As Disney continues to push out as many “Star Wars” products as possible, it may be hard for fans to find content that reflects the original trilogy’s allure. With “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order,” Respawn Entertainment does exactly that, defying the odds and conjuring a perfect example of a successful single-player, narrative-driven “Star Wars” game in a desperate time for Electronic Arts.
The new and exceptional take on the events that took place between the fall of the Jedi Order and the rise of the rebellion is a welcoming addition to the “Star Wars” lore. The “Dark Souls” inspired combat and creative puzzles spread throughout the beautiful landscapes open the door to what exactly a “Star Wars” game can be.
The game follows Cal Kestis, a lone Jedi who escaped Order 66 and has struggled to make his way through the galaxy since. The player explores the first world and quickly meets their new crew members, Cere and Greez. Greez is a common space-faring captain who cracks rude jokes and reminds the crew that using his ship isn’t free. Cere is a former Jedi Master who takes the role of mentoring Cal through his journey of regaining his strength in the force. These characters are a joy to listen to while the player casually walks around their ship, but they lack a certain depth throughout most of the narrative.
As I was playing, I found a repetitive pattern within the story’s structure. After arriving back to my ship, Cere immediately made an emotional speech to Cal about her past struggles with the force. While this was enjoyable at first, I became tired of watching Cere repeat her identical sob story over and over. The growth in Cal and Cere’s relationship seemed forced instead of gradual. This one-dimensional style of characterization also plagues the other crew members.
Cal, on the other hand, is a well-developed character who holds the story together. His journey to become a Jedi Knight is filled with twists and turns, including a few classic “Star Wars” tropes that hardcore fans can appreciate. The battles he encounters against the Inquisitors —The Sith who hunt down any surviving Jedi — have a cinematic quality to them and prove to be the most difficult to beat.
“Fallen Order” is far more challenging than I anticipated, but it never took away from my experience with the game. It takes inspiration from games such as “Dark Souls” and “Sekiro,” but it offers a more forgiving respawn system. Each time the player dies, all enemies respawn and the player loses the current progress made to reach the next level.
However, the player won’t lose any unspent skill points they’ve acquired. The game offers a generous amount of respawn points for the player, and I rarely ran into a scenario where I couldn’t find one. This offers fans a challenging experience that never overwhelms the player in outrageously difficult back-to-back battles.
The most impressive feat accomplished by “Fallen Order” is the lightsaber combat. Each enemy has a specific combat style, and the player must strategize differently depending on who they face. When fighting larger monsters, I found myself dodging and rolling while waiting for the perfect moment to strike the beast’s uncontrolled attacks. However, my strategy completely changed when fighting an opponent with a lightsaber. In these battles, I focused more on parrying my enemy’s attacks and using the force to throw them off balance.
The variety of enemies and subtle changes I had to make in each fight made combat refreshing and rewarding. Additionally, “Fallen Order” uses skill points to increase the player's force and lightsaber capabilities. These start off with unlocking simple moves such as force push or a stronger basic attack. Eventually, these skills escalate to slowing down time and even using the force to pull my enemies into the tip of my lightsaber. By the end of my experience, I truly felt like a capable Jedi Knight that could strike down any enemy in my path.
Cal’s adventure to strengthen his ability in the force leads the player to various planets throughout the galaxy. These planets are gorgeous and filled to the brim with history and loot that Cal finds through the collection of echoes and chests. Echoes are force-sensitive locations Cal can use to see historical events that plagued the planet in its past. I found myself spending a majority of my time searching for these echoes in hopes of learning more about the universe.
The chests on these planets also provide the player with customizable options for Cal and his friends. These can vary from new ship decals to a new hilt for Cal’s lightsaber and even a secret weapon. Surprisingly, I barely managed to gather a little over half of all the collectible items available in the game during my 20-hour playthrough, but this is by no means a negative factor. I find myself eagerly awaiting to go back to explore every inch of these massive and vibrant planets.
Shifting through each puzzle and increasingly large map can seem like a daunting task at first. While some planets may appear to be large labyrinths, the in-game map makes exploring stress-free. The 3D map uses color-coding to show the player which areas are accessible to them at the current moment and which locations require them to progress further into the game to gain access to. This saved me countless hours of painfully trying to figure out how to traverse to my next objective.
“Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order” wasn’t exactly what I was expecting from Respawn Entertainment, but boy, did it surprise me. I enjoyed every hour I played, watching Cal grow into a well-versed Jedi Knight and facing off against the strongest forces the dark side has to offer. The narrative can be hit or miss at times, but the remarkable exploration and demanding combat left me unquestionably excited for my next playthrough. “Fallen Order” easily stands as the best video game entry into the “Star Wars” franchise in the past decade.
Contact Daniel Carter at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.