The following post contains spoilers for Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Writers: Aaron Contreras, Manny Hagopian, Matt Michnovetz, Megan Faust
Biography: Rainbow Six Siege is a tactical shooter that involves two teams of 5 facing off against one another and using weapons, gadgets, drones, cameras and explosives to either attack or defend an area.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order begins at a scrapping yard on Bracca, with ex-Jedi Cal Kestis in hiding from the Empire. He has tried his best to blend in with the scrappers in the 5 years since Order 66 wiped out most of the Jedi. It’s a time of change as the Empire puts its mark on the galaxy, a point that is driven home by the impressive visuals of enormous Republic and Separatist starships being dismantled piece by piece. During an accident in which his friend is almost killed Cal uses his powers revealing himself to the ruthless Inquisitors, force-powered warriors trained to hunt down the remaining Jedi. Cal is forced to flee the planet aboard a starship called the Mantis with two strangers and come to terms with who he is.
The opening of the game does a great job of establishing where and when we are in the world of Star Wars and setting the stakes for Cal and his new crew mates. The feeling of being hunted across the stars never really leaves as the plot unfolds with your allies Cere Junda, an ex-Jedi who has closed herself off from the force and Greez Dritus, a pessimistic pilot with a bad gambling habit. Cal and the crew become closer as the story progresses with dialogue between exploration and levelling revealing more context about this unlikely duo. Cere feels tremendous guilt, with it being later revealed that under torture she gave away the position of her Padawan and Younglings that were in her care. Her Padawan, Trilla turned to the Dark Side and became known as the Second Sister, one of the very Inquisitors that is hunting Cal down. Cere’s arc is interesting and while we’ve seen Jedi tempted by the Dark Side before in Star Wars, this particular story has a very personal tone and complements Cal’s arc too.
Greez provides some of the comic relief in what is a fairly dark game with his error-prone cooking, love of plants and blunt dialogue. He certainly has a bit of Han Solo about him but as an alien species he brings variety and levity to some serious conversations. The character gains a little more depth later in the story as his gambling habit causes the crew some trouble and he reveals that he does care about Cal, their mission and being a part of this odd family. Another light-hearted character is BD-1, a droid that follows Cal everywhere and is the crux of the story. After encountering the minute droid on Bogano, Cal understands that he once belonged to a Jedi named Edo Cordova who stored a holocron inside a vault which contains a list of Force-sensitive children. In order to open the vault Cal must travel to several different planets, retrieve the keys to the vault and use the list to rebuild the Jedi order.
The real pleasing aspect of the story however is the world-building, characters and in particular Cal’s arc. Cameron Monaghan gives a solid performance and shows the protagonist’s different layers. Cal is haunted by what happened to the Jedi and in particular his master to the point that he has a form of PTSD. He struggles to remember most of his powers early on and lacks confidence when confronted with the challenge before him. Cal gradually comes to terms with his past over the course of the narrative via flashbacks to training with his master and culminates with a dramatic sequence which shows first hand how his master was killed and how Cal fled. Like Cere, he blames himself for what happened despite being only a Padawan. This results in an enjoyable coming-of-age type story and the themes of acceptance and moving on are key for several of the main characters.
The setting and period of Jedi: Fallen Order allow the writers to take their pick of some of the more interesting story threads from recent years. Order 66 feels a bit more fleshed out and its impact more apparent when following Cal’s journey and how this event affected him, his friends and enemies. Due to its proximity to Rogue One, the game pulls in Saw Guerrera for a brief time while Cal visits Kashyyyk. The game hints at his more extreme methods but doesn’t dwell on them which is a nice touch and makes the game feel a part of the Star Wars universe rather than a spin-off. One of the most compelling threads is found on Dathomir, a dark planet inhabited by dangerous magic users called Nightbrothers and Nightsisters. This world and its characters was previously explored in The Clone Wars and Rebels animated shows and has a particular relevance for characters like Darth Maul.
It’s here where we meet Merrin, one of the few remaining Nightsisters who blames the Jedi for her kin being wiped out. She’s very distrustful of Cal and her aggression masks the trauma she felt at the loss of her brothers and sisters. Cal later discovers Merrin is being manipulated by a mysterious man who lives on Dathomir called Taron Malicos, a Jedi who turned to the Dark side after his ship crash landed. At this point Merrin realises she’s on the wrong side and helps Cal defeat Taron in an intense battle and even joining Cal’s crew after. It’s neat to see the writers follow up on events on Dathomir and pull from the wider fiction, not just the main Star Wars movies. They not only do this successfully but put their own stamp on the Star Wars canon.
Jedi: Fallen Order culminates in an attack on the Inquisitor fortress in a desperate attempt to keep the holocron out of the Empire’s hands and a final confrontation with Trilla. Cere opens up her use of the force and comes close to darkness again as she confronts her old apprentice before ultimately keeping control. The highlight of this climax is a confrontation with Vader himself who is an imposing figure. Respawn Entertainment wisely chose to make this an encounter you can only flee from as Cal finds himself completely outmatched. It’s a cool encounter and reminiscent of the hallway scene in Rogue One where Vader unleashes his full power.
Aside from the main plot there are also smaller pieces of story to uncover too. Force echoes use Cal’s ability to view memories from inanimate objects to flesh out the world, many of these explore the impact of the Empire’s destruction such as the Wookies being enslaved on Kashyyyk after the Clone Wars. Meanwhile, audio logs from Cordova reveal more about his journey as he studies different cultures and species. Collecting these are a fun distraction from the main thread of the story.
Overall, Jedi: Fallen Order is an enjoyable adventure though iconic Star Wars locations and some new ones too. The journey of Cal and his efforts to overcome trauma and move on from his past is mirrored by several of his companions who have to confront their own demons. There’s plenty of action but also a lot of heart in the story and these characters. Developer Respawn draws from some interesting pieces of lore while managing to craft an original story. They ultimately serve the player a satisfying tale that leaves things very open ended for a likely sequel.