Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was a very pleasant surprise when it hit our screens about four years ago. Even more so when we learned that behind the wheel were publisher EA and development team Respawn Entertainment, a duo that had by then clearly shown a preference for multiplayer productions. And unlike the majority of Star Wars titles in recent years, which were qualitatively degrading the franchise (even more than Disney is doing), Fallen Order was very worthwhile, not only as part of the Star Wars universe, but as a standalone game in general. The existence of a sequel was more than a given, as the game was a commercial and artistic success, and Respawn's claim that the first game was rushed to market meant that the next one, with the cushion of a more comfortable development timeline, would end up being an even more compelling experience. And so, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor was born.
A game that aspires to correct any flaws in the original game, while at the same time enriching the gameplay with fresh ideas and mechanics, creating the ultimate Star Wars experience. If we wanted to make our position clear from the outset, we would have no hesitation in stating that Respawn's promises have been fulfilled. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a game that perfectly realizes the ideal profile that a sequel should have, which is, "bigger, better and stronger". However, the fortification that the gameplay has undergone in various areas is not matched by an equally compelling plot.
Of course, it doesn't fall into the grotesque level of writing of the recent film trilogy, but although it has a lot of interest, plenty of action and a few twists and turns throughout, there is no great climax. Perhaps this was intentional, as there will surely be a third part to follow, which will probably be the most impressive of all, but we have to point out the taste we were left with after watching the credits.
In general, the plot again revolves around Cal Kestis, now a seasoned Jedi Knight, who spends his time trying to achieve critical blows against the mighty Empire. However, his efforts are not accompanied by any notable successes, especially since the "old gang" from the first game has parted ways and he is now working with new faces. However, he begins to realize that this war tactic is not really working, and a shocking piece of news he learns after a mission on Coruscant leads him to do some self-reflection and think about what he really wants to do with his life.
We would prefer not to go into further revelations about the plot, however it is worth mentioning that the game is not superficially concerned with the trivial battle of Good versus Evil, but whether the confrontation of the Empire's domination has a substantial background and is not a waste of effort. Consequently, Jedi: Survivor has a more down-to-earth and perhaps more human story than the usual Star Wars stories, it just breaks down somewhere in the realization of the "bad guys" in the story and their motivations.
But enough of the story, you will judge for yourself whether it satisfies you or not. Moving on to the gameplay, Jedi: Survivor offers the player what they expect and... a little more. Being a top shelf action game, with Cal Kestis being an impressive fighter, packed with powers befitting a Jedi Knight (double jumping, wall running, force push, pull, confusion, etc), who finds himself and moves in an equally amazing environment. The description given to Fallen Order as "Uncharted in space" doesn't fully reflect reality, as Jedi: Survivor undoubtedly has its own personality, which in structure and mechanics, is more reminiscent of a mix of the recent Tomb Raider trilogy with the pure Metroidvania genre. And the "Souls-like" touches are present, but they are perfectly manageable, and combined with the ability to select a difficulty level, the game becomes as accessible as the player desires.
So if you played the original game, you'll have no trouble adapting to Jedi: Survivor, and you'll be especially pleased to know that Cal Kestis' control is even better and more solid. After all, it couldn't be otherwise, as in order to explore all the wondrous places we're called upon to visit, we need to have the right equipment and the appropriate flexibility. The enrichment of Cal's equipment and powers is provided gradually as the game progresses, leading us to return frequently to places we were previously unable to visit and, believe us, there are many of them.
In a way, Jedi: Survivor is an open-world game, but not in the stifling way implemented in games like the recent Assassin's Creed. Sure, dozens of side quests, puzzle challenges, and several optional activities (from optional bosses and bounty hunting to holotactics and garden maintenance) are included, but they're rendered in such a natural way that you just feel like they're actually part of the world rather than like someone forced them there. Especially after the opening sequence on Coruscant, a large chunk of the game takes place on Koboh's planet, which is full of secrets and will take many hours to discover them all. But if you don't wish to engage in, for example, planting seeds, the game doesn't force you to do so (with the possible exception of the High Chambers, which offer important goodies), so you can easily devote yourself to the main campaign, and there are quite a few times when the profit from such activities is limited to cosmetic items. So, small harm is done.
