Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – Series X

It has been a while since I’ve felt the urge to write up a review for a game that came out years ago but here we are. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order did have a Series X/S/PS5 update in June this year and I started it on the Xbox1X before then so it felt like the perfect time to finally get to finishing it on the Series X. Typically throughout the year I’ll have one big game from the past years I’ll play on and off over the year (while other reviews are finished up) previously it was Witcher 3 and now it’s Respawn’s Jedi: Fallen Order to the table (one day I might play Persona 5 Royal) I’m already a big Star Wars fan (as you can read about here, here, here and here) but I’m not great with From Software games, I’ve yet to complete a Dark Souls and I’m still trying to complete Bloodbourne. The reviews of Jedi: Fallen Order back in the day all said this was a Souls-like experience but now I’ve played it to conclusion I think that comparison isn’t really all the game has to offer. Let’s get into it then, Fallen Order is a few years old and set just after the 3rd Star Wars film but this review remains spoiler free.

Jedi: Fallen Order is a singleplayer action platformer adventure that does have similar combat to the Dark Souls games but feels a lot more like Bloodbourne in its fluidity and a lot more forgiving than any From Software game before it. As you explore and jump through the levels the damage can be forgiving for any mistake, some areas won’t detract health from falling at all and this makes the experience less frustrating. As you progress meditation spots act as checkpoints, little reminders of where you need to go next and if you rest up your healing stims from BD-1 restore but enemies respawn. The combat is incredibly satisfying throughout and parrying stormtrooper shots to deflect them back never stops being ridiculously fun. Jedi: Fallen Order also has difficulty options which allows everyone to enjoy the experience and still be challenging without the usual frustration that comes with a ‘souls-like’.

Visually Jedi: Fallen Order is absolutely stunning. At first glance the Series X upgrade patch isn’t that noticeably different from the Xbox1x version but the snappy loading times and slightly higher framerate slowly becomes apparent over time. If the Series X version of Jedi: Fallen Order is your first time playing then you’re in for a real visual treat. There are hundreds of moments in the game where you’ll just stop and have a moment to take it all in. It’s packed with clever little design choices and fine details that give the feeling every moment could be in a Star Wars film. There strangely a bug in one small area where the framerate jitters a bit but given the scale only finding 1 fault was impressive. From start to finish there are many clever Uncharted-like scripted moments that don’t feel forced and wow often. The camera will always gently nudge you in the direction you need to heading in and if you’re stuck BD-1 will be able to drop a quick hint to help you on your path.

What’s most surprising is how well written the story in Jedi: Fallen Order ends up being. What starts off with generic ex-Jedi Cal being a fairly bland nothing character eventually develops over the game into Cal being a match for Shepard from Mass Effect. There is a singular blip to this quality story telling where he reacts badly to some news to the point where it feels the tension was shoehorned in to give the 2nd act a bit more flavour but again this was just a minor blip in a tale that could have been a successful TV series of its own. There are a few story beats in the game that are impossible to describe without spoiling but it not only fits into the film universe but relishes the chance to use the extended universe as well. You won’t be bogged down in lore and faff but finding tiny pockets of story and extra information through play that add to the experience in a fantastic way. It even has a moment of defining wow that feels similar to “that” moment in Control and if you don’t know what it is do your best to avoid spoilers, it’s absolutely incredible.

Jedi: Fallen Order has the sound and music design down to a fine-art. Everything sounds like Star Wars and the voice cast do a fantastic job of lifting the characters and making them feel like they’ve always been in the universe. Although the music does have little lifts and beats that play into the universe’s best known songs there isn’t any one particular theme that stands out. The only problem Jedi: Fallen Order has with its music is it fails to find a unique voice in the sea of themes, this is a minor issue of course as anyone with an interest in Star Wars is going to have a blast recognising tell-tell notes and moments. The Dathomir stages in particular stands out with some incredible story beats that the cast truly bring to life in incredible performances. The passion of the cast is felt from start to finish and it really is something else. As Cal progresses he learns new skills and these are taught through memories as a Padawan and even these are integral to the story. Everything is fantastically tied together and nothing feels forced.

Difficulty settings aren’t the only benefit to Jedi: Fallen Order being made by Respawn. There’s a new game + after the credits and if you go back to your completed save you’ll continue just before the final mission. You’ll want access to every world and area to explore as there is a lot to see and find. Each world has areas that you can explore once you’ve unlocked new skills and unlike other metroidvania games you’re friendly assistant BD-1 has a great 3D map that shows where is accessible and where is locked off. What this means is you can actually just enjoy exploring, finding secrets and not worry about missing out. There’s always a shortcut or a path back that unlocks as you go. The more experience you build up either by defeating enemies or finding secret force memories and information the more skills you unlock on your skill tree and this all adds up to a fantastic feeling of progression.

As a Star Wars fan Jedi: Fallen Order is the kind of game that the franchise has been needing since KOTOR. The story is incredible, the cast and characters is something very special and every level is packed out with things to see and experience. It isn’t perfect thought, there are some enemies that can be frustrating to deal with and some jump you from frustrating angles but unlike a Dark Souls game, should you die you won’t be cursing the journey back to your experience. You’ll be dashing back to the glowing enemy, lightsaber in hand and ready to try again. From the colours of BD-1 changing to reflect your health to the clever cut-throughs to hide loading screens, there are clever little touches throughout. Even without a love for Star Wars, Jedi: Fallen Order is an incredible game in its own right and goes to show Respawn really are the force wielding masters of the singleplayer experience.

9/10 – The order may have fallen but this Jedi lifts it to greater heights.

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