Star Wars Jedi Survivor, the highly anticipated sequel to Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, has finally arrived, bringing with it a universe full of excitement, lightsaber-swinging action, and exploration across the galaxy. This action-adventure title, set five years after the events of the previous game, propels us back into the shoes of Cal Kestis, now a battle-hardened Jedi Knight. As we follow his journey through intense combat encounters, intricate platforming challenges, and a story intertwining with the somewhat unfamiliar High Republic era, the question remains: does this title stand up to its predecessor or does it falter under the weight of its own ambitions?
In this review, we delve into the highs and lows of Star Wars Jedi Survivor, assessing its narrative, gameplay, graphical performance, and audio, to determine if it truly delivers the immersive Jedi experience we’ve been yearning for.
Note: This game was played and reviewed on a PS5.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review
Story: A Collision of Timelines
Survivor ambitiously expands its narrative scope with the introduction of the High Republic era. However, this bold choice leads to a complex and at times convoluted storyline that may be challenging to navigate for those unfamiliar with this recent addition to Star Wars lore.
In the spirit of capturing the grandeur and intensity of iconic Star Wars moments, Survivor attempts to replicate such scenes within the High Republic context. However, the impact of these sequences may be less potent due to the relative unfamiliarity of this era and its characters.
On the gameplay front, Survivor makes marked improvements over its predecessor. The combat system is sharper and more responsive, with the addition of new characters and lightsaber stances injecting variety and depth into the game’s battles. These enhancements, combined with the game’s intricate world design and engaging platforming elements, make for a thrilling gameplay experience. We’ll go over this more later.
Yet, despite these improvements, the game’s narrative complexity could prove a hurdle for some players. While the inclusion of High Republic era elements is an intriguing development for the Star Wars franchise, their introduction in Survivor can feel overwhelming, potentially detracting from the overall narrative cohesion.
Jedi: Survivor presents an ambitious narrative expansion with its inclusion of the High Republic era, resulting in a complex and layered storyline. The game offers a wealth of new content, but its narrative complexity could potentially overshadow these enhancements.
Gameplay: Lightsaber Mastery and Platforming Puzzles
Combat and Stance Diversity
In Survivor, combat has been honed to a fine edge, with the game relying on the skillful use of Cal’s lightsaber. Players must master breaking through an enemy’s guard and timing their parries until the enemy’s stamina depletes, allowing for strategic attacks.
The visual cues in combat have been enhanced, providing a more intuitive understanding of incoming attacks and parry timings. This has resulted in a more rewarding combat experience where evading damage feels like a direct reflection of the player’s skill, rather than just luck.
In addition to the trusty droid companion BD-1, Cal is now joined by other characters during parts of the story, providing much-needed support during intense battles. Cal also gains two new lightsaber stances, Blaster and Crossguard, which introduce new dynamics to the combat system. The Blaster stance provides a ranged fighting style, while the Crossguard stance is slower but offers more powerful strikes.
However, Survivor introduces a new challenge by allowing players to equip only two stances at a time. This forces players to make strategic decisions about their combat style and how they allocate their skill points. The game’s design encourages players to adapt and overcome the challenges that arise from their chosen stances and skills.
But combat is not the only focus in Survivor. The game offers an equally engaging platforming experience. The environment is designed like a “jungle gym,” where players can interact extensively, such as by climbing, swinging on ropes, and using grapple hooks. This creates a dynamic gameplay experience that balances combat and platforming elements, providing an exhilarating variety of gameplay.
Puzzles and Platforming Challenges
The game takes a departure from the straightforward level designs seen in its predecessor, Jedi Fallen Order. Instead, it introduces more complex platforming sections that offer a rich, engaging experience. The levels are designed with immense detail and are peppered with hidden secrets and pathways that reward exploration.
The platforming is not just about hopping from one platform to another. It is a carefully crafted journey through the beautifully detailed Star Wars universe. There are elements of wall-running, rope-swinging, and even the use of Force abilities to manipulate the environment, which add a layer of complexity and thrill to the traversal. Players need to be mindful of their surroundings and utilize their abilities creatively to overcome the challenges.
In addition to platforming, the game also introduces intricate puzzles that need to be solved to progress through the game. These puzzles often involve the use of Force abilities and require players to think strategically. They are cleverly woven into the game world and often provide meaningful context to the story or the environment. The puzzles vary in difficulty, but each one feels rewarding and contributes to the sense of accomplishment.
Despite the game’s heavy emphasis on platforming and puzzles in the early stages, it manages to maintain a balance with combat as the game progresses. The latter half of the game sees a surge in combat encounters, offering a more harmonious blend of platforming, puzzles, and combat. This creates a dynamic gameplay experience that keeps the player engaged throughout their journey.
However, some might find the initial focus on platforming and puzzles to be a departure from the more combat-oriented experience of Jedi Fallen Order. This could lead to a sense of yearning for more action-packed sequences in the early stages of the game.
In conclusion, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor successfully elevates its platforming and puzzle elements, offering an engaging and challenging experience that stands out as one of the game’s most rewarding features. Despite the initial focus on these elements, the game manages to strike a balance with combat as it progresses, ensuring a diverse and dynamic gameplay experience. Whether you’re a Jedi in combat or a Jedi exploring and solving puzzles, the game instills a sense of being a Jedi, making it a truly immersive Star Wars experience.
