When it comes to Star Wars, I would consider myself a late bloomer. I got into the galaxy-sized franchise just before the release of the Force Awakens, which naturally meant I had a slew of videogames to catch up to, carefully wading and separating the gems from the junk.
I soon came to realize what many fans of Star Wars have become all too familiar with, that there was a deficit left by the lack of any modern, AAA, single-player Star Wars experience. Coming off the disappointment left by EA’s Battlefront II and both the cancelled Star War’s 1313 and Amy Hennig’s project for Visceral, I desperately wanted Fallen Order to be the missing link in the franchise.
I can happily say that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is not only a true, return to form for good single-player Star Wars games, but is one of the best games of 2019. At its essence, Fallen Order is an action-adventure game, with light puzzle-solving elements thrown in for good measure. There have been parallels drawn to describe the game as borrowing elements from titles such as Uncharted, Metroid and even Dark Souls. I can agree with those statements although the game overall is much more scalable in difficulty making it more approachable than any FromSoftware titles.
In fact, the difficulty options present in Fallen Order are some of the best I’ve seen in recent memory. The default Jedi Knight mode offers an excellent balance of escalating challenge, while Grand Master transforms the title into a tense experience best reserved for those looking for a serious gauntlet.
Combat is simple enough to pick and get by with, at least for the first hour or so of gameplay, but players will soon discover that nuance is required to best tougher enemies and boss encounters. Blocking, timing your counters and keeping an eye on the stamina bar all dictate whether or not you’ll survive, or face quickly getting overwhelmed, even by a small cluster of enemies.
Thankfully, as players progress through Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and level up Cals’ Force abilities and Saber techniques, Fallen Order never becomes frustrating, at least in terms of combat encounters. Unfortunately, some of the puzzle sequences, particularly those present on the planet Zeffo, overstay their welcome and ultimately feel a bit like padding between more exciting combat sequences.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order takes place shortly after the events of Episode III, with the repercussions of Order 66 encroaching every corner of the galaxy, making for an exciting and taut experience. Fallen Order nails the atmosphere that was present by the end of Episode III, players are constantly on the run from the Empire, indigenous fauna(and flora) along with other threats, both familiar and new, giving the title a real sense of dread and excitement.
The game breaks up its combat sequences with swaths of exploratory gameplay, made possible by the multi-layered and complex planets Cal can visit. These sequences, for the most part, feel rewarding and offer a nice break from just pure combat.
The world of Fallen Order is packed with hidden secrets, such as Force Echos which paint and dot the galaxy with additional exposition for those who want it, along with rewarding players with increased health and other benefits.
Additional upgrades include cosmetic unlockables for Cal’s lightsaber, both for his standard sabre and its double-bladed variant.
It wouldn’t be a Star Wars game without some companion droid derivative, which in Fallen Order takes the form of BD-1, which looks like what would happen if an AT-AT cozied up with Wall-E. Sadly, BD-1 does not offer Cal with Blu-ray playback functionally but instead acts as his stash of health consumables, pathfinder and travel buddy.
Visually, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order pushes the limits of current-gen hardware, offering graphics on-par, and in some instances better than EA’s Battlefront titles, an impressive feat for a semi-open world title.
Perhaps due to its tight combat, but I found the enemy AI in Fallen Order to be better than most while also being accurate to its source material — with Stormtroopers acting mostly as fodder, only ever becoming a problem in condensed encounters that still require well-timed lightsaber parries and strategy, yet still considerably easier than pretty much everything else in the game.
A hallmark of a good Star Wars game for me is one that can be played and enjoyed even when ignoring the fact that it’s based on said franchise. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a fun and satisfying action-adventure game that also happens to be set within the movie canon of the franchise. Aside from the visuals and rewarding gameplay, Fallen Order offers great voice acting and sound design, which shouldn’t be too surprising but nevertheless is worth mentioning. In other words, long-time fans of Star Wars will enjoy their time with Fallen Order for both its gameplay and story beats.