Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
With a formula that is not so original but very functional, Jedi Fallen Order manages to become an ideal game for fans after several weak titles.
Platforms: PC/ PS4 (Reviewed) /Xbox One
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Release: October 8/2019
Genre: The Force Unleashed… without being so OP
Recently, it’s been hard to be a Star Wars fan in the world of video games. Disney’s purchase of the franchise started on the wrong foot with the closure of Lucas Arts and the cancellation of 1313 . Soon after, Disney’s deal with EA didn’t bear fruit either, with a first Battlefront short on content and a second installment abusing its monetization. This is not to mention that the company that would carry the banner of Star Wars video games had said (stubbornly) that single player games were dead.
For this –and a couple of other things– Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order only made me nervous and skeptical, although I looked forward to it. I could have trusted Respawn Entertainment more, they haven’t disappointed with their games so far, but the transition from developing FPSs to adventure games could bring calamity. It was lucky they didn’t have to make the game on Frostbyte. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is an action-adventure game developed by the developer behind Apex Legends and Titanfall . Counting Battlefront II , it is the second canon story entry in this new era for Disney/EA. The technical precedent was high, but the history one left a lot of room for improvement.
Few spoilers, but spoilers from the beginning.
This time we follow the story of Cal Kestis, another Order 66 survivor who has lived in hiding for the last 5 years on a junkyard planet. An accident at work forces him to use the Force to save one of his coworkers and inadvertently draws the attention of the Imperial Inquisition who are right after people like him. We began an intense escape slicing up stormtroopers, but luckily Cere Junda, a former Jedi, and her pilot, Greez Ditrus, intercepted Imperial communications and rescued us from certain death at the hands of the Second Sister of the Inquisition.
This rescue, of course, is not so fortuitous. Cere Junda asks us for help to decipher the mysteries of the Zeffo, an extinct race of aliens that obsessed her teacher, Eno Cordova, because hidden in one of his vaults may be the key to saving the Jedi Order. Tired of running and hiding, Kal agrees to help. So we go on the Stinger Mantis from Greez to Bogano, one of the sacred planets for the Zeffo. Here, Kal befriends BD-1: a droid that used to belong to Evo Cordova and holds part of the key to solving the mysteries we are about to face. Bogano is also where the adventure really begins. Fallen Order is primarily an exploration game, drawing heavily from games like Uncharted (2007) and Tomb Raider (2013) on maps arranged like Metroid Prime (2002). We started in Bogano, but soon we have the option to visit other planets like Dathomir and Zaffo. Cal jumps and climbs like our favorite tomb raiders and the map is a network of interconnected passageways that we unlock as we progress and get more powers and tools. So there’s always an invitation to revisit places we’ve been before, despite the more or less linear structure of the story.
We could call it a metroidvania-light, even, and Bogano is perhaps its best exponent: exquisitely interconnected. Dathomir is a much more linear experience and Zeffo seems to be much more spread out in areas that connect in a few points. The other maps are spoilers. The fact is that most of the time we are going through scenarios, not fighting. The skills and tools that we need to advance are obtained by advancing in the story, including combat ones. Unfortunately, the “secrets” we get through exploration are mostly cosmetic mods (for Cal, BD-1, the lightsaber, the Stinger Mantis ) or bits of lore and context. There are bonuses to Life and Strength, but they are the exception. The reward for exploring and going back to the previous maps is tenuous and it gets boring doing a fun environment puzzle to find a brushed poncho for Cal. There are a couple of good references to the expanded mythology in the cosmetic mods, but nothing that really warrants detours. It was also disheartening that a whole optional section with some very interesting bits of history was rewarded with one more dirty poncho. But the last third of the game is non-stop action with a lot of character and universe story development, almost correcting on the fly what the previous third makes boring.
The game also has a couple of amazing surprises. I am of the cynical opinion that EA (Respawn) has found the video game fast food of this decade and sticks to a fun and effective formula and doesn’t take risks in terms of gameplay and story in the future. A bit like Disney takes no chances with Marvel movies. I’m not saying this because I think they’re going to release bad games in the future, but because of the artistic potential that a universe like Star Wars has. Although I don’t want that potential to bring us another dance game. Ugh. If anything, Fallen Order is a great addition to the Star Wars game library for anyone: old fans and new. The gameplay is solid, despite the clunky combat (it will get better with time), and the story introduces interesting characters and a universe that makes you want to explore. It’s more Star Wars in a nice package and I think things are on the right track. Without a doubt, 2019 is an excellent time to be a fan of this multimedia franchise (despite the controversy in other formats). At least the fans all agree that Fallen Order endures and for now that makes me happy.