Developed By: Respawn Entertainment
Published By: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 5 / Xbox Series / PC
Reviewed On: PlayStation 5
Review Code Provided By: Electronic Arts
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order which came out back in 2019 is considered by many as one of the most successful launches of a new title under the Star Wars banner. It was reminiscent of the older Jedi-centric games with an emphasis on action-adventure gameplay but borrowed elements from the Souls genre with tough boss battles, respawning enemies while resting, and pulled it off rather commendably. On my own playthrough, I found it to be quite manageable on the standard difficulty, the story was very well presented, characters were memorable but the game did suffer from some uneven platforming, a lot of technical issues, and bugs that just brought down the whole experience. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it for the most part, especially for a Star Wars title.
Thanks to the very kind folks at EA, we were granted an early review code for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Just for the sake of being honest, this game really was not one of my anticipated titles this year but after 40+ hours seeing everything the game had to offer, I personally believe that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a GOTY contender if not for numerous technical issues that plague the game.
Why Fight When You Can’t Win?
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor picks off five years after the events from Fallen Order. This time, Cal Kestis has a new crew flanking him with Greez, Cere, and Merrin all going on their own separate journeys. Even knowing that he is fighting against insurmountable odds, Cal is relentless in his pursuit to topple the Empire. On his new adventure, a discovery of a forgotten planet brings new hope for Cal that there might be a safe haven where the people can live without the Empire’s oppression.
As good as the story was in Fallen Order, I do feel like Survivor managed to craft another very well-told narrative outing. This is due to the game being split between three main acts and each is paced almost to perfection. Cal continues on his journey of learning what it means to be a Jedi but along the way, he also has to come to terms with how antagonists in this new chapter eerily parallel his own drive. That reflection allows Cal to grow even more as an endearing character and not to mention creates a very compelling narrative structure that is told with grand story beats as well as with subtly effective performances.
It also helps greatly how the supporting cast in Survivor also is greatly expanded with returning characters as well as new memorable ones that bring a well-realized tale to fruition. Greez, Cere, and Merrin return with their familiar comforts but new dimensions to their character arcs. New characters like Bode and Dagan Gera are instantly recognizable by outstanding performances. One of my favorite things is the new addition of Pyloon’s Saloon as along the way, players can meet and recruit characters that will hang out in Pyloon’s as a sort of base hub. This is incredibly well done as every time the player enters there is an almost endless chain of dialogue that slowly reveals itself over the course of the game that creates organic investment in these side characters.
I really loved how Star Wars Jedi: Survivor took time to really flesh out the story and characters with an incredible amount of backstory and detail that really helped me as a player get fully invested in this adventure.
Knowledge Expresses Universal Truth
Since Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is only coming out for the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X & S, and PC, graphically the game looks amazing. The recognizable Star Wars art style and world-building are fully realized to an impressive degree. However as good as the game looks, the version I played inherited its predecessor’s technical mess as well. On the PS5 players can choose to play at Quality Mode by default at 4K resolution but at a locked 30 fps or toggle Performance Mode that targets 60 fps. Even from the start of the game, Performance Mode resulted in some very noticeable screen tearing and it did not get any better over time. To make things worse, on the massive planet of Koboh, the framerate really struggles especially in some open areas. Just to highlight how bad it can get; it was disappointing that cutscenes were locked at 30 fps but even then, still struggled when there was a lot going on. I crashed at least 5 times and at one point moved too fast through the world that I broke the game where environmental assets would not load anymore but luckily everything reset after respawning. It’s also quite disappointing that at the moment HDR seems to not be broken as well.
The sound design in the game as well was very impressive. The amazing soundtrack returns with new memorable arrangements and battles are thrillingly expressed. Unfortunately, there were brief moments as well with sound or music dropping off at weird moments but at least it was more consistently good rather than with major issues.
