Date Posted: 18/07/21
Initially released in late 2019 Jedi: Fallen Order is set between the events of Episode III and Episode IV. It features Cal Kestis, a survivor of the Purge re-establishing his connection with the Force as he searches for a Holocron which has a list of all Force sensitive children in the galaxy, in the hopes of rebuilding the Jedi Order.
From what I understood going into this game, Fallen Order was following on after the trend of Dark Souls in which the combat is meant to be difficult so you can get better before you finally beat the enemies. Bosses stay dead if you rest at a save point but lesser enemies respawn so you have to weigh up whether you want to restore your health and health stims to full whilst bringing the enemies back or just saving and ploughing on as you are. As it turns out I think that this game might be Diet-Dark Souls but before I get into that let’s give you the plot.
Now considering this game is set in between Episode III and Episode IV in which the Jedi were virtually extinct following Order 66, do you really think that we are going to succeed in rebuilding the Jedi Order or are we going to have an adventure that results in us basically ending in pretty much the same place we did before??
Cal Kestis, a man who is far too bland to be tempted by the Dark Side, is living on a garbage planet following the Great Purge of the Jedi. He has been hiding his Force powers but is recorded using them to save a friend of his which provokes two Inquisitors called the Second Sisters and the Ninth Sister to come to the planet to find him. Cal is forced to flee after his friend is murdered and is saved by the Mantis, a ship captained by Greez and his passenger Cere.
Cal learns that Cere used to be a Jedi but cut herself off from the Force. However, she has learned of a Jedi vault on the planet of Bogano which contains a Holocron that has a list of Force Sensitive children on it. Cere is hoping that if they can find it, they can gather the children up, and train them in the ways of the Force to rebuild the Jedi Order. On the planet Cal encounters a small droid named BD-1 that guides him as he travels towards the vault. Once he arrives DB-1 shows Cal a holo-recording made by a Jedi Master named Eno Cordova, a man that reveals the vault was built by an advanced race called the Zeffo. The Empire are hunting for Zeffo vaults, and they also seek the Holocron. Cal and his allies must race across the galaxy travelling to different worlds following the clues that Cordova left in the hopes of finding the Holocron before the Empire...
Prior to this game my main experience with Star Wars games was Lego Star Wars and The Force Unleashed I & II. In the former you are working through the highlights of the original trilogy and the prequels controlling Lego versions of the main characters. In the latter you were controlling a character that was able to blast doors open, or enemies out of the way, could use Force lightening to zap anything they wanted. He could throw their Lightsaber, Mind trick enemies, pick enemies up and throw them into walls or off ledges. I’m sure there were more powers he had but I can’t remember all of them, Cal on the other hand can use the Force to slow enemies in a less-useful version of the stasis blast from Dead Space, then later he can pull things towards him, and then push things away...that’s it. After a while he learns how to do a double jump, but that is basically all he can do as far as Force powers go. If Isaac Clarke from the Dead Space series was in this game then he could effectively do everything Cal can do with his stasis and telekinesis module, plus a couple of things Cal can’t as Isaac could shoot enemies across the room. Fallen Order is less the Jedi power fantasy than it is about the story.
So is the story good??
Not really, basically it suffers from prequel syndrome, we know that the Jedi Order has not been reformed by the events of Episode IV so nothing that we are working towards is going to work out. Either Cal and co are going to wind up dead, or a contrived reason will drop out of the sky that encourages the heroes to abandon their quest to rebuild the order, and continue their journey with no specific purpose.
Getting back to the Jedi power fantasy the reason the game gives for why Cal has not got his powers is that he has forgotten how to use his them.
Yep, Cal has simply forgotten how to use his powers. He was trained by a Master when he was a Padawan so at one point knew how to double jump, pull things towards him, and push them away yet he forgot how to do them when he was hiding on Bracca. As a result his powers are several limited until he reaches certain points in the story, has a flashback, and can then do whatever he couldn’t do moments beforehand. I get not being overpowered is important but if he had to find Masters to teach him how to use these powers then fine, but the fact that he has just forgotten seems a bit of a cop out.
The graphics can sometimes look amazing and at other times look low textured and just awful. I don’t know if it is a hardware issue but there were times when the graphics would literally pop in, and it looked terrible. The auto-save icon also quite often caused the game to freeze for a few seconds whenever it popped up. There were occasions when I turned to Abbie to point out how awesome the look of the graphics were and yet there were other times when enemies would glide around the level with their arms out so they could get into the right place to activate. I often found once I Rested at a save point and the game started again enemies would appear back in with an ugly pop. It was staggering how some of the game was so carefully and beautifully crafted whereas other parts looked like PS1 era graphics.
I was expecting something like Dark Souls, fortunately combat can be set to your own preference so the Dark Souls comparison doesn’t really hold any weight as you can focus on the story or more focus on the combat. Personally I selected the second of the four difficulty levels because whilst I did not want to get frustrated by the combat to the point where I did not want to play anymore, I did want to be challenged. This worked out quite nicely because whilst there were enemies that were able to paint the walls with me, the more I got a handle on combat the further I was able to get. I may have missed tips and prompts because I was at least three-quarters of the way through before I learned that you could hit a button to lock onto a particular enemy. This made combat considerably easier, unfortunately whilst you are able to turn enemy droids into your allies, the targeting system will stick lock onto them. So you can be in a situation where you had a droid happily smacking the shit out of the enemies that are targeting you, and with the wrong flick of a switch Cal leaps forward and slices his erstwhile ally into scrap metal.
