When it comes to Star Wars action games, the biggest thing for me is about how good it feels to deflect blaster shots with a lightsaber, using the Force to take out enemies, and other cool Jedi stuff. It’s been forever since we’ve had a good Star Wars game in that regard, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order by Apex Legends studio Respawn might be the best one in ages.
The game is set between the events of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. You take on the role of a former Jedi Padawan named Cal Kestis, who has been in hiding since his escape following the execution of Order 66 that started the Great Jedi Purge five years prior. The story is actually pretty dark, but it’s fitting given the current state of things in the Star Wars timeline. The game offers a plethora of lore tidbits across its multiple worlds, enough to satisfy the biggest of Star Wars geeks, but for this playtest I wanted to focus more on the gameplay action.
Cal has been “cut off” from the Force so the game uses that as a way to introduce new abilities while progressing through the story. The first Force ability you have from the get-go allows you to slow down enemies for a short period of time. It basically puts them into slow-mo, so it comes in handy when you’re taking on multiple at a time. This ability can also slow down objects such as giant fans blocking the path of a tunnel and various puzzle elements in the game. Other Force abilities you unlock include being able to knock back enemies or pull them towards you, but other than that it doesn’t get too wild with those powers.
Before I started, I was under the impression that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order would be more of a Dark Souls-style game with a Star Wars skin, but I saw a lot more from other action-adventure games in it. From the starting tutorial parts of the game, it felt more like one of the Tomb Raider reboot games with all the jumping and climbing involved, but instead of sliding down a river or mudslide you’re falling off the side of a giant ship that is falling apart in the scrapyard. It really does a good job to show you that the game has a lot of action to offer from the start.
The game also has plenty of parkour activities from the intro. If you’re not walking across steel beams from one mass of spaceship to another, you’re jumping from cables to wires like Lara Croft or Uncharted’s Nathan Drake. This makes it overall easier to get around and it helps since the maps are pretty huge. At first, they appear a bit smaller, but you gain access to new areas as you learn new abilities. For example one of the first areas make you go through an obstacle course before learning how to wall run. This then opens up new paths and you gain access to a bigger part of the field.
The wall-running felt simple and familiar at first, then I realized that it felt a lot like Respawn’s Titanfall games. This feature would end up not being included in Apex Legends as the developers felt that it damages the legibility of combat amongst players, but it certainly works as a way to get around the field on Star Wars Jedi. And there’s something satisfying about pulling off a wall-jump combo across a series of multiple walls.
The game takes you across all kinds of areas. From dense jungles that have you slide across giant tree trunks like Tarzan to ancient ruins with puzzles reminiscent to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild‘s Shrines that you solve using the Force.
The combat is where it can feel a bit more like Dark Souls, but I found it closer to the pace of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. You don’t get to use any blasters in the game, so it’s all about lightsaber action. You can hold down the guard button to block most attacks but if you’ll need to time it correctly if you want to deflect lasers back to the shooter or land a sweet parry.
Parrying is a big part of the gameplay but a lot of it really depends on the difficulty. The easiest one is “Story Mode” which basically gives you all the time in the world to parry. It also has the least amount of incoming damage and enemy aggression. The toughest one is “Jedi Grandmaster” which is way more strict on parry timing and maxes out the damage and aggression. I played on the second toughest option “Jedi Master” which is actually more balanced for the most part. The one below that is “Jedi Knight” which eases up on the parry timings but you take more damage and aggression than Story Mode. The difficulty can be adjusted at any time so it shouldn’t be tough to find the one that’s right for you. I stress finding the right comfort level since I found that parrying is easily the most satisfying part of combat, but it isn’t quite the same when it’s too easy or hard to pull off.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has elements from various action games but don’t get me wrong, it borrows plenty from the Souls games, too. For example, “Meditation Circles” are basically the game’s version of bonfires. Just like the bonfires, you can heal yourself or use skill points to learn new skills. There isn’t a Star Wars Jedi equivalent of Souls to purchase items, but you do lose XP when you’re killed. However, you can easily recover the lost XP by striking the enemy that killed you, so you don’t even have to kill them to get it all back. Furthermore, it refills your Life and Force meters when you strike your killer, so it’s a nice way to get payback. Just be careful about what you fight, because there are plenty of tough monsters out there that could drop you in a couple of hits.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order doesn’t exactly offer anything original but that doesn’t stop it from not only being a great Star Wars game a fine action-adventure title that one can enjoy without knowing the difference between a Gungan and a Wookiee.
Food for Thought:
- BD-1 is the best droid introduced to the Star Wars universe and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees.
- You can sneak up on Stormtroopers to hear some humorous exchanges. For example, you might hear one complaining about no matter how much they train they just can’t hit a target, and so on.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.