And it was kind of just okay
I’m not typically the type to get into Soulslike games. I mean, I’ve always wanted to, but the reputation the genre has earned for being painfully difficult (not to mention the toxic “get gud” fanbase) has always kept me away. I’m getting old, after all, and I only have so much time for gaming. I’d rather be enjoying my leisure time, but enough digression. I’m not about to get into an argument about the merits and detriments of Soulslike games. Unless…? No, no, not now. We were talking about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
Despite shying away from the genre, Jedi: Fallen Order peaked my interest for a few reasons. First, I grew up watching tv-recorded versions of the original Star Wars trilogy, 80s commercials and all. I love Star Wars. I love watching Star Wars, reading Star Wars, playing Star Wars TTRPGs, video games, and board games. So it was hard to pass up a game where you get to be a Jedi that people were saying was really really good. Secondly, several of my real life friends strongly encouraged me to play it, many of whom also didn’t like Soulslike games.
So I picked it up, and when I finally got around to playing it, I wasn’t disappointed (initially.) The beginning is fantastic. I was immediately immersed, felt like a badass Jedi, and thought the story felt genuine and heartfelt while being authentic to the world. Over the next month or so, I kept playing, eventually turning the difficulty all the way down to zero, until I eventually beat it. So, yes, I have technically beaten a Soulslike game now.
At one point, however, I actually had to stop because I was really struggling with one boss about halfway through. Even though I did eventually beat the encounter in the same sitting, I needed to take a break. My stress and anger levels had been too high for too long, and it was the weekend, man. I need that time to chill. I might never have gone back to it if a friend of mine hadn’t told me that the boss I had gotten stuck on was the hardest one, and the rest of the game was not only easier, but even more worth it from a story perspective.
So I went back to it. Like I said, I beat it, and while I see the appeal of the end, it just didn’t do it for me. The fan service was done in a way that made sense in the world, and wasn’t too in your face, so props for that. And overall the story, characters, setting, combat, etc., were good; they just weren’t great to me. The dialogue was a solid B-, but I needed it to be an A to make the game land. That was how most individual elements of Jedi: Fallen Order were for me. None of them were bad, but none excelled so well that I was blown away. I never had a moment of pure ecstasy, even when I finally beat that boss I had gotten hung up on. It felt like I’d cleared another obstacle, but it didn’t feel like I’d progressed.
I know people complain about power creep in video games, especially in any kind of action RPG. You start off weak, but as you train and level up, you get more and better powers, and eventually, often combined with gear synergies, you can end up making a game so easy that it’s trivial. For a lot of people, that ruins the end of many games. Finishing a game should feel like an accomplishment, goes the argument, but when it’s too easy, it doesn’t. I mean, I get that, it’s just not the end-all be-all for me. When it comes to RPGs, I’m in it for the story first, the gameplay second, and the visuals third. And while Cal, the Jedi you play as, does get stronger as the game progresses, he didn’t end up feeling all that much stronger.
This makes sense, from a plot perspective. Without spoiling anything, let’s just say he doesn’t exactly start off as a total noob, and doesn’t end up, like, emperor-level or anything. But if there’s one story setting where power creep makes sense, I feel like it’s Jedi. I want to feel unstoppable by the end. I want to be creating whacky power synergies and lightsaber combos and just all the things. I felt strong at the beginning, and I got a rush blocking my first few imperial blaster bolts. But then as the game progressed and the enemies got harder, it just felt like a grind.
Again, if the story, characters, or writing had been out of this world (see what I did there?), it would have been enough to pull me through. But they weren’t, so after the end, I just sort of shrugged, put the controller down, and started scrolling through my library to find something that would scratch the itch. Haven’t found it yet, but open to suggestions.
So overall, I’d give Jedi: Fallen Order a 6/10. It was definitely above average, and had some high points, but ultimately left me unsatisfied. I’ve heard very good things about the sequel, but I’m not sure if I’ll bother; feel free to tell me why I should.