On the various planets you travel to, there are numerous enemies, naturally the Empire pops up frequently but there are numerous variations of the usual Storm Troopers. There are soldiers that have trained to fight Jedi so are harder to beat. Button mashing isn’t going to work, you need to learn when to defend, parry, and time blocks to send blaster shots back at the person who fired them. You also battle hostile wildlife, but what I particularly liked was that wildlife will go after the Empire. More often than not I was happy to sit back and allow the two groups to smash the crap out of one another before I leapt in to clear up and stragglers.
The game has a Metroidvania-style game play loop. What this means as far as I understand is there numerous places that you can go, but as you unlock more powers you need to go back to previous areas to search new parts that can now be opened up. I liked this because it is always fun to blow off story missions for a bit to go back to some planet you have already been to in order to search new parts of the map. I always like games like this because it feels like you are more in control of what is happening and are not just following a very strict and linear path.
BD-1 has a map which is useful as it will show areas you haven’t explored, as well as how chests and secrets you have found. The maps are split into different sections so you can search through them to locate the parts that you have missed things in. I was able to find the majority of the secrets and chests on my own, however I did look up how to find a couple of them. The majority of the time, there are going to be corridors you haven’t gone down before or doors you’ve not gone through so you can usually figure out where a secret might be hiding. Chests only contain cosmetics such as new paint jobs for the Mantis or new parts to customise your Lightsaber, whereas secrets have useful things like upgrades for BD-1, new medical stim slots, or life and force increasers. The secrets are worth hunting down, the chests not so much unless you are a 100% completion nutter.
As far as the characters go Cal Kestis is probably the most boring in the entire Star Wars universe. There is no indication that he is might be tempted by the Dark Side, he trusts everyone he comes across and seems to just be a massive wuss. Nothing seems to really get to him, and most of the time it feels like you are playing as a humanoid piece of polystyrene. He takes the responsibility for the death of his Master during the Purge, but there was nothing he could of done. Everyone knows that apart from Cal himself. Cere used the Dark Side when she lost control of her anger at one time, and is wallowing in self pity. Her relationship with Cal revolves around her sitting around on the ship sending Cal out time and time again to hunt for various things alone. Nightsister Merrin is more interesting as she is the last survivor of a planet that was purged during the Clone Wars, and is under the impression that the Jedi were responsible. Her interactions with Cal are definite highlights, and even Cal’s bland explanations cannot spoil the beginning of a fascinating new part of the Star Wars universe. Unfortunately she remains hostile the majority of the time, so the character development is crammed into the last few minutes of the game, which is a real pity
The combat is designed to be done up close and personal, bizarrely in the finale Cere has a lightsaber and a blaster and she kicks ass. I have no idea why characters can use blasters until they become Jedi at which time they never use them again. I have absolutely no idea why has no other Jedi ever thought of that because all of the combat you do needs to be done close up so the annoying as hell Rocket soldiers can sit on the other side of the area endlessly shooting at you whilst all you can do is dodge their shots.
The AI of the enemies can at times be co-ordinated and will swarm you, but if there is a Rocket guy around then he will continue shooting at you, and if you dodge out of the way then his allies will be blasted into pieces. You can flick rockets back but the timing has to be right or you’ll get killed. You can also be standing directly in front them and they will fire at the floor killing both them and you.
Generally though my complaints with the game were minor, and I did enjoy my time with it. I think that the difficulty setting I chose was perfect for me. I don’t want to be eternally battling minor enemies, and the game does give you back your health and experience points if you strike the enemy that killed you. I did not ever get into a scenario where I wasn’t able to get back to the particular enemy so I always managed to get my experience back. I quickly realised that Resting and respawning enemies was the perfect way to gain experience points which you can use to upgrade your combat, Force powers and Life gauge.
There is a New Game+ mode which allows you to restart with all of your cosmetic stuff unlocked already, but that doesn’t really appeal to me, if I had all my Force Powers then that would be different. I might give Dark Souls a go because I was able to get my head around the combat and whilst I could still get beaten if I just button mashed.
It is a sad fact that Fallen Order was never going to go anywhere because it is locked into the canon established by the films. If there is a sequel then I would happily play it yet I would be happier if they replaced Cal with someone more interesting. I am happy to give Jedi: Fallen Order a Thumbs Up because it was fun to play and the slow boil does get a decent payoff even if the twists couldn’t have been telegraphed any more obviously.
7/10 – The graphical glitches, and the enemies gliding around the map to get into position or simply popping into existence hurt the overall experience. Cal was a dull motherfucker, and the plot very importantly went absolutely nowhere. The ending allowed the door to remain open for a possible sequel which hopefully would give us more opportunities to see how Nightsister Merrin dealt with leaving her home and exploring the galaxy.