In my Quick Impressions of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, I wasn’t very impressed by the game, but I went back in and to my surprise, I started to enjoy myself… a bit at least. The things I brought up in that post still stand, though. Actually, things get worse from that point on. It becomes even more “anime” and absurd, with the addition of another problem; a disconnect from story to gameplay, and vice versa. The story and cut-scenes are presented rather realistic within the setting, however, the gameplay turns crazier and crazier the further you get into the story. Hence the disconnect, and to me this is usually immersion shattering, especially when cut-scenes dictate how my character acts. Like when taking a wound, but just moments before I could eat blaster fire all day. The game is filled with issues like this, and this is on top of the things I already mentioned in my quick impressions.
What about the story? It’s a continuation of Fallen Order, but it takes place a few years later. The crew from the first game split up, and Cal is now working with another faction of rebels after being alone for a while. However, after a troubling incident on Coruscant, the new team gets destroyed, and Cal is left alone once again and has to search out his old friends for help. This eventually leads Cal to his old friends where the real game begins, and from here on out the story takes a bit of nose dive. For about 80% of the remaining game, you and your crew have to search out a MacGuffin device, so it can take you to MacGuffin planet. It feels a bit contrived and silly, and not very Star Wars, beyond the Star Wars checkmarks like Jedi, the Empire, and so on.
This search takes you all over the local cluster of planets, and the more locations you visit the more information is revealed about this mysterious planet you and your crew are searching for. The reason Cal and his pals are so interested in this planet is that they think it will shield them from the Empire, and it’s a noble goal, I guess, but damn, if it doesn’t get boring! You are playing from the state of retreat all game in search of this planet while being hunted by the Empire, but the Empire never comes off as a serious threat. So, instead of feeling like a grand adventure, it feels like you meander around for 15+ hours, hiding from a force you probably can take out if you decided to attack them, until the last 20% of the game where the story finally takes a turn for the better. Suddenly it becomes a tad interesting and shows some true emotions! It’s a shame it takes the game that long, and then we have the other problem with the story…
It suffers from the prequel curse. Jedi Survivor takes place 9 years before the original film trilogy, with the people in the Survivor story never being referenced or mentioned in the original series. So, if the game doesn’t go full retcon mode, nothing will or can connect it to the movies, and nothing substantial can happen that influence the events of the first 3 movies without it feeling cheap. If they don’t work it in in some genius way, but I doubt they are capable of that. See, the problem is that Jedi Survivor ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. The narrative gets wrapped up, but most of the characters continue to exist, yet, they are not acknowledged or talked about ever again, as mentioned. Thus, the legacy these characters leave behind them must be at a minimum at best. This adds to the feeling of meandering, and pointlessness, but it’s not all bad, like I said, the final phase of the game is rather interesting and did stir some emotions in my cold dead heart.
Prepare to die, the Star Wars edition
The gameplay is separated from the story, and the Star Wars universe at large. Dark Souls mechanics should be enough of an indicator as to why, but at one strange event in the story, the respawn system is surprisingly integrated into the narrative, which felt very confusing. I assume respawning is part of the canon now? Otherwise, it’s a platformer and a hack & slash at heart, you will be jumping, dashing, and climbing all over, and the more skills you unlock the more areas becomes accessible. It works like a Metroidvania game in that sense, except that most of the secrets you unlock are for customization options. Playing doll is fun and all, but I would rather have the exploration provide me with something more substantial. Having to do crazy jumps over jagged cliffs just to be rewarded with a new haircut you will probably never use feels a bit anti-climactic. It’s also one of the reasons why Survivor scores low on the immersion scale. Finding a beard in a box on some out-of-the-way mountain path is a bit out there even for my taste.
