Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order might be my favorite Star Wars story-based video game I have ever played.
I know that’s saying a lot considering some of the iconic Star Wars games of the past, but this one is absolutely terrific. We haven’t had many video games from the franchise in recent years, and in fact the video game side of things is perhaps the only area in which Lucasfilm has been significantly dragging amidst a rush of films, shows, books, comics, and even VR experiences. All we have had since the Disney acquisition are two Battlefront games, and while the second one had a story mode with it, we hadn’t had a true single-player, story-based Star Wars game in a long time.
That changed last week with the release of the highly-anticipated Jedi: Fallen Order, and it lives up to the hype. I won’t delve into heavy spoilers in this article, but I’ll venture into them soon.
Set five years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, our protagonist is a former Jedi Padawan named Cal Kestis who survived the Purge. His Jedi Order has fallen, and he is working as a scrapper on the planet Bracca until, soon enough, he’s discovered. He encounters a former Jedi, Cere Junda, her pilot, Greez Dritus, and the lovable droid BD-1, who becomes a key ally to Cal and travels everywhere with him throughout the story. They go on a quest for a holocron containing the names of young Force sensitive children, hidden by Cere’s old master, Eno Cordova. This is easier said than done, however, as he has left a long trail across several planets to ensure the holocron cannot be accessed except by the right person. So the crew travels across the galaxy on this quest, encountering many formidable foes along the way.
The game has several main planets that you can explore, including Bogano, Zeffo, Kashyyyk, Dathomir, and a few others that I’ll refrain from mentioning here for the sake of preserving spoilers. You can travel to these planets at any time once your quest begins, provided you’re on the Mantis (the ship that serves as your main hub) to be able to access the holotable. Fallen Order doesn’t just immediately transport you back to the ship when a certain quest is done; you have to make your way back yourself. I think this was a great decision, but it did lead to some frustration on Zeffo as I wandered around for quite a while trying to find my way back to the Mantis. Along those lines, my only real complaint with the game is that the map you have access to isn’t exactly the most helpful; it’s certainly better than nothing, but it could be better.
Early on, you’ll be presented with the choice between going to Zeffo or Dathomir first, and I wasn’t sure which one to pick! I wound up choosing Zeffo because I thought that’s what the story wanted me to do, and I think that was probably correct. However, while Dathomir is a very challenging planet, you do gain access to a very important and powerful upgrade there, so it won’t be a waste of your time to go there first either. And don’t worry: you’ll get plenty of opportunity to explore both planets before your journeys are done.
One of my favorite things about the game is what helps set it apart from many of the other Star Wars games I’ve played: as a Jedi, you’re not some ridiculously overpowered Force user. This requires you to actually engage in smart, thoughtful combat rather than just rushing into a situation unprepared. Parrying, dodging, and making use of the Force abilities you do have are all necessary as you work to take down enemies. And as the game goes on, Cal deals with the lingering trauma of what happened during the Purge and becomes stronger with the Force, so you do gain new abilities as you go. But you never reach the point where you’re some overpowered Jedi who is invincible, as many other games in the past have done. This makes the combat fresh, challenging, rewarding, and fun.
And while combat is certainly a staple of this game, so too is exploring – and I love it. You explore ancient structures, search for clues, and try to reach certain people and places. There’s a lot of area to explore, and you don’t have to do all of it right away to complete the main story. I probably explored about 70-80% of each planet while completing the main quest, and I plan to go back and explore more. I particularly enjoyed exploring on Kashyyyk… except for those giant spiders. *shivers*
So if you’re a fan of games that mix thoughtful, challenging combat with adventurous exploration, this game is for you. But beyond that, for the Star Wars fan, you’re rewarded with a fantastic story that really pulls you into it as you get to know the characters more and more. You find out more about the histories of the main characters – Cal, Cere, Greez, and BD-1 – as well as the Second Sister, Eno Cordova, and others. At its heart, though, is Cal coming to grips with what happened at the Purge and how he’s going to move on from it. I absolutely loved the story: it was compelling, it was surprising, it was exciting, it was filled with other connections, and it felt so much like Star Wars.
The soundtrack, game play, visuals, and story combine to make one heck of a Star Wars experience. If you’re waiting to see whether you should pick it up, I can give my highest recommendation. It’s exactly what I was hoping for in a Star Wars video game, and it just might be my favorite story-based one I’ve ever played. This is the game we’ve been waiting for.