Posted on 17 Feb 2020 by L Coulsen

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

The Defence

Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Action, Adventure
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: No
Release date: 15 Nov 2019

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i3 3220
AMD FX 6100
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 650
AMD Radeon HD 7750
HDD: 55 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: Unknown
VR: No
FOV Slider: Unknown
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i7 6700K
AMD Ryzen 7 1700
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070/1660Ti
AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
RAM: 16 GB
HDD: 55 GB
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: Unknown
VR: No
FOV Slider: Unknown
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

Since the exclusive deal signed with EA, the Star Wars series hasn’t really amounted to a whole hell of a lot. Not in video-game terms, at least. And not in a way that people were happy with. There was, of course, the infamous kerfuffle with loot boxes, but that is a story for another time. Right now, we’re taking a look at a gritty, tough as nails action adventure with thrilling lightsaber combat. And it’s just like Dark Souls!

The Trial

For once, that statement is actually correct. In principle. Respawn wore their influences on their sleeves and, yes, this is a Soulslike, with a liberal sprinkle of Metroidvania to sweeten the pot. In principle, this should be the best Star Wars game in a long time, and it is, kind of. But compared to what? Battlefront and that crappy mobile game? Not exactly a high bar to clear now, is it? But as I always like to say, I’d rather have explosive diarrhoea than projectile vomiting. But that doesn’t mean I want to experience projectile vomiting, y’know?

Let’s cut to the chase. Fallen Jedi is a bad game. Admittedly, I’m being harsher on it than I perhaps would be under different circumstances. But even with a generous appraisal, it’s nothing more than average. At this stage, all the praise being thrown their way is because everything has been so disappointing for such a long time. When you’ve hit rock bottom, even a subterranean sink hole seems like a step up. Overly cynical language, of course, and it would not be fair to say Fallen Order (Fallen Standards, more like) is an objectively terrible game. But it is not good. And when compared against the potential simmering just beneath the surface, it’s heartbreaking just how poorly mediocre the final product really is.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s go over the positives. It would not be fair to say that the game has nothing in the way of redeeming features. The visual presentation is superb, for the most part. Light and particle effects have seen a lot of love and attention, as they should for something with such a huge focus on space laser swords. The sabers really pop, showering sparks everywhere when they make contact with almost anything. Glowing score marks left behind on scenery and enemies alike. They don’t always track perfectly with where your bade actually connects, but that’s forgivable.

The overall plot and much of the dialogue is weak and even repetitive at times, but characterisation is done well. Especially for the Nightsister Merrin, far and away the best character in the game. Even your little droid companion, BD-1, feels like a fully fleshed out, living and breathing (metaphorically speaking) individual. It’s genuinely impressive just how much personality the little guy has. Even some of the lesser characters, who we see for all of ten minutes (I’m looking at your Prauf) are fully realised. Though that ultimately leaves many of them disappointing in how woefully underutilised they are.

'Scuse Me, Who TF R U Neway?

Acting and overall sound design are consistently above average. Some of the line delivery is a bit wonky, but solid overall. So even here, we still have some minor niggles. The sound balance is a bit iffy, in places, as well. There are a number of occasions where incidental sounds will make it difficult to understand what people are saying. And even the variety of sound effects feels limited. With the lightsaber pretty much making the same “shmm” sound every time you swing it. Whether that be a sweep of a stab.

From a mechanic perspective, level design is strong. With each of the planets you visit having multiple sections that make use of your various abilities, including areas that are initially inaccessible, giving motivation to return for future exploration. But here, too, we run into a snag. Apart from eight heal upgrades, everything you find is either cosmetic or little snippets of lore. Good lore, incorporated into the universe well, but tidbits nonetheless.

And see, that’s the problem. Every positive comes with a caveat of being a “but then…” Except one. The song that plays during the game’s opening, and later in a battle arena, is frikkin’ awesome. Sugaan Essana (Black Thunder) by Mongolian metal band The Hu. The very best thing to come out of this whole kerfuffle by a mile. Actually, even then…no, that would be nitpicking. But let’s do it anyway.

As previously stated, Fallen Order wears its Dark Souls influence open and proud. You have a stamina bar, which only drains during blocking, finite heals that replenish when you rest, and meditation spots that are this game’s bonfire stand-in. Combat is geared around carefully learning your opponents’ patterns and waiting for the correct time attack and/or parry for an opening. Actually, it’s more like Sekiro in that respect. Though I don’t think it was influenced by such. More that the dev team moved in the same direction based on the Soulslike formula. They simply did not have the experience, or perhaps time, to fully realise their ideas.

LOL, Pwnt.

When everything clicks, it flows great. Giving you a real sense of being a powerful Jedi just tearing through opposition like tissue paper. But it rarely clicks. Because the focus on parrying makes the base combat heavily geared towards one on one duels, which almost never happen. Even some of the boss fights fall back on adding ‘challenging’ by throwing more enemies against you. And since many enemies have their own stamina, that you have to wear down before delivering a fatal blow, it makes group encounters especially frustrating. Like the above mentioned arena battle.

Most irritating of all. Well, it’s a bloody lightsaber! That thing that can, you know, cut through anything? Except everything in the bloody game. Very few enemies can be dispatched in a single hit unless using some of your more advanced skills. Most of which require expending Force power. Because swinging your lightsaber overhead is totally impossible unless you’re a Jedi in tune with the Force?!? I’m not kidding. The overhead attack is a Force power. So is using two lightsabers. Because…because.

Speaking of Force power. The only way to get it back (aside from resting) is by doing damage to an opponent. Or healing, if you buy one of the late-game skills. From a gameplay perspective, sure, that makes sense. But in Star Wars canon, that’s just bizarre. Meanwhile, when not in combat, even if your energy is completely depleted, you can use Force powers infinitely. Because, again, gameplay. Don’t want to force (heh) someone to go fight an enemy just to break open that wall that you need to open to progress, right?

That’s what I mean. Fallen Order wants to have its cake and eat it. It wants to be gruelling and punishing, but always pulls back at the last minute. Meditation spots are right next to boss fights, or maybe a room away, with a few enemies you can just run past if you don’t want to bother with them. But it locks you in to an arena for the fight itself, so you can’t run away and catch your breath. Or, for the smattering of optional bosses, it does let you retreat, but refills their health when combat ends. It’s…I want to say ‘uneven’. Disappointing, though, that’s the best word for it. So much potential. Sigh.

I Dub Thee Sir 'Almost Had It'.

Speaking of difficulty. There are four settings for that. Jedi Master is probably the best, and clearly the intended setting. But for those who want a real challenge (read: unbalanced bullshit) there’s one higher. Meanwhile, there’s a ‘story’ difficulty for those who just want to wander through the narrative. Which is fine, I’m not going to throw a bitchfit about people wanting to play easy games. It just doesn’t gel with the idea of this being a challenge worthy only of the most dedicated, skilled players. Cake, eat it.

Thing is, the story is decidedly lacklustre. Taking place around ten years after Order 66 (with TIE Interceptors, somehow) it all revolves around Padawan Cal Kestis finding a holocron that contains a list of Force sensitive children. The end goal being to train them and build a new Jedi Order. Do you see the problem here? Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Star Wars canon already knows this will fail. So, spoiler but not really, the game ends with Cal destroying the holocron. Making the entire thing pretty much completely pointless. Honestly, I wish they’d had the balls to just outright kill everyone at the end. But they can’t do that, because then we can’t have sequels!

It’s a classic case of “why aren’t I playing that game?” The bits and pieces you learn about Merrin’s history would make for an amazing game, potentially. It would also being something different than the usual. Yes, Nightsisters use the Force, but they do it in very different ways. That would be pretty darn spiffing to experience if you ask me. There’s also another character, the primary antagonist, who has a tragic past that would, again, make a far more compelling story.

The result is that we have a game with some great ideas, but an entirely milquetoast end product. A true Soulslike experience with lightsaber combat would be fantastic. But Cal has one, three hit combo and a stab, that he repeats over and over. With a few extra swings to mix it up if you use Force powers. But, seriously, why are your advanced lightsaber attacks considered Force powers? It’s bizarre. Considering there’s already a stamina system, why not have them drain that instead? You’d still be limiting their use, but in a much more logical, organic way.

Use the Force, Cal.

Other Force powers, bar one, consist of various uses of telekinesis. All of the myriad possibilities of the energy that surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together. Surely you could come up with more ideas than pushing, pulling and slowing down, with some parkour and a double-jump for a bit of flavour. Okay, we shouldn’t have a Jedi throwing out Force lightning everywhere, but at least try and think outside of the box.

The powers available really make this feel like Fallen Order grew out of a different game, that was intended to have a primary focus on exploration. But they slapped lightsabers over the top of it and hoped that would be enough. Which it does seem to have been, with many people. But really, it all comes back to the fact we’ve seen such poor examples of Star Wars games, when we even get them, that we’ll accept anything beyond outright terrible as a breath of fresh air.

The Verdict

So, if it isn’t obvious by this point, I did not like this game. Not at all. Having said that, I did go to the trouble of finding every single lore collectible, all of the cosmetic upgrades and exploring every section of every planet. There’s something there that makes me want to go back, even knowing how disappointed I’ll be. It’s not an outright bad game, it’s just painfully average.

Case Review

  • Merrin: Kinda’ reaching for positives, but she’s a great character.

  • Visuals: The smoke’s kind of nice? Seriously though, it’s a gorgeous game, no denying.

  • Combat: It feels pretty good most of the time, but it’s also very repetitive.

  • Length: I’m not entirely sure how, but the game is both too long and too short.

  • Collectathon: Lots to find, most of it cosmetics you won’t care about.

3 Score: 3/5
Less Force and more of a half-hearted shrug.


  • Controls: Whilst they are customisable, there's just something off about the way it plays on a keyboard. Clearly built with a controller in mind. But even then. There still seems to be a persistent delay in input response time.
  • Game Options: Pretty much nothing to speak of. The very bare minimum requirements to be considered a competent PC port. What few options there are seem to make little, overall difference in the grand scheme of things, too.
  • Accessibility: One area that the game does excel is in its attempt to be as welcoming as possible. Multiple colour-blind options, a lot of customisation for subtitles and even a 'just play for the story' mode for those who just want to know what's going on.


3.5 Score: 3.5/5

I went into Fallen Order not really knowing what to expect; an RPG or a Dark Souls-like. We kind of got both. The game begins with a very rough tutorial that feels like it drags on forever as protagonist Cal climbs all over a Star Destroyer that’s being disassembled. Because that’s his job. Eventually you meet up with his pal Prauf who speaks entirely in exposition until about a minute before he’s stabbed by the story’s big bad and the game kicks off properly. Once free of the tutorial the game’s combat begins to show its chops and while the controls are basic it feels good to dodge and use the Force and your Lightsabre to tear through Storm Troopers and alien creatures alike.

Some of the supporting characters manage to add flavour to the game between fights. Pilot Greez is grumpy and often has a snide remark or sarcastic response to show off his wit. Big bad inquisitor Second Sister is also an imposing villain and conveys a lot of her power and anger through body language. Some characters from the recent movies even make an appearance like Saw Garrera. Unfortunately there’s not much character or depth given to any of the enemies you’ll face (apart from one which I won’t spoil) and cutting down one Storm Trooper is about the same as cutting down another and towards the middle of the game this begins to drag. I ended up just wishing the next cutscene would hurry up and start.

Fallen Order is definitely the best Star Wars game we’ve had in quite some time and is a good single player romp for the most part. If you’re like me and become bored of the combat then the story props it up nicely but if the story doesn’t grab you then the combat is unlikely to see you through to the end. Fallen Order unfortunately falls far short of Star Wars masterpieces like Knights Of The Old Republic 1 and 2. But, given our recent drought of quality Star Wars games it’s hard not to recommend Fallen Order if you want an enjoyable single player experience.

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