'Jedi Fallen Order' review: Finally, a Star Wars game that doesn't suck
Star Wars games have a notoriously tainted legacy, but Jedi Fallen Order has salvaged the franchise’s shaky reputation from the depths of the Sarlacc pit. Respawn Entertainment’s first pass at the iconic sci-fi universe takes inspiration from some of the best games in recent memory and steeps those concepts in Star Wars lore. It all comes together to form a familiar, authentic experience that makes Jedi Fallen Order a must-play for anyone who’s even mildly interested in a galaxy far, far away.
You play as Cal Kestis, a Jedi Padawan who survives Order 66, the mass extermination of the Jedi Order orchestrated by Emperor Palpatine at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Cal’s been hiding in plain sight as an engineer for the Galactic Empire ever since. When tragedy strikes, he’s forced to emerge from the shadows and brandish his lightsaber once again.
Jedi Fallen Order introduces you to Cal’s super-human agility early on, allowing you to effortlessly parkour your way through seemingly untraversable obstacles. The movement feels like a cross between Uncharted 4 and Spider-Man, which only gets better as the game progresses and Cal re-establishes his ties to the Force.
As the unassuming hero of Jedi Fallen Order, Cal never officially rose to the level of Jedi Knight. That forces him (and you) to learn things on the fly and sometimes in the heat of battle. This gives the game an RPG element that’s long been absent from single-player Star Wars games since the heyday of Knights of the Old Republic as you master new abilities and become the best Jedi possible.
These customization elements are taken even further with a diverse skill tree that lets you transform Cal into a lightsaber specialist, a Force sage, or something in between. You’ll also be able to pick up new threads, ship colors, and eventually choose from seven lightsaber colors: blue, green, purple, yellow cyan, magenta, indigo, and (for those who pre-ordered) orange.
The campaign revolves around five main planets, all of which encourage you to leave no stone unturned. Jedi Fallen Order’s maps are mostly linear, but peppered with hidden alleyways, perches, and Breath of the Wild-style puzzles that hold loot and secrets. It’s not an open-world, but you’ll still have plenty of options.
Cal travels to marshy ruins, frozen temples, and arid badlands that resemble something out of the recent Diablo 4 trailer. Each of these locations is rife with distinct inhabitants and wildlife, some of which come straight from Star Wars movies and spinoffs, while others are completely unique to Fallen Order.
Each destination offers new set of challenges and requires you to adjust your approach to combat. Depending on what difficultly you choose, combat can be quite unforgiving. Much like in the Bloodborne series, dying is no laughing matter. If defeated, Cal spawns at his last used “Meditation Circle.” The enemy that killed you will hold on to all of the unspent skill points you had when you perished.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to defeat them to gain it back. All you have to do is hit them once to reclaim your experience. If you’re really stuck somewhere, consider dashing in quickly, striking, and disengaging.
Cal’s companions make his adventures even more satsifying. BD-1, Cal’s ride-or-die droid who perches on his shoulder for much of the story, is second only to R2-D2 in terms of cuteness and charisma. Cal’s shipmates Cere Junda and Greez Dritus also help anchor the 30-hour story with their mysterious backstories and enjoyable banter.
This story-driven, action-packed adventure was only interrupted by occasional frame-drops and combat glitches. Overall, Respawn took winning formulas from acclaimed titles and repurposed them into a game that the Star Wars universe had long-deserved.
Jedi Fallen Order is a prime example that Star Wars is a living, breathing universe that doesn’t have to rely on Anakin, Luke, or Rey to succeed in the world of gaming. The beloved franchise has a whole cosmos of freaky monsters, dark sorcery, and unsung heroes just waiting to be explored through an interactive lens.
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is available now for PS4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows.