This review originally appeared on One More Game.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the highly-anticipated sequel to the much beloved Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order from EA and Respawn Entertainment. The first outing launched to mostly rave reviews from critics and fans, praising its combat and overall experience that elevated it compared to other Star Wars titles. Naturally, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has big shoes to fill.
Five years have passed since the events of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Cal Kestis and his crew have gone their separate ways. Determined to defeat the Empire, Cal continues to fight alongside other rebel fighters, which culminates in a botched mission in Coruscant.
Learning of a paradise hidden in the deepest reaches of the universe, Cal reunites with his estranged crew to locate it as a means to create a safe haven for those persecuted by the Empire. In his way are Empire troops, raiding marauders, and even his own darkness as every setback and failure leads him closer to the dark side. Will this survivor continue to stay alive or succumb to the many setbacks that come his way?
Take up that lightsaber once again, Padawan. We’re going on a wild ride to the dark side–I mean, to Star Wars Jedi: Survivor!
A new hope
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor continues where we left off from the first game, and you really feel that time has really passed for Cal Kestis. He’s dropped his boyish look for a more rugged rebel chic, all while keeping all his previous skills such as double jumping, wall running, and others. There’s a feel of continuity that’s a great look for the sequel, which carries over Cal’s growth and training from the previous outing.
The general gameplay and combat loop stay the same, and this sequel doesn’t do anything too drastic to flip the script. Combat remains fluid and intuitive, and while the challenging gameplay can be much more forgiving (especially parrying) thanks to the various difficulty levels, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor puts more focus on allowing a wide range of players across skill levels to enjoy the game.
The developers have taken combat to heart and have placed various improvements that make it even more satisfying than before. Some encounters will see you and an ally take on the Empire together, and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor allows Cal some double trouble in the form of tag-team finishers and even commanding them to attack enemies for you. You’ll also have new force tricks up your sleeve, and it really adds a new dimension to the overall combat encounters.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor further expands on stances, giving twin lightsabers their own focus, along with two other lightsaber stances added, including a blaster and a cross-saber stance. Cal can equip only two stances at a time, so choosing which ones to take to combat are an important decision every time you take off into battle.
The Blaster stance is a fencing-style stance with the blaster serving as a supplement that doesn’t take up force energy, while the cross saber is a slower but stronger playstyle where timing and damage are given a premium over speedy strikes. These new stances expand Cal’s already impressive repertoire of moves, giving players more choices on how to take on the Empire.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor also introduces perks that further improve your existing skills at the cost of reduced performance elsewhere, offering players more choices to build Cal into a Jedi master of their liking. If you’re less of a parrying type, you can improve your block meter and focus on stronger single attacks, or you can also put everything on the blaster and remove force usage altogether.
Traversal-wise, the developers have put a massive premium on movement and verticality. Cal has all his moves and more, adding a grappling hook function (everything is better with a grappling hook!), an air dash, and a ceiling climb. Applying everything you’ve learned raises the level of acrobatics immensely, giving Cal a level of Jedi experience that allows for freeflow movement in a more expanded terrain. It’s great to look at, but even more satisfying in action.
This greatly improves the exploration experience, especially for more claustrophobic environments such as empire bases and space stations. They don’t feel like expanded corridors from the first game, giving the places room to breathe while offering the player options on how to clear areas. Planets such as Koboh and Jehda have a larger area to explore, and the inclusion of mounts per planet allows for a bigger area to explore and traverse.
One much-welcome improvement over Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the ability to fast travel between meditation spots, which is great for cutting walking time between areas. As planets have a much larger area to explore, these fast travel options also cut down on the tedious backtracking that the previous title is notorious for. That said, one drawback to having larger planets in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is also having far fewer planets to explore compared to its predecessor.
Despite that, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor strikes back with a host of planetary activities that players can take part in, such as Rumors that allow for side quests to keep track of the small favors you do for NPCs. When you complete Rumors, you’re able to recruit new allies to Greef’s saloon – The Pyloon – which functions similarly to a Keep in Dragon Age. There, your recruits will tend to your garden, fish, and even help with interior design. Rumors range from fetch quests and hunts, and even unlocking new activities like Meditation Chambers and Fractured Rifts.
Meditation Chambers and Fractured Rifts are physical activities that expand from the Meditation training activities from the first game. Meditation Chambers are like the Shrine Puzzles in Breath of the Wild, while Fractured Rifts are straight-up combat challenges that reward players with Health, Force, Skill Points, and Perks when completed.
In your journey, you’ll also be exposed to the usual puzzles, and while they are a lot more challenging in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, some puzzles could be a tad obtuse, but not overtly frustrating. By being patient and observant, a solution will present itself. The hints could’ve been less cryptic, however.
