With The Rise Of Skywalker barely a month away, and Disney’s The Mandalorian currently being the buzz of their new streaming platform, it’s not like the Star Wars franchise needed any help when it comes to getting the base hyped up – and yet here we are, with a solidly good Star Wars action title to wrap up 2019. Featuring inviting and beautiful worlds to explore, a well-paced and compelling narrative complemented by terrific voice acting, and gameplay/combat that takes familiar elements and works in The Force, Jedi: Fallen Order is a great entry in the library of Star Wars games…which has definitely been the exception as opposed to the rule in recent years.
Jedi: Fallen Order takes place between episodes III and IV of the trilogy, shortly after the infamous “Order 66” saw the mass assassination of Jedi knights, disbanding a powerful and respected organization that had thrived for centuries. As Star Wars fans know, there were some Jedi that survived the massacre, including Obi-Wan Kenobi, who would later instruct an upstart known as Luke Skywalker…but for now, our story focuses on a young man named Cal Kestis.
Introduced as a simple scrapper, it doesn’t take long for us to realize that Cal is actually hiding a dangerous secret – he’s a Jedi. After losing his master, Jaro Tapal (voiced by the talented Travis Willingham) to Order 66, Cal ran away and has done his best to stay under the radar. The plan is largely successful, until a powerful sect of Jedi hunters known as Inquisitors come calling. Saved at the last minute by unknown forces, Cal is entrusted with a daunting task: rebuild the Jedi order.
With a broad film library, a number of animated series, a wide host of novels and, of course, previous video games filling out the broader Star Wars universe, it can be daunting to line up everything just so in order to understand the larger narrative. With that being said, Jedi: Fallen Order does a good job bringing you into a meaningful and personal narrative from the get-go. The success of this narrative relies on its identity as a linear, plot driven, single player game…a far departure from EA’s previous entry.
After the disastrous Battlefront II debacle in late 2017, EA was said to have done some irreparable damage to their relationship with the broader fanbase. It was so bad, even when Fallen Order was announced to be in development under the watchful eye of Respawn entertainment – a developer beloved by gamers for their terrific work on the often overlooked Titanfall series – there was still a healthy amount of cynicism and doubt. Gamers were hesitant to pre-order, not trusting of EA’s role in the marketing and, ultimately, the release of Jedi: Fallen Order.
Now that the game has arrived, however, it seems that Respawn has once again showcased their ability to build a meaningful single-player campaign, which was their claim-to-fame from both of the Titanfall entries, but especially with Titanfall 2.
As you navigate Cal through his journey to become an even more powerful Jedi, you are treated to more than a few ”easter eggs” that help bind this story to the broader Star Wars universe. Newcomers will appreciate the more familiar links, while longtime fans will gleefully welcome the cameos. There are some particularly striking revelations around Ilum, the planet that hosts the unique crystals needed for lightsabers…ah! I’ll let you see for yourself…
The voices that bring the various characters to life also play a large part in constructing a compelling and inviting narrative. Cameron Monaghan of Shameless and Gotham fame lends his voice to our protagonist, while longtime video game voice actress Debra Wilson plays Cere Junda – a former Jedi who has cut herself off from the Force for unknown reasons. Among the expansive cast list are a handful of Critical Role cast members as well, including Travis Willingham, Sam Riegel, and the one and only Matthew Mercer.
With a playtime between 17-25 hours depending on your level of completion, it’s a welcome addition to the libraries of “Very Busy Adults With Many Adult-Like Things To Do”. Being able to sit down for even an hour a day could see you navigating through the story within 2-3 weeks as opposed to getting sucked into a 80+ hour saga. (I’m looking at you, Dragon Quest XI)
With an accessible, well-structured and well-acted story, Jedi: Fallen Order is a fantastic addition to the lore of Star Wars.
Alright then, let’s get down to brass tacks – how does this game play?
To start, let’s discuss the difficulty.
If you want, this game can be a relaxing waltz through a vibrant and lush extension of the Star Wars universe, where your commanding power of The Force makes you an unstoppable killing machine.
Or, it can chew you up and spit out your broken remains like being on the wrong end of an Exogorth.
The game features 4 difficulty levels to start, and for those who are motivated by Souls-inspired difficulty, including the most recent journey into controller-breaking frustration known as Sekiro, Jedi Master is probably the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a more God of War style narrative journey, Jedi Knight would probably suit you quite well. Story mode is also available if this proves to be too challenging.
Masochists are welcome to dive into Grand Master.
As for the combat itself, there’s not too much that distinguishes it from most modern action titles. Cal has the option to guard, dodge and roll…as well as a handful of standard attacks and combos that you can use. Complementing these combat abilities is his slowly developing mastery of The Force. You start with the ability to slow enemies and obstacles, and over time can graduate to telekinetically flinging your enemies around like rag dolls.
Like with most action titles, enemies are introduced in waves, and come with a handful of differing challenges and combos of their own. Learning their attack patterns and how best to counter them is key to victory. Complicating this, however, is the fact that the controls aren’t quite as sharp as similar titles like Sekiro and Bloodborne. You may see a Stormtrooper coming in for a baton swing and go to parry the attack with a well-timed block, but the response has enough of a delay that it can take quite some time to overcome the input lag. While you may be used to the satisfaction of that “perfect guard”, it’s a bit hinky when it comes to Fallen Order’s gameplay.
As you slice your way across the galaxy, you accumulate XP for each enemy you kill, as well as discovering useful bits of history on various objects you find – a unique Force ability that Cal has picked up. Gaining XP in this way earns you “skill points”, which can then be utilized in meditation circles to permanently unlock attacks and boons to make Cal more powerful.
If you are killed, the enemy that did the deed will take temporary stewardship of any gathered XP. Unlike some other Souls-inspired titles, you don’t have to kill this enemy to recover your lost experience – merely strike it and the points will return. However, if you die before you’re able to recover said XP…it’s gone for good.
When it comes to the gameplay overall, I’d say this tweet pretty well encapsulates my feelings:
Jedi: Fallen Order is a great game. It’s honestly got everything you’d want in a linear, narrative-driven, single player adventure. While there remains some improvement to be made on certain gameplay elements, it is undoubtedly one of the best Star Wars games released in recent memory. The Force is definitely strong with this one.
You can pick up Jedi: Fallen Order here –
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