Another issue is the level design. It feels way off from being realistic, yet, it can be pretty fun from a gameplay perspective, but the immersion suffers something fierce here if you have any sort of realism autism. You often find enclaves of soldiers standing on impossible plateaus, and after despatching them, you just got to wonder how they got there in the first place. There is also a problem with certain cut scenes. You glide over a deadly volcanic river by holding on to the claws of a giant bird, only to meet a random prospector on the other side, just standing there waiting to greet you. How? Wasn’t this area cut off? The game is chock full of situations like this.
Overall, the combat feels pretty good and fluid, and there are lots of skills to unlock through gaining experience. There are also a few different stances to learn, and my favorite is the blaster with sword. In that stance, you hold a blaster in one hand, and a lightsaber in the other. I found out that having range attack power gave me a pretty good advantage in most cases, and the blaster pistol is just cool. All the different stances have different uses and effects like the twin blades that are for facing multiple enemies. However, they do blend a bit, even if you unlock new skills for them since they are all based on melee with the lightsaber as a primary weapon. I did notice the combat having a few issues. Fighting more than one or two enemies at the same time feels very messy. Sometimes the block button wouldn’t respond to button presses, and I’m not sure what caused that, but it becomes frustrating in boss fights where blocking is crucial. And at times enemies manage to phase through my attacks – totally ignoring my slashes, no block or anything, like they become spectral beings for a second or two. However, the most frustrating issue, which is part of the design, is that many attacks get shrugged off at random. With that I mean, you do damage, but there is no reward in the form of interruption. It looks and feels off, and kind of messes up the flow of combat. It’s hard to time blocks and attacks when you can’t predict the outcome.
Just detach the brain for a while
Despite my complaining, and if you can accept the disconnect from the story, the gameplay is rather good. The combat for the most part is fun, especially facing bosses that fight in a similar style to you with the lightsaber. These duels got my adrenaline pumping, however, monster bosses are a bit of a hit-or-miss. I can’t say I enjoy fighting oversized gorillas too much, but they got their place. The same goes for navigation. I only wish they would have added a few more incentives to the exploration, not only in items but in story elements too. Most of the sidequests just end, with nothing new added, except for a new fancy haircut you picked up on the way.
Sometimes muddy, sometimes great
The visuals look a lot like the predecessor but improved in certain areas, like backgrounds, lighting, textures, and vistas. And there are plenty of cool vistas to gawk at. However, the graphical upgrades do not match the performance. I didn’t have too much trouble with the performance like many people, but there was a constant stuttering when textures loaded in while traversing the open world. It got a bit annoying, but luckily these stutters were rare when it came to combat, though. Overall, the game looks nice, especially at night, yet, even when I ran the game on Epic for all settings, except for ray-tracing, it looked like the screen was smeared with Vaseline. Things look very blurry on occasion, and I assume it’s because of the anti-alias system. Very typical of modern games, I have noticed. Long gone are the crisp non-pixelated edges!
The sound, music, and voice-acting are good, in general, however, I do have one complaint. And that is the bassy, weird sound of all explosions, characteristic of modern media productions. I’m not sure how to explain it, but it sounds odd like the explosions were recorded underwater. It’s very noticeable in the Marvel movies when something explodes for example. It’s very artificial and not at all how an explosion should sound, but it’s pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. All Star Wars sounds are there, and so is the music, even a few classic tunes from the franchise get played at special moments. The voice acting is of high quality with matching animations, especially in the cutscenes which add to the experience.
It’s a renter
Would I recommend it? Hard to say, I probably wouldn’t buy it for full price. Besides the performance issues, it’s a pretty good AAA showing in a sea of horrible releases. For this day and age, just that fact alone is a small miracle. It doesn’t even have an in-game store, which surprises the hell out of me. Yet, 70 bucks is a lot of money, especially in these trying times. But there is a way to play it in full through an EA subscription, and that is a lot cheaper if you don’t mind not having ownership of the game. That is how I got to play it anyway, and for 15 bucks, I don’t think you go too wrong here for some lighthearted Star Wars action – anime Star Wars, that is.
Thanks for reading.