Video Gamer is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices subject to change. Learn more
It’s an understatement to say Star Wars hasn’t had a particularly flawless record when it comes to storytelling. Whether you’re (rightfully) slating the prequels, (wrongfully) dunking on the sequels, or scrutinising [insert Disney+ series here], there’s a vast difference in quality throughout the franchise. But where Fallen Order set up a series with potential, our Jedi Survivor review explains how this entry takes that potential and capitalises on it in every regard, delivering one of the best story arcs Star Wars has seen.
We join back up with Cal Kestis five years on from the events of the first game, so the once-green Jedi has grown considerably, and we’re not just referring to his facial hair. He has a new crew, though it’s one that quickly dissipates as Cal partners up with the new guy, Bode Akuna. Before long though, familiar faces reveal themselves – Cere, Merrin, and Greez all return to the Jedi Survivor cast for pivotal roles, so while Cal is the star of the war, this is a continuation of everyone’s adventure from the first game. And it’s clear now that this is a trilogy, in true Star Wars fashion.
A war it very much is too, as Cal’s struggle against the Empire continues. New and old foes alike show up and stand in his way, while Cal hunts for the long lost planet of Tanalorr, in the hopes it can be a safe haven for those hunted by the Empire. At the same time, the swiftly maturing Jedi fights an internal battle to not succumb to dark temptations – something other iconic characters in the franchise are no stranger to.
This is a tale with countless twists and turns too, along with plenty of moments that will have you reeling in shock or gasping with awe. Gorgeously shot set pieces followed by tough, tense action sequences mean that throughout the story, you’ll never want to look away. It’s only a matter of time before we see Cameron Monaghan appear as Cal Kestis in something live-action too, because he is phenomenal here once again.
If Fallen Order was testing the waters for just how Souls-like a Star Wars game can work though, then Jedi Survivor dials it back very slightly. Not in terms of difficulty – crank up the setting and you’ll be respawning at meditation points quicker than you can say maclunkey – but because this time around, Cal has a lot more freedom to explore. Metroidvania mechanics of slogging your way back through enemies you’ve previously beaten are still there, but most of your time in Jedi Survivor will be spent on the planets Koboh and Jedha, both of which have considerably sized open-worlds to discover.
Filling up these vast areas – Koboh being the bigger of the two – are numerous secrets, puzzles, and collectibles, such as Jedi Chambers, which are mini puzzles that will certainly leave you scratching your head. Force Tears are similar, but much more action focused, coming in the form of either combat or parkour challenges, utilising the countless abilities Cal has at his disposal.
Despite the fact that Cal has retained all of his skills from the first game – because of course he has, he wouldn’t give up being a Jedi in the five-year interim – there is still plenty for him to learn. The whole Jedi trilogy is proving to be about his rise to mastering the Jedi way of life. From the ascension cable found during the tutorial to the mid-air dash ability much later on, it’s only when you get close to finishing the main story that you finally feel fully equipped to tackle the aforementioned open world.
Jedi Survivor isn’t just more vast than Fallen Order though; it’s also much deeper. Greez, the three-armed Latero grandfather figure from the first game has set up a saloon at the heart of Koboh, which acts as a base away from the Mantis for Cal, and has a whole host of interesting characters to meet and learn about. As you explore, you can recruit friendly folk to the saloon, such as Tulli and Bhima, two characters who must be rescued from a Mogu. Once saved, they unlock the Holotactics minigame in the saloon. Or there’s Skoova Stev, a keen fisherman who will regale Cal with a tale of bravery and heroism every time you find him in the wild. He’ll also catch a brand new fish for you to house in the saloon aquarium each time. Or even Pili, a timid but nurturing green thumb who helps Cal set up a garden to plant seeds in on the saloon roof.
Fallen Order was non-stop business. There was no downtime, it went from one group of enemies to the next as Cal slayed hundreds of foes. There was no reason to stick around in one place for too long, whereas Jedi Survivor has given Cal a proper home. Not to mention Turgle, the latest Star Wars character everyone on the internet would die for thanks to his naivety, affection for Cal, and tales of his life as an unlikely outlaw on the run.
The lightsaber combat has more options this time around, with the introduction of three stances, along with the single/double-bladed of old. Dual wield is exactly as you’d expect – a single lightsaber in each hand that allows Cal to attack with more oomph, but it drains more stamina, while crossguard is a longer, heavier lightsaber that is slower to use but deals more damage per hit. Then you’ve got the blaster, which goes against everything we’ve come to know about Jedis and Cal explains his master frowned upon using blasters, but in an effort to use every tool possible against the Empire, Cal can fire a blaster in one hand with a single lightsaber in the other.
While you can only equip two at a time, you can switch on the fly mid-battle, and it enables vastly different combat styles and animations. Unless you’re disposing of stormtroopers in one swing, no two battles are the same. A personal favourite combo is blaster and dual wield, as the former allows you to battle against tougher opponents while picking off enemies from afar with the blaster simultaneously, before switching to the relentless flurry of two lightsabers at once to wail on any remaining foes.
While the story is where the writing shines, there is a lot of character and attention shown to the foes you’ll be slaying too. Much as they are in the films, battle droids are often found nattering to one another about inane topics, so you’ll hang back before eliminating them to ensure you hear all of the dialogue. Stormtroopers are humanised too though, and if they weren’t fascists, you could almost feel bad for killing a bloke immediately after he voiced his interest in piloting an excavator drill. Or the two buds egging each other on to check on the status of a new droid they dubbed a “murder machine”.
There’s very little to take issue with in Jedi Survivor, but my biggest gripe is the one thing that breaks immersion. There are countless chests to find across all six planets you’ll visit, but each of them contains… cosmetics. Plenty are accessories or alternate parts for BD-1 or Cal’s weapons – somewhat explainable if the unexplained part is that Cal transforms the junk he finds into these things on the fly, but there are also hairstyles and clothes in there?
It was immensely funny to dispose of some tough enemies and explore off the beaten track just to discover a full goatee and moustache for Cal inside a box. As someone who loves to 100% complete games but also finds character customisation one of the dullest aspects of modern games, it’s underwhelming to spend all that effort to be rewarded with things that will never get used.
I’d be remiss to not mention the minor performance issues too. I played on PS5 in performance mode and the game struggled to hold a steady 60 frames-per-second, but it would drop at seemingly random times. Plenty of effects could be happening on-screen and the frame-rate would hold strong, but when wandering around an enclosed space, or only battling a couple of enemies at once, the drop would be noticeable. Enough to warrant a mention, but not so much that it detracted from my experience with the game. And while 95% of the environments look utterly beautiful, the fire textures and trees blowing with the wind on Koboh leave something to be desired.
Star Wars Jedi Survivor is easily in the conversation to be the best Star Wars game of all time, because it is simply sublime. An epic second act and adventure for what we can only hope is still early days in Cal Kestis’ Jedi career. Story mode is there for players who don’t fancy the Souls-inspired combat, which means this is a space-faring adventure fit for everyone, and is such a fitting successor to Fallen Order. Roll on the third Jedi game, because I cannot wait.