I came to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order as a refugee from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla having been disappointed with its floaty, contactless combat. SWJ:FO did not leave me disappointed.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is an action-adventure game in the vein of Dark Souls. It is characterised by crisp, precise combat and sometimes gruelling enemies. Fallen Order has been on my radar for the year since its release and building a new PC has given me a chance to get around to it. Additionally, it can be obtained through the EA Play program for a quarter of its RRP.
Fallen Order reveals its world in a thrilling and visually stunning opening sequence. We’re introduced to our jedi-in-hiding hero who is swept into a narrative larger than himself. The first thing that jumped out at me in FO was the combat. It’s responsive and specific in a way that I had really been looking for. It takes some time to get a handle on (I played on the second-highest difficulty) but your successes truly feel well-earned. This, of course, is a double-edged lightsaber (?) and means you run into some tough enemies (a la Dark Souls) that can end you in one hit. Or more frustratingly, lock you into an inescapable cycle of blows until you are finally, frustratingly, ended.
As he proceeds our Hero Cal Kestis is adorned with extra force abilities that add to the jedi power fantasy. They serve to enhance platforming, unlock new areas and add depth to combat; certainly on the harder difficulties your new skills are an absolute necessity for crowd control and big bosses.
Proceeding a few hours into the game it became clear that the story in Fallen Order isn’t your usual, cut-and-paste good versus evil tale. The characters have shades of grey and compelling motives. I found myself interested in the turns of the story in a way that I have found in few video games. SWJ:FO features some fan-service which, while expected, generated nostalgia that I didn’t see coming. There’s a lot to look out for for fans of the Clone Wars/Purge era of Star Wars history.
Much like its Metroid forebears, Fallen Order has a scanning mechanic which adds flavour to the world. I really enjoyed the details of the flora and fauna of the planets, specifically the ones that aren’t out to kill you. I didn’t read them all, but they fleshed out the world and made it feel alive and lived in. I was a little disappointed with some of the more narrative scans, which tell stories of events that have taken place in that location. You can usually track a parallel narrative as you move through a level, but in general these were fairly lightweight.
The game is set across a handful of planets and has you return to them repeatedly, your newfound skills now granting access to previously barred zones. On the surface this didn’t appeal but there is something satisfying in returning to a previously explored area with fresh eyes. The map is brimming with things to collect, providing improvements both cosmetic and mechanical. I cared more than usual for the cosmetics in the game, which provide a layer of customisability and variation to Cal and his little robot buddy BD-1. Nevertheless, my main interest in the collectibles were the ones that made Cal a stronger Jedi. Here I found myself a little frustrated: the map does show how many collectibles are left to be found in a zone, but the map itself is messy, hard to read and does not show you precisely where the collectibles are. As much as I like the upgrades I’m hardly going to return to a location for the fourth time just to look in every nook and cranny.
Fallen Order looks awesome. Having just come from the clay figurine faces of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the characters look and move in an impressively realistic way. The landscapes are some of the most epic I’ve ever seen in a game but equally each nameless corridor has been lovingly created with production value you would expect from a Star Wars product. The music is perfect, swelling at the right moments and giving you the little flute trills characteristic of the series. Overall a smashing presentation.
In summary, SWJ:FO is the full package. It controls beautifully, it looks amazing and has a story with appeal both to newcomers and fans of the series.