“The Force will be with you. Always.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi
It’s been a hard time for Star Wars fans that happen to like video games. Prior to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and obviously the rights to Star Wars, there were a litany of games in the works both single-player and multiplayer. These include Knights of the Old Republic III, Dark Squadron, or Battle of the Sith Lords. From the release of LucasArts’ Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II to DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront there was a large gap of games that would appeal to fans of the Star Wars franchise. All there was to play was BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. It may have seemed fine but it was an MMO, and while it can be said that the game can be as long as you want it to be it didn’t feel the same. When EA won the bid to have an exclusive development stranglehold on the license after paying what I assume was a princely sum, there were people who were excited, hopeful, and optimistic. This wouldn’t go well for those people who were excited and/or hopeful about the deal as the road from Star Wars: Battlefront to the now released Jedi Fallen Order would be bumpy and full of heartbreak and anger. From the cancellation of Star Wars: Ragtag to the controversial loot boxes in Battlefront: II getting into so much trouble that Disney CEO Bob Iger personally looked into things and the rights deal Electronic Arts had invested so much into had nearly ended after less than five years. All the while, Respawn Entertainment best known at the time for Titanfall 1 & 2 were working on a single-player game that would ultimately be revealed in an interview with Vince Zampella during the EA conference in 2018 in what can be described as both odd and hilarious. In the meantime Respawn put out Apex Legends and cemented themselves as one of the top-tier developers not just in EA’s pool of studios but in all of video games. So! After being in development since 2014 how is the first single-player Star Wars game since 2010? Read on and find out!
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is set in the time post-Revenge of the Sith and before the time of Rogue One. You start the game, as seen in the image above on the planet Bracca as Cal Kestis, a Jedi who is hiding out from the Empire and like all Star Wars tales will eventually find themselves thrust back into the battle against the Empire. In the opening minutes you feel like you are going to be in for an adventure tale akin to Uncharted. Things start off pretty explosive as within the first 10-15 minutes you are introduced to the Second Sister who is none other than an Imperial Inquisitor whose job is to hunt down and kill Jedi which means you are on the wanted list and that the minute you are exposed you have to run away. It is during your escape that the supporting characters are introduced. First is former Jedi Cere Junda, who has cut herself off from the force following Order 66. Then there’s Greez Dritus, a Latero who is the captain of The Mantis which is your method of travel in the game. The gist of the game is that you are looking to recover ancient data that could ignite a spark in the galaxy to balance things between the Jedi and the Sith.
The game introduces an ancient race to the Star Wars canon and that is the Zeffo. Force sensitives who in my general opinion, seem to have taken the place of the Rakata in Star Wars lore. Along with the new characters are Eno Cordova who was Cere’s master who in-game only appears through another character and that character is a droid named BD-1. While the name of this game is Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order it could also be titled “Star Wars: A Jedi and His Droid” as from the moment you meet BD it is a relationship comparable only to Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 across the original Star Wars trilogy of films. That reference aside, this is 99% a completely original story and cast of characters aside from a certain iconic Star Wars character at the end of the game. Unlike the Force Unleashed games where you had a feeling that the story was heavily dependant on established ideas and characters, Fallen Order is the complete antithesis of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed in just about every way. From story, to combat, to the vision of Stig Asmussen and the writers this may in fact be the greatest single-player Star Wars title I’ve ever played.
The game is a lot of different games thrown into a blender that happen to work out fantastically. The story feels grand in scope akin to an Uncharted game as I mentioned earlier, the combat is a take on the combat seen in Dark Souls, the gameplay is akin to a Metroidvania, and best of all: no loot boxes. The downside is nothing story or gameplay related but technical issues. There are bugs that can derail all the progress you have made and it can be very frustrating. There is also the problem with extreme texture pop-in for a large portion of the game. A particular double dose was on a certain planet when the ground bugged out and the texture’s for it decided to disappear as well.
When it comes to things being broken, you can tell that’s what Cal is at certain points in the story. He has a tragic moment during Order 66 when the Clone’s betrayed the Jedi. There is another character that is seen only in flashbacks and that is your master Jaro Tapal. He is seen most of the time when you learn new abilities, or relearn them in the case of Cal. The last time we had this much development in a Star Wars video game protagonist was the Exile in KotOR II. One of the common things said by Star Wars fans about Obi-Wan Kenobi in the time after Revenge of the Sith during his exile was that he had PTSD when it came to his point of view. With Obi-Wan it is speculation, but with Cal it is real. The sequence when you discover how Cal got to Bracca and the fate of Master Tapal results in Cal having what appears to be a mental breakdown.
Unlike previous solo Star Wars games such as Jedi Academy, The Force Unleashed or its sequel; there wasn’t much to say in terms of character realization. It’s different with Cal, maybe it’s the high I’m still on despite finishing the game days ago or hopeful of more adventures with this character and story. All that said let’s get to the review summary!
Despite technical glitches and a massive amount of texture pop-in, I love everything about this game. It can be as simple as cutting grass with a lightsaber, or complicated things I am not that good at such as parry-ing melee attacks by enemies. The game is also the best use of a certain mainline Star Wars character in a new story since Rogue One. If you wanted to live the life of a Jedi on the run through a video game rather than watch a movie this game is for you.