All The Force Puns Were Taken. It’s A Great Videogame.

HIGH Mike was right. Deflecting blaster shots is pretty dope.

LOW Failing that damn Padawan wallrunning test twenty times

WTF Dear EA, Please fire the dolt in marketing who spoiled the coolest reveal in a commercial.

I know it’s not a ‘cool’ point of view in games writing, but I like AAA bombast.

I like going down a linear path looking at expansive vistas and lots of things blowing up around me. I like “Epic” and “Cinematic” storytelling when it’s done right, and, frankly, we really haven’t seen many singleplayer story-focused big budget games like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order lately, especially licensed ones. Sure, Sony still makes them and Capcom is good for a Resident Evil or Devil May Cry every year or so, but most of the industry has abandoned this type of thing in favor of smaller-scale projects or “Live Services” that easily incorporate monetization.

Electronic Arts is a prime offender of this new philosophy and killed a highly-anticipated Star Wars game by the woman who made Uncharted because they didn’t think a singleplayer title would create enough long-term revenue. In light of this, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order‘s existence seems like a happy accident.

Developer Respawn Entertainment was already working on it before EA acquired the studio, and in my imagination I can almost see the heads of the company sighing and begrudgingly approving the project despite how badly they want to pivot away from games like it. What EA likely doesn’t care for is one of the things I appreciated about it — It feels complete.

Fallen Order has a natural arc with a beginning, middle, and a definitive, immensely satisfying end. It doesn’t feel like an attempt to create a new franchise and I don’t see room for DLC down the road. Some felt that EA should be commended for this, but that makes me sad knowing that simply releasing a videogame without modern malarkey is now the bar for praise at this point.

Mike took point on the main review for this title, and while he makes valid criticisms that I share, we do differ on a few main points, particularly when it comes to main protagonist Cal Kestis.

Yeah, okay, Cal is a white dude with nice hair and that’s not something videogames need more of, but I enjoyed my time with him and he grows as a character. He has struggles, we see his trauma, he fails on occasion, overcomes adversity and comes out the other side a more complete person. Near the end of the story when he’s fully powered and speaking like a true Jedi, it feels like a natural chain of events. It doesn’t hurt that he’s surrounded by a fantastic cast, particularly his foil in the form of Inquisitor Trilla Suduri, brilliantly portrayed by Elizabeth Grullon and menacing in the role. She chews every inch of the screen when she’s on it, and it rules.

Fallen Order also features spectacular facial animation that goes a long way to properly portraying the emotions of each character. Cameron Monaghan (Kestis), Daniel Roebuck (Greez), and Debra Wilson (Cere) all do a great job, and they’re working from a well-written script.

The other big highlight is the music by Gordy Haab (who also did the music for Knights Of The Old Republic) and Stephen Barton who deliver an exceptional score able to grab the essence of Star Wars without being overly reliant on previous arrangements.

Looking specifically at the gameplay, I suppose the modern vernacular for describing Fallen Order would be to call it a ‘Soulslike’, but as Mike pointed out, it’s essentially a less demanding Sekiro in the sense that defense and parrying play key parts in combat. He’s right when he says it doesn’t quite feel as precise and tactile, but the developers have included variable difficulty settings so more people can actually enjoy it. In doing so, Respawn has taken the argument that games like this can’t have different difficulty levels and shown that it’s rubbish.

Yes, Fallen Order is derivative. It doesn’t have an original bone in its body, but that’s not an inherently bad thing if those borrowed ideas come together to form a good whole, which I think they do. Yes, there are block puzzles and wall-climbing like in a hundred other titles, but it’s all of good quality. It almost felt like an old Tomb Raider game in spots where a smart combination of physics and Cal’s force powers work in tandem with large, open levels required me me to think about my surroundings. The movement while climbing and leaping across vines feels less prescripted than most, and made for more interesting and open traversal. This does naturally lead to more failure for the player, but I’ll take it simply for engagement purposes.

Mike also had a lot of problems with Fallen Order on a technical level, and while I don’t doubt he experienced hitches and bugs, I didn’t share them. I played the majority of the campaign after Respawn released a sizable patch on a top-of-the-line PC and was able to run it game at 60FPS on max settings without a problem.

While Fallen Order‘s technical side didn’t bother me, there are times where the bombast gets the better of things, such as the dragon battle Mike mentioned — I failed it multiple times due to poor depth perception on a 2D plane causing me to miss my target. Beyond health upgrades, there’s nothing consequential to find by exploring the environments, and while I liked the platforming and exploration significantly more than Mike did, some of the moves (particularly the wall-running) just aren’t precise enough. That said, I never found these things diminishing the pleasure of cutting through stormtroopers like butter and experiencing a great Star Wars story.

At the end of his review, Mike points out that nobody would particularly care for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order if it wasn’t a Star Wars game, and my initial response to that is, well, yeah, that’s kinda the point. A great license used to its full effect has been able to elevate ‘good’ games into being ‘great’ games for years, and Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is a perfect example of such. It’s almost as good as Baby Yoda.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts.It is currently available on PlayStation 4Xbox One and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the PC. The PC used for review featured a GTX 2080, 32GB of RAM, and a core i-7 9850. Approximately 21 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Please see the main review for complete ESRB, colorblind, control and subtitle information.

Jarrod Johnston

Jarrod Johnston

Jarrod has been lucky enough to be a contributor to GameCritics since 2016. In his earlier years, he flamed out of games writing after the freelance checks for $80 weren't cutting the mustard, and he appreciates being able to do his thing at a place like this in its purest form.

He is currently attending graduate school at Pacific University seeking a Master's In Teaching with a focus on secondary social studies. From 2015-2020, Jarrod worked as a school teacher in various countries throughout Asia, and is now seeking certification to teach in his home country so a global pandemic doesn't leave him stranded again.
Jarrod Johnston

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1 year ago

“I know it’s not a ‘cool’ point of view in games writing, but”

“Yeah, okay, Cal is a white dude with nice hair and that’s not something videogames need more of, but”

“He’s right when he says it doesn’t quite feel as precise and tactile, but”

“Yes, there are block puzzles and wall-climbing like in a hundred other titles, but”

“Yes, Fallen Order is derivative. It doesn’t have an original bone in its body, but”

“This does naturally lead to more failure for the player, but”

A more accurate title for this review would’ve been “But . . .”