Amidst a rocky launch, we have our verdict on the massively-hyped soulslike platformer in our Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review!
To say Star Wars is in a weird spot is the understatement of a lifetime. The best word to describe the sequel trilogy is “polarizing”, but recent shows like The Bad Batch and The Mandalorian are pleasing fans new and old alike. On the video game front, there was a lot of turmoil after EA’s acquisition of the franchise’s publishing rights as Star Wars Battlefront II launched with loot boxes and a pay-to-unlock scheme that saw the ire of millions of players.
So when Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order arrived, it not only showed that Star Wars can translate to indelible gaming experiences, it showed that there’s still a market for long-form single-player adventures.
Cal Kestis returns with a few more tricks up his sleeve and a chip on his shoulder in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.
The aforementioned EA exclusivity deal for Star Wars publishing rights ends in 2023; that means Cal Kestis’ second outing within Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will be the last under EA. From a marketing mindset, this is EA’s last payday, so they stand to ensure this is a highly-profitable experience. That should translate to a win-win for them and the consumer, right?
Well, it’s an undeniable fact that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor launched with less-than-perfect performance – not only on PC, but on PS5 and Xbox Series S/X as well. Thankfully, a mere few days later, large patches were issued which did remedy a good deal of issues I first had with the PS5 version, with more fixes to come considering Respawn’s constant update history with Apex Legends. Considering Amazon is already selling the title with a $10 coupon, is it worth picking up Star Wars Jedi: Survivor at this time?
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review (PS5) – Gameplay
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was the first Soulslike I’ve ever played. Never a fan of the concept of dying endlessly, I was slowly eased into the idea with that game’s forgiving difficulty settings. Now, instead of dying in 2 or 3 hits, I could tank tons of damage; this was a blessing as enemies in Soulslike games do not mess around. Mistakes are punished immediately and you have to respect enemy mannerisms and lethality unlike other action games that you can speed through. With Jedi: Survivor introducing tons more enemies into the fold, this is even more paramount to survival in a treacherous galaxy.
In Jedi: Survivor, there’s less worlds, but they’re a LOT bigger – and come with different biomes and less load screens.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor starts you off with the majority of the things you learned after severing your connection with the force in the previous title. This is a godsend, as having the ability to double jump, wall-run, and the introduction of a natural-feeling grappling hook makes the extensive terrain traversal a cinch, almost rivalling the platforming prowess of the Uncharted series in its ease and margin for error.
Chests are still prevalent in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and can even contain hairstyles and paint jobs.
You can wield your lightsaber in five different stances in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, as opposed to the three stances in Fallen Order. Introduced in Jedi: Survivor are the blaster stance that lets you wield a gun, and the crossguard stance that extends the blade for massive damage but slow swings. I spent the majority of my playthrough switching between crossguard for one-on-one fights and the dual-blade for high-quantity battles.
By unlocking all five stances relatively early on in Jedi: Survivor, you’ll be able to figure out your preferred playstyle and plant skill points appropriately in no time – plus, you can reset your skill trees at any time.
When you’re not fighting or exploring in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, you can settle down at the cantina in the game’s main world, Koboh. Cash in collectibles at vendors between planets for cosmetic/gameplay rewards, as you can give Cal a mullet/sheriff’s moustache or BD-1 a fresh paint job at any workbench. You can also tend to a garden on top of the bar, utilizing seeds you can pluck from the several worlds in your time with the game.
Hidden bosses like a Rancor in Jedi: Survivor are a serious threat – even on easier difficulties, you’ll go down in a few hits if you aren’t careful.
Backtracking was a big point of strain for Jedi: Fallen Order players. There were countless times you’d come across a path that clearly needed an ability you haven’t unlocked yet to progress. This has been minimized in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, as while there are several awesome movements to unlock, you won’t be walking back-and-forth nearly as much, thanks in addition to an abundance of shortcut-unlocking and clear-as-day holomap directions.
Meditation points return as the “campfires” of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. This time around, you can freely practice your stances, as well as select specific perks to give you an edge to your specific playstyle. Skill trees are extensive and provide previews before you spend your hard-earned skill points. I ended up loving pairing a group Force Pull into a wide crossguard swing to take out tons of enemies at once in a deadly combo more than a few times to great success.
Mounts make moving through Jedi: Survivor’s worlds a breeze – if that’s too slow, you can fast travel between meditation points now, too!
Mini-bosses in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor are no pushover, as you’ll have to figure out their attack patterns and take emphasis on their unblockable attacks. The game gives you a wide range of ways to dispatch foes, but still manages to punish you for slipping up every chance it gets. I found myself dealing with ranged enemies first before they could interrupt my parry follow-ups, as well as Force Pushing every chance I saw a trooper standing near a ledge.
In terms of lightsaber combat, it doesn’t get better than Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. I had my fun back in the day with Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, but Jedi: Survivor sees the fullest potential realized as it’s so far past swinging with one or two buttons. This is a game where your weapon can be controlled in ten different ways and they’re all valid means of destroying enemies. Couple that with dismemberment (which a lot of Star Wars gamers have been clamoring for) and this is peak combat in Star Wars.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review – Story
*WARNING: Story spoilers for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor within this section.
When we left off with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, we had just taken on a Sith lord and survived to tell the tale, thanks to Deathsister Merrin that we picked up from Dathomir. Cere tapped into the dark side of the force and Gris was still the pilot of the Mantis. Cal made the risky decision to destroy the Jedi Holocron that contained the information of Force-sensitive children across the galaxy post-purge. So, what’s next for the Mantis crew?
