PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S
April 28, 2023
Cal Kestis returns for another thrilling adventure in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, the highly anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed Jedi: Fallen Order. With a team of talented developers from Respawn, EA, and Lucasfilm Games working tirelessly behind the scenes, Jedi: Survivor promises to be an exceptional action narrative.
A hidden path and ancient order
Cal Kestis finds himself on the run from the Empire five years after the events of the previous game. With his back against the wall, Cal makes an ancient discovery that may just change the galaxy’s fate forever. The Bedlam Raiders with the help of the powerful Dagan Gera have their eyes set on controlling the planet Tanalorr, on the edge of the Koboh Abyss. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Jedi: Survivor starts extremely strong with a clever operation on Coruscant. As the most impressive depiction of the ecumenopolis in any visual Star Wars media, the sprawling city of neon, flying cars, buildings damaged from Order 66, and corruption seeping through its depths sets the tone and quality of the adventure to come.
“…an enormous amount of detail that Star Wars fans will absolutely love…”
Move over, Mos Eisley Cantina—Pyloon’s Saloon on Koboh is the new hot spot in the galaxy! The base of operations introduces quirky personalities to the journey. A fledgling group of scholars and researchers named The Hidden Path reunites with Cal on Jedha, the desert Pilgrim Moon, and becomes another repeated place of interest. Many planets are travelled in Jedi: Survivor but there is a lot of back and forth between mainly Koboh and Jedha, especially early on. Still, on every visit another lively planet area is discovered, introducing new story plot beats and mechanics.
The story covers standard Star Wars plot points but the engaging part is the connection between Cal, his loved ones, and the Force. Watching the charmingly real banter with Greez, Merrin, BD-1, hired gun Bode, and a range of other fresh faces shows off the excellent writing and is what will drive you to keep playing. The performances are amazing, Cameron Monaghan clearly becoming seasoned in video game acting with an emotional and honest delivery of Cal, as does Noshir Dalal and Tina Ivlev as Bode and the Nightsister Merrin in their whitty back and forths. In fact, the entire main cast of characters is portrayed superbly.
Most importantly, Jedi: Survivor makes full use of the wider universe of Star Wars. Where Jedi: Fallen Order introduced the Zeffo and touched on the rise of the Galactic Empire, Cal is now delving deep into the history of the Jedi. There is an enormous amount of detail that Star Wars fans will absolutely love, and those who take their time to sightsee will be rewarded with more than just upgrades and cosmetics.
Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves these things
Get ready to strap on your Nekko-riding boots and prepare for a compelling journey through the dusty planet of Koboh. You’ll be drawn to the vast, open landscapes of this frontier world, eager to bare its hidden secrets and side quests from the strange drifters and bounty hunters you’ll meet. With its multiple biomes, including a swamp, volcanic area, rainforest, and even a destroyed Lucrehulk-class battleship repurposed for the Beldam Raiders, Koboh is a joy to explore.
But the exploration and level design elements extend far beyond Koboh. Every planet boasts impressive and well-crafted environments. You’ll find yourself facing countless challenges, including puzzles and platforming sections that make use of Cal’s newfound abilities. Obtaining the dash on Jedha leads into one of the most exciting platforming sections of recent history, with Cal running across walls, grappling to ledges, dashing to make gaps, battling winds, and using climbable surfaces to escape an impending Imperial drilling machine.
Sadly, there are issues with the otherwise fluid movement as it can be hard to tell which elements of the environment are traversable. It just doesn’t always seem clear what is climbable and what is not, especially in dense areas like forests with various types of vines and roots that look usable but aren’t. There are accessibility options that resolve this issue but will identify them clearly and break immersion.
Cal will discover ancient Jedi chambers scattered throughout the worlds, which offer a trial reminiscent of the puzzle-filled shrines in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. You may also stumble upon Force rifts, which present timed tests of combat or platforming skills. Successfully beating these will grant valuable Force upgrades and points. While not particularly creative, these side activities provide a welcome change of pace and offer a satisfying diversion for completionist players looking to beat everything.
With so many collectibles to find, playing Jedi: Survivor is like being a Jawa on a scavenging mission. The world is scattered with Force echoes, cosmetic items, and upgrades that boost Cal’s talents. These treasures make you want to search every nook and cranny of the environment to learn more about the world. The tactical guide serves as a valuable tool to catalogue all of BD-1’s obsessive environmental scans and now allows you to easily read relevant entries to dive into a rabbit hole of lore. Although a few entries are repeated from the Jedi: Fallen Order, the developers have delved deep to establish Star Wars canon.
Stylish like Lando Calrissian
One of the most satisfying rewards for exploring is completely customising Cal’s appearance. From the lightsaber to BD-1, a blaster, and even Cal’s hairstyle, there are plenty of options to make him truly your own. Pyloon’s Saloon, where you can purchase cosmetic items, is filled with charismatic sellers like bounty hunter Caij, High Republic droid Zee, and friendly local Doma. While select store items benefit gameplay, most shops can be ignored to streamline the main story. Before you know it though, you’ll be obsessively searching every corner, driven to discover the next beard variation.
“One of the most satisfying rewards for exploring is completely customising Cal’s appearance… you’ll be obsessively searching every corner, driven to discover the next beard variation.”
The holomap is crucial for marking hard-to-reach items and guiding you to your next objective, now with the ability to place markers using BD-1 as binoculars but it can be tricky to use. Placing points of interest with BD-1 has a bug that marks the wrong spot. Still, the holomap itself suffers from being challenging to understand with the complexity and verticality of the world.
A mini-game called Holotactics can be unlocked after completing a specific side quest. The competitive tactical battles use BD-1’s scanned enemies as playable pieces, which is a clever way to make the little droids’ devoted scanning useful. While not as good as the classic Pazaak, Holotactics adds to an already lavish experience.
While the exploration and level design is impressive, the sheer number of collectibles and secrets to uncover isn’t going to be for everyone. Luckily, the game is designed to make it purely optional to take your time and smell the nightblooomers. You can choose to backtrack, investigate recently unlocked paths and find all the game’s secrets, or you can choose just to focus on the key objectives instead.
A Force to be reckoned with
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor builds upon the combat system of the previous game with Force skills like Jedi mind tricks, Force smash and slam. You truly harness the power of the Force and feel like an absolute powerhouse in combat, combining all sorts of abilities to push and pull your way through foes.
Combat has been taken to the next level with the introduction of six lightsaber stances. Along with the single and double-bladed stances, you can now use the dual-wield, crossguard (as seen with Kylo Ren), and blaster-lightsaber stances, with their unique set of strengths and weaknesses. For example, the dual-wield stance is highly aggressive, while the crossguard stance is more methodical. My favourite has been the blaster-lightsaber stance, allowing for a fast-paced and ranged approach like fencing. All are effective against specific situations, and as you learn each stance, you’ll discover the best strategies to defeat the array of enemies.
“Combat has been taken to the next level with the introduction of six lightsaber stances.”
New creatures and funny Clone Wars-era battle droids are great additions to the fray. It’s important to note that enemies will react differently to Cal’s Force powers, so it’s crucial to understand them for every encounter. For instance, Force-pulling a stronger enemy will end in them using that momentum to their advantage. It’s disappointing that extra effort wasn’t made to update returning Imperial enemies like the Stormtroopers and AT-STs, but it’s understandable given the limitations of the Star Wars universe.
Cal will come across various bounty hunter mini-bosses on his journey, posing a formidable match that will put his skills to the test. They are no pushovers and require everything Cal has to offer to emerge victorious, especially on harder difficulties. Hunters sport their own set of attacks, so you’ll need to be on your toes to adapt to their tactics and weapons. However, the frequency of these scenarios can cause them to blend, detracting from their overall impact and awe as they often crop up in predicted areas.
Main boss battles may be less inventive than hoped but there’s still plenty to enjoy about them. These fights follow familiar patterns players of the last instalment will recognise, focusing on blocking and parrying attacks until the enemy’s defence is down. The bosses all have distinct moves and attacks that make each battle exhilarating, but some players may have hoped for more diverse mechanics. Nonetheless, fans of the series will still find plenty to like about these epic showdowns with Cal’s many combat abilities.
