Star Wars Fallen Order is largely a game defined by the absence of key features that could have made it great. In my opinion, they placed a disproportionate reliance on the fact that it was a Star Wars game to make a shallower experience than perhaps there could have been.
- You get to be a Jedi
- Scenic worlds and moments that feel very picturesque
- You get to be a Jedi
- Exploration is a chore, mainly due to no fast travel
- Minimal tangible benefit for open-world exploration
- Combat is not as precise as I would expect from a game with only a single weapon type
If this weren’t a Star Wars game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order would be total ass; that’s my hot take. Now that you know my mood as I write this, be ready for some snark. The marketing for Fallen Order says the combat and world take inspiration from Metroid and Dark Souls, but all that means to me is that they’ve gone out of their way to make things really annoying. Besides one amazing moment at the end of the game that I will spoil (sorry), nothing was really exemplary besides the fact you get to use a lightsaber.
I played this game for 17 hours and have beaten the game at the time of this review; here are my thoughts.
I have recently had the wonderful opportunity to upgrade my gaming rig to something much more robust and powerful. It’s got 32 GB of RAM, an Intel i7 core, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Ti graphics card. It has been a wonderful experience, and I will obviously be playing all upcoming reviews on this PC.
It’s top of the line, and I’m extremely grateful for it, but that means that I will not be able to critique as reliably on performance aspects.
I am fully aware as a reviewer that the vast majority of readers may not have access to the same gear, and it would not be fair for me to say a game runs super well on my computer and give accolades for it because, of course, it should!
That being said, I will point out when something doesn’t perform up to expectations because if it’s going to cause problems on my device, it will likely do so on yours as well.
Anyway, moving on.
Star Wars Fallen Order Narrative and Exploration: It’s a Standard Star Wars Experience but with ZERO Streamlining
To be clear, I grew up on Star Wars, and it will always hold a dear place in my heart. Even the Prequels are enjoyable to me to this day, despite some of you mouth breathers constantly shitting on them.
Who cares that they demystified the Force? Who cares that Hayden Christiansen sounds like an Android? Darth Maul is cool, Obi-Wan is an all-timer, and the CGI fights weren’t even that bad.
Even if I enjoy them, however, I wouldn’t say that they were what we call masterpieces of story. They’re simple and digestible; and extremely fun to watch!
The new stuff they’ve been putting out doesn’t vibe with me as much due to unnecessary levels of cringe, weird story choices, and reliance on nostalgia in lieu of anything innovative, but I have rewatched the originals and the prequels more times than I can count.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order sits directly in the middle of both these camps by combining elements of both old and new.
You play as Cal Kestis, a survivor of the Order 66 Purge that wiped out the Jedi, allowing the Sith to rise to power as the Galactic Empire. Cal gets uncovered as Jedi and is forced to flee with his three new allies, Cere, the former Jedi; Greez, the wise-cracking pilot of their ship; and an adorable droid named BD-1.
Your quest in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is to find a hidden artifact known as a Holocron that houses the locations of a whole new generation of Force-sensitive children around the galaxy, providing hope that the Jedi Order can be restored.
Cal follows the footsteps of a previous Jedi Master who has likewise undertaken a similar quest, and your journey takes you to several different planets with unique environments and fauna.
All the while, the long arm of the Empire hounds your every step. A mysterious order of Jedi hunters called Inquisitors is searching for you, in particular, a powerful woman named “Second Sister.” In theory, there are at least nine, but you only get to fight two, so you can imagine my tangible disappointment upon realizing that fact.
From a narrative sense, there was not much new here. It’s a standard battle between Light vs. Dark that remains a tale as old as time, no matter how many Wookies or Stormtroopers you throw at it.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has the standard built-in excessive banter and corny jokes that writers somehow think will land or make their characters more relatable, but such antics don’t sit well with me.
Besides its simplicity, the biggest issue I had with the story was how much they rushed through it while also trying to explain everything. I know those seem diametrically opposed, but Star Wars Fallen Order somehow manages to do it, and it makes the experience clunky to sit through.
You’re frankly zooming between worlds at a breakneck pace, following the footsteps of an explorer who speaks in long diatribes like a disgraced history teacher.
The story is told through cutscenes that you must sit through and are crammed with mystical half-allusions to the mysteries of the Force. It is riveting from a player’s perspective, as you can imagine.