The Jedi Order is the focus of hope in Jedi: Survivor, as rebuilding is much easier said than done.
You’ll soon find in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor that the team is no more. Five years have passed and Cal is on his own against the rising Empire with no Jedi backup after the purge. Starting off the game in Coruscant, the planet where this purge originated from, is a fitting start to establish the sense of hopelessness that faces Cal and tormented him in the first title. Thankfully, it won’t be long before he meets up with the rest of the team after the split.
As Jedi: Survivor’s story progresses, you’ll discover huge chunks of worlds previously blocked off, a great way to make sure you don’t get lost early on.
Something that needs to be addressed is that Cal has a canon romance within Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. The gut reaction is “hey, romance is the reason Anakin Skywalker doomed the galaxy for decades” and that attachment is a big no-no for Jedi. To that point, the Jedi Order has quite literally fallen; Cal is not bound by the code and is more humanized than most Jedi have been presented as in Star Wars media. The romance makes sense and kicks off one of the best action sequences I have ever seen shortly afterwards.
Scan an enemy from afar or after you’ve defeated them in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor to get tips on how to face them in the future.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor introduces quite the compelling villain, but most of the time, you’ll be fighting their lackeys. I do feel that while the villain is interesting, there could have been more time spent with exposition as it was hard to grasp their motivation until the final parts of the game. Nevertheless, the NPCs you interact with, the worlds, and the tone all fit the Star Wars universe perfectly and expand upon one of the most exciting time periods in its canon. Fans of the series will get their just desserts in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review – PS5 Performance/Features
Playing Star Wars Jedi: Survivor on a PlayStation 5 is possibly the best way to experience the game out of the gate after the title launched to “Mostly Negative” reviews on Steam. Shipping with a 1440p/60FPS Performance Mode and a 4K/30FPS Quality mode, this is the first PS5 game I’ve played that doesn’t easily maintain a 60FPS framerate from start to finish. This framerate improved after the game’s first patch, and it never once resulted in hurting my gameplay performance, so I can’t personally demonize it, even if I can acknowledge that gamers do deserve the best experience possible straight out of the gate.
More than just a Point A to Point B affair, there are humongous action sequences to keep you on the edge of your seat in Jedi: Survivor.
The biggest issue I have to take Star Wars Jedi: Survivor to court with is that there is quite a bit of screen tearing. In layman’s terms, this is when you’ll see vertical lines drop when you move the camera quickly. I haven’t seen a console game have this issue in over a decade, and certainly haven’t seen it on PC in ages as vertical sync is almost always a must on that platform. Despite this immersion-breaking flaw, it’s again not enough to detract from the fun that the game offers, but I’ll be happy to see it disappear in a future update.
Despite some performance hiccups, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor makes up for it in a big way with its profound usage of the Dualsense controller. Expect haptic vibrations with every step you make, every ledge jump, and every attack you succumb. In addition, you can expect to hear the electronic sputter when viewing your holomap, chirps whenever BD-1 is ready to scan something interesting, and a huge, relieving surge whenever you use a stim. Any immersion lost in graphics is made up for in these quirks that make the PlayStation 5 shine.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review – Audio
If it’s a Star Wars property, the rule of thumb is that it has a bangin’ soundtrack. With Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Stephen Barton and Gordy Haab return after scoring Jedi: Fallen Order and deliver the same amount of quality in this outing. Referencing classic Star Wars pieces like “The Princess Appears” and other classics from John Williams, fans will be delighted to hear these alongside original pieces that are as intense during combat as they are explorative as you navigate the huge biomes across the galaxy.
Aside from the tuneage, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor could definitely win an award in its sound design. Between audio cues to detect enemies waiting sneakily around corners or underground, hilarious banter between droids and troopers sounding exactly like they do in the movies, and retaining specific noises from the franchise like the Gonk droid and the Droideka blasters will be an auditory smorgasbord of masterful sound.
As a lifelong Star Wars fan and one that’s partaken in dozens of the video game iterations over almost three decades, I can safely say that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor sits at a close number two in the best of the best, number one going to 2005’s Star Wars Battlefront II. This is a Star Wars game that not only honors and expands its canon, but delivers a rewarding combat experience that will make fans of the source materials’ imaginations go wild.
Cal Kestis has become one of the most compelling characters in Star Wars media – here’s hoping we see him in a Disney+ show sooner than later!
It’s unfortunate that even with a delay, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor launched before its performance could reach its full potential, but I am more than certain that will be the case in the coming weeks/months. This is a no-brainer purchase for fans, but those wanting the perfect version of it could stand to wait a month or so before grabbing it if spoilers can be avoided for that long. Either way, I cannot recommend this experience enough and will be fully completing it before I even think about starting a different game.
So, why should you buy Star Wars Jedi: Survivor?
- The best Star Wars combat in a video game to this date
- A sequel that fixes all of the biggest flaws of its predecessor
- So much exploration, hidden stuff, and a sense of accomplishment to be had
But why shouldn’t you buy Star Wars Jedi: Survivor?
- You need a stable 60FPS at all times, which has been the norm for PS5 games
- You’re boycotting the $70 price tag (that seems to result in sales sooner than later)
- You’re not a Star Wars or Soulslike fan
A review code was kindly provided courtesy of EA Australia for the purpose of our Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out more of our reviews and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about the latest releases!