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The Comenian

Star Wars ‘Jedi Survivor’ Review

The Force Is Strong With This One
Photo courtesy of EA
Photo courtesy of EA

For a long while now, Star Wars has continually disappointed me. Seemingly, every new release has been the same dull, uninspired sludge. Most of the Disney+ shows have been aggressively mediocre, The Rise of Skywalker is a prime contender for the worst Star Wars movie, and the video games under Electronic Arts (EA) were all just a big pile of mediocrity.

I was born and raised watching Star Wars. Seriously, in my Catholic family, these movies are more important than the Bible. This series has meant a lot to me since I was in diapers, so it sucks that I haven’t been able to enjoy this franchise for over half a decade. The only enjoyment I’ve gotten from this franchise has been from buying the LEGO sets and playing the legendary game Knights of the Old Republic.

I have become tired of Star Wars. When Jedi Survivor was announced, I wasn’t particularly excited, especially after playing the largely bland Jedi Fallen Order. The first game seemed to be desperately trying to recreate the magic of Dark Souls and Uncharted without understanding what makes either franchise work, and its sequel wasn’t looking like it was going to buck that trend.

Boy, am I happy I was wrong, though, because Star Wars Jedi Survivor is my absolute favorite Star Wars project in years. 

It finally feels like a Star Wars project isn’t being held back by nostalgia or rehashed ideas. With that said, though, there are some significant drawbacks that hold it back from being truly amazing.

First, combat is the Jedi power fantasy that I have been desperately searching for all my life in a video game. I do not exaggerate when I say that this is the best lightsaber combat to ever be put in a Star Wars game. 

Swings feel weighty and impactful, and force abilities feel useful without breaking the game *cough* “Force Unleashed” *cough*. The developer, Respawn, also added numerous different lightsaber options to make combat more diverse and engaging. In the previous game, you could only use a single blade or a double blade, similar to Darth Maul. In Survivor, however, you have access to five different lightsaber stances that all feel different and unique. Of course, the two from the last game return along with the new stances, which include dual-wielding two lightsabers, having a blaster in one hand, and a crossguard that makes the saber feel like a greatsword.

Not all of these stances are created equal, though, because I found the dual-wielding stance to be the clear best stance because of its speed and high damage output. It does have the lowest defense of all the stances, but the speed and damage are more than a worthy tradeoff. I also found the blaster stance to be a must-use because of the amount of range you get with it. It can be used effectively to shoot enemies out of reach or create distance between you and the enemies.

Comparatively, I found the double-bladed and crossguard stances to be somewhat lackluster. The primary purpose of the double-bladed stance is to do light damage but be great for taking on large amounts of enemies, and the crossguard’s purpose was to inflict heavy damage. Both of these stances feel like they are just worse than the dual wield, which inflicts heavy damage, too, and is good at crowd control because of the speed of your strikes. The expanded options are nice, but I feel the balancing between these stances could have been improved.

The game also features traversal similar to the Uncharted games, and this time around it feels like Respawn really made it come into its own. In Fallen Order, traversal just felt like a lazy copy of every action-adventure game on the planet after the release of Uncharted 2 but here traversal is fast, fluid, and surprisingly fun. It’s by no means the best, but it felt much more satisfying this time around partially thanks to the added mobility options.

There’s a lot to praise about the gameplay, but there is one enormous drawback: the performance. This game runs like a donkey having a heat stroke. Every time I entered into a new area, I felt an acute sense of dread, fearing my Playstation 5 would crash at any second. It feels like this game is held together with duct tape and Elmer’s glue. I didn’t have many glitches like many others had but the frame rate is inconsistent at best and downright awful at worst.

Worse than that though, after a post-launch update, I quite literally cannot launch the game. That’s right, I cannot play the game I paid $70 for at all. This isn’t just me either; one of our editors, Joel Hendricks, also ran into the same issue. To work around this, you have to delete the game then enter your PS5 into safe mode and rebuild the database. We should not have to spend well over an hour trying to make the game function.

This game launched in an unacceptable state, and Respawn has no excuse for this terrible launch.

The story also left me a bit conflicted. On one hand, this actually feels fresh and new compared to the generic sludge Star Wars usually pumps out, but it is also extremely messy, especially with the antagonists. Without spoiling anything, the antagonists either feel poorly developed or somewhat hastily developed. Two of the main antagonists of the story have extremely strong introductions (one of which has an incredible boss fight), but by the end, they feel underwhelming. 

There is a third antagonist, but I won’t reveal any details, but I’ll say this: while I think he is a little bit stupid, his character is really compelling throughout, and the only villain I’d actually say rose above being a mustache-twirling comic book villain. 

Like Fallen Order, this story has major pacing issues. I wouldn’t say it ever gets boring like the first game, but it does feel somewhat jumbled and unfocused at times, oftentimes diverting from the main plot entirely for large stretches of time. While these diversions give a lot of room to develop the main cast of characters (which is appreciated after how bland they were in the first game), it ultimately comes at the cost of hurting the main plot. This is partially why the main villains are so underwhelming because the story feels like it forgets about them.

I will say, though, this game, whether it’s focused or not, has some absolutely incredible set pieces and boss fights. Each action set piece and boss fight is exhilarating to play (especially the two on the desert planet of Jedha).

I can partially forgive the lackluster villains because the main cast is absolutely incredible. Every character both new and old gets ample amounts of development that was sorely missing in the previous game. This time around, you really feel the connections between these characters, and I grew to care for nearly every one of them. This game spends a copious amount of time developing these characters, and it shows that they have many more dimensions to them this time around.

The protagonist, Cal Kestis, in particular, felt much better realized this time around. While I wish he showed just a bit more emotion throughout, his struggle with his faith in the Jedi and their principles is really engaging and compelling, which crescendos in a heart-pounding finale.

Speaking of the finale, it is very different from your normal Star Wars fare. Instead of a big bombastic battle with the fate of the galaxy in the balance, it’s a bittersweet and emotional confrontation between two characters who are trying to protect what they love. It’s sad and beautiful and perfectly compliments the numerous character arcs across the game. 

Overall, I’m left fairly conflicted on this game because there are some pretty massive asterisks to go with the game’s strengths. The gameplay is great when the game doesn’t have massive frame dips and the story and characters can be great if the story didn’t feel really disjointed. Ignoring the massive performance issues, this game would be an easy 8/10 because, despite issues with the story, the game makes significant improvements in every department that make the game extremely fun and satisfying to play. Sadly, I can’t ignore how the game currently performs because it puts a significant hamper on the experience (Especially when it won’t even let me play the game).

Score: 7/10

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