Playing through the game on the recommended Jedi Knight difficulty setting, I found the initial stages relatively easy, leading me to contemplate increasing the difficulty. However, the game’s difficulty curve escalates as you delve deeper into the story, offering a more challenging experience in both regular encounters and boss battles.
This increasing difficulty provides a delicate balance between challenge and reward, giving you a sense of satisfaction when you finally triumph over a formidable opponent.
Performance: Beautiful yet Bug-ridden
Visually speaking, Star Wars Jedi Survivor doesn’t necessarily push the envelope when operated in the performance mode setting. The graphical improvements from its predecessor seem marginal at best, offering a visual experience that, while solid, doesn’t quite astound or feel like a significant leap forward in game graphics.
However, switching the game to quality mode unveils a whole different level of graphical prowess. Here, Jedi Survivor blossoms into a visually striking piece of digital artistry. Each environment is exquisitely detailed, the character models boast impressive textures, and the lighting effects add a layer of realism that further immerses the player into the Star Wars universe.
Nonetheless, this visual feast comes at a cost, namely a frame rate cap of 30fps. While this may have been the standard in the past, players accustomed to smoother 60fps gameplay may find the experience somewhat jarring. The capped frame rate, particularly during fast-paced action sequences or expansive panoramic views, may evoke a sensation of lag, which can potentially impact the player’s immersion and overall gameplay experience.
In essence, Jedi Survivor presents a choice between performance and graphical fidelity. While the performance mode ensures a smoother gameplay experience, the quality mode offers an immersive visual journey through the Star Wars universe. It’s a delicate balancing act, and the choice largely depends on the individual player’s preference and tolerance for lower frame rates.
It’s worth noting that this review reflects the state of the game as of May 2023 and may not take into account any updates or patches applied post-launch.
Bugs and Performance Issues
Much like its predecessor, Jedi Survivor suffers from a lack of polish, evident in the form of numerous bugs and frame rate drops. While none of the issues I encountered were game-breaking, there were several quality-of-life bugs that did detract from the overall experience. These ranged from my follower persistently fighting a phantom enemy long after a combat encounter had ended to clipping through environmental objects during platforming sequences and experiencing sharp frame rate drops when traversing through water.
For example, I had Merrin endlessly fight a phantom enemy after the combat encounter ended:
The developers did release a patch early on which addressed many issues, but this seemed to mostly affect PC gamers who got the bugs the worst. Overall, this rarely took away from the game and we were even somewhat used to it after playing the first game. While the developers have addressed several issues in an early patch, the game still lacks the polish we’ve come to expect from a AAA title.
Audio: An Immersive Soundscape
Staying true to the Star Wars legacy, Jedi Survivor delivers a compelling audio experience that’s as immersive as it is nostalgic. The auditory elements, from the iconic hum of lightsabers to the distant echoes of blaster fire, harmonize in a way that perfectly encapsulates the essence of the Star Wars universe.
The sound design of the weapons deserves particular praise. Each of the five saber stances–Single, Double-Bladed, Dual Wield, Blaster, and Crossguard–has its unique audio signature, making them feel like truly distinct weapons. Even the blaster, a rather unconventional tool for a Jedi, brings a fresh dimension to the game’s audio landscape. It creates a delightful rhythmic interplay of sounds, alternating between the energy blasts of ranged attacks and the swift, sharp swishes of saber strikes.
Beyond the battle sequences, the ambient sounds in Jedi Survivor contribute immensely to the game’s immersive quality. The game’s environments are not just visually stunning but also audibly vibrant.
The hum of activity on Koboh, a hub world in the game, is especially noteworthy. The rustle of patrons in the saloon, the chatter of prospectors on street corners, the occasional patrol of stormtroopers – these sounds make the town feel like a living, breathing entity. It’s not just about hearing the sounds, but about feeling a part of this world. The audio design of Jedi Survivor does not merely complement the visual experience; it forms an integral part of the game’s immersive appeal.
In cutscenes, too, the game’s score shines, underscoring the emotional depth and narrative tension of the story. These well-crafted melodies, combined with the game’s stellar sound design, elevate the overall gaming experience, wrapping you in a soundscape that feels distinctly Star Wars.
Star Wars Jedi Survivor indeed weaves an engaging tale, yet it seems to have regressed slightly in its narrative prowess compared to its predecessor. The presence of several prominent bugs and frame rate issues throughout the gameplay can prove somewhat exasperating, especially considering the anticipation surrounding this AAA title.
Nonetheless, Jedi Survivor shines through these minor hiccups, providing a genuinely enjoyable gaming experience. The combat is captivating, the degree of challenge strikes the right balance, and the platforming sequences add a delightful twist. While the storyline serves to propel the game forward, the key selling point of Jedi Survivor lies in its ability to impart a visceral Jedi experience to the player. This elusive ‘Jedi-feel’ is a rarity, even in the realm of Star Wars games, and it’s here that Jedi Survivor outshines its contemporaries.
So, plunge into the world of Jedi Survivor and you’re bound to relish the adventure, even if the storyline might leave you feeling a tad unfulfilled by the end. The true joy of this game lies not just in its narrative or mechanics, but in its capability to make you feel, think, and fight like a Jedi – a priceless experience that sets this game apart on the market. Give it a whirl, and you’ll find yourself immersed in an experience that, while not perfect, is undeniably enjoyable and uniquely Star Wars.