Star Wars is a very Chrismassy franchise to me. Not sure why, but it is.
In honor of that, I bought Star Wars Jedi: Survivor around a month ago. Despite not caring all that much for Fallen Order, I figured they’d surely have made some improvements. And if you think this is a roundabout way for me to bash the devs for not having made any improvements, then you’re wrong; they have improved things, just not too much… and they actually seemed to have forgotten some things.
On This Page
Star Wars Story Disease
Star Wars, as it’s often portrayed in popular media, is a frightfully small universe. Despite the supposed variety, there is a checklist of things that we still need to see: lightsabers, stormtroopers, and original trilogy reference(s).
It feels like slop, and this isn’t much different. Cal Kestis is a Jedi who escaped the slaughter of Order 66 and goes into hiding, only to be pulled back into the tired world of Star Wars. The first game’s story is fine apart from the fact that it’s set between two trilogies so that nothing of any actual import can happen. While the story is not so brazenly pointless this time, it is still in this little bubble universe where nothing actually matters.
You’re a Jedi. Get away from Empire and find other Jedi(?) Oh no! Betrayal! Death!
You can write the story on a napkin. Except for Turgle, who is a fantastic little character that we all love.
Now, Onto The Important Bit
Story is unmemorable and barely of note, but so are almost all video game stories, so how’s the gameplay?
The first game was an interesting mix of Metroidvania and Souls-like, and while it didn’t revolutionize either of those genres, it was at least an interesting mix once you slapped some Star Wars paint on it. The main problem with adopting this formula was that it invited comparison. For example: the skill tree was nowhere near as varied or interesting as Sekiro’s, and the general game feel was nowhere near as tight as the Souls series.
This is to be expected when you bite off a piece of another series and try to turn it into something new, but despite the fairly high quality of nearly every other aspect of the game, there was just something about the actual gameplay that felt a bit off.
Jedi Survivor follows the same basic outline: there are several planets you can travel to and explore (though there are sections that will gate you off until you come back later with a specific ability), and there are bonfires littered throughout each planet which act as checkpoints, and there are any number of enemies, mini-bosses, and bosses to fight (one of which actually got a pretty earnest laugh out of me).
In Fallen Order, you could use either a standard lightsaber or a dual-bladed saber which did less damage, but was more effective at dealing with groups. You could also use two sabers, but these were relegated to specific moves as opposed to being an entire style.
In Jedi Survivor, this has been expanded by allowing you to equip two of the following “stances” at any one time: single blade, double blade, twin sabers, crossguard saber, and blaster/saber. Each of these has its own skill tree and set of moves, and as wonderful as that is, the balancing is way off, as there are clearly stances that are just better than others, and the objectively coolest stance (blaster) is by far the worst.
The Huge Problem
This is a difficult complaint to voice through text alone, as much of it is down to feel, but let me try: this game seems split on whether or not it wants to be a ‘slash through the hordes of enemies’-type game or a 1v1 dueling type game. I say this because almost every encounter with multiple enemies (especially on higher difficulties) quickly devolves into you just trying to whittle down the weaklings as quickly as possible so that you can focus on the one or two actual threats. Inversely, the 1v1 fights are poisoned by the fact that you can’t cancel out of an attack into a deflection.
Again, this is going to be hard to explain, but essentially: once you attack, you are either going to land that attack, or you’re going to take a hit during the attempt. You cannot cancel the startup of an attack into a block or deflection. This would be fine if the intent was to make 1v1 fights more calculated, to make it so that you can’t just alternate between mashing deflect and attack for the entire fight, but it’s not BECAUSE one of the stances (twin sabers) DOES allow you to cancel attacks into blocks.
This is such a baffling decision. Because this is a licensed game that most people have to be able to beat, the game’s combat is already bending over backward to accommodate 4 different difficulty options, but now the game also has to account for the fact that one of the stances just has better utility across the board?
I don’t get this. I honestly don’t get what they were thinking, and I need someone to explain it to me slowly, preferably using some sort of visual aid.
The Worthwhile Bits*
Remember in Fallen Order when you’d find a chest in a level, and instead of a cool lightsaber hilt or something, you would just get another hideous poncho? Thankfully, those ugly things are relegated to a single find, and everything else is now actual good customizable gear.
I’m a sucker for this, and it was a huge reason why I initially wanted to buy the game. You can customize Cal’s shirt, jacket, pants, hair, and facial hair. This is the one part of the game on which I have no notes. They nailed it. The customization options for the saber, blaster, and look of Cal are all perfect. I only hope they add to this aspect of the game.
And now for that asterisk. The boss fights in this game are almost all great, and the mini-bosses and bounty fights are all pretty good, but the main problem here is that they somehow didn’t learn from a primary complaint of the last game: after you beat the game, there’s nothing to do. Sure, they slapped a bandage on this by adding an NG+ mode along with some exclusive post-game options, but they ONCE AGAIN left out any sort of arena mode in which you can do the one thing that this game tends to do pretty well: fight the bosses.
This complaint was even addressed in the last game with the addition of an arena, yet here we are *checks calendar* 9 months out, and there’s no such option in this game. It’s these small omissions that add up and detract from the overall experience for me. There are fights and encounters in this game that I would love to run again and again, but I just can’t.
The game also had a lot of technical problems at launch, but most of these have been fixed so far as I can tell. In my 40-odd hours, I only experienced two crashes and a few instances of slowdown.
It’s pretty easy to assume that I hate the game, but I don’t. It’s a fairly good game with a few great aspects that just get bogged down in repeating many of the mistakes that the last game made. I’m not sure whether these omissions were just due to myopia from the dev team or if they were crafted by some souless Disney committee, but I hope they continue to update and improve the game.
And please, for the sake of my sanity, improve the blaster stance.
- Gorgeous environments
- Greatly expanded customization
- Greatly expanded gameplay options
- Dismemberment’s back (kind of)
- Stock story
- Confused combat design
- Difficulty always feels off in some way