Star Wars has certainly been on a rocky ride as of lately. I could go into further detail, but for the sake of saving time I decided not to. I am not a huge Star Wars fan nor have. It’s not that I hate Star Wars or don’t think it can be art. The universe is interesting and if done well the stories this universe can tell are inspiring. I understand why there’s a whole generation of people who hold these characters close to their heart, but that’s kind of the reason why I don’t care about Star Wars. I didn’t grow up on it like a majority of my friends and thus it has had no emotional impact on me. Never saw any of the mainline films during their time of release, never watched the Clone Wars even though I had cable television, and never even bought a single piece of merchandise. That’s how deprived I was of Star Wars influence and honestly it rocked. It meant my heart was directed to things more worth caring about, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to check out Star Wars things. Which brings us to what is probably one of the better Star Wars pieces in recent memory. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, released back in 2019.
It was developed by Respawn Entertainment who are best known for Apex Legends and Titanfall fame. A team who work under big corporate Electronic Arts, but are one of few good developers that greedy money hog have. In 2018, they unveiled they would be working with the Star Wars property and be telling a new tale following an original cast of characters. An epic journey across the galaxy we grew to know, and it was directed by Stig Asmussen who had previously worked on God of War 3. The gameplay they showed wasn’t really anything to write home about. It was your typical third person action game similar to that of Uncharted or recent God of War games. Now I quite enjoy this style of game as with any other, but there were a lot of people including me who looked at this and thought there were a ton of games that were doing what it did but better. Then they said one of their main inspirations was Dark Souls and that’s what raised a ton of eyebrows. If you’re gonna be taking influence from FromSoftware then you better be doing it right, because not a lot of soulslikes fully understand what makes their games great. Anticipation is high as to whether Fallen Order will suck and when it finally comes out 2019 it… didn’t suck. In fact, the game is actually great and public reception for it is really positive. It gets nominated for quite a few awards with the Titanium Awards announcing it their game of the year. By some miracle it manages to please both Star Wars fans and non Star Wars fans, and contain a better story than any of the recent films. It was the biggest surprise of 2019 and it was well deserved.
Fallen Order went and set up a great foundation for what is to come, and so excitement was high when they announced a sequel last year. A game that was more ambitious, bigger in scope, and would serve as the next lunge forward for Cal Kestis and pals. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, and my god were people excited. The game launches in April of this year and reception is pretty mixed. Critical reception overall is good with review scores being much higher than Fallen Order. The game runs pretty well on PS5 and Series X. A couple of technical issues, but a few patches can do the job. The game itself is splendid, well designed, and delivers what it wanted to. The PC version though and the state of its release is something worth talking about. During my essay on Cyberpunk 2077 there was a section that talked about releasing games unfinished. Even if you plan to fix your game overtime you probably shouldn’t before release. Your game needs to work at launch, because if not a lot of people are gonna feel cheated out of the sixty to seventy dollars they spent. You, in some way, scammed them and lost the trust of dozens of fans for any future titles. Again, you can fix your game, but by then there won’t be as many people who’ll want to play your game. Poor PC releases were common earlier this year and this was the one that fueled the fire. This disastrous release is what chased people away, and it’s a shame it happened.
Respawn Entertainment are clearly a team of devs who put heart into every project they work on. They are a studio who make use of the budget and fundings they are given. This is a team I fully respect not because I’m biased, but because they are one of few developers out there who know what it means to make a Triple A game, for the most part. I got the game on discount recently, months after the several patches. I can confirm to you that what is here is great. Survivor makes a lot of improvements from Fallen Order, and while it may not have the tightness Fallen Order had it doesn’t mean it lost focus. It’s a fun game through and through, and now is the time it’s finally worth checking out. To clarify, this isn’t a review on how well Survivor runs now. This is going to be like any ordinary review where I break down all my thoughts on a game. Today we’re discussing about Star War Jedi: Survivor and why it may deserve your attention.
The game takes place five years after the events of Fallen Order. Cal Kestis, one of few Jedis to survive the events of Order 66, rose up and fought back against the empire. He obtained a device known as the Holocron, a cube which could locate children with Jedi powers, and destroyed it so that no one would ever find them. Ever since then he’s been out exploring the galaxy with pals, but one faithful day they split up. They got into a heated argument about Cal’s destiny and what he should do for the future of the Jedi. This led Cal to fend for himself and do whatever he can now that he’s one of the Empire’s most wanted. This leads us to the present day where Cal leads an ambush on an Imperial vessel. With the help of a team of ragtag mercs led by Bode Akuna, he is able to obtain military plans. Things don’t go out as planned and Cal is forced to flee. All of the mercs besides Bode are killed and Cal’s ship is damaged during the escape. He is then forced to land on the planet of Koboh and look for someone skilled enough to repair the ship. Luckily he knows someone there. Greez, a four armed alien who used to be the pilot of Cal’s old crew. Grateful to see an old friend again, Greez agrees to help Cal repair the vessel, but tries to consult him about his past trauma and regrets. Cal holds back, so Greeze sends him to the basement to look for a part that could help with repairs. Cal finds it, but loose flooring sends Cal falling down to a mysterious ruin beneath Greez’s tavern. Cal discovers ancient Jedi ruins and a robot tangled in thick vines. Cal frees the droid and is able to get a glimpse of the droid’s memories.
