Jedi Survivor Is the Best Star Wars Game Since Knights of the Old Republic

Inverse Score: 9/10

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I let out a deep sigh in disbelief at the flurry of moves I had just executed. Using Cal’s lightsaber and blaster to decimate dozens of Imperials had left the battlefield strewn with bodies and dismembered limbs.

You’ve never seen Cal Kestis quite like this.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a tremendously ambitious sequel that improves on its predecessor in every conceivable way, while also adding a host of new elements and mechanics. Enhanced combat and exploration could easily steal the show here. But the surprisingly poignant story also holds its own, with themes about moving on from grief and leaving the past behind. In short, Survivor is just about everything you could want from a sequel.

The Jedi’s Return

Cal is occasionally accompanied by either Merrin or a new jetpack-wearing ally named Bode Akuna, who can help in combat.


The events of Survivor pick up roughly five years after the end of Fallen Order, with the crew of the Stinger Mantis now separated and following their own paths. Jedi-on-the-run Cal Kestis has allied with the rebel leader Saw Gerrera, and during an operation on Coruscant things go south, forcing Cal to crash-land on the Outer Rim planet of Koboh, in search of his friend Greez.

This bombastic, action-focused opening feels fairly typical for Star Wars but sets the stage for something far more complex as Cal discovers Jedi ruins from the High Republic, another Jedi survivor from the era, and the possibility of finding a planet that could forever remain hidden from the Empire.

Survivor tells a complex narrative that’s far more involved than that of Fallen Order, and takes liberal time to let its characters breathe. This is especially true for Cal and Merrin, the Dathomirian Nightsister. It’s admittedly hard to talk about the ambitious themes of the narrative without spoiling some of its big turns, but essentially there’s a palpable theme of “moving on” from past trauma underpinning the action.

Jedi-centric plots in Star Wars have started to feel very homogenous lately, but Survivor takes a different approach by asking some big questions: Were the Jedi really right about certain things? Do those who remain still need to be bound by the Order’s past? This is easily the most complex Jedi tale since Knights of the Old Republic, and the last act of the game, in particular, is truly unforgettable Star Wars storytelling.

Ready Your Saber

Each of the five stances feels markedly different, and dismemberment makes combat feel more visceral than ever.


Over the last five years, Cal has become more competent and confident, and that’s directly represented in all aspects of Survivor’s gameplay. Developer Respawn wisely didn’t take away any of Cal’s abilities from the previous game, instead building upon them in meaningful and gratifying ways.

A lot of the “jankiness” of Fallen Order has been smoothed over, and the second you pick up the controller you can feel the difference. Cal controls nimbly and animations have been tightened up. Fighting retains some familiar Souls-like elements from its predecessor, but Survivor feels more like a dynamic action game by comparison.

Combat abilities primarily consist of five different lightsaber stances, three of which return from Fallen Order: single-blade, dual-wielding, and double-bladed. The real stars of the show, however, are the two new stances — blaster and a new set of lightsaber moves, featuring a Kylo Ren-inspired crossguard.

These stances are drastically different, and the blaster is my favorite new mechanic, making combat feel even more dynamic. It’s more of a hit-and-run style that lets you zip around the battlefield, while the crossguard is a heavy damage dealer with slow, deliberate swings that can quickly decimate an enemy’s block meter.

A High Republic Jedi named Dagan Gera brings a dynamic that plays off of Cal’s personality in some interesting ways.


As you progress, Cal will also gain access to more Force abilities. Confuse lets you turn enemies against each other, Lift sends enemies skyward for some aerial combos, and Slam can bring flying enemies crashing down. To bolster all of these abilities, you have a skill tree that’s basically the same as Fallen Order but bigger, letting you spend XP to unlock new moves or perks. The skill system really lets you fine-tune your combat style, leaning into the abilities and stances that you like best. It’s expansive, but also open to experimentation as you can refund everything you’ve spent at any time, meaning its malleability is really what works.

