It is a dark time in Star Wars fandom – or more specifically, the segment of Star Wars fandom that prefers single-player video games. Since Disney acquired the franchise, the focus has been on the multiplayer shooter Battlefront series at EA, and maintaining the MMO The Old Republic. If you fancied battling your way through a galaxy far, far away on your own, the closest option recently has been VR effort Vader Immortal.
Now comes a new hope for single-player titles – Jedi: Fallen Order, set between Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope and focusing on Cal Kestis, a Padawan who survived Order 66, the purge of the Jedi knights. Hiding on Bracca, a non-descript world far from the Empire’s purview, Cal attracts the attention of the sadistic inquisitor Second Sister when he uses the Force to save a friend’s life. Sent on the run, with the support of a former Jedi Master and the adorable droid BD-1, Cal is drawn into a mystery centuries old that takes him to some of the galaxy’s most impressive locations.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Developer Respawn Entertainment has brilliantly crafted a slice of Star Wars lore that fits in perfectly with the classic George Lucas trilogies. The settings Cal visits perfectly blend ancient ruins with advanced star fighters, strange monstrous creatures with sentient robots, the hard technology of the Empire and burgeoning Rebellion with the weird mysticism of the Force. Where the Battlefront games feel like remixes of Star Wars’ best bits, Fallen Order manages to provide something new that slots in seamlessly alongside the old.
Fallen Order borrows liberally from other action-adventure series but combines elements into a satisfying whole that feels sufficiently fresh.
Mechanically, Fallen Order borrows liberally from other action-adventure series but combines elements into a satisfying whole that feels sufficiently fresh. Exploring the environments has a strong Assassin’s Creed vibe, with Cal parkouring his way up, around, and over most obstacles, but with several areas only accessible by navigating specific pathways, a lá Uncharted or the modern Tomb Raider games. Combat is a speedy mix of lightsaber flourishes and dodges, ricocheting laser blasts back at Stormtroopers, all enhanced by Cal’s burgeoning Force abilities, allowing him to shove or slow enemies.
It’s all capped off by a dash of Dark Souls, with signature ‘boss’ enemies to discover and beat, and grunt enemies respawning when Cal rests at meditation points. Thankfully, unlike the Souls series, Fallen Order doesn’t feel quite so punitive when you fail – you’ll only need to attack an enemy to regain the experience points you’ll have dropped, allowing you to snatch them back then run for cover again, while grinding experience points to enhance Cal’s skills is faster and less of a chore.
There is a sense that in some respects, Respawn have played it safe here – from the melange of gameplay styles from tried and tested titles, to the setting itself, to musical cues deliberately reminiscent of John Williams’ work on the films, Fallen Order feels very familiar in places. It even “Vader baits”, with the antagonistic Second Sister a protégé of the Sith Lord.
However, the story Fallen Order tells and the characters it introduces players to are captivating despite the familiarity, and exceptional voice acting across the board elevates the whole production. All told, Star Wars’ return to story-driven, single-player gaming stands up as a great experience in its own right – at least enough so that a bit of nostalgia along the way can be forgiven.