The cosmetics issue was very much present in the first game. It exists here as well, but to a somewhat lesser extent, as Jedi: Survivor more often rewards the person who spends more time exploring, giving them more stim-packs, increased health/force and so on. But there's no shortage of instances where you can climb for... hours to finally get a new outfit for BD-1, which is definitely annoying.
What's not annoying at all are the two main pillars of its gameplay: platforming and combat. The platforming is enjoyable, direct and "flows" so satisfyingly that you never feel like the game is "pulling" you back to make things difficult with incredible stunts. Regardless if, in the end, the stunts Cal is asked to perform are indeed... incredible. And the regular occurrence of shortcuts is a very nice way of rewarding the player after a difficult series of successive platform challenges, giving them comfort that they won't have to repeat them. To be honest, I haven't had this much fun with platforming since The Sands of Time trilogy of Prince of Persia.
In its second pillar, combat, we find a similar, but clearly more elaborate system than in Fallen Order. It is also true that, compared to other games of the genre, Jedi: Survivor is a bit harder, as any player who simply presses the attack button without thinking, is doomed to lose repeatedly. It's absolutely essential to learn how to defend, parry (essential in bosses), and when it's the right time to attack or retreat based on the opponent's bar posture. As a concept then, Jedi: Survivor is no different from its predecessor, but there is one major addition that completely changes the game.
This addition is the stances. Now, Cal Kestis is not limited to a single lightsaber, but there are five different stances in total, which are gradually acquired as we progress through the adventure and create new tactics for dealing with each situation. Specifically, there's the single lightsaber stance (the classic one), the double a-la Darth Maul (perfect for crowd control), dual wield, Crossguard (like the one Kylo Ren wielded and the stance more reminiscent of a "Souslike" game - slow but powerful) and finally a combination of lightsaber and... blaster! Oh yes, the... "clumsy" blaster, as Obi-Wan famously called it, has been introduced into Cal Kestis' arsenal and, surprisingly, proves to be a reliable solution in potential, remote battles.
It is noteworthy that we can only have up to two stances active at a time, and if we want to change them, we must be on a meditation point. This is also where we can spend our experience points, between three types of skill trees (Survivor, Lightsaber and Force) and the dozens of abilities that make up them, or place a perk on Cal, once we've discovered them of course (it'll take a bit more effort for those). The best news we could hear is the existence of fast travel, right from the beginning of the game, which makes backtracking a simple and quick process. The players' pleas were, thankfully, heeded!
Jedi: Survivor would have been a thoroughly worthy sequel to Fallen Order, which we would highly recommend if it didn't have so many problems with its technical aspects. Unfortunately, unlike Last of Us Part I where I got lucky, Jedi: Survivor has serious issues with its performance, and it doesn't even come with the graphics quality to match. Not to say that the game is bad, far from it, the use of the now outdated Unreal Engine 4 is disappointing. On an i7-11700k computer, with 16GB and 3060Ti, on a 1080p monitor, the frame rate rarely hit 60fps, no matter what settings I had (needless to say I had ray tracing turned off) and usually hovered between 45-50 (at best) frames in open spaces. And the traversal stuttering whenever I visited new areas was often desperate.
Apart from the performance, there are also bugs, such as characters disappearing and sticking to the ground or pop-in textures entering the frame, which means that you need to restart each checkpoint in order for the game to progress smoothly. At least, I didn't encounter any crashes during my 25-hour engagement, aside from one hang-up where I had to close the game from the task manager, but it's obvious that Jedi: Survivor needed several more weeks of work.
I don't know the reasons why the game was released in this state - I assume financial. Respawn has acknowledged the bugs and has committed to fixing them, but frankly that's no excuse. The problems in question were known before release and admittedly, they didn't let me enjoy the game as much as I would have liked, which has an impact on the rating you'll read below, which would otherwise be over 90%. It's a shame that such a great game trips itself up, where it doesn't smash its face on one hand (far from unplayable status), but leaves quite a few bruises on the other.
Moreover, the quality of its other features (character design, environments, animation, soundtrack) is so high that it easily makes it one of the most complete and best action games we've ever played. If it manages to fix its technical issues, then you won't have to think twice about whether you should own it. We only hope the third installment in the series is what it should be in all aspects.
Many thanks to Bandai Namco Hellas for providing the review code.