Developers: Respawn Entertainment
Publishers: Electronic Arts

I watched all the Star Wars in chronological order. Then I watched both seasons of the Mandalorian. I was fully immersed in the Star Wars world and ready to be a fallen Jedi.

The game does a remarkable job of cramming in all the little things you love about Star Wars. While there is obviously the obligatory legions of Storm-troopers to cut down (who unlike their movie counterparts… are actually pretty good shots), there are tons of added environmental and NPC flavors that will satisfy even the most jaded of fanboys.

The story carries itself well… if not predictable, but serves to push the action from planet to planet. As the protagonist, you are Cal Kestis, a young Padawan who’s trying to find his way after barely surviving the purge of Order 66 following Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.

Of course you get a light-saber.
Of course you get force powers.
This is a Star Wars game after all.

Things the game got right: Overall level design was fantastic and the worlds were exciting to explore. The combat system for everything but the bosses (we’ll get to that in the next part) was tight and it seemed the devs were aiming for a ‘dark souls lite’ approach to fighting. Meaning, hack n slash isn’t going to work. Dodge, counter, and parry with the occasional force power boost is the only way to be victorious. Controlled, patient, and well timed combat is demanded of the player. Even the most mundane of enemies can pose a threat until you understand the game wants you to approach combat their way. I made the mistake of starting the game on an advanced setting instead of the normal setting. This made the regular creatures and soldiers an unexpectedly tough challenge… and made the bosses damn near impossible. Much to my frustration. But the variety of ways you could use your various force powers with brutal up close light-saber fights made the combat rich and rewarding when you executed it correctly.

Environments were stunning.

Voice acting was fine, with a wide variety of characters being fully fleshed out with dialog and some shallow attempts at sparking some emotional connection between the team. As the game progresses, it actually works. One of the main characters is a four armed alien who is your wise-ass, semi-dick of a pilot. I disliked him immediately. By the end of the game, he comes round and wins you over. The game also offers plenty of cameos both in characters and other Star Wars cannon in the story dialog.

Things the game got wrong: Bosses. On normal difficulty, they were a pain. Especially when the game allows you to encounter one WAY before you’ve leveled enough to fight it. You learn this the hard way. Repeatedly. On advanced difficulty, they bring the game to a screeching halt as you fall into a frustration loop of trying to match the micro-second demands of the combat system, with graphics and responses that are far too loose for such precise timing. Dark Souls does this idea well. Jedi Knight, does not. I feel sorry for all the kids who just wanted to be a Jedi and play a Star Wars game, who had their experience come to a disappointing standstill as they struggle with over-powered bosses and a sloppy combat system. They rest of the game has a great tempo… bosses crash that into disappointment. Think I’m exaggerating? Google “Jedi Fallen Order Bosses Hard” and wade through the many, many discussions of people who struggled with this aspect of the game. With just as many people commenting underneath how it only took them “two tries” and that people just need to “git gud”.

Boss battles are a bitch.

While the overall level design was complex and often intricate, with very little hand-holding as far as guidance, the devs fell for a weak trick that has popped up in gaming lately. And that is the ‘teaser’. Meaning, an area you want to access… or an item you want to get… that they tease you with, but for whatever reason, you can’t get it right now in the game. Only, you don’t KNOW you can’t get it right now. Typical gamer logic is this: Present you with a problem and a set of tools… now solve the problem. But what Jedi Knight does is… presents you with a problem, but doesn’t give you the tools, and doesn’t really tell you that. So you spend time trying to figure it out and figure it out… only to give up in frustration. Then, an hour later into the game, you are given a power or tool that will NOW allow you to access that part way back there. So the game loops back upon itself to get more mileage out of the levels. It’s a cheap trick and ruins the flow.

And while this is a minor quip, it is worth mentioning. The game, without a doubt, has the most WORTHLESS ‘loot boxes’ scattered throughout. The devs put SO much time into creating skins for your BD-1 robot unit, skins for your ship, interchangeable light-saber parts that are purely aesthetic and you can barely see them in game anyway. As an OCD gamer, I gotta open all the chests… there might be something valuable in there, right? Wrong. You could not open a single box in this game and not miss a thing (ok, except for the like, five out of 50 that have an extra ‘stim’ in it).

This is how you properly social distance

Verdict: If you are Star Wars fan, it’s totally worth a ride. Don’t be a hero and keep the difficulty on ‘normal’ default setting, and you will only be minimally frustrated by the bosses. The story and environments are enjoyable, especially the ‘platformer’ elements of navigating the levels. Slicing through enemies with a light-saber never got old. Neither did ‘force shoving’ them off cliffs. And blocking blaster fire so it ricochets back into the enemy. And manipulating the world with force powers. Jedi: Fallen Order has a lot of fun mechanics and offers a very solid build that allows this game to live up to all the good reviews.

But damn, those bosses…