Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order
Developed by: Respawn Entertainment
Published by: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
Set five years after the events of Revenge of the Sith and with the Galactic Empire at the height of its powers, Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order tells the tale of Cal Kestis – a padawan who narrowly escaped the Jedi purge and has been living in exile ever since. Reluctantly thrust into a quest to recover a valuable Jedi artefact, Kestis finds himself on the run from the deadly Inquisitors as he explores ancient temples across a variety of different planets with the help of former Jedi, Cere Junda and her faithful pilot, Greez. Set firmly within the new Disney canon, the storyline borrows elements introduced in the Clone Wars and Rebels, as well as the Darth Vader comic series.
Actor Cameron Monaghan supplies the motion capture and likeness for Cal Kestis, creating a likeable protagonist that shares the same earnest qualities as Luke Skywalker but tainted by the fear and trauma of living through Order 66. Kestis’ connection to the force is damaged, and much of the game involves relearning specific force abilities and skills to progress further through the various temples. This in-story explanation for the skills tree makes sense and becomes pivotal to Kestis’ character development as he must come to terms with his mentor’s death in a Force Vision. Cal Kestis is a wonderful addition to the Star Wars universe and I hope his story continues – either in a sequel game, or through other media.
With multiple planets to explore, each with its own distinct look and eco-system, the game is visually appealing and diverse. Each planet has a real atmosphere to it, whether it’s the grimy caverns of Dathomir or the rich, dense forests of Kashyyyk. The game makes use of the ‘metroid-vania’ format and each planet has areas that can be revisited once the character has acquired key skills in order to discover secrets. I love this exploration element of the game, and haven’t really seen it in previous Star Wars games. The in-game map helpfully provides a breakdown of areas left to explore and the number of secrets left to discover, making it fun to achieve 100% completion. There is plenty to discover beyond the core storytelling with lots of Force Echoes and customisation options to find after the game ends.
Joining Cal on his adventure is the cute droid BD-1, which follows in the footsteps of R2-D2 and BB-8 in becoming a treasured companion to the lead character. The relationship between Cal and BD-1 is symbiotic with the droid supplying navigational information in the form of the mini-map, as well as emergency health packs. Throughout the game I became very accustomed to having BD-1 travelling with me, especially as he enabled me to reach hidden areas through numerous upgrades, and I was surprised at the depth in the relationship between the two characters. In fact, the relationships between all of the characters (both friendly and antagonistic) was exceptionally well done.
I also enjoyed the optional conversations that you could have with the crew of the Mantis, shedding light on the backgrounds of Cere and Greez. The storyline to this game is extremely rich, and feels utterly authentic to the Star Wars experience. There are some neat ‘echoes’ of moments familiar to fans of the franchise with the identity reveal of the Second Sister feeling reminiscent of Vader’s “I am your Father” moment in The Empire Strikes Back. The emotional impact of the game is due to some brilliant script-writing and some fantastic voice-acting and motion capture from Cameron Monaghan, Debra Wilson, Elizabeth Grullon and Daniel Roebuck. The flashback sequences relating to Cere and Trilla were some of the best I’ve ever seen in a game, creating a heart-wrenching subplot of betrayal and redemption that feels utterly at home in the Star Wars universe.
Gameplay wise, Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order shares a lot of the same DNA as the Dark Souls series, although it is much more forgiving in its difficulty. The lightsaber combat involves a lot of parries and dodges, but feels more organic than previous attempts to replicate the experience. Sure, you can button mash your way through the smaller enemies – which consist of stormtroopers and native wildlife – but it is the boss battles where you will be most tested. As with Dark Souls, the game rewards progress through its levels through unlockable shortcuts – allowing players to avoid lengthy sequences upon a second (or third) visit to the same area. While players can alter their weapons and outfits, almost all of the changes are cosmetic only, meaning that players aren’t able to customise their own build in the same way you could in Dark Souls. The skills tree does introduce some new moves, extended health and force abilities, but the only real change to combat comes through the use of a single or double-bladed lightsaber.
Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order is a phenomenal game that takes the best bits from other franchises, such as Dark Souls and Tomb Raider, and wraps them up in a fantastic story that feels deeply rooted in Star Wars continuity. While there are some minor nit-picks (the slope sequences!), the game accurately recreates the feeling of being a Jedi without making the character overpowered (as often happens) and flawless. With an enthralling story spun out of an unresolved plot thread from the Clone Wars storyline, “Holocron Heist”, the game establishes a real sense of connectivity with the TV series and the wider Star Wars universe.
An incredible achievement in game design, Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order might beat out the Jedi Knight, Knights of the Old Republic and Force Unleashed titles to become the best single-player title based on the franchise yet.
Score – ★★★★★
Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC from Amazon.