Meanwhile, while they take their sweet time providing any crumb of tangible information, you’re shoved into these “cathartic” conversations with your shipmates that have all the natural chemistry of that kid who sat behind you in high school, but somehow….you’re fast friends?
Shit, they even introduce a character on a planet called Dathomir who suddenly joins your crew and becomes chums with everyone in the space of 5 minutes.
It should be noted this occult space witch was trying to kill Cal barely an hour ago, but now they’re bantering about steak? What gives? Do people even care about logical side character development anymore?
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order wasn’t all wallpaper, though, as two distinct moments made me feel like I hadn’t wasted my time to see them through.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Spoiler Alert!
Here come the spoilers, just FYI. After spoiling these moments, I realize that you may choose not to play Star Wars Fallen Order, but that’s what you get from my reviews, the little whiff of chaos in the morning.
Obviously, being a Jedi who illogically balances out copious levels of plot armor with being perpetual underdogs, you secure the artifact and jet off in your spaceship, free to laugh and yuck it up with your shipmates once more.
The Holocron is still functioning and could theoretically lead to the re-establishment of the Jedi Order and spark the flames of rebellion against the fascist Galactic Empire.
Would this, dare I say, be a New Hope for the good guys and a salivating opportunity for the development team to make a sequel surrounding this?
BZZZZZTTT wrong; Cal cuts that shit in half.
This was totally unexpected to me, as I fully expected this to be a cliche set up to find the future generation and deliver the galaxy into a better age.
While on his quest, Cal is subjected to a vision of what his potential future would be if he were to use the Holocron in this manner. He does recruit a smattering of younglings to train in the ways of the Force, they do develop skills, and everything seems hunky dory until the Empire comes knocking.
Needless to say, it doesn’t turn out so well for the Padawans and Cal. With history repeating itself, as with the aforementioned Sisters, his failure to protect his charges leads him to the Dark Side.
Even with this clear foreshadowing, I still thought Cal would be blindsided by the glory as a focal point of the new Jedi Order. In a pigheaded bout of “main character syndrome,” I honestly expected him to shirk these premonitions and attempt to change his destiny.
This level of self-introspection and commitment from the main protagonist to keeping children he doesn’t even know safe was a compelling moment of character development, and it’s a shame it happened in the last 5 minutes of the game.
But the moment that had me jump out of my seat was Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order‘s final boss fight.
You meet the Second Sister once more (revealed to be your shipmate’s former apprentice) and duel her at the bottom of a sea in an underwater base. You vanquish her and try to convince her to return with you to the “Light Side,” offering her an olive branch and a chance at redemption for the atrocities she has committed.
She denies the offer, as she has lost so much (the road to the Dark Side is not, in fact, paved with cupcakes), but you see in her eyes that she begins to waver….until the clunk clunk clunk of something heavy approaching fills the air. The player has no clue what is happening, but the look in her eyes says that this is about to be dire.
The sound of a respirator we all know too well pierces the air, and Darth Vader strides into the background. His ceramic mask doesn’t denote emotion, but you can sense his disgust and disappointment at the spectacle in front of him.
He cuts down his subordinate and drily recommends that you surrender.
While I frantically searched for the surrender button, Vader immediately squares up, only for the player to realize the f*cker has no health bar.
Cal has swung his laser dong through legions of troopers, droids, and local wildlife (because that’s the Jedi way) while carving a smoldering path through 6 planets, only to find a guy he genuinely cannot beat.
I think this was incredible. Showed you that despite all you’ve accomplished, there were just certain things that you can’t do.
This moment threw me back into my childhood, watching Anakin and Obi-Wan clashing over the fiery hellscape on the planet Mustafar with “Duel of the Fates” blaring in the background. It threw me back to the inevitability of Darth Vader severing Luke Skywalker’s hand and ominously proclaiming, “I am your father.”
Yes, it relied on nostalgia, but it was a targeted moment, and when done well, I have zero issues with it.
Overall, I think the story is fine. Yes, it’s ham-handed and has convenient deux ex machina, rampaging monologues, and wild unseen bond development, but it’s a Star Wars story, not a literary masterpiece.
