Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is almost in stores. WANT editor Dunke van Boekel has been immersing himself in the new adventure of Cal Kestis (Cameron Monaghan) and BD-1 for a week now. Now he finally gets to share what he thought of it, without spoilers, of course.
Five years ago, Cal, BD-1 and Merrin stole my heart in Jedi: Fallen Order. The great return of the single-player Star Wars experience in gaming managed to surprise many with a strong story. Well, and the gameplay was right up Star Wars’ alley. Now, of course, it remains to be seen if the sequel, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, can pull this trick again.
The story of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
In 2019, we learned about the former Padawan Cal Kestis, who hid from the evil Empire. What was cleverly done there was to weave certain gameplay elements into that story.
Indeed, Cal had completely cut himself off from The Force, but became stronger as the game progressed. This trick is somewhat repeated in Jedi: Survivor, but not with the same emotional weight.
On the other hand, the new game does manage to establish a unique Star Wars story. In large, spoiler-free lines, we see Cal frustrated with the fact that the Empire keeps growing. Finding a solution to this seems almost impossible.
Navigating a universe that keeps getting darker takes a toll on everyone. At its core, Jedi: Survivor stays true to the classic good-versus-evil dynamic associated with Star Wars, while offering nuance here.
Cal in action (Image: Dunke van Boekel / WANT)
Star Wars to the bone
The crew Cal hung out with in the first game is back in Jedi: Survivor, but they’re not quite as you remember them. The five years between Fallen Order and Jedi: Survivor can be felt, but not in a way where you think you’ve missed a game (though some events are cited in the book Star Wars Jedi: Battle Scars).
The beginning immediately draws you back into the Far, Far Away universe, though I imagine the middle section of the game is a little too long for some. The explosive third act, on the other hand, is so full of cool moments and developments that you almost forget that.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor once again manages to tell a story and introduce concepts that somewhat resemble all aspects of Star Wars. The influences of the Prequel films within the era of just before the original trilogy are well implemented, and the story at times feels like a book written before the Disney takeover.
Thereby, there is also a lot of work done with an era that I’m very excited about, but I’ll leave that in the middle for the sake of spoilers.
It doesn’t get any more SW (Image: Dunke van Boekel / WANT)
Fine, but what about that glowstick?
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was described in terms of gameplay as a hodgepodge of different games, with Dark Souls and Tomb Raider being the main inspirations. In Jedi: Survivor, little of that actually changes, but your options are expanded.
The tactical gameplay of Fallen Order, where you’re constantly draining your enemies’ stamina bar to get some hits while parrying and dodging attacks yourself, returns. The change is mostly in the new “stances,” or lightsaber styles.
In addition to the single and double-edged sword, you now have access to using two swords, a lightsaber and blaster or a large crossguard stance.
My personal hope was that you could switch between these 6 stances with some sort of weapon-wheel, but unfortunately you can only select two to use until you reach a meditation point again.
Nice stick! (Image: Dunke van Boekel / WANT)
Playing Indiana Jones in the Star Wars universe
You visit a number of planets during your journey in Jedi: Survivor. There are fewer than in Fallen Order, and some are quite linear, but there is plenty to explore. Especially on Koboh, where a lot of time has obviously been spent. In my preview I already explained that there were a good number of side-quests and secret environments to be found. The hope was that this was present on all the planets, but that was disappointing.
Especially Koboh and an unnamed planet have open areas to explore. The puzzling and platforming is cool, but could have used some more visual variety. There are plenty of rewards to discover that mainly give you access to more possibilities. For example, in customizing Cal, his lightsaber and BD-1.
If you’ve played the first game, Jedi: Survivor feels like a warm bath. You climb, wall-runt and run through the planets in conjunction with using your Force-powers. As you unlock more of these powers, new paths also open up that you couldn’t reach initially, so it’s worth continuing to explore in places you’ve already been.
One thing I should mention is that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor does not yet run very smoothly here and there, at least on the PlayStation 5. In performance mode, the game doesn’t always reach 60 fps, and there are instances where entire areas are missing textures or they haven’t loaded properly yet. I played without a Day One patch, so hopefully it will fix these problems.
Plenty of lightsaber action (Image: Dunke van Boekel / WANT)
Jedi: Survivor is more of what we already had
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor absolutely does not reinvent the wheel. But thanks to the strong foundation of Fallen Order, that wasn’t really necessary either. This new installment takes the working formula of the first game. And adds a few fine elements, such as new stances and more Force Powers.
The boss fights are also absolute highlights. The 20 hours it will take you to finish the story actually feel too short. The last part of Jedi: Survivor is full of surprises and interesting developments that will leave Star Wars fans holding hands. But even if you’re not a big fan, Cal’s new adventure stands strong.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a great addition to the Star Wars universe, with a unique story and familiar yet expansive gameplay. There is an awful lot to explore, though the similar environments can feel repetitive.
The game still has some technical issues here and there, but hopefully these will be fixed with updates. In short, if you are a fan of Star Wars or just like a good single player experience, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is definitely recommended.