Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order Review: A Great Game and Great Star Wars Story
Since the troubled release of Battlefront II, there is little news on the Star Wars video games front.
The Bioware MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic released the Onslaught expansion recently. Otherwise that’s it. So, even if Respawn’s Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order wasn’t a piece of canon worth review, it would still be a notable game. Luckily, the story written by Aaron Contreras, Manny Haopian, Matt Michnovetz, and Megan Fausti is a remarkable story in Star Wars history. Characters in the game appeared in the Marvel Comics’ series Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, specifically the Inquisitors. Themselves a team of dark side former Jedi who hunt the survivors of Order 66 introduced in Star Wars Rebels. Some fans may feel that the movie universe struggles with different writers and directors helming the films. However, the rest of the EU is a connected universe that feels as if it were shaped by a guiding hand.
Still, there are some things we have to review in the wake of Jedi Fallen Order about where the story goes from here. The first two sections of this review will be spoiler-free. However, there will be a spoiler-y section at the end of this review to discuss the lingering questions in Jedi Fallen Order. This game tells a compelling and, at times, moving story. Yet, it suffers from the same problem as the much-beloved Force Unleashed series. It fits into the story we know about the rise and fall of the Empire. But, in a way that seems to disrupt what we thought we knew. This could be a good thing, or it could it set Disney up with the same disconnected feel of the old Star Wars Legends expanded universe.
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order Gameplay Review
Image via screengrab
In the interest of full disclosure, you should be aware that while I’ve played almost every Star Wars game ever made, I am not a gamer. My playthrough of this game took 19 hours. This includes time working through the series of puzzles that drive the story forward. I also explored each of the planets in the game to 80 percent completion. (There are seven total planets, though four make up the bulk of the game.)
There are plenty of difficult-to-reach places that require trial-and-error, but plenty of shortcuts after you do the difficult stuff once. Still, even when struggling to reach an out-of-the-way place, the movement mechanics make it very fun to run, jump, and even swim around. Atop one of the many high perches in the game, take a moment to look around. This game is beautiful. From the ice-cliffs of one planet to the densely forested terrain of another, the set design is artful.
My combat review of Jedi Fallen Order is mixed. I found the early stages difficult on the default setting, but almost too easy on the easiest setting. Some of the boss battles were a little disappointing for me, as well. Specific villains seemed so overpowered, that I spent most of the fight dodging and blocking. Still, even that was some of the best Star Wars-style combat I’ve ever played. I’d imagine people who enjoy playing higher difficult settings on games like these will love it. It’s more difficult than the Arkham series of Batman games, but with precision and timing your character will fight just as fluidly.
On the lowest difficulty setting towards the end of the game, I found myself looking forward to massive collections of enemies. Part of my 19 hours was spent revisiting areas, respawning the enemies each time. This is a game you will want to play all the way through again and again.
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order Story Review (Spoiler-Free)
Image via EA
While I may not be a gamer, I am deeply familiar with Star Wars stories. The story is that you play Cal Kestis (who looks just like actor Cameron Monaghan), a Jedi padawan who survived Order 66. He uses the Force to save a friend, and suddenly the Empire is on his tail. No legacy characters play a significant role in the game. There are cameos here and there, but simply nice surprises. If you are looking for film characters to play a big role in the game, you will be disappointed. However, the characters introduced in the game are all we need. There are allies, heroes, villains, and droids. It all feels very Star Wars, because the quest itself is almost more important the goal.
Naturally, because it’s Star Wars, Cal picks up a crew of folks to join him on the game’s journey. The Jedi play a significant role in the story, but only through their absence. In fact, at the heart of Jedi Fallen Order is a story about deep trauma and how to recover from it. It’s not a spoiler to say that the battle of the light side against the dark side is a big part of the story. However, the way this battle plays out amongst the characters is an interesting look at how trauma affects people in different ways. These are characters we care about, and the story does them justice. In fact, that’s why there are so many lingering questions after the game is through.
Be wary, spoilers below this cute commercial.
Lingering Questions After the End of Jedi Faller Order (Spoilers)
Jedi Fallen Order suffers from every story set between Episodes III and IV that feature Force-users. You are left to ask: “Where were they during, you know, the whole Rebellion?” Surprisingly, all of our characters make it out of the game alive. (There’s not even the choice option to kill any of them.) Likely, this means that there are plans at Lucasfilm to tell us that story in some way. Perhaps it will be via a Disney+ series? However, it seems more likely that it will come in the form of a sequel to the game.
The main question after Jedi Fallen Order is what becomes of Cal, Cere, Greez, and Nightsister Merrin, after this game. None of them ever show up again in Star Wars. Obviously, this is because they are new characters. It’s possible that they might show up in the canon like the surviving characters from Rebels did. They were there and just off-screen. Of course, the Jedi can’t be there, but the rest of them can. Otherwise, we know how the rest of the stories wrap up. Saw meets his fate on Jedha in Rogue One. The Wookiees aren’t liberated until the events of Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath series. Illum (probably) becomes Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens. And we know what happens to Darth Vader.
Our guess is that it takes them into the unknown regions. It’s a remote, uncharted region of the galaxy. The characters could be stuck out there and safely avoid conflicting with the existing canon. It would also allow for cameos from other EU characters who came from and disappeared into that area.
The last lingering question we have is what happened to the rest of the Inquisitors? But that’s also likely a story for another time and medium.
Did you play the game? Leave your own Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order review in the comments below. Also, tell us what you think will happen to the characters in the future!
Featured image via EA Games
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.