I would say for PS5 features, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor falls on the lower end of the spectrum. There was some haptic feeling but as for the adaptive triggers it was barely noticeable. Loading times from fast travel range around 10-12 seconds as well for each transition but the most glaring issue would be entering and exiting Pyloon’s Saloon. The player is funneled in a section that was clearly meant to load all the assets first so there would be a brief period of waiting until a light turned green to enter or exit. Being in this generation where loading times can be instantaneous, it really stuck out like a sore thumb.
All in all, the game was playable from start to finish but I really hope that future patches iron out all these disappointing issues for players to enjoy a really special game.
A Ripple Is Only As Good As The Stone You Cast
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor also builds upon a solid foundation from Fallen Order. What I really loved was how the devs decided to provide a wealth of options for the player to truly enjoy this adventure in many ways. Cal still does have points to allocate at Meditation Points for the Survival, Lightsaber, and Force skill trees. The standard options to increase the life or force bar are present but the Lightsaber and Force skill tress are expanded with 5 lightsaber stances to improve as well as upgraded force powers.
There are 6 major locations in the game but the two biggest ones are Koboh and Jedha. Koboh itself is incredibly massive and players will find a dizzying amount of activities that really reward the curious. Rambler’s Ranch can slowly be unlocked with discoverable characters, legendary enemies to dispatch, bounties to hunt, gardens to plant, fish to catch, and many more. At first, I admit I felt overwhelmed but it really did not deter me from seeking out and completing these activities due to how varied and fun it ended up being.
Seeing Pyloon’s Saloon slowly change from an empty bar with a dirty fishtank to a bustling hot spot with a robot DJ really went a long way toward making me as a player incredibly invested in the world the devs have built. Sure, some platforming jankiness did carry over from the first game as well but in the end, the expanded traversal options as well helped to smooth over any difficulties I had. This also translates to some bosses that can have very erratic (and sometimes out of left field attack patterns) that can feel like a huge difficulty spike, but in time it was manageable with the wealth of options afforded.
I really found myself racing to complete every single activity because there was almost always a satisfying payoff even in small story beats that flesh out side characters or locations that served a greater purpose.
What I Loved
- Story, Pacing & Characters – The main narrative was expertly woven to provide nice twists and turns. What surprised me more was how well-written all the side characters were as well. By the end of the game I was fully invested in many characters and I really look forward to what comes next.
- Graphics – Graphically the game looks very good on the PS5 (when it runs well).
- Soundtrack – It’s just amazing how the soundtrack whether in dramatic moments or in Pyloon’s Saloon really invoked such appreciation from me due to how well executed it was.
- Loads of Activities – There is always a fine balance that developers have to make in providing busy work activities or activities that really pay off and I really felt the latter here.
What Really Should Have Been Better
- Bugs & Performance – The game really lets down on this front due to how the framerate can be so rough in certain areas as well as HDR not working properly. I think this is the first game where Performance Mode doesn’t really work as well as it should have been working but I do hope it improves with patches. It also feels quite sad how the amount of dialogue work that went into this game was quite extensive and yet some dialogue and even events that happen at Pyloon’s seems to be out of sequence.
- Difficulty Spikes – On the standard difficulty I found the game to be very manageable but there were hard walls due to how some enemies have very uneven attack patterns that can feel cheap. That feeling of overcoming these walls is great but nothing sucks more than re-trying a battle for an enemy to suddenly have a new attack pattern to mess your rhythm up. It’s really not often but when it does happen it just feels so sudden.
Ghost Star, Wonder Where You Are?
I expected Star Wars Jedi: Survivor to be a good game but I really did not expect to fall in love with it as much as I did. Cal and the crew were great in Fallen Order but have cemented their place in Star Wars lore with how much growth and love is poured into them. What really just breaks my heart is I know how hard the team must have worked on this title but for it to be having the performance issues that it does, it might deter some day-one buyers from picking this up early. I really do believe that for me this was the first GOTY contender coming out this year but the technical issues will put a damper on things. Players who loved the first game are going to love this and for newcomers, this is a game worth experiencing.