Review: Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Is the Lightsaber Combat Simulator We’ve Been Looking For

At its initial release, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was one of the most surprising video game adaptations of the beloved galaxy far, far away. Sure, it had some messy performance issues, but it offered solid combat, heightened difficulty, and a gameplay styling that played fast and loose with the Soulsborne way of doing things but in Star Wars fashion.

In this same vein, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor tremendously arrives as the successor to this idea. Fans know what to expect from this game much more than the original, and developer Respawn Entertainment toys with that very idea. While safe in some regards, Jedi Survivor does what a sequel certainly should do.

It is much more prominent in scope at times, more personal with its characters at other times, and continuously improving gameplay-wise. There may be some hiccups and issues here and there, but Jedi Survivor, by and large, has the natural progress you’d come to expect from a AAA big-budget sequel like this.

Lightsaber Combat Is Out of This Galaxy

Without a doubt, Jedi Survivor is the ultimate lightsaber Jedi combat simulator for video game fans. While other Star Wars games in the past gave you a chance to play as a Jedi, no experience thus far nails it on the level of this title. Playing as Cal Kestis is largely familiar to those who played his previous outing. The combat is fluid and fast, retaining depth and heft in every swing. Each time you swing your lightsaber, you put yourself in a risk-and-reward situation. If you time your attack right, the various enemies across the several planets will take some serious damage. On the other hand, if you time your moves wrong, you might face a blaster shot to the face or a swift slash from your opponent’s own lightsaber.

What is intriguing about the gameplay is that it is primarily built around only a couple of moves. You have a basic attack, a heavier special attack that uses more stamina or Force energy, and then a few Force powers. This straightforward gameplay is there so that you can quickly grasp what you need to do in each battle, such as mind-controlling one enemy to help you with a large group or pulling a ranged foe close to you to render their blaster shots obsolete.

The Soulsborne features, including strong enemies, foes that return after healing up at Meditation Points, and the need for dodges/parries, is all here. What’s new, though, are the occasional NPC companions that help to make the battlefield feel more alive and the other lightsaber stances.

Jedi Survivor Lightsaber Combat Is Out of This Galaxy
Image Credit: Electronic Arts.

The NPC companions mostly do their own thing, which is fine, but it helps to not feel not so alone at times, which was a noticeable criticism of the previous game. On the other hand, the lightsaber stances are incredible. You have the three standard single-blade, double-wielding, and dual-wielding, which are mostly the same as before.

But the addition of the blaster stance, where Cal uses a blaster with limited shots for ranged attacks, and the crossguard—aka Kylo Ren stance—help to expand gameplay. The latter adds even more weight to combat, letting you deal heavy damage rