Fallen Order is one of those games where you think: “I wish Star Wars game were this cool years ago”. It relives that childhood dream that most Star Wars game fulfil – playing as a Jedi. There are, of course, many many licensed Star Wars games that do this already but I don’t think there’s one that has made it as fluid, natural and fun as Fallen Order has since Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy.
Firstly, the graphics are beautiful. Something that most reviews of videogames will talk about now that they’re such a big part of the experience. Even at lower settings, the scenery is still beautiful and nice to look at. It’s not like Red Dead Redemption 2 levels of incredible world design but what has been does is a great fit for the Star Wars universe and, cliché as it sounds, makes you feel like you live in that universe and on that planet. There’s around five different planets that look distinctively different from each other, so there’s a lot of cool world design between each of them with some of the planets coming from the films and official canon like Kashyyyk and Darthomir. The planets aren’t really populated with people or NPCs aside from enemies or those at the landing area of the ship that you come from, so don’t expect much when it comes to NPC interactions like KOTOR.
The action in the game is what Knights of the Old Republic felt like back in the day – and if I’m honest, if the KOTOR Remake does the lightsaber fighting as well as Fallen Order does then I’ll be very happy and impressed.
The lightsaber fighting in the game is pretty simple. You can block, reflect laser bolts and can perform a different combination of moves. As you progress along the game, you’ll get to upgrade the player with skill points that allow you to do even more cool stuff. Lightsaber throwing, stronger attacks, more health, stamina (for blocking and strong attacks) are reduced. Progression systems in Star Wars games are always a very fun addition and to see it return in this standalone story was a nice surprise.
Boss fights are few and far between, but when they occur they’re pretty fun. I only had trouble with one of the fights and it wasn’t even the final boss of the game – which maybe makes sense considering the boss I was fighting compared to the final boss, however it was quite jarring as you’d expect the final boss to be much harder than the second-to-last boss of the game. There’s smaller boss fights known as “Legendary Beasts” which can be found in secret areas of the game and give you a big XP boost if you can defeat them – they’re fun and challenging and sometimes feel more difficult than the sparring bosses found through the linear game and story routes.
Not only is there incredible lightsaber fighting, but there’s parkour elements like Mirror’s Edge or Titanfall. It’s something I wasn’t expecting at all, and it was one of my favourite parts of the game. Although the planets in the game are quite linear, navigating those maps using your parkour skills by wall-riding, climbing, jumping and using the force to slow or stop objects to get across obstacles is really fun and is a real highlight. There’s secret areas to find that can give upgrades to your force meter and how much health you can get, as well as echoes that give more information on the places and characters that you encounter.
These parkour skills will come in handy as there’s puzzles that’ll need to be solved in order to progress most of the planets. The puzzles aren’t hard, and sometimes you’ll need to use your intuition combined with wallclimbing and wallrunning to figure out the best way to approach the complete the puzzles. And you’ll also need to use the force as well to do them – think of it like how Breath of the Wild approaches puzzles and you should probably get the grasp of how to solve them fairly quickly.
Honestly, I found it quite hard to really be engaged in the story because you already know what happens in the end. It takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, so you can kind of predict what the outcome will be. That’s not to say the story is bad, because it’s not! The characters are well written and fun, their interactions are great and they made the unskippable cutscenes bareable when most times I’d just not pay attention. Mostly with games that are prequels my philosophy with “you already know what happens” wouldn’t matter because this takes place before the main story, so it’s something new to discover. But with Fallen Order, it’s in the middle of the prequels and the Original Trilogy, so you know what comes before and after it – and that middle zone is already covered by media like Rogue One and Rebels, so trying to be invested in something like that which has been covered extensively is quite difficult, but not impossible.
One of my biggest issues with the game is the map. It’s a 3D map and it’s basically pointless and trying to figure out where you’re meant to go sometimes is an actual pain in the ass. This game was the first time that I had to look up multiple times where to go because there’s no instructions or any real guide to figure out what you’re meant to do to progress other than sheer dumb luck, or very vague highlights (i.e ones that show you can use the force) or pressing a button or whatnot to continue. And even then, it’s still annoying as hell to nagivate and for a kid’s game. It really shouldn’t be that stressful for me to spend 20 minutes trying to figure out where the hell I’m meant to go, run across the map trying to find where the next part is to progress, look up onto the internet where I’m meant to go and then go back all away across the map to get to the section I’m supposed to be at so I can continue.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a fun singleplayer spin-off game for the franchise. There’s fun lightsaber swinging, lots of exploration and discovery but the annoying map system brings down an otherwise very entertaining experience.