When I saw footage of Jedi: Fallen Order at the last in-person E3 (note, I was not attending, it was online, but the E3 in question was the last in-person one before Covid-19), I was impressed by the style of the game, using Dark Souls style mechanics with Uncharted traversal, within the Star Wars setting.

The game is set during the Rebellion era, and follows Cal Kestis, a padawan who barely survived Order 66, and has been hiding ever since. When he gets found out, he ends up being rescued by fallen Jedi Knight Cere Junda, and the scoundrel captain of the freighter Stinger Mantis – Greez Dritus. Cere knows where a holocron was hidden with the names and locations of thousands of Force-sensitive children. Enough to rebuild the Jedi order, or to allow the Sith to drown the galaxy in darkness forever.

The game combines Dark Souls, Metroid, and Uncharted elements. You navigate the world like Nathan Drake with a light-saber (and a poncho instead of a half-tuck) – climbing, jumping, and sliding through the various enviroments of the world. Each world map is pretty large, with lots of secrets to find and various ways to get from point A to point B, with certain routes not being accessible until you get various power-ups that assist with movement, and in some cases combat – like with Metroid.

Additionally, instead of checkpoints, you have meditation points you reach that allow you to save your game and spend skill points you earn by leveling up. Those points also let you restore your hit points and refill your supply of your health consumable, stim packs, but at the cost of causing all the enemies (save for bosses) who you defeated on the way there to respawn. Consequently, part of the key to successfully proceeding in the game is finding and unlocking shortcuts in the level environment to allow you to bypass some earlier areas of traversal when you come back the way you came. This is a lot like Dark Souls.

That said, there is not the variety of playstyles available to you that is available in a Souls-Bourne game. By the end of the game you’ll probably have most of the skill tree filled out. You can customize the appearance of your light-saber, but for most of the game it’s generally going to be a normal light-saber – later on it gets adjusted into a double-bladed light-saber, with the ability to switch between the two, with one other slight flourish that you can use some force meter to activate, but that’s it. No big change in weapon style, no significant change to your fighting style or stance outside of going from one to two blades. It means that by the end of the game, odds are pretty good that your Cal and my Cal, in terms of the stats, are going to be pretty much the same.

The combat is generally pretty solid – blaster bolts are pretty easy and fun to parry, and landing counters against generic stormtroopers is great. Things stumble somewhat in situations where you’re going up against 2-3 melee troopers at once, or a bunch of melee troopers with other troopers shooting at you around the perimeter, where it becomes rather difficult to manage blocking all those opponents. Same with several of the bosses, who throw a whole bunch of attacks in very rapid succession at the player are also somewhat tricky to manage, in terms of the timing of the attacks. It probably speaks volumes that when you scale down the difficulty and try those boss fights again, those enemies just don’t use those attacks.

The story of Jedi: Fallen Order is generally executed well. The crew of the Stinger Mantis has very good chemistry, with Greez in particular having some solid John C. Reilly energy. The problem is there really isn’t much in terms of other cast members. We’ve got some Imperial Inquisitors as recurring villains, we have a small smattering of bounty hunters who pop up every now and then, and we get some members of a rebel cell on Kashyyk. That’s it. While the level environments are wonderfully large and expansive and fun to explore, this lack of interaction makes the world itself feel barren and empty. There’s no real equivalent to the various NPCs you run into in the Dark and Demon Souls games.

In all, Jedi: Fallen Order is the most fun I’ve had playing a force user in a game since the KotOR games, and the implementation of traversal in particular is great fun. I hope that we do get a sequel so we can get more more character interactions in that game, now that they’ve gotten the execution of these concepts down.Jedi: Fallen Order is available for purchase from the Humble Store. Buying anything through that link will help to support the blog and the Autism Society of Oregon.

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