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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
★★ | The Force is wobbly with this one
You review the game that’s out. Not the one you’d want it to be.
That was the mantra I kept repeating throughout my 20 hours with Jedi: Survivor. A flawed, often broken experience, that occasionally captures the magic of Star Wars.
As a sequel, Jedi: Survivor is arguably more fun than its predecessor. Its sprawling open-world hubs, secret passages, and a healthy dose of customization, certainly bring more to the table. But bigger doesn’t necessarily mean that what we’re getting is more complex or refined. In fact, most of the areas where Jedi: Fallen Order stumbles are precisely the same as its predecessor.
It refuses to change its clunky fighting mechanics. The level design is frequently messy, and that awful, awful map system is still a pain. Even visual cues, such as when platforming, remain frustratingly baffling at times.
On top of that, Jedi: Survivor is still, after patches and a few weeks from launch, very much broken. Not devastatingly incomplete like Cyberpunk 2077 last year, but broken nonetheless. From frame stuttering to texture pop-in to crashing, there isn’t a bug that Jedi: Fallen Order doesn’t embrace with gusto.
Even a broken game would be acceptable if it was fun to play or if the story was intriguing, but Jedi: Fallen Order, um, falls short here as well. The plot is a jumble of fan service, baffling decisions, and a couple of plot twists you can see coming a mile away.
Set some years after the first game, Jedi: Fallen Order makes the cardinal mistake right off the bat by having all the interesting bits happen in the interim. The original trio has broken up, and there’s a lot of ballyhoo about Kal flirting with the dark side in his increasingly extremist quest against the empire.
Left alone, he’s banded together with a new squad of surprisingly disposable redshirts, who help him without questioning his methods. There’s a lot of early talk about the cost of terrorism in the name of good, and for a split second I actually thought we’re getting something exciting in Star Wars again.
But after a surprisingly effective opening sequence involving a kidnapping gone wrong, Jedi: Fallen Order goes right back to repeating the plot from the first game. There’s again that damn map to the younglings, the empire is hot on the trail, and now we have a desperately bland love affair between Kal and Merrin to contend with.
None of it’s interesting, and there’s barely enough plot to stretch over the 30 hours it takes to finish the game. A couple side quests work wonders, but they’re so short you’re quickly back to wandering through the brutally vast planets in hopes of finding something fun to do.
As if Respawn had learned nothing from their previous game, Jedi: Fallen Order again features the same incomprehensible map design, which makes navigation a chore. The planets are bigger this time around, too, which means endless repetition as you scour the environment looking for the right way.
The mix between Dark Souls and Metroidvania didn’t work the first time, and it sure as hell doesn’t work now.
Combat has barely seen any updates, either. Most of the time is still spent flailing at enemies that are surprisingly happy to cozy up to a lightsaber. On higher difficulties, they become such bullet sponges that I question does anyone actually enjoy playing these games at anything beyond the easy mode.
In a worst case scenario, you’re stuck in a bland room, fighting waves of enemies that all look alike. You flail against the poorly choreographed and communicated attacks, and the stuttering game crashes – sending you back to the last checkpoint twenty minutes away.
But then, out of nowhere, you get a surprisingly sensitive and thoughtful scene where the game slows down. The characters feel like people. There’s talk of a grander plan, beyond all of this senselessness, and suddenly the galaxy feels massive again.
These moments are short and far apart. By the time you reach the end, you’ll probably have forgotten them entirely. But they’re there, and they make much of the painful slog worthwhile.
They showcase that beneath all the hubris, Respawn still remembers that Star Wars is about the characters, not the spectacle.
Maybe with part three, they’ll limit the scope, and in turn allow the story to breathe more freely.