It was a machine built during the High Republic era and it was named Santari Khri, one of the more special members of the Jedi. The droid is named Zee and within her are directions of how to get to a far off planet. Cal takes Zee and the info back to Greez who understands the info for which the droid is saying. Tanaloor, a safe haven full of life and is unreachable by basic hands. Even the Empire wouldn’t be able to reach it, so it gives Cale hope that there might finally be a place where everyone can settle down peacefully. Cal travels to a nearby forest ruin to get more info and there he finds a being preserved from the High Republic era. This person was Santari’s closest mate and he was there during the fall. Cal frees this person, Dagan Gera, and he hopes he will be able to guide them to Tanaloor. Dagan then reveals the Jedi turned on him and wants to get revenge on those who stabbed him in the back. Dagan turns to the darkside and flees with a group of raiders who have waited years for him to return. A new threat stands in Cal’s way and he’ll have to do whatever it takes to get Tanaloor first, and to do that he must get the help of some allies.
We’ll talk more later on what I think about the narrative, but now let’s focus on gameplay. This game is basically Fallen Order but bigger and much better. You explore a series of areas, fight your way through enemies, solve light puzzles, obtain new powers, and try to get towards your goal. Cal has maintained his powers from the last game, so at least they don’t pull a metroidvania move and strip you of all your gear. You can double jump, run along walls, wall jump, levitate & throw objects using your force powers, and much more. There’s even some new powers now like the ability to shift certain objects up and down, a grappling hook to zip to certain points, air dash, and much more. You’re gonna want to utilize these abilities wisely as platforming sections and certain combat encounters will test your use of them. Combat plays similarly to the first game in that you have a light attack, heavy attack, dodge, block, parry, stance meter, and force powers. Enemies too have a stance meter and when broken you can deal direct hits. It’s kind of like how Sekiro works where keeping the pressure on foes will eventually reward you with lethal blows. However, dodging still works as it provides you a short window of invincibility frames through attacks and sometimes you are pushed to make good use of force powers. Whether than to yank shields out of enemy hands, throw an explosive back at them, or just force them off a ledge.
If you get hit you can use a stim to heal, but your stim supply is limited and can only be refilled when you rest at a checkpoint. Sounds familiar if you have played a soulslike. Resting at one of the many checkpoints in the world refills your health and stim supply, but it also respawns all of the enemies in an area excluding bosses. It’s wise to look for shortcuts while venturing through areas, so that you don’t deal with troublesome enemy encounters again. Everytime you kill a foe you gain experience points. You can also gain them by finding memories and echoes. When you gain enough experience points you get a skill point which can be spent on one of numerous skill trees at checkpoints. In the last game it was one expansive skill chart, but now there’s multiple of them. Survival for healing, maximum health, and healing efficiency. Force for your force powers and how powerful they are. Then there’s a skill tree for all the five stances in the game. We will address this shortly. If you die you will lose any of the experience points you have gathered. You will not lose skill points, but you can retrieve your experience points by venturing to where you last died. Die again before obtaining them and they are gone for good. It’s much like how souls work in the Souls series and it makes you consider what killed you and how to avoid it. A great way for the player to learn and adapt in the cruel world they are placed into.
