Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review – The best Star Wars game in ages
Cal Kestis has a new groove.
This week, EA and Respawn will launch Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, the long-awaited sequel to 2019's Fallen Order game. We're pleased to report that Jedi Survivor is comfortably the best Star Wars game in absolutely ages. Cameron Monaghan is back with a bang in the role of Jedi hero Cal Kestis, and this time he isn't wearing a poncho.
In fact, Cal's clothing is a good place to start this review, as the enhancements to his Jedi wardrobe are emblematic of the upgrades that have been made across the board. This sequel is richer and deeper than its predecessor in all sorts of ways, and this is a prime example.
While Fallen Order was quite limited in terms of its customisation options, with the developers later admitting that the different colour ponchos were a late-in-the-day addition, Jedi Survivor offers oodles of ways for players to tailor Cal's look to their tastes. You can change his hair and his beard, and there are loads of different outfits to collect, combine and customise.
Clearly, Respawn took the mandate of 'bigger and better' seriously, and that commitment to adding value can be found in every facet of the game. The combat, for example, has changed in a number of ways for the better. (Don't worry, there are still multiple difficulty options if you don't want to get brutally bested by every random creature you run into.)
The first game let you swap between a single and double-bladed lightsaber, but here you also have the option to dual wield – you can have one lightsaber in each hand, or you can have a saber in one and a blaster gun in the other (so uncivilised). There's also a new lightsaber stance that we won't spoil here. It's unlocked late in the game and became one of our favourites quickly.
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The level design is a lot less frustrating this time out, as well. While the original game didn't let you fast travel, and it leaned hard into its 'Metroidvania' inspirations (a gameplay style that hinges on players exploring every corner of every area and constantly backtracking to find solutions), Jedi Survivor seems more focused on letting you have fun.
As before, Cal's climbing skills are put to good use. You'll still need to scale numerous big structures and parkour your way through tricksy platforming segments. But now, you can fast travel between any two meditation/save points that you've found on that planet. So if you realise you've gone the wrong way or done everything you can do on this side of the map, you can instantly zip over to the other end.
This may sound like a small change on paper, but it makes such a huge difference in the moment. This, combined with the five difficulty-altering options, means that you can play Jedi Survivor like an old-fashioned adventure game if you're not fussed with drawn-out problem-solving, repetitive traversal or gruelling battles. It almost feels like a Star Wars take on Uncharted when you get in the flow of it, and we'd call that a compliment.
There's a really wide range of enemies to face, too, with the developers finding a reason to bring in legions of Clone Wars-era droids alongside the usual Imperial Stormtroopers. The game is set nine years before A New Hope (around the same time as the Obi-Wan series), but the developers have reached back into Star Wars history to find new baddies, planets and ideas.
The writers have really done their homework, with Easter eggs in the game harking back to novels and comics as well as the big movies and TV shows. That being said, everything important is explained in the game, and there's lots of optional info in Cal's 'Databank' if you want it, so you don't have to be a mega-fan to enjoy the ride.
The game always has new things to teach you, up to and including the last level, which means the gameplay always feels fresh and time really flies by while you're playing. The music and graphics are both fab, too, barring a couple of tiny visual glitches on the latter front. We were playing before the day-one patch, though, and with that in mind it felt very polished and looked stunning at points.
The only thing we would've asked for on top of all this: some choices to make in the story would be nice. But clearly the developers have a linear cinematic vision in mind, and letting you control Cal's big decisions would probably break that (and the wider canon). For that sort of branching narrative, we'll just have to hope that the Knights of the Old Republic remake gets finished at some point.
But what to say about the story in Jedi Survivor? There are already spoilers flying around the web, but we'd really recommend avoiding them. Cal goes on an emotional journey in this one, the game takes him out of his comfort zone in all sorts of ways, and huge chunks of the story actually have nothing to do with the Empire.
Trust us, this story is worth experiencing for yourself, and there's loads of side content to explore as well (far more than last time). The galaxy is vast, and this action-packed corner of it is well worth spending time in. But if you're a big fan of ponchos, prepare to be disappointed, because Cal - unlike the Emperor - has got a new groove, and clothes to match.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor launches Friday 28th April on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.
We reviewed the game on PS5, and you can order your copy from Amazon or the retailer of your choice.
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