Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Review — Midi-chlorians in a Metroidvania World

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has some technical issues and poor pacing but is still an amazing single-player Star Wars game.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has one of the best openings to a single-player game in recent memory. No individual aspect excels, but it is far greater than the sum of its parts, evoking a wide range of emotions in a single hour and giving the player a simple yet effective taste of the game’s mechanics and storyline.

It doesn’t maintain this pace throughout, unfortunately, but there is a very solid Star Wars title here.

I’ve always been a casual fan of Star Wars but never enjoyed any of the movies or games enough to be a hardcore enthusiast. And yet, the plight of Cal Kestis — Fallen Order’s padawan protagonist — felt so genuine and engaging that I find myself wanting to know more about the deeper lore.

He has an excellent supporting cast in Fallen Order, including returning characters such as a certain freedom fighter we'll leave unnamed. Perhaps the most interesting cast member, however, is Cal’s pint-sized droid companion, BD-1.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Review — Midi-chlorians in a Metroidvania World

The cutscenes all feature impressive animations, portraying genuine emotion on character’s faces, but developer Respawn Entertainment has done an exceptional job of making BD-1’s beeps, boops, and movements appear intelligent and friendly — this is probably the cutest droid companion in the entire Star Wars canon.

It’s sad, then, that the gameplay often inhibited my enjoyment of the storyline. I’ll be the first to admit that Metroidvania-style mechanics have never been my cup of Mandalorian tea and, at first, Fallen Order’s particular integration of them is tolerable.

However, as the game progresses and you reach new planets, having to revisit and replay areas that you’ve already visited becomes a chore. There are multiple occasions where turning around isn’t even possible, forcing you to go the long way around labyrinthine planets to get to your goal.

Tracking back through each level to get back to the ship once your objective is complete? Not fun. Gating the classic Jedi double-jump behind the 10th hour of the game? Not fun, either. 

While it does make logical sense for Cal's journey to become a stronger Jedi, keeping back basic mobility options just makes movement feel needlessly clunky for the first 10 hours. Imagine if Dark Souls decided you should be without a dodge roll for six hours.

Speaking of Dark Souls, there’s an understandable parallel to draw between Fallen Order and the popular punishment-driven franchise. Not only is the combat here complex and time-sensitive, but Fallen Order’s checkpoints function very similarly to bonfires, allowing the player a chance to save and spend their experience points.

Brandishing Cal’s lightsaber feels brilliant, with flurries of plasma and tense encounters that have you thinking on your feet and adapting to new enemy types, from regular Stormtroopers to Purge Troopers and even disgruntled wildlife. You can avoid attacks using a short dodge, a longer roll, or block them entirely, but perfectly timing a block to perform a parry gives you a large opening to counter.

Blocking incoming lasers as they're just about to fry Cal's face off is a rush that never gets old, either, reflecting it straight back at the trooper that fired it for a satisfying kill. 

The combat really comes alive once you’ve unlocked some new lightsaber combos and Force powers, though, which let you tackle encounters from brand-new directions.

Whether the difficulty is also Souls-like will depend on which setting you decide to play on, ranging from Story to Jedi Grandmaster, but it’s nice to have the option to switch these on the fly if you’re finding specific sections too tricky or simple.

This won’t change the difficulty of the game’s puzzles, however, a few of which can be real head-scratchers, but the game’s map is surprisingly good at highlighting paths that you haven’t explored yet or can’t open until you’ve found a new Force power.

It can get a little confusing on the larger planets like Zeffo, though, and there were even a couple of occasions where my map stopped working entirely for a few minutes, much to my chagrin. The performance issues don’t stop there, either, I’m afraid.

One of the planets really struggles to keep up, with constant load pauses in new areas even on a PS4 pro with performance mode turned on. That's purely from a technical perspective, too; we won't even go into the visuals of the poor inhabitants. 

I’ve heard numerous reports that the Xbox One version has particularly poor performance, but PC users have also reported having perfect performance, so your mileage is sure to vary depending on your platform.

The issues with performance will be easily overlooked by many, though, as it’s the cost of having a gorgeous variety of landscapes and environments to explore. It may not have the finest detail of a 2019 title, but Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order still comes out swinging its lightsaber.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Review — The Bottom Line

Pros:

  • Twisting, evolving narrative that keeps you engaged
  • Diverse, powerful combat puts you in a Jedi’s boots
  • Excellent inclusion of source material, with environments, wildlife, and music that’s instantly familiar to Star Wars fans

Cons:

  • Performance is hit-and-miss, even with Performance Mode on
  • Backtracking and repetition gets in the way of the excellent combat and story

The big downside of Fallen Order that I couldn’t get over, however, was the pacing; Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order opens with a bang, spends too long asking you to perform the same tasks and retrace your steps, and then ends abruptly. 

The 15 or so hours you'll likely spend with Fallen Order can vary wildly from wonderment to weariness, and from bewilderment to boredom.

I’d strongly advise anyone to play Fallen Order in bite-size chunks; Playing no more than 60-90 minutes at a time and spreading out your sessions will help keep the luster intact, but the fatigue will definitely set in if you try to rush this game in a week or less. 

Despite some technical and pacing issues, the final product is still the best Star Wars game we’ve seen for years. It’s particularly impressive, given the current gaming landscape, where live service titles are more prevalent than ever, and real singleplayer epics are falling by the wayside.

Respawn Entertainment and EA deserve real commendation for what they’ve created in Fallen Order, and I can’t wait to see what’s next in the Star Wars franchise.

[Note: A copy of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was provided by EA for the purpose of this review.]

Our Rating
8
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has some technical issues and poor pacing but is still an amazing single-player Star Wars game.
Reviewed On: Playstation 4

Contributor

Jonny enjoys strategy games, looter shooters, and long walks on the beach. Good at breaking down games... some would say too good. He doesn't know where the off switch is for his critical brain and is regularly scolded for winning family game nights by exploiting flawed rules.

Published Nov. 22nd 2019

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