You’ll need all these nifty new options in combat, because Survivor pits you against a greater variety of enemies than Fallen Order, including the iconic Battle Droids, who bring some fantastic humor to the overall experience. These varied enemies all require different approaches, including Droideka with shields that block damage, hulking Imperial DT droids that can bowl you over with attacks, and shifty bounty hunters that have a bag of tricks. You’ll be spending a lot of time brawling, and needing to change your tactics on the fly keeps the action feeling fresh.

Strange New Worlds

Survivor’s environments are drastically bigger, and more interactive, than those found in Fallen Order.


The Metroidvania stylings of traversal return in Survivor, and many of Cal’s combat abilities are translated over here. There are essentially just two main planets to explore, but these planets are humongous in scope — Koboh itself is bigger than every planet in Fallen Order combined. Discovery is still a major focus in Survivor, but Respawn has done a better job of providing incentives this time around. There are dozens upon dozens of cosmetics to find, as well as Force Upgrades that can grant Cal bonuses like more health, and Force Tears that hold combat or platforming challenges.

Once you unlock more of Cal’s abilities, traversal goes from good to fantastic, seamlessly letting you run on walls, execute double jumps and air dashes, and grapple between floating balloons. Survivor easily has some of the most satisfying platforming I’ve experienced in years, and Respawn’s work on the Titanfall series has clearly had a positive influence here.

A major focus of Survivor’s story and exploration is Pyloon’s Saloon on Koboh, which functions as your base of operations throughout the story. The hole-in-the-wall saloon run by Greez holds a menagerie of NPCs, and you can recruit even more to help expand the base. This includes a musician and her DJ Droid, a wayward student studying the High Republic, and a strange little alien named Skoova Steve, who helps you hunt for fish to fill your tank.

Additional NPCs can be recruited to the saloon that unlock new rumors and dialogue, like this DJ Droid that lets you play some in-universe tunes.


As you make your way through the story, new conversations and options will unlock at the saloon. Talking to the NPCs can unlock Rumors, which function as the game’s sidequests, which often hold some interesting little story morsels on top of collectibles or bonuses. For example, one rumor sees you investigating an old mine where a group of prospectors vanished, only to find a fearsome Rancor is what did them in.

The more expansive environments of Survivor do come with a bit of a caveat, as my review experience had a fair amount of slowdown, mostly when I was in wide-open wilderness areas with a lot of vegetation and characters. I also encountered a few bugs, where an enemy would get locked behind a door or Cal would get stuck in a wall. These moments were few and far between and not experience-ruining, but still bear mention. It’s likely these issues will be addressed in the planned launch-day patch.

Cal has a much more robust set of customization options now, letting you give him a fresh cut and beard on top of clothing.


Outside of my framerate issues, Survivor is gorgeous and one of the first games since the release of the PS5 and Series X that truly feels next-gen. Environments are lavishly detailed and expansive, and cutscenes sport impressive character animations and details, with furrowed brows wet with sweat and armor smeared with dirt and grime. The fantastic sound design also enriches the Star Wars aesthetic. I can’t remember a time Lightsabers have sounded this vibrant — almost violent.

Even the best Star Wars stories can have a bit of a saggy middle, and Survivor is no exception. But once things pick up, it’s a non-stop thrill ride until the very end. This is an experience about both Cal and the player learning what it means to be a Jedi, and Respawn has crafted one of the most memorable Star Wars experiences of the last decade. If you’re a fan of a galaxy far, far away, you can’t miss this one.


Star Wars Jedi: Survivor launches on April 28 for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Inverse reviewed the PS5 version.

INVERSE VIDEO GAME REVIEW ETHOS: Every Inverse video game review answers two questions: Is this game worth your time? Are you getting what you pay for? We have no tolerance for endless fetch quests, clunky mechanics, or bugs that dilute the experience. We care deeply about a game’s design, world-building, character arcs, and storytelling come together. Inverse will never punch down, but we aren’t afraid to punch up. We love magic and science-fiction in equal measure, and as much as we love experiencing rich stories and worlds through games, we won’t ignore the real-world context in which those games are made.

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