Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order introduced fans to a side of the galaxy unexplored in video games. While the Inquisitors had been introduced before in Star Wars Rebels, it found a fresh way to implement them, and gave fans a new band of characters to root for, led by Cal Kestis, a Jedi still struggling with the fallout of Order 66. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor explores the Empire’s hold on the galaxy while offering a personal story that, in my opinion, is one of the most exciting we’ve seen in a long time, further building Cal into a force to be reckoned with without relying on the wider Star Wars universe to keep fans interested.
Set five years after the events of Fallen Order, Cal is no longer with his friends aboard the Mantis. Greez in running a bar on the wild planet of Koboh, Cere is trying to preserve the Jedi Order on Jedha, and Merrin is nowhere to be found. It’s clear from the beginning that he’s a much more experienced and feared Jedi, with many of his force abilities still present from the previous title. It was something I hoped Respawn didn’t abandon, making you relearn skills due to some arbitrary story beat that made him forget. Thankfully, those powerful abilities are part of your skillset from the start, yet there’re still plenty of new ones to learn as the story progresses.
Much like Fallen Order, new abilities unlock and allow you to revisit locations in the game that were previously locked. Dashing through electrified green doors and across chasms, ripping down probe droids and large crates with the force, and more traversal abilities unlock, as well as using BD-1 in new ways. Not only do these new skills aid you along the way, they compliment wall-running, and force push and pulling to give you plenty of freedom and options to get around. The level design is excellent, whether you’re exploring the huge hub world of Koboh or taking on the Empire in one of their bases in the deep recesses of the galaxy.
When in combat, Cal will unlock new stances that can be changed at Meditation Points, then two can be swapped at any given time by pressing left or right on the D-pad. There’re five in total, and while single-bladed and double-bladed lightsabers make up two of these, it’s the new ones that enhance combat in different ways. One of which is the Crossguard, turning your lightsaber into the one similar to Kylo Ren’s in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. It’s slower than Cal’s standard lightsaber, but deals great damage in one-on-one combat. The other stance lets you hold your standard lightsaber as well as a blaster, offering great range with firepower from a distance. All of your stances can be upgraded, with skill points used to add new moves and abilities to each one.
Skill points can also be used to improve Cal’s mind control of enemies, how much life you regenerate, and more. The three branches of Force, Survival, and Lightsaber give you an ever-expanding skillset which will be vital to take down all the scum and villainy you’ll encounter. There’re tons of enemies to face in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, each with their own specific attack patterns, and you’ll always need to change your approach on the fly. I would liked to have been able to switch between all five stances in a fight, but two is often enough, at least in the first half of the game where enemies aren’t as vast in any given battle. Stormtroopers, battle droids, Bedlam Raiders, the Haxion Brood, rancors, and other legendary bosses fill every corner of the galaxy, and you’ll constantly be making use of everything you’ve learned.
Another new feature that’ll aid you in battle is the Perk system. Each one can offer a permanent buff as long as it’s equipped, and they can be found in Breath of the Wild-type shrines, in secret areas, and at one of the new shops at Pyloon Saloon, your base of operations on Koboh. Here, you can chat with characters you’ve met and invited during your travels, such as Zee, a droid from the High Republic era, and Caij, a Nautolan who offers rewards for killing Haxion Brood bounty hunters. You’ll start to see Greez’s bar expand with new shops and opportunities, even offering a droid who plays music which, by finding or purchasing new tracks, can be played from the crummy little stage. One of the things I enjoyed the most about Star Wars Jedi: Survivor was exploring every nook and cranny.
Along with meeting new characters to invite back to the saloon, you’ll find different kinds of currency that can be used to buy new cosmetics, droid and blaster parts, and perks. I headed off the beaten track multiple times to find a secret boss battle or a new area that offered something I hadn’t seen before, as well as some cool surprises and new seeds that I could plant in my very own garden on the roof of the Pyloon Saloon. It pays to explore, and while most of the planets aren’t as large as Koboh, there’s still plenty to do and see. There’s no need to rush through the story, but I did find myself progressing through as I was utterly engrossed with Cal Kestis’ journey to stopping a new kind of threat.
The Empire is obviously the biggest threat to the galaxy, but Respawn has managed to incorporate a relatively unexplored pocket of Star Wars history in Survivor that has only been seen in the last five or so years in canon. The High Republic is an age that saw Jedis at the height of their power a few hundred years before the events of Episode I: The Phantom Menace. When you’re introduced to Zee and other characters from this era early on, it opens up so much more of the lore of Star Wars for fans to enjoy, even if you have no idea what a Starlight Beacon is, or who the Nihil are. When you encounter a fallen Jedi called Dagan Gera, the story takes a new direction that only gets better as a greater threat looms on the horizon.
I didn’t realise how much I cared about Cal, Greez, Cere, or Merrin until the story takes an unexpected and shocking turn. By the time it was all over, I wanted more from them, and I hope that the wider Star Wars universe incorporates these characters, specifically Cal Kestis, into new TV shows or even one of the recently announced movies. Like Ahsoka Tano and Kanan Jarrus, he’s become a Jedi who has proved to be a fan-favourite without the need to show up in the Skywalker saga. With the Jedi Order no more after Order 66, he is upholding a new way of thinking for the Jedi, proving that old ideals and beliefs don’t always equate to what is right or inherently good. After all, it got them nowhere in the Clone Wars, but I digress.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor tells a fantastic story that grips you throughout. New characters like Bode Akuna are superbly written, and Respawn has made full use of creative freedom to bring in new places, characters, and aliens while not relying on familiar faces to tell a powerful and moving story that always nails the drama and action of the films and shows we already love in the universe. This new canonical tale has plenty of potential to be adapted in other ways, and I truly hope Lucasfilm is paying attention. The possibility of seeing all these characters pop up elsewhere is exciting, and even if they don’t, this game has cemented their rightful place in canon.
Along with some fantastic voice acting, the sound design is superb, whether in the implementation of familiar sights and sounds of lightsabers whirring or the incessant rambling of the B1 battle droids, or the ambient noises of wildlife or ships flying overhead. Visually, it’s stunning, especially in Quality mode, with only a few texture issues when loading in or out of a cutscene, however, these will be addressed with a Day 1 patch. There are some set pieces in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor that left me speechless. Respawn’s ambition is second-to-none, and to have such a huge game offer so much is a testament to the hard work put in to make this a worthy sequel to Fallen Order.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is going to make a lot of fans happy, whether you’re unfamiliar with the wider Star Wars universe or not. Combat and traversal is sublime, and despite certain boss fights being as tough as Beskar nails, the satisfaction of taking down a legendary enemy feels euphoric. There’s so much to do and see, with a story that grips you until the very end, never taking its foot off the gas and giving you all the thrills and excitement seen in some of the most highly regarded stories fans already know and love. Cal Kestis has become one of my favourite Jedis of all time, and even after finishing the story, I’m still uncovering something new. I don’t want to stop playing this game, and I’m sure many others will feel the same.
Superb combat and traversal
An engaging story
Plenty to do
New characters are interesting
Some tough boss fights
Multiple enemies can become overwhelming