Image courtesy of EA and Respawn Entertainment

Let’s start by all taking a collective sigh of relief. The worst case scenario did not come to pass. It’s a sad state of affairs when I have to treat every Star Wars game with that mind-set. This article will touch on the story in a broad sense, but I won’t be going in to any specific plot elements. So let’s dive right in.

Gameplay

So this seems like a logical place to start. Believe me when I tell you that one of the most important decisions you’ll make are the first ones presented to you. How bright is the game? And how difficult is the game? I’d be pretty generous with the brightness if I were you, unless you like stumbling around in the dark.

As for the second question, there is no right or wrong answer. The difficulty you choose will determine what kind of game you play. There’s pros and cons to all of them, and to find the right answer, you need to ask yourself what kind of Star Wars game you want to play? Do you want to live out the Jedi power-trip fantasy? Pick a lesser difficulty. Do you want Dark Souls in space? Pick a higher difficulty. Or do you want it somewhere in between?

Cal faces off with a Purge Trooper
Image courtesy of Respawn Entertainment/EA

That Dark Souls comparison isn’t going anywhere by the way, because this game could pretty much be called a spiritual successor to Souls. The bonfires are now meditation circles, estus is now stimpacks, and souls are now… well, experience points. Guess they kinda fell short on that last one. Nevertheless, all the tropes of Dark Souls are there. When you die, you have to hit the enemy that killed you to get your experience back. When you rest and restore stimpacks at a meditation circle, all the enemies in the area respawn. And you do get into that same rhythm of mastering the pathway back to a boss, only to get your head smashed in again.

The difference between Jedi: Fallen Order and Dark Souls though is of course the ability to pick your difficulty. On Jedi Knight, which I did my first play-through on, it’s like playing Dark Souls on easy mode. I saw a review that called it baby’s first souls game and that’s pretty apt. The simple fact that falling off a cliff isn’t instant death makes the game much easier. Instead, you merely lose 10% of your HP and respawn at the edge of the cliff. Now of course, with all of the platforming and wall running this game employs, instant death would be unacceptable. While we’re on that, maneuvering around the map is very fun and satisfying. It’s difficult when it needs to be, but always fair and fluid.

Cal wall-running to waiting Stormtroopers
Image courtesy of Respawn Entertainment/EA

Now of course the trade-off for playing a souls-like game on easy mode is the length of the game. While Dark Souls is by no means small, it’s not a massively long game either. It’s padded out by the constant death and lack of direction. Jedi: Fallen Order strips out one of those padding mechanics, and thus the game is much faster. I cleared my first play through in roughly 18 hours, and explored about 80% of the galaxy. I’ve been going back to finish getting all the secrets and chests, but I’ve become so powerful now that nothing can stand in my way.

If I amped the difficulty up, I would expect the game to take roughly 50-60 hours or as long as the first Dark Souls took me. That pretty much covers the main talking points of the game-play. The controls feel a little clunky until you unlock more of your force powers and then feel fluid and good. Getting used to the rhythm of dodging and parrying takes time, but is incredibly satisfying when you do it well. And being able to switch between the single and dual blade lightsaber is excellent.

Narrative

Again, I want to talk about the narrative without spoiling anything. Overall, they do a good job. The trick with not allowing players to customize their protagonist is that the one you give them has to be good. Cal is a good protagonist. He’s fun, he cracks jokes, has a good heart, but most importantly is not perfect. He does make mistakes. He does struggle with the balance between the light and the dark although not as much as I would have liked.

The story faces the same difficulty that any canon story set before episode 4 would. If the character does something too incredibly important, we’d have to wonder why the hell we haven’t heard about it in any of the movies from Rogue One to The Last Jedi. Even with that though, they manage to tell a complete story that was compelling and entertaining. I felt the range of emotions I would expect in a Star Wars story, from joy, to laughter, to sadness, and anger.

Your faithful droid companion BD-1
Image courtesy of Respawn Entertainment/EA

The characters on your ship are fun, and pretty typical of the Star Wars universe. They have good chemistry and the voice acting is pretty strong. Overall, the narrative accomplishes what a Star Wars narrative needs to.

Overall Thoughts

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a good Star Wars game. It’s the first time I can say that in a long time. It doesn’t have tons of replayability, save for trying to beat it on the harder difficulties. It’s a game I feel was meant to be Dark Souls in Space, but wanted to give players the option of being a god-like Jedi.

Overall, the game is good but too short if you play on lower difficulties. It feels good to play, feels good when you win, tells a fun story, and you just kinda wish there was more of it. If I didn’t know better, I’d say this was EA trying to make us ask them for DLC. But EA would never do that. Right? Right?!


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