Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC
Fallen Jedi is a game that has been highly anticipated by many Star Wars fans. The game takes place following the events of Revenge of the Sith, it seems this Respawns attempt to fill the gap in Star Wars lore, left by the absence of The Force Unleashed series, which Disney decided to remove from canon lore following their takeover of Lucasfilm. It almost feels as if Respawn wanted to take the best parts of previous Star Wars games and put them into their own image.
The game opens up on the planet Bracca, a scrap planet, where once reliable republicans have been forced to become scavengers. Cal Kestis, a former Jedi padawan, is hiding out as one of the scavengers following the infamous Order 66, where his connection to the force was severely damaged, meaning he can’t meditate. However, a incident where his close friend, Prauf, nearly loses his life means Cal has to reveal his force powers to save his friend. He later plans to run from Bracca, but is quickly interrupted by the Imperial Inquisitors, the Second and Ninth Sister. Trying to escape the Imperial forces aboard a train, he is eventually saved by Cere Junda and Greez Dritus, the rag tag group aboard The Mantis. Those who have watched Rebels the story will seem very similar.
Travel in a galaxy far, far away
The story of Fallen Jedi follows Cal on his quest to discover a mysterious Jedi artifact, that has been left by fallen Jedi Master, Eno Cordova. In order to complete his quest he must travel across the galaxy alongside the Mantis crew. The game follows a similar set up to that off the Mass Effect series and The Outer Worlds, where your ship becomes a central base of operations and you can expand on getting to know the crew through conversation as well as having several types of collectables aboard. This system allows the game to explore a number of different environments. Each planet is beautifully crafted, but in metroidvania gameplay style, with a number of obstacles that you must overcome to fully explore the landscape. Despite these challenges, they eventually become repetitive as it seems Respawns ran out of ideas after slides and wall runs, with slides being a feature in most planets, even where it doesn’t seem to fit. On the second planet, there are ice slides in otherwise green areas, for me this just felt shoehorned in.
The planets are pretty linear and exploration isn’t very rewarding, although you can gather different customisation offers and some story expanding content, it feels very limited with most crevices looking the same as the rest of the planet. I think exploration will give those completionist a kick but those that enjoy the Star Wars lore will pretty disappointed, with most of the story expanding content being quite minuscule in comparison. However, there was one part I did enjoy, whilst exploring I came across a strange looking creature on the other side of the border, instantly I tried I find a way to the creature, if there were more moments like this I would be more inclined to explore. I’m a big fan of exploring new places especially when they’re from the favourite franchise.
The story provides you with a number of different dungeons to complete, more than likely unlocking a force power at the most convenient of times to help you through the puzzle. However, this convenience is portrayed in a very good manner, Cal will utilise his power of being able to read Force Echoes and he uses this to remember past training sessions with his master. This therefore heals his connection with the force and he learns a new skill. The puzzles are very similar to a number of action-adventure games such as The Legend of Zelda. Although not incredibly difficult and the answer is normally the simple one, they do require you to get creative.
When travelling from one planet to the other, you are offered a chance to listen Cere and Greez speak about their pasts. The character development of this game is really strong, as you soon discover most characters have flaws and are actually human. Cal for instance is at times consumed by his immaturity, he is quick to give up but is also very quick to judge a situation. I’ll try not to spoil any of the story, but there is one point where he let his judgement of someone jeopardise the mission that he is set. A big issue I find in previous Star Wars media is that some force users are almost made out to be invincible and lack a personality. Cal just isn’t this, there are many times in the game where he has back to wall and has to be saved by others. It’s a really refreshing take, to make a Padawn, an almost novice user. Galen Marek, from The Force Unleashed was guilty of this as he was able to take on Jedi Masters with little to no problem.
Becoming a Jedi Knight
The combat in Fallen Jedi felt very disjointed and clunky at times as Cal is very slow to respond to enemy attacks and when getting knocked, meaning you are hit despite your own reactions. Whilst the three-move combo that Cal is very basic but when combined with dodging, force powers and blocks locks very smooth. The block stamina feature is also a very nice addition, as it makes you think about when is best to block and best to dodge. The combat system is definitely on the right tracks but could have been better on day one execution. The different types of enemies are very similar to the Force Unleashed, with a number of Imperial trooper have variety of weapons with blasters, purge staffs, electric batons, flamethrowers, amongst others. Whilst there also creatures that inhabit different planets. The difficulty of the game comes from enemies overwhelming you rather than individuals. Which is what I expected as a Jedi, no matter how well trained. There are some larger creatures in the game that provide a challenge but are few and far between. The AT-ST fights for example, is all about patience waiting for your times to strike and using the machines own weapons against them.
As I said before Cal at times is backed against a wall, only to be saved by his friends, this is most evident in the boss battles that take place. His combos are easily dealt with by opponents, relying on his parries and dodges for an opportunity to strike, his force powers are practically useless in these battles. I just felt this was such a nice take on the Jedi protagonist, even on protagonists as a whole, as it shows that not having the ability to stop what you think is wrong isn’t the end of the world, you have to power on through and eventually you’ll reach the goal. Cal and his crew do just that, they overcome their obstacles and faults to complete a mission.
One of the big aspects of Fallen Jedi was building your own lightsaber, which was a nice little addition and something we haven’t seen since Knights of the Old Republic. You gain access to a number of different recognisable lightsaber parts through your exploration of planets. The lightsaber sound effects are a really nice addition and really bring the combat to life. That sound of activating your lightsaber just sends tingles to down your spine. However, I got a little frustrated how the lightsaber cuts through organic creatures as it would mechanic leaving the hot metal glow on your fallen foe. This just broke the immersion for me and really left me annoyed, I’m not expecting gushing blood because we all know that a lightsaber would cartirise the wound but a bit more realism in this aspect would have been a nice touch. But that’s just me being picky.
Bridging a narrative
Being set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, it really feels like Fallen Jedi is Respawn’s attempt at a narrative to replace The Force Unleashed with a new and unique story. They’ve done just that and better. The Force Unleashed was a decent story but almost felt shoehorned in, and the ending just felt like they couldn’t end it the way then wanted, with you attacking Darth Sidious and Darth Vader. Whereas Fallen Jedi almost fits in seamlessly, although they haven’t really impacted any of the other Star Wars medias, the narrative can really stand on it’s own feet. It was almost as if I was playing a Star Wars Story movie. Respawn got the balance between fan service and originality just right here, with a couple of planets being well known locations in the universe and used in TV programmes and films. They also managed to create a lot of original creatures, enemies and such to create a new story to fit into the saga.
Fallen Jedi is a throwback to many previous Star Wars games, combining the elements of a lot, whilst also throwing in some easter eggs from the other medias. Despite this Respawn really put their own stamp on this game, bringing together a story of what happened following Order 66 but through a new characters eyes. Although very typical of a Star Wars story, the narrative is held together by strong character development and relationships, that really grip you as a player and a fan. I’ve got to admit after a couple of years on disliking the franchise and it’s path forward following Last Jedi and Solo, this game has really brought back my love for it and I’ve got to say I’m quite excited for Rise of Skywalker on 19 December.
Despite it’s let down which were a repetitive obstacle course on the face of the different planets and a combat system that does need improvement, I feel overall this was a very good game deserving off the ratings it been getting. I was really indecisive over whether to get this and I’m glad I did in the end, just wish I didn’t pay the money I did for it. The story took me about 12 hours to complete, which isn’t long especially for a £60 game and with little desire to get stuck in with the 100% completion due to lack of steam achievements. Overall, a good game that I would recommend but wait for the sales.