The actual worlds you visit in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, by themselves, are really appealing aesthetically. Each feels distinctive, and they have beautiful sweeping cinematic shots/moments that make you feel like you’re in a movie….but they are an absolute train wreck to spend time in.
The planets themselves aren’t the largest in sheer size, but they are artificially lengthened by not only making you backtrack to the same areas but also by completely eliminating fast travel.
Cal is clearly suffering from PTSD (and honestly, who can blame him); he rediscovers his abilities over the game by triggering flashbacks of his training as a padawan. This is the mechanism in which new Force powers are unlocked, which allows you to access previously barred areas of the world.
For example, gaining Force Pull allows you to yank out-of-reach cables into your hand so you can swing across gaps that previously sent you careening into the depths.
So right off the bat, you are hamstrung in terms of a lot of things that you can reach.
What’s more annoying is that collectibles are the proverbial gold at the end of the rainbow, meaning you can’t grab stuff you might need until you get the corresponding ability, traverse back to the planet, and (due to not having the ability to mark your map) wander back to where you recall the obstruction was.
This means more time is added to your Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order playthrough.
On the subject of collectibles, these are also really irritating. Some of them have a tangible impact on the game, like giving Cal more Force reserves or giving BD-1 an extra health pack for you to use, but 90% of them are just cosmetics for yourself, the droid, or your ship. Who…f*cking…cares?
It’s standard to the Metroidvania format (see my Hollow Knight review) to block off areas until you unlock certain abilities, don’t get me wrong, but I feel in other titles, your acquisitions are meaningful.
I’m a big fan of rewarding the player’s efforts at exploring the world and overcoming the challenges presented, but forgive me; I do not give a rat’s ass about getting a poncho for Cal that’s blue instead of mud brown.
Without looking at an online guide, you can’t actually tell which collectibles are important and sort of have to guess based on how difficult it is to get to them. I think this is a clear design flaw, and I wasted a lot of effort picking up useless shit. Once again, this means more time is added to your Star Wars Fallen Order playthrough.
Now all this would be manageable if it wasn’t completely drenched in the absolute sulfur stink of no fast travel. Every time that fact crossed my cerebrum, my nose wrinkled like the Gates of Tartarus had shot open and Cerberus just unleashed a massive rank cloud of pungency.
In most games of this attempted size, your “resting points” can be freely traveled between to cut down on some of the wandering, but any such boon to the player is deep-sixed in this one.
This lack of fast travel is truly the cherry on top of a poo-poo sundae and makes the other two things that much worse to deal with.
What Star Wars Fallen Jedi: Order sort of did well is the incorporation of shortcuts that you can unlock by exploring. For example, after wandering around the map and clearing some enemies may take you around the back of a door that was previously unlocked and provide you a direct path to a previous area.
It wasn’t quite as elaborate as Dark Souls was in this fashion, but it was welcome, given the circumstances.
However, this does NOT make the lack of fast travel any better. It’s literally the defining tenant of this experience and made it sort of torturous at times and detracted from the beauty of the planets.
Final Note: Puzzles
Every once in a while in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, you will be asked to complete a task that involves manipulating aspects of the environment to achieve a goal; for example, using your telekinetic abilities to navigate a metal ball onto a pressure plate.
These puzzles aren’t the most complicated, but they can be finicky. Should you be stuck, BD-1 can be prompted to provide a hint. Odd choice, in my opinion, akin to Marvel’s Spider-Man, where they let you skip through components of their own game, but nothing was too strenuous, so I’m giving them a soft pass on this one.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Combat: Tepid
This is the component in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order that I feel the most relied on the fact that you are swinging a lightsaber to make people stick around. I know that if this were some guy brandishing a claymore instead of a Jedi, I’d probably have shut this shit down halfway through.
Again, the game was supposed to have taken inspiration from Metroid and Dark Souls, but it seems to me more accurately they should say inspiration has come from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
The same publisher makes Sekiro and Dark Souls, but Sekiro focuses on a particular fighting style; weaving attacking, dodging, and parrying into what is, in theory, a smooth combat experience.
This is because the main character in Sekiro only uses a singular katana throughout the whole game, so it makes sense that a lot of development went into making the experience tight. This is in contrast to Dark Souls, where you wield everything from a broken sword to a literal dragon’s tooth.
