Everyone knows Star Wars. The original space odyssey from 1978 has taken many forms over the past decades. From the formerly loathed, now nostalgic prequels to Andor’s introspective look into facism, everyone has their own Star Wars they hold near and dear.
Rian Johnson and J.J. Abram’s sequel trilogy sparked discourse over what the true essence of Star Wars is, and how exactly this abstract concept can be actualized. Is it the formation of a found family and confrontation of a profound challenge? Or is it just lightsabers and planet-destroying spheres in the sky?
Playing through Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order in 2019 gave me that sense of abstract Star Wars essence during a time whenever my appreciation for the franchise was at an all-time low. This initial entry left me with genuine interest to continue Cal Kestis’ story and reignited my interest in this grand, media-spanning galaxy. After just finishing Jedi: Survivor, I’m happy to say I’ve once again been left with this same feeling.
For those who enjoyed the initial entry into the Star Wars Jedi game series, there’s almost no doubt Jedi: Survivor will hit the mark once again. Jedi: Survivor is an overall improvement on Jedi: Fallen Order, but it is also an outstanding game in its own right. Though not without its faults, there is plenty to praise about Jedi: Survivor.
The rancor in the room
It is impossible to discuss Jedi: Survivor in its current state without mentioning the glaring technical issues that even prompted a response from Respawn. I played through Jedi: Survivor on PC, the platform that garnered the most scorn since the game’s launch. I am surprised to report, however, that my experience faced relatively few impediments.
The main area of issue came during open-world exploration on Koboh. Though Jedi: Survivor’s expansive planet maps certainly encourage exploration, the stuttering, rubberbanding, and other visual and graphic bugs had me running from one dungeon to the next with little regard for the world’s beauty. One giant bird I rescued earlier in the story absolutely obliterated my framerate everytime it soared across the sky, only making me regret freeing it a little bit.
The only other instance came during cutscenes, where otherwise emotionally poignant moments were undercut by characters rapidly vibrating and zooming across the screen. Although my gameplay was minimally impacted, the existing technical issues are an important factor to consider whenever deciding whether to pick up Jedi: Survivor. Right now, if you play Jedi: Survivor—on any platform—you should expect disruptions.
An elegant game game for a more civilized age
In almost every way, Jedi: Survivor is an improvement on Jedi: Fallen Order. Most notably, Jedi: Survivor has impeccable combat, giving the best lightsaber combat in any Star Wars game ever made. Along with the single, dual-wield, and double-bladed stances from the previous iteration, Jedi: Survivor introduced the crossguard and blaster stances.
This wider range of lightsaber stances provides a greater array of possible gameplay styles. Though the dual-wield and blaster stances are undoubtedly the best, all stances are viable with none feeling immensely underpowered.
The crossguard stance is far from the most effective, but it was the stance I used throughout the entirety of my first runthrough. The slow, heavy swings that chunk down enemies’ health bar were hindered by long wind-ups that left Cal vulnerable to damage. Like all stances, however, the weakness of any particular style can be offset with the right perks and skill tree upgrades.
Customization is another highlight in Jedi: Survivor. Not only can you see every possible hairstyle and beard combination that actor Cameron Monaghan (Cal Kestis) can pull off, but you can truly embody any Star Wars aesthetic—be it a Jedi Knight of the High Republic or a Han Solo-esq rebel scoundrel. The highly customizable options between your lightsaber, blaster, and even BD-1 all contribute significantly to the game’s immersive Star Wars fantasy.
Level design follows the basic principles of the previous game, as characters enter a new dungeon and progress by completing puzzles and action sequences. Shortcuts and Meditation sites are littered throughout that give players a reprieve and make progress throughout any given instance feel more tangible.
Outside of boss fights, Jedi: Survivor’s core gameplay loop has three distinctive elements: combat, puzzles, and parkour. While combat and puzzle segments have almost been perfected, parkour and exploration can still be a struggle to get through. Despite many dungeons in Jedi: Survivor being linear, interactable assets are not always obvious. This can lead to quite a few frustrating and unnecessary deaths, as more than likely players will fall to their demise after thinking a nearby pipe could be a handhold at least once.
This is where the fun begins
Jedi: Survivor is the most cinematic game I have ever played. The set piece action sequences, like the game’s introduction sequence or the final battle on Jedha, are absolutely astonishing and can only be compared to similar moments in the Star Wars film canon.
The story in Jedi: Survivor is relatively simple on its surface. Cal and company are searching for a device that will allow them to travel to an isolated planet, undiscovered by the Empire. The build-up can feel slow, but the plot picks up as characters reveal their motivations for this newfound planet. This leads to an incredible third act that contains the best Star Wars moments in recent memory.
Jedi: Survivor features several antagonists that act as reoccurring boss fights, however despite the familiar foes these major boss encounters never feel stale. For repeated main story bosses, these encounters build on top of each previous meeting. Both returning and new mechanics keep each fight fresh and makes every instance unique.
A New Hope
Overall, Jedi: Survivor is an achievement in the Star Wars game medium, an improvement from its predecessor in combat, customization, boss encounters, and side quest content. The continued story in Jedi: Survivor is not just an exciting thrill ride throughout this familiar universe, but tees this franchise up to be one of the best trilogies in the Star Wars canon.
Currently, the technical issues are impossible to ignore. There is certainly hope that Respawn will improve upon these issues over time, however your Jedi: Survivor experience will likely be impacted by bugs for the time being. Despite this, the vision behind Jedi: Survivor is clear and still remarkably enjoyable. From the over one hundred Star Wars games released since the dawn of the science fiction franchise, for me, Jedi: Survivor stands at the top.
Disclosure: Our review copy of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor was provided by Respawn Entertainment.