Go beyond your training
Jedi: Survivor’s skill tree is a well-structured system that empowers you to customise Cal according to your preferred playstyle. The three main branches–Lightsaber, Force, and Survival–provide you with a diverse set of abilities to unlock. The skill tree’s expanded focus on lightsaber stances, in particular, enhances the overall combat experience. Unlike its predecessor, Jedi: Survivor’s skill tree allows you to prioritise the upgrades and abilities you want to use, without being forced to waste skill points on less exciting ones. It provides a personal sense of progression and makes each playthrough different and enjoyable.
Perks are playful modifiers assigned at Meditation Points that change gameplay. They can increase the power of lightsaber throws or randomly change the appearance of the player’s character upon death. Perks like Purity and Warrior are specific to the New Game Plus mode, allowing Cal to deal and receive additional damage resulting in a “glass-cannon” playstyle, and remixing combat encounters by introducing altered tough groups of enemies. They are a great addition to shake-up gameplay whenever you feel like it.
What’s refreshing about progression is there are no assigned numbers to lightsaber stances, no incremental health upgrades, and no percentages for damage boosts. Rather, the skill tree is designed to enhance Cal’s powers, eliminating the unnecessary over-reliance on RPG elements that have plagued many narrative-driven games of late. Jedi: Survivor instead focuses on the exponential discovery of power, delivering an experience that prioritises fun over calculations.
The beauty of the Force
Playing on PlayStation 5, both the performance and quality modes are a treat for the eyes. The world is brimming with vibrant colours, rich textures, and impressive lighting technology. The opening scene set in Coruscant is particularly awe-inspiring and serves as a testament to the visual prowess. However, it’s worth noting that there are frame rate drops in quality mode during chaotic firefights. Additionally, performance mode limits resolution to 1440p, which may cause select screens to appear blurry.
The attention to detail is stronger than a Wookiee’s arms. Swinging Cal’s lightsaber around detects hits against any enemy it barely scrapes and can even set fire to or singe nearby plants. Regrettably, noticeable cosmetic visual glitches like Cal’s beard disappearing at certain angles, parts of his model clipping through his cape, lots of texture pop-in, and the rare floating enemy may detract from the overall experience. These minor issues suggest further polishing to eliminate these bugs.
“…an incredible job of capturing every blaster, every droid, and every element of Star Wars new and old.”
Moreover, there’s an excellent use of PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller features. Whenever a scannable item is nearby, you’ll hear BD-1’s optimistic beeps bursting from the controller, and the haptic feedback is so good, it’s like having the Force at your fingertips. When a Security Droid escorts Cal early on, you can feel the weight of the left and right foot of the droid on the controller, which betters immersion. Although there isn’t any touchpad integration, it’s still great to see the hardware being used to enhance the gaming experience.
The soundtrack of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is nothing short of noteworthy. Stephen Barton and Gordy Haab have done a remarkable job of revising and honouring the iconic timbre and feel of the original Star Wars sound. The Star Wars Jedi theme is now cemented as a memorable riff that plays each time you load the game, and it’s sure to get you pumped up for the mix of dramatic epic action music and joyful exploration tracks that lie ahead. The Sound Department, led by Audio Director Nick von Kaenel, has also done an incredible job of capturing every blaster, every droid, and every element of Star Wars new and old.
- Characters are captivating and performed superbly
- Impressive worlds with great platforming and encounters
- New lightsaber stances and force abilities feel powerful
- Personalise Cal with many collectables
- Story delves deeper into the lore of Star Wars
- Hard to see traversable environment at times
- Visual bugs
- Boss battles could be more interesting
With a cast of both fresh and familiar characters, an engaging story, and hours of captivating exploration across beautiful planets and biomes, this game is sure to leave fans of the franchise on the edge of their seats. Cal’s incredible sense of movement and newfound lightsaber skills spur empowering battles with groups of raiders, stormtroopers, and alien creatures. Being able to personalise your experience with cosmetics, game-changing perks and optional side quests means the journey is yours to carve. Bosses might benefit from more inventiveness and there’s the occasional visual bug and platforming visibility issue, yet it’s all worth it for the bliss of being a Jedi in action. Whether you’re a Padawan or a Jedi Master, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a must-play. May the Force be with you!