Cal likewise only ever uses his lightsaber, but when it comes to comparing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Sekiro based on this singular weapon experience, it’s an ugly imitation at times.
To start, using a lightsaber is ALWAYS an awesome experience.
There is a mystique about swinging a blade of plasma that cuts through everything and reflects laser fire, which is certainly present here. Compound that with the ability to push shit telekinetically and jump off walls, and you’ve got a recipe that’s very hard to screw up.
But something still felt off. It’s hard to pinpoint in the moment, but after some reflection, I think it can be summarized in a few points.
Your lightsaber skills and attacks just don’t have the level of impact you would expect when fighting things more powerful than the average grunt.
For gameplay balance reasons, yes, I fully understand that you just can’t blow the arse cheeks off everything you meet with one fell swoop of your blade, but at the same time, it’s a lightsaber. The juxtaposition in my mind of this weapon performing like a floppy pool noodle against tougher enemies just didn’t sit right.
Most games in the Star Wars franchise do have tougher minibosses (like Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast), but being designed after Dark Souls, a series known for monstrously tough foes with huge health pools, fighting against human-sized enemies seemed to drag out a lot longer than in other Star Wars titles. This broke my immersion a great deal.
What’s especially more brutal is that your lightsaber only has a single upgrade for damage throughout the entirety of the game.
In Dark Souls, as you fight increasingly tougher foes, you get the ability to increase your damage output, whether by statistic improvement or gear upgrading. There is none of that here sans a lone upgrade node at the end of the skill tree that takes a LONNGGG time to reach.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order‘s lack of vertical progression in your single most important combat tool was frustrating because it seemed like they wanted to make you feel like a bum at times. From my perspective, every fight became a war of attrition rather than a duel between skilled warriors.
In my opinion, this would’ve been a perfect opportunity to reward people’s exploration by hiding rare components around the map instead of cosmetics. Even in the lore, it’s a well-established fact that certain lightsaber pieces alter their functionality, Knights of the Old Republic being a great indicator of this.
The omission of this feature strikes me as shallow and frankly unimaginative.
What’s more, Cal’s body made it much harder to predict exactly when to deflect an opponent’s blow.
I think it’s because he’s just a little too upright that he obstructs your opponent’s torsos. This is especially noticeable when fighting enemies of equal size because you can’t fully see their elbow posture and movement when they take a swing.
In games like Sekiro, the camera is angled down from above their heads, and the main character is crouched in a low fighting stance so that you get an unobstructed view of what is swinging at you and, more importantly, when to parry.
Any kendo instructor will tell you that you don’t watch the blade; instead, you watch your opponent’s body to predict their movements. Unfortunately, that’s not something that can be done reliably in Star Wars Fallen Order.
This, tied with an unresponsive parrying system, made it a chore to engage in simple parries, let alone a full-on lightsaber duel.
To reiterate, I beat Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order with no problem, but having played better options, I’m obligated to present this finding to you as an impartial reviewer. So don’t get your panties in a twist and say it’s because I couldn’t beat the story or some shit.
When you do get a chance to fight something “plus sized,” the lack of damage makes more sense, and your camera angle isn’t as debilitating (marginally), but you are hamstrung by something else; Cal’s apparent inability to move with any grace whatsoever.
Somehow whenever Cal gets into a fight with something big, he drops a load in his pants and moves like he’s trying to navigate a cluttered junk store as opposed to avoiding getting concussed by an angry owl the size of a plane.
Gigantic enemies cover a lot of ground, and keeping pace with them while ducking swipes can be a pain. What’s more, your dodge and jump buttons tend not to respond as quickly as you need them to. In Dark Souls, your roll was much more predictable as a tool to escape danger, and that just wasn’t the experience in this one.
When it comes to Force abilities, pretty much everything is unreliable.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has a nifty little database that tells you what to use on what enemy, but I could not tell you how many times I’ve been caught using an ability that should have worked but didn’t.
This was especially bad when trying to jump over ground shockwave attacks that sent waves of debris spiraling out from an epicenter. Timing those double jumps was a nightmare, and I ended up just realizing I’d get hit more often than not and planned accordingly.
Using abilities on Stormtroopers always worked, though, but I’d argue they are the one enemy that doesn’t require anything fancy to take it out in most cases.
