Last month I eagerly awaiting the release of Death Stranding, yet just one week after its release, Jedi: Fallen Order swooped in and stole my attention – a game I had no intention of even purchasing in the first place. For the past month, I have not gone back to Death Stranding, as I painfully fought my way through a galaxy far far away, until I managed to conquer Jedi: Fallen Order.
There is an immediate entertainment value to Fallen Order that is inherently missing from Death Stranding. The Empire are everywhere, and Jedi are hunted down. Stepping into the shoes of young Cal Kestus – a former Jedi Padawan – you are thrust into the sights of The Inquisitors (Jedi Hunters), where you must fight your way through the galaxy. To survive the chaos, all you have are your wits, upgradeable force abilities, lightsabre in hand, and your trusty droid companion BD-1, perched on your shoulder. So quite a lot at your disposal actually.
Don’t let that fool you though, as Fallen Order is a difficult game – especially if you are insane enough to play through the game on Jedi Grandmaster difficulty as I did. The game draws many comparisons to Dark Souls and Bloodborne, yet it is certainly still some distance from that level of mania. Your game is only saved at the Bonfire… ahem… Meditation spots, and refilling your meds and health respawn all enemies in the area. While not every encounter was defiantly difficult, there is an added layer of intensity, as the most basic Stormtrooper can land a fatal blow. Boss fights are infuriating, but wildly satisfying once you come out the other side victorious, and the game’s combat is relatively simple, with a reliance on parrying, dodging, well timed basic combos and the occasional force ability. There is an experimental side to the combat, but possibly due to the difficulty level, I found I often went for the basic kill, in the fear of being set back to the last save point. It must be said that this is coming from someone that is not a fan of any Souls game and never made it past the first area in Bloodborne – however I am planning to give Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice a go over the Christmas break.
The story is biggest draw, which is official Star Wars canon, and depending on the game’s success, a big middle finger to its publisher EA, after their claims on single player games. Set five years on from the infamous Order 66, I found this unexplored setting immensely interesting. Aboard the Mantis, you jump to a variety of planets in search for a McGuffin, which of course, the Empire are also after. While the story does nothing new, it finds ways to interestingly place you in vast and fantastical setting, new and old, within the Star Wars universe. Cal is the beating heart of the story, as he must face the trauma that comes with embracing the force – as a survivor of “the Purge”. Your motley crew aboard the Mantis are a likeable bunch, and towards the end of the game you genuinely begin to care for them. Likewise, the villainous Second Sisters, are excellently evil foes, which have brilliant boss fights peppered through the campaign. Sadly, the game just ends without much warning, but still manages to do so with an unexpected and intense bang.
The game’s allowance to explore and return to the semi-open world areas was a mixed bag for me. Quite often you were tasked with backtracking to the ship once an area’s mission was complete, fighting your way through enemies you had already fought. I feel a fast-travel option at these returning points would have been an advantage, yet with the way the game operates it makes sense to leave it out. Often the most monotonous elements of the backtracking, however, was the traversal. The amount of times I died sliding down a slope of ice, and seemingly missing the swinging rope which dangles right in front of you was ridiculous. These sliding areas were far too frequent and infuriating.
Jedi: Fallen Order, for a Star Wars fan has a lot to offer. A glance into some unexplored territory, an interesting cast of characters, and some addictive lightsabre-swinging combat. It is held back in its unwillingness to offer up anything new in game design – being an amalgamation of different game styles – and a lacklustre ending. However, over the thirty-or-so hours that it took to angrily battled my way through the campaign, I was hooked, eager to prove that I could make it to the end. And who says that single players are dead?