Cal Kestis is sad. Being a terrorist is hard work, and no amount of lightsaber amputations is making him any happier. In Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, you follow his excellent adventure in reaching out to old friends, desperately trying to find new ones when the OG cast inevitably remember he’s a melt, and cramming as many seeds and rocks into his pockets as the force allows.
The latest triple-A action game from Apex Legends factory Respawn Entertainment, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the sequel to a surprising hit from 2019 which follows everyone’s favourite ginger hero as he performs outrageous feats roughly a bazillion miles away from any canon film. The first game managed to please the crowds by mixing a few Soulsian mechanics with a tasting menu of Star Wars’ most iconic aspects. We’re talking lightsabers, pushing storm troopers off cliffs, and a narrative focused on rebellion and importance of believing in the good of the universe. The stuff people have been lapping up for decades.
With the sequel, I went in with higher expectations. The team at Respawn did a damn good job last time around, both at making a great action game, and a great Star Wars product. After dozens of hours in the sequel, I do believe the studio has raised the cantina on both accounts.
We’ll begin with the bread and butter. If there’s one thing that Jedi: Survivor does especially well, it’s make the act of swinging your lightsaber around incredibly engaging. Even at the start of the game, Cal plays like an experienced Jedi, able to split a Stormtrooper in two and push enemies off cliffs. It was smart to start you off with a decent toybox of attacks to mess around with, and thanks to expansive skill trees you are able to quickly empower yourself further.
On to this foundation, you add lightsaber stances, which dramatically alter how you play. It’s tricky to nail the feel of a lightsaber (moreso than general sword combat in my opinion) because you can grab 10 nerds from a crowd at the Star Wars Celebration and they’ll naturally tear each other’s throats out over how slow lightsabers should be, how heavy they should feel, and which types of the weapons are for losers.
So it’s brilliant news to all of those dorks (yes, myself included) that each style is not only fun to mess around with in its own way, but also plays differently, too. You wanna mash that attack button super fast? Dual sabers is for you. Wanna sweep around and take out waves of droids at once? Darth Maul-style double-sided for you, mate. Are you 50+? Grab that single saber like you did at the movie screenings back in the day. And there are more, too, one of which is my favourite and led to my first skill tree reset – but I won’t spoil it. It’s just a shame that experimenting with stances costs skill points; it seems to punish you for wanting to try all the options out.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is probably the most fun I’ve had in a Star Wars game since The Force Unleashed. Though Survivor has nowhere near the levels of fanfiction-esque insanity that made those old games so enjoyable, it can make you feel as rad as Unleashed did – which is a feat considering you aren’t pulling Star Destroyers out of the sky or slamming Obi-Wan into a blender.
As for traversal, Jedi: Survivor is huge and smothered in puzzles and hidden junk. The moment you land on Koboh and start striking out across the map, you begin to get a glimpse at how daunting the task of gathering everything is. You don’t have to, of course, but the game excels at tempting you to find one more treasure before moving on with the story. Multiple gadgets and unlockable abilities have you returning back to old zones often, scratching off dead ends scouring the world for loot.
At times, it goes a bit overboard. I saw that there were 100 Priorite shards, and I prepped for the long haul. I saw there were 145 seeds, and I leaned back with a sigh. Then there are scrolls, datadiscs and so much more… but seeds are the worst though; hard to see unless you stroll over every nook and cranny. They do eventually mark them all on the map once you collect enough, but it’s still draining.
Collectible burnout is a real risk in Survivor, so don’t spend time on scouring for everything unless you really want to. If you stick to opening chests and grabbing essence (which provides perks and major character upgrades) you’ll be more than alright. The joy of slapping on a buzzcut and beard and transforming Cal into a gingerbread MC Ride with your favourite combination of lightsaber and droid parts at your waist will offer a significant boon to your overall enjoyment.
How well does Jedi: Survivor do Star Wars? That depends on what parts of the Disney-owned giga-franchise you value most! If it’s the laser fights then, yeah, Respawn nails it. Do you like freaky aliens, adventuring around exotic worlds, and helping your freaky friends beat away The Empire? Jedi: Survivor does that well, too! It takes a recipe from the Lucas and co. cookbook and replicates it faithfully, whilst making sure to throw in a few extra ingredients here and there to just keep things fresh.
Respawn made sure to immediately show off how much it digs the IP from the second you touch down on Coruscant, and that succeeded at putting a smile on my face. But it wasn’t until I ran into Pyloon’s Saloon that I knew the studio managed to pull it off with aplomb. It’s your typical Star Wars canteen – albeit with enough new ideas to not put you immediately to sleep. This is endemic of the game as a whole, which is one of Survivor’s greatest successes in my mind.
Oh god, it has such a sense of humour at times, too. Enemies chirp at each other, common droids will self-monologue with wit. You know it’s working when you find yourself stopping and waiting for enemy dialogue to finish before jumping in and murdering them. But it goes further than speech: Respawn will place enemies by ledges and cliff faces as if begging you to comedically push them off. When you grab and throw a droid miles away, it’ll shout goodbye as it flies into the distance. There’s one gag later on in the game that had me rolling, that I frankly cannot spoil. And I wouldn’t, even if I could.
Respawn nails the aesthetic. The composers bring the horns and strings you’ve grown to expect from Star Wars elegantly into the mix, too. Everyone on the team who worked on the skyboxes deserves a raise, a firm handshake, and a staggering number of high fives. Character designers, level designers… everyone on the team has outdone themselves here.
The game has a performance mode and I ran into occasional frame drops even with it on, but for the most part the game ran A-OK. You can catch a rare floating beam or bugged out droid here and there, but these weren’t game breaking, or rough enough to tear out my sense of enjoyment at the time. I had one crash after mixing up the lightsaber parts as fast as I could, but I was really trying to push it there. In terms of other issues? Gimmie a red lightsaber crystal. If lore reasons mattered, you wouldn’t give me a purple or white one. I get that red = bad in cinematics, but if the player equips it manually it’s their fault if they get confused. C’mon.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a step up from its predecessor and brilliant fun, as long as you don’t let that collectible-obssessed plunderer take hold of you. It is not a narrative masterpiece, nor is it the most engaging action game in the world. But it does nothing badly, and excels where it matters. It represents the Star Wars universe accurately and places emphasis on the aspects of it that keep even jaded Andor-lovers like me interested in the IP, even after all this time. An obvious recommendation to Star Wars fans, and a hearty thumbs up to anyone else that may be even remotely interested.
- Great combat
- Lovely looking locations
- So, so big
- Collectible burnout is a risk
- A few bugs here and there
If you want to buy the game yourself, you can do so here via the link below! Doing so via these links will throw us some change, so you’d be giving us a hand if you decide to do so!
Check out the game’s Amazon listing here!
(This product was reviewed on a PS5 with a code provided for free by Electronic Arts.)