In short, they’ve taken a recipe that’s very hard to screw up, a la cereal, but used concrete mix instead of milk. C’est la vie.
Other Criticisms about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
I’m against bloatware in all forms, and installing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order forced my brand spanking new PC to install the EA application in order to verify the game.
We are all, in some sense, a cog in the endless cosmos of time and are ultimately just a single data entry in the universe, but I am fully aware that now the shareholders over at Electronic Arts can fondle themselves a little more vigorously since they now have an additional “user” in their performance spreadsheet at quarterly review.
Sure, I can uninstall it, but the principle of something I bought on Steam having any sort of third-party bullshit makes my skin crawl.
Ubisoft is just as guilty of this as well, so it is obviously something that big studios like to push.
There has long been an initiative to try to drive innocent gamers like yourselves onto their jank platforms through shitty business practices, but seeing as they keep doing more crap like this, they’re clearly cranking it up a notch.
When will gamers say enough is enough? The water is boiling, friends; get out of the pot!
Next, for some reason, they also decided to include a few moments where you have a dialogue wheel (I say wheel, but since they were only two options, it’s more like a metronome), where you can choose to respond to what a shipmate is saying with a response you the player would deem worthy.
As far as I can tell, the options do not make the slightest bit of difference in any meaningful way and merely exist as an illusion of player control.
What was the thought process behind this? It’s almost like the dev team was making fun of you, including one or two moments where you could pick what Cal says in a veritable ocean of monologues, only for it to matter, not one iota. I really don’t get the choice in this case.
The enemy AI is also pretty lackluster. Enemies will give up searching for you very quickly once they lose sight and, in some cases, can be avoided by just walking out of the room you’re in.
There is some behavioral code programmed here that geo-locks them to certain areas of the map, meaning that if you are getting beat on, just find that invisible wall they can’t cross, and you’ll be safe.
Thankfully, playing in open-world locations means that these “fenced in” areas are pretty large for the most part, so this is most noticeable in indoor locations. It’s still really funny to have an enemy turn around and saunter away from you mid-fight, though, so I had to bring it up.
My final nitpick is more of a quibble, not something fundamentally abhorrent. You are, once again, swinging a lightsaber that cuts through anything…except humanoid enemies.
I suppose it’s to keep Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order PG-rated, but it did feel odd that while I could carve the limbs off gigantic monster apes and bisect alien wildebeests, but human-shaped enemies always remained intact after a crack on the dome.
Look, I’m not asking to give Stormtroopers a field vasectomy, but some register of the impact I’m doing would have been nice. Maybe a nice burn mark or a scorched hole?
As a side note, lightsabers are plasma and do not draw blood, so it wouldn’t even be that gory in this ideal world of mine.
This isn’t a horrendous omission, as I totally understand why, but immersion is pretty important to me, as you can tell.
My Final Word on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
This is a 2.5/5 game, and I’m probably being generous because I’m a Star Wars fan.
I picked this up on sale for literally 5 dollars, and I think an acceptable price for it is probably around $10.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is largely a game defined by the absence of key features that could have made it great. In my opinion, they placed a disproportionate reliance on the fact that it was a Star Wars game to make a shallower experience than perhaps there could have been.
At the time of writing this, the sequel that was just released for this series had mixed reviews on Steam due to the fact that it runs like a diarrhetic elephant. I hope this isn’t the MO of the development studio, but because they’ve gotten away with it in Star Wars Fallen Order, it’s possible they knew people would buy it regardless, so they’d fix it later.
There is a reason this game is consistently on sale for $5 is all I’ll say about that.
In my 17.5 hours of playtime, there’s not really much here as you’d hope, and I stumbled around finding more points of interest and artifacts than I needed to. That being said, it did have its charm. But you definitely need to be cognizant that this game is not worth the full price.
You should only give Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order a buy if it’s on discount, if you love Star Wars that much, or if you want to pass the time with something easy to digest.
Star Wars Fallen Order sells for $39.99; it is available from Steam, Epic, Amazon, and other retailers.
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Source: Personal Purchase
What I Like: You get to be a Jedi; Scenic worlds and moments that feel very picturesque; You get to be a Jedi
What Needs Improvement: Exploration is a chore, mainly due to no fast travel; Minimal tangible benefit for open-world exploration; Combat is not as precise as I would expect from a game with only a single weapon type