Let’s start this off by saying there is no way at all that the following review will be objective or unbiased, understand?
Good, so now I can say Jedi: Fallen Order is my game of the year! I’ll also do my best to be as spoiler free as possible since there is plenty throughout the game for the Star Wars lore masters such as myself to get all excited over.
For anyone not in the know, Fallen Order is an action adventure game telling the story of new character and Jedi Padawan, Cal Kestis. Cal survived the Jedi Purge at the end of the Clone Wars, and has been hiding on a scrapyard planet in the 5 years since, hiding his abilities and who he is from an empire still looking to have him killed. Of course events transpire that mean he can’t keep hiding, and so he journeys the galaxy trying to complete his training and become a Jedi Knight. With a big ol’ ship called the Mantis and a motley crew including Captain Greez Dritus, and the mysterious Cere Junda, Cal has everything he needs to get out there and start slashing Stormtroopers and various beasties, all in the name of knowledge.
Where do I begin reviewing though? I guess the first thing that struck me about my latest adventure into the galaxy far far away was just how gorgeous the environments were. With a fair split between classic Star Wars planets and a couple of newbies thrown into the mix, there was a lot to examine and enjoy. My first experience of being absolutely blown away came during the very first mission, and the game’s tutorial, on the scrapyard world Bracca; during the earliest stages our hero Cal stands atop a wrecked Venator Star Destroyer and witnesses a Confederate Lucrehulk battleship being brought to the surface. Watching the hulking ship fall while Cal and his friend discuss the Clone Wars of the recent past filled me with such Star Wars joy, I wasn’t sure what would get me hype next! Though a highlight of the world building hit me during my trip to the Wookiee home world of Kashyyyk. A gigantic forest planet with an on-going rebellion by the time Cal gets there, meeting Partisan leader and famous asshole, Saw Gerrera, Cal uses his insane ability to climb basically anything to scale an AT-AT to aid the rebels in their struggle. What struck me about this moment wasn’t the actions themselves, but the fact that the aforementioned walker was using the Star Wars: Rebels design, so what was simply a stylistic choice for the series has now been made the canon early design for the iconic walkers! Not just the walkers, but during the game we’re introduced to a cavalcade of new characters, one of whom is a Lassat, just like Rebels character Zeb. It’s great to see so much canon being handled so well, and bringing together these different mediums, bridging gaps!
Anyway, enough of me frothing over lore. Time to talk mechanics. I’ve heard a lot of people describing this as a Star Wars Soulsborne game, but really, that’s not quite it. I think the best description I’ve come across yet was from Respawning’s very own Luke Stone. “It’s a bad soulsborne, it’s a GREAT Sekiro”, and that pretty much perfectly sums it all up. With the difficult enemies and focus on close combat, Meditation areas (almost like bonfires…), limited healing items and enemies respawning whenever you rest, its understandable why people jump to the Souls comparison. Really though, since the stamina bar is only used for blocks and with the combat focusing more on your ability to dodge and parry, this is just Sekiro with Lightsabers and force powers. Cal’s abilities advance as the game goes on with new lightsaber combos and stat upgrades coming from the skill tree, and some abilities coming from moments of the story. It’s incredibly fun learning what each enemy type is weak to and how to use that to your advantage, particularly when faced with a mixed group of foes and you have to cycle between each; the only way fights like this work is because – unlike most Jedi games – Fallen Order has mapped each power to a different button, taking out those horrible moments of cross pollination where you might accidentally force push an enemy you only wanted to slow! Though in my experience force push is easily the most versatile and useful ability; I mean, why fight 3 guys at once when you can just push them off a cliff immediately and be done with it?
Getting back to the story, like I said at the start I can’t really say all that much without spoiling massive sections of the game. Most of what I have to say comes from the acting talent involved; all the characters a played incredibly well, with a shout to Cameron Monaghan. Most people will recognise him as the “proto-joker” in Gotham, Jerome. While he plays a psychopathic villain well, here he takes the reins as pure-hearted but troubled hero, and absolutely nails it in my opinion. Cal is equal parts funny, caring and brave, and its hard not to fall in love with his near boundless optimism as the game goes on. This makes the decision to not stick moral choices throughout the game all the better. We’ve gotten used to most Star Wars storyline-focused games to let us either play hero or villain, but here we just follow the experiences of our leading man and see him evolve on the light path. It’s actually fairly refreshing!
Overall, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is an incredibly rich and fulfilling gaming experience, with a powerful cast, gorgeous visuals and a difficulty which – while challenging – isn’t so hard as to be off putting for a more casual player. Sure, I had a few moments of textures loading in slowly and a couple of technical bugs, but this could be attributed to playing the game on a standard PS4 and not a Pro! If you’re a fan of Star Wars at any level, then I can’t recommend this enough, and if you’re a fan of a gaming challenge then this should work for you too! It’s been quite a while since I’ve not been able to put the controller down, but my 12-hour binge on release day makes me think that this is one hell of an experience…
I must give Jedi: Fallen Order a: