking from feeling overpowered, and rocket-launcher wielding Stormtroopers and many alien creatures ignore it completely. Deflecting a Stormtrooper’s blaster bolt back at them at just the right time never gets old either.
Exploring the Galaxy
The game manages to juggle many different types of experiences, from linear and action-packed setpieces to more open-ended areas filled with secrets to uncover, enemies to challenge and puzzles to solve. It never feels repetitive because of this, but in a way, it feels a bit at odds with itself. There are times when the pace of the game is hitting its stride and is hitting a breakneck pace of thrills, only to wind down and become much more thoughtful. There is nothing wrong with either of these modes, but there were times when I wished it picked one or the other. The several planets you explore are not open worlds, but they also are not completely linear either. Caverns and facilities link larger portions of the landscape that twist, bend and reconnect with itself, leading to a much greater sense of exploration as you delve into each nook and cranny in search of secrets. You can also return to and freely explore each planet at your own pace, so no need to worry if you miss any collectibles or aren’t strong enough to take on a particularly tough enemy. Some locations can only be reached once you unlock an upgrade or power, so there is always reason to return to places you have already been.
Fallen Order does a great job at rewarding curiosity at every turn, with each breadcrumb trail you follow almost always leading to some kind of cool reward or a small piece of the story. Cal can find relics left behind from other characters, and he can sense what happened when they lost the item. The little bits of interesting storytelling add onto an already intriguing story about the Force and the galaxy at large. The smaller, personal moments go a long way towards making things feel lived in. Even though the locales are packed with detail and are fun to explore, they never really strive to feel like real places. Jedi: Fallen Order might immerse you in the Star Wars galaxy through its story, but the environments and gameplay constantly remind you that you’re playing a game. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing by any means, but just something that stuck out to me the further I got into the story. I also really love how when traveling to a new planet, you see the ship take off, jump into hyperspace, and land on the new planet almost seamlessly. It makes the whole experience feel connected and tries to make the galaxy, in turn, feel much more like a real place even if it doesn’t always achieve this.
There is a bit of customization to dive into, with collectibles usually taking the form of different colored ponchos or outfits for Cal himself, or paint-jobs and color schemes for the crew’s ship the Stinger Mantis or Cal’s often adorable droid companion BD-1. The most substantial point of customization though goes to the lightsaber. You can find tons of options to customize your saber, nearly every part of the hilt can be swapped around and changed to your liking, and the color of the Kyber crystal Cal uses can also be changed. I appreciated that the game let me choose a green crystal right off the bat since Luke’s saber from Return of the Jedi is a personal favorite of mine. Even though you might not be able to see a lot of the details up close while exploring, it helps make the lightsaber feel like your own. Even though the game is not an RPG, the little touches here and there make it feel like your version of Cal Kestis belongs to you. Sometimes you can even choose dialogue options to respond to characters in different ways. There are only two options in these sections, but it helps immerse you in the world and lets you play as the Jedi you want to. But if a light side user isn’t your fancy, and you want to play as someone more sinister, this isn’t the game for you. Fallen Order is completely canon, so Cal will be a Jedi Knight no matter what.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order attempts to do a lot, and for the most part it succeeds. The drastic shifts in pace can feel a bit odd at times, but the sheer breadth of care and detail that was put into this game deserves praise. There are some pretty severe bugs and glitches that unfortunately wade their way into the experience though. There was one instance where I loaded into an area only to find a bunch of Stormtroopers and Wookies just standing still looking at each other when they were supposed to be engaged in a heated battle. The performance can be a bit rough at times, even on the PlayStation 4 Pro but hopefully future patches will help to fix that problem. Had it gotten just a little bit more time, it easily could’ve gotten another star but these issues are all too present throughout and do get in the way of the fun sometimes. While I like Cal’s dynamic with the crew of the Mantis, for a lot of the game I found Cal to be a fairly bland main character especially in comparison to so many of Star Wars’ great heroes. Cameron Monaghan does get some moments to shine, and his optimism makes him likable sometimes, but mostly he just felt like a character that would’ve been better suited as a customizable avatar for the player. The boss battles are some of the game’s brightest moments, taking down towering AT-ST walkers and dueling lightsaber wielding Inquisitors was a blast. In short, it is far from perfect. However, what it does accomplish is plenty of reason to give it a shot. You can tell it was a passion project for Respawn Entertainment, who’s previous games before this were all first-person shooters. Titanfall and Apex Legends put Respawn on the map, but Jedi: Fallen Order cements their status as one of the best developers out there. Letting the team stretch their creativity has led to a game that takes on many inspirations, and uses some of the best elements from the best third-person action games to create a Star Wars experience all its own.
Fun Combat and Force Powers
Diverse and Interesting Environments
Great Cast of Characters
Lots of Bugs
Pacing Bounces Back and Forth
Plain Main Character
Sometimes Repetitive and Frustrating Design
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Game Rating:
Available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC!
By: Noah Friscopp