Throughout your journey you obtain different lightsaber stances. Three of which are what you got during the first game, and the other two are completely new. You have a normal stance which offers decent attack speed, range, and power. A double edged stance to attack quickly and in a wide range, but have less attack power. Dual wielding to deal more damage, but attack slower. Then you have the new ones which are blaster and crossguard. One of which swaps out heavy attacks for a gun that can shoot from afar, and the other is basically a greatsword. All of these stances are fun to use and each of their skill trees offer new combos to dish out during fights. Do keep in mind though that you can only have two stances at once. Swap them out at checkpoints to fit whatever situation you are running into. Bosses are a huge highlight for this game and they serve as a test to see whether you progress or not. They have numerous attacks, different phases, and do whatever it takes to body you into the ground. It’s all trial and error, and eventually you will learn their attack pattern and succeed. Besides that there’s nothing else to talk about. It’s a fun action adventure with some quality of life improvements which we will address. Hopefully you will locate a way to get to Tanaloor, recruit old buds, and journey forth to a new dawn.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is fantastic in my opinion. There are a couple of problems, some of them carrying over from the first, but overall I think it’s an improvement and I loved it more. The combat is much faster in Survivor. I forgot how it felt in Fallen Order, but if the first game was Dark Souls 1 then this one is Bloodborne. More visceral, more punishing, and more satisfying. There are times when the combat can get a bit sloppy, specifically some of the last few areas in the game where they throw horde after horde of enemies after you. A few of the enemies feel a bit relentless, and sometimes the camera screws you by backing into a wall and going all over the place. Yet, I still really enjoyed it and even when it got tough I found the game to be fair. Not too hard nor not too easy, but maybe that’s because I played on the middle difficulty. I don’t know what the difficulty setting was called so I just call it “middle.” The five different stances are fun to experiment with, but I found dedicating myself to specific stances and playstyles rewarding. You can't unlock every skill in a single playthrough, so it’s best to invest in what you like most rather than evenly divide everything. I dedicated myself to the basic stance and blaster stance for when I need to shoot weaker foes from afar, and it made my playthrough much easier rather than struggle by being under equipped by the end. Progression is satisfying as you unlock better skills and combos
Exploration is fun as it has the interconnectivity and shortcuts of Dark Souls, and it’s wonderful to unlock new powers. Favorite of course being the grappling hook as it adds a ton of verticality to the world and offers platforming challenges the first game couldn’t offer. Now one thing that makes Survivor much grander in scope is how some planets have open ended world design. Less like the condensed level design of the first and more like God of War: Ragnarok and how spacious some of its areas were. There’s a ton of interesting content, secrets, and NPCs to uncover if you take the time to explore. However, some people might not like this aspect as the wider scope means less focus. Yet I feel like even though they went bigger the game manages to keep a consistent pace and not feel bloated. Again, it’s much akin to recent God of War games and I’d even say the first two Batman: Arkham entries. One was more condensed and served as a good foundation, and the other one ran with the ideas the first one set up. I didn’t scour for every little secret in the game, but felt rewarded for looking around in places I would skip. Bosses are much better and while some optional bosses are just beefed up versions of normal foes they were still really fun. Enemy variety is better too, and there’s a lot more epic cinematic sequences in this game.
Visually, Survivor is breathtaking and a true demonstration of what next generation consoles can handle. Of course there are some technical issues like textures slowly loading in, pop-in, physics sometimes spazzing out, and pretty noticeable framerate drops when too much is happening at once. However, I wouldn’t say these bugs are big enough to ruin the game and it’s impressive to see what they’ve come up with in Survivor. Much more technically impressive than Starfield if I say so myself. (Not saying Starfield sucks. It looks okay.) Now the real thing I should be talking about though is the story as it’s the main reason why a lot of people are gonna play Survivor. The story for me was great. There’s a lot of exciting moments, memorable characters, lore, and we get to see Cal struggle with balancing everything around him. He’s worrying about the past, the future, the fate of his friends, whether he succeeds or fails, whether he should abandon his duties or not, if Tanaloor is even worth pursuing, not leaning too far into the dark side during moments of frustration, and much more. Everything on paper works really well and much like the first I think even non Star Wars fans will enjoy it. I say “on paper” because there are debatable aspects. I won’t go into specific details because I don’t want to spoil the story, but I’ll just give you quick hints. The antagonists of the story, the flashbacks of what came before, the twist, and the final confrontation are all things that will surely stir up some arguments. Mainly if this is a good story within the Star Wars universe, but I’ll let Star Wars fans debate that for me.
My last few gripes would be that the rewards you get for exploration still aren’t great as they are still the rewards you get from the first game. Different handles and pommels for your lightsaber, beard and hair styles, ponchos, and colors to mix and match. The cosmetics look cool, but I wish there were more incentives to swap them out. Like different stats, perks, and armor defenses. You do have a perk system akin to Hollow Knight, but I didn’t unlock that many during my playthrough and you can honestly just ignore it. Overall I do think this game is great. It has a few hiccups, but what they’ve done is take a lunge forward and manage to stick the landing. I can recommend this to anyone who liked the first, want a good action adventure game with soulslike elements, or just want a good Star Wars themed time. Although I do recommend getting this on consoles, because while they have patched up the PC version I heard it still struggles. In the end I give Star Wars Jedi: Survivor a 9/10 for excellence at best.
This critique was written by the single man at Review on. Stay tuned for more content and feel free to check more reviews out over at my site!