Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is Pretty Great, Even as Someone Who Knows Nothing About the Franchise
I have a somewhat strange relationship with the Star Wars franchise. When I was a kid, I was really into it. I watched the six mainline films regularly and was obsessed with the LEGO games on PlayStation 2. But at some point, my interest in the IP became nonexistent, and I’m not sure why, though I suppose that sort of thing happens with everyone at some point, with any media.
As a result, I’ve genuinely forgotten everything about Star Wars except for Darth Vader’s identity, which I assume everyone knows nowadays. I never bothered to get into the series’ resurgence following Disney’s acquisition of it, so in a sense, my knowledge of everything is a relatively clean slate. But a couple of months ago, I decided to pick up the Respawn-developed Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, primarily out of curiosity and because it was on sale for only a few bucks. It’s discounted so cheaply and so frequently, honestly.
Then, after beating the game a few weeks ago, reflecting on it, and working through the Platinum Trophy, I’ve grown increasingly excited for the upcoming sequel, and my interest in Star Wars as a whole is the highest it’s ever been since my younger years.
Admittedly, before beginning the title, I was nervous since Fallen Order is labeled as a Soulslike, and I have a mixed experience with the genre. As bizarre as this sounds, I only enjoy Soulslikes not developed by FromSoftware. In fact, that team’s projects are some of my worst experiences in the medium, primarily due to their movement, narrative implementation, music, and countless other factors.
Still, even though that developer was not involved with Fallen Order, my tendency of not enjoying what practically everyone considers the genre’s cream of the crop has often made me perplexed and uncertain about which Soulslike I would like or should try.
At the end of the day, though, Fallen Order barely feels like a Soulslike. Instead, it moreso embodies an action-adventure with metroidvania elements. The only Soulslike facet that comes to mind is losing your accumulated experience to an enemy if they kill you, with you then able to recover it all if you defeat them. It’s hardly a Soulslike, if at all.
So, if you were hesitant about playing this game because you’re averse to that genre, I highly recommend giving it a shot. There are also multiple difficulty modes, and while I can’t vouch for how much easier the entire game is on those beginner levels, you’ll likely be able to progress regardless of your skill. If you’re experienced with action games, I advise playing on Jedi Grand Master, the hardest difficulty, since nailing parries in contexts where you die in only a few hits at most is immensely satisfying.
There was only one specific instance that frustrated me, and it’s an identical issue I have with FromSoftware titles, where backtracking to a boss from a distant checkpoint negates all tension and innate connectivity with the battle. During a boss fight near the end of the game, on the planet of Dathomir, dying sends you back to a checkpoint that’s only slightly distant.
Yet, you have to traverse a room of a couple of enemies and very, very slowly slide through a barely sizeable gap in the wall that all just feels needless. I truly have no idea why you couldn’t just spawn back in front of the boss himself, yet that’s thankfully the only time I experienced this annoyance. The fact that this is one of the few gripes I had emphasizes how I have to reach the bottom of the barrel here.
The combat is simplistic yet effective, with the primary avenue of player individuality arising via the Skill Tree. This may sound strange, but in an era where Triple-A releases are obsessed with extensive customization regarding incredibly minor elements, having it generalized and toned down here was a welcome change of pace. Further, the metroidvania aspects, which I did not even remotely expect, made exploration immensely satisfying.
Every location in Fallen Order is so intricately crafted with countless secrets to uncover that when I was looking up collectible guides, there were so many off-beaten paths I had no idea even existed. And these areas often required upgrades from future locales, so dedicated completionists like me had plenty to comb through. The movement also deserves praise, as it’s decently swift and relievingly smooth. The boss design is terrific, too, if overly simple, with excessively extended telegraphs at points.
The only major issues I faced were the map and the lack of fast travel. Sadly, the map’s presentation can be frustrating, with several collectibles not labeled at all. As for the latter point, it’s chiefly a problem when scavenging for items and such since you may find yourself walking across the entirety of a planet. The minor shortcuts you unlock do help matters, albeit only slightly. Thankfully, Survivor is confirmed to implement fast travel, and I’m indescribably relieved by that.
The story is probably what caught me off guard the most because since I’m wholly ignorant of just about everything in this franchise, I was expecting to be lost plot-wise. However, the events depicted here are contained, detailing a rather personal narrative of self-acceptance that you don’t need outside knowledge to understand or appreciate.
Of course, there are a few lines and references that I didn’t get, but the core narrative here can be enjoyed all on its own, regardless of your history with the series. While I wouldn’t consider the protagonist Cal Kestis or his crew particularly masterful in how they’re handled, their writing approaches are all more than great, with genuinely well-established and growing relationships.
This piece ended up being more of a mini-review than anything, which I didn’t initially intend, though I think I got my points across well enough. If you’re like me in not knowing anything about Star Wars, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is still a fun time. Whether you’re looking to dip your toes into the Star Wars franchise or simply a well-designed action adventure, you really can’t go wrong with this one. After providing coverage for the incoming direct sequel, Jedi: Survivor, I’m thrilled to see how many of these strengths evolve further.
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