Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has been considered to be one of the most highly-anticipated releases of 2019. Not only is it the first single-player Star Wars game since 2010’s The Force Unleashed 2 (well, outside of Lego games, that is) but it’s also developed by Respawn Entertainment, the developers behind the hit Titanfall series as well as the more recent Apex Legends. Indeed, there’s certainly a lot to be excited about, but is Fallen Order the Star Wars game we’ve been looking for?
First, I want to give a brief bit of background on my personal feelings toward EA games, Fallen Order’s publisher. I’ve been highly critical of EA these past few years. I’m of the opinion that their excessive monetization practices have caused the industry a great deal of pain, and knowing that EA has seemed to be far more interested cash-grabs than consumer-friendly products, I was skeptical that Fallen Order could be a fun, single-player experience. I thought EA would find some way to screw this game up, just as they’d botched Battlefront 2’s initial release.
So, it’s with great relief that I can say the following — not only is Fallen Order a great single-player game unhindered by any greedy practices that have plagued gaming in recent years, but it’s also one of the finest Star Wars video games I have ever experienced.
But what kind of game can players expect to find in Fallen Order? To say that it’s just an action-adventure title set within the Star Wars universe would be doing the game a great disservice, as Fallen Order is much more than that. In fact, it takes quite a bit of inspiration from several other popular titles in gaming history. Dark Souls is probably the biggest of these, as Fallen Order’s core gameplay is truly reminiscent of the Souls’ series. Combat has a heavy emphasis on timing everything just right, like dodging, blocking, and parrying. Players will be expected to study their opponents and look for the perfect moment to strike. Experience gained from fallen foes will drop upon the player’s death and must be retrieved by attacking the enemy who administered the final blow. Failure to do so (much like in a Souls game) will result in the player losing all of their experience before that point.
But there’s more than just Souls-like mechanics here. Each of Fallen Order’s worlds are also quite reminiscent of Metroidvania-styled games as players will find many passages that they can’t progress through until they’ve discovered the correct power or upgrade needed to enter them. This calls for a great deal of backtracking as the game progresses, but it’s all designed in a way that doesn’t feel too tedious. I actually found myself looking forward to every return to one of the game’s four main planets.
Finally, players can expect to find themselves puzzle-solving their way through ancient tombs and dungeons that are straight out of a Zelda game, usually leading to some sort of big boss battle at the end of each one. These dungeons are huge and intricate, but also very accessible to the average gamer, though a couple of puzzles definitely had me stumped for a bit!
Fallen Order basically plays like a greatest-hits of things that have come before, all with a beautiful Star Wars paint job over it (and I do mean beautiful). Some of the views in Fallen Order are downright breathtaking, and each world was lovingly designed to feel right at home within the Star Wars’ universe. Unfortunately, moments of excessive pop-in and framerate dips did mar some of these beautiful vistas, but these graphical inconsistencies weren’t enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the game.
The musical score of Fallen Order is also worth mentioning. While there are some familiar-sounding pieces here and there, much of the game’s score is completely new. It still manages to feel right at home with the musical genius of John William’s iconic motion picture score. The music of Fallen Order was a real delight and ranged from quiet and whimsical, to grand and bombastic, depending on what the scene required.
All of these features would be for nothing without a solid story to back it up. Thankfully, Fallen Order’s substantial adventure is (at least in this reviewer’s opinion) one of the best pieces of new Star Wars canon since Disney’s acquisition of Lucas Films. Player’s will find themselves in the shoes of Cal Kestis, a former Jedi Padawan who survived the events of Order 66. Now one of the last of his kind, Cal finds himself on a quest to revive the ancient Jedi Order, all while being mercilessly hunted down by the Empire’s Inquisitor, the Second Sister. But Cal isn’t alone in his quest. He’s joined by a great cast of supporting characters, from the somewhat mysterious Cere Junda, to the comical Latero pilot Greez Dritus. And of course, this review wouldn’t be complete without a special mention of the wonderfully adorable BD-1, a droid Cal quickly befriends along the way and one who becomes an integral companion on Cal’s quest. BD-1 is a huge help in traversing the various worlds of Fallen Order as he can open locked doors, assist Cal in using ziplines, and even hack certain enemy types later on.
This is an absolute gem of a title, one which any fan of the series shouldn’t overlook. A captivating story, tight controls and gameplay mechanics, and a great deal of exploration all await in this epic Star Wars adventure.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
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