Rewards also feel streamlined without any unnecessary busy work. Health and Force meters aren’t split up into fragments, which is a breath of fresh air. There are also several currencies that you can collect to purchase skills from various vendors such as shards, data discs, and even bounties.
In The Shadow of The Empire
EA and Respawn Entertainment have put on a masterclass in balancing the content in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, providing a myriad of activities without feeling obligatory, but also enough for players to pursue further exploration and adventures should they choose to do so.
What this does is give the game enough room to allow for the story and characters to breathe without bombarding you with activities. The priority is to immerse you into the world, re-introduce you to the characters and story, and then partake in the activities that are offered.
That said, the main campaign can be completed in about 20-25 hours depending on how you choose to go about your ways, which can balloon to nearly double should players wish to scour the galaxy of every nook and cranny.
Apart from a visual (4K with lower frames) and frame rate mode (1440p with higher frames) Star Wars Jedi: Survivor also boasts many accessibility options that cater to almost everyone with specific needs and comfort levels to fully enjoy the game. One option that was curious was the Agoraphobia option, where the content becomes friendly for players who are traumatized by heights. As games get more hyper-realistic, it’s good that the developers are mindful of players who may find extreme heights triggering, and this is quite a fantastic way to go about it.
The build that we played had a few issues and glitches that we hope could be fixed with the Day 1 patch. Some minor issues like screen tearing can be seen, but in particular, there was a mission that I could not get past due to a condition not triggering. Thankfully, it was only a few hours in, so I simply chose to repeat the game, and that solved the problem. This may have been solved with a system that has multiple auto-saves, but then again, that really doesn’t address the root cause, so hopefully the Day 1 patch irons these small kinks out.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, with all of its improvements, has set it in a way that serves the story first. It is a narrative single-player adventure after all, and the onus of the game is to provide you with an engaging narrative that hooks you from start to end, respects the continuity set up in the previous games, and provides a satisfying adventure that tackles both the physical and emotional journey of the characters that we’re invested in.
Star Wars Jedi Survivor does an excellent balancing act to fulfill all that I’ve listed above and much more. The game does all the legacy characters a lot of justice and really extends each of their personal arcs without it taking over the overarching narrative. Each character made use of their precious screen time without them stepping out of line in terms of crossing over to being “too powerful” or “too damaged”. (Looking at you Rey Palpatine.)
Apart from the main story, many of the wild goose chases provided by the sub-plots are equally as enjoyable and didn’t overstay their welcome. I also preferred certain antagonists more than others, while some could’ve used some depth. For the most part, they served their purpose for the plot without them sticking out like a sore thumb.
The characters are what make Star Wars Jedi: Survivor special, very similar to what made the franchise magical in the first place. The chemistry and camaraderie between every main character are strong and it feels as if you’ve been reunited with old friends and mentors who aren’t perfect but are all working to complete their own story arcs.
For such a focus on the narrative, it pains me to say that Cal still remains as lifeless as a board similar to the first game, but his companions steal the show at every turn. Returning characters such as Greef and Cere and new characters such as Bode and Rayvis all have standout performances that really add life to the game and make seeing them in cutscenes and cinematics something to look forward to.
In that regard, this is what made Star Wars Jedi: Survivor stand out from other video game narratives of its kind, and dare I say it, even better fleshed out than most of the titles seen in other mediums (maybe with the exception of Andor, because that’s just a masterpiece).
What We Liked:
- A narrative-centered experience that improves on the characters seen in the previous game and continues their arc in a satisfying direction.
- Improved quality-of-life features make navigating the semi-open world fun and accessible.
- An expanded world with more activities to add replay value after everything is said and done.
What We Didn’t Like:
- Performance issues are hopefully fixed by the Day 1 patch.
- Fewer planets to explore compared to the first
- Could’ve used another autosave or even a manual save slot.
Verdict: Buy It!
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a monumental balancing act that improves upon its predecessor while standing on its own as a satisfying and emotional story. From its dynamic gameplay to an improvement in its movement and verticality to the delicate balance of its story, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor gets a lot of things right, showing us the way how to make a true high-quality Star Wars video game.
Just like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order before it, I highly recommend this game not only to fans of Star Wars but to everyone else simply because of the experience. The game offers players a story of epic proportions, characters that they can emotionally relate to, and an experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome or overwhelm you with too much content. It finds the right balance that ends up feeling fulfilling on all fronts.
From what’s presented and all its amazing set pieces, it is up there as one of the best Star Wars titles, even rivaling and easily standing on par with the classics. It may be too early to say, but Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is definitely a shoo-in for a Game of the Year contender in our books.
*Star Wars Jedi Survivor was reviewed on the PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.
There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.