Composers Stephen Barton and Gordy Haab channel the spirit of John Williams to great effect, while Ben Burtt's iconic Star Wars sounds immerse you within the iconic sci-fi universe. Sublime stuff.
A sensational-looking game hampered by a frame rate that chugs ever so slightly, though never enough to spoil the experience. Some texture pop-in and other occasional bugs can be quite annoying.
Fallen Order's lightsaber combat undergoes a meaningful evolution, while traversal and platforming is immensely enjoyable. Were it not for the technical issues, this would be nigh-on perfect.
Survivor is a much bigger game and has New Game+, but its execution falls every so slightly short. It's nothing that can't be fixed with patches, of course, yet in its 'out-of-the-box' day one state, the bugs are a mite vexing.
This is how all achievement lists should be done – some connected to progression, some to collectibles, and a few to plain old fun stuff. The 'Road House' achievement alone is worth the 90 score.
May 03, 2023
Last time we saw Cal Kestis, in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, he was starting to become quite the formidable wielder of the Force and lightsaber master. In Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, we initially find Cal in shackles, set to be brought before an Imperial Senator. Evidently, a lot has happened to the burgeoning Jedi in the five years since the events of the first game, and developer Respawn Entertainment has been on its own journey, broadening the scope of Cal's journey for an ambitious, sprawling sequel.
Within the first few hours, it's abundantly clear that this is a Jedi quest on a far grander scale than Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Survivor offers fewer planets to explore, but its handful of locations are much larger, more diverse, more layered, and far more detailed. With Kestis still on the run, his old pal Greez's Pyloon Saloon on Koboh feels like a real safe haven, with its welcoming bar, massive aquarium, and rooftop garden. Koboh itself is a large and varied place to poke around in, too, with chocobo-esque Nekkos to ride, and myriad other methods of traversal at your disposal.
Despite being a far heftier game than its predecessor, Survivor remains every bit as focused, with an engaging storyline nestled amid an array of 'Rumors' (side quests, essentially) to pursue, Bounties to track down, and items to dig up for exchange at various vendors. Building upon Fallen Order's metroidvania structure, Survivor expands greatly upon what the previous game started, giving Cal even more acrobatic skills to reach new areas, providing an enjoyable platforming challenge (with a smattering of environmental puzzles) between bouts of tight and immediate Jedi combat. You can wallrun, you can double jump, you can grapple to designated points, and, later on, you can athletically dash through the air. It's great.
One of the best things about Fallen Order was its combat (a perfect parry remains a singular joy), and Survivor adds a number of new abilities and stances to Cal's repertoire, enabling you to mix things up as often as you like. You're only able to equip two stances at any one time, so you can combine the purity of a single lightsaber with a Kylo Ren-style Crossguard lightsaber, granting the speed and agility of one, and the raw, defence-breaking power of the other. Dual wielded lightsabers and the Darth Maul-style double-ended saber are back, too, but it's the Blaster stance that's the biggest addition, giving you an uncivilised shooter to complement your more graceful, balletic lightsaber swishes. Think Like A Dragon Ishin!'s Wild Dancer gun and katana fighting style, and you're most of the way there.
It's blindingly obvious that Survivor is a major evolution over Fallen Order, then, building upon practically every facet of what that game did so well in meaningful ways. The lightsaber mechanics are sharper, the Force powers have more impact, and, in general, there's a greater degree of versatility to both traversal and combat. And while the central narrative is absorbing, the range of side content, distractions, and other activities succeed in immersing you in Survivor's little corner of the Star Wars universe. Customising Cal with all manner of hairstyles, facial hair combos, jackets, shirts, and trousers is fun, too, thanks to some proper Star Wars-style duds that look like they've been lifted right out of any number of characters' galactic wardrobes.
It's something of a shame, then, that the game is hampered by a few bothersome bugs and performance issues. Texture pop-in, crashes, and a sludgy frame rate - even when playing in the frame rate-favouring Performance Mode - all conspire to scuff what is an otherwise brilliant experience – especially galling as this is a new-gen-only release. If you're lucky, you'll only experience one or two glitches here and there, but some players have found themselves falling afoul of progress-blocking or even game-breaking bugs. Fortunately, we managed to finish Jedi: Survivor without too much heartache. And, we can forgive the fact that more than a handful of its environments are broken up by Cal shimmying through a narrow gap, presumably to disguise loading times.
No doubt, given time, Respawn will soon patch up Survivor - in much the same way it fixed Fallen Order's range of technical shortcomings - and all of the game's problems will fade into irrelevance. What really stands out is the studio's deep understanding of what it is that's so special about Star Wars, from the battered starships where every scratch on the hull has a story to tell, to the lived-in cantinas and shacks, abandoned Jedi Temples, and deep caverns harbouring lost secrets. Maybe you'll find an ancient Jedi Scroll, or perhaps you'll open a hidden crate with a soul patch inside it. Who knows how long that soul patch has been in there, just waiting to be discovered. There's joy to be had in unearthing the lore and stories nestled away in Jedi: Survivor's expansive world. Or in finding some new hair, a new beard, or cool jacket in a box.
Again, like Fallen Order, the Soulslike mechanics work for Jedi: Survivor, with Meditation Points providing a bonfire-style respite and the chance to replenish your health and stims, albeit respawning enemies in the process. You can also change up stances, spend Skill Points on health and Force upgrades, new moves, and more, or Fast Travel to other Meditation Points. One or two fairly nasty difficulty spikes (one late-game boss battle drove me to despair) aside, the level of challenge is also nicely balanced, ensuring you feel increasingly empowered as Kestis's Jedi prowess develops through upgrades and newly acquired abilities.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is, at its heart, everything a sequel should be, expanding upon practically every element that was executed so well in Fallen Order, while introducing an extensive selection of new stuff, and moving Cal's saga forward with its fair share of revelatory plot developments. Should the game have been delayed once more for some extra polish? Definitely. Is Star Wars Jedi: Survivor still a sensational experience and a fantastic story set within a galaxy far, far away, in spite of its issues? Undoubtedly. As such, this is essential, especially for any Star Wars fan. Anyway, excuse me - I've unfinished business to attend to on Coruscant. Bye.