I love Star Wars (to a point). I love Souls-like games. But, most of all, I love a good story. Fallen Order has all of this and more to offer. Here is a (late) review of the game.
- Title: Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
- Developer: Respawn Entertainment
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Director: Stig Asmussen
- Writers: Aaron Contreras, Manny Hagopian, Matt Michnovetz, and Megan Fausti
- Reviewed on: PS4
Spoiler Warning: This review contains minor spoilers!
The gameplay of Fallen Order is an inciting mix of cinematic action-adventure (e.g. the Uncharted series) and the Soulsborne games. I must confess that I have a bias towards these kinds of games, so please bear that in mind as you read this review.
The game’s loop goes as follows: you, as Padawan Cal Kestis, are let loose on an interconnected map, there are enemies to kill for xp, secrets to uncover, and shortcuts to open. Each time you die or rest at a ‘meditation point’, the enemies reset and the grind begins again. Some areas are blocked off until you receive a particular ability or gadget (Metroidvania style). These levels are connected by action sequences, cut-scenes, and – best of all – tricky boss fights.
This formula works well – especially since Cal’s power escalation mirrors your own developing skills with a lightsaber. Much like the Soulsborne games, bosses often humble you – forcing you to return only after you’ve mastered parrying or last minute dodging. Unlike the Soulsborne games, however, I found that Fallen Order was much more forgiving. This is coupled with a difficulty selection that allows you to tailor your challenge.
There is some level of replayability in the form of collectibles and hidden treasure (plus, they added a New Game+ mode), but there is nothing to influence in terms of story progression.
Regular readers of this blog know that I’m all about story. I put great (unfair) emphasis on the story aspect of games – so much so that it colours my view of the entire product. Poor story is – unfortunately – what ruined my opinion of the Rise of Skywalker (don’t get me started). Luckily, Fallen Order is the Star Wars story you’ve been looking for!
The writers of this game seem to understand the important aspects of what made Star Wars great in the first place: memorable characters, amazing locations, good vs evil, and – most importantly – emotional weight. Sure, the Force and lightsaber duels and nostalgic call-backs can hook an audience, but these things alone cannot give you a satisfying story (you hear that, JJ?).
In the Fallen Order, we are confronted with Cal’s trauma following Order 66. He is forced out of hiding and set on a quest to save other young Force-users from the clutches of the Galactic Empire. Essentially, he has to save others from the trauma he is trying to pull himself out of. This struggle is reaffirmed by the supporting cast and the main protagonist. Saying more would delve into heavy spoiler territory, but know that the theme of redemption is carried through masterfully.
I would like to point out Debra Wilson’s amazingly ranged performance as Cere Junda here.
First, some bad stuff. Fallen Order is short. Sure, you can pad out the playtime by finding every collectible or grinding through areas to make sure Cal has every power unlocked, but the game took me under 20 hours to complete. That’s not too bad and I’m not comparing it to something like the Witcher III, but the end credits left me with a strong desire to do more and go further.
I got the sense that Respawn tried to draw out the game by omitting a fast travel mechanic. This isn’t a deal breaker, but if you take the wrong elevator on Zeffo when you’re trying to find the last stim canister, you’ll see what I mean. This is especially oppressive in the late game when basic enemies post a chore rather than a challenge.
In terms of bugs and performance, Fallen Order seems quite polished – even at launch, and even on a launch PS4. There was only one instance where I fell through the floor, but this didn’t result in any game-altering consequences.
I thoroughly enjoyed this game. Fallen Order delivers everything a Star Wars fan wants from a game. The lightsaber battles are intense and never descends to the level of button-mashing. The boss fights will have you humming the Duel of the Fates – even when you’re fighting the Ninth Sister for the fortieth time (true story).
The biggest positive is the story – as I said above. The main narrative carries a great emotional weight, causing you to care about the characters and the outcome of the story. I was always aware of what was at stake and who was in danger. The villains are more than your typical BBEG that’s evil for the fun of it.
The story of the Fallen Order will stay with me for a long time. I can’t wait for the inevitable sequel.
Review Score: 8/10
Have you played it? What do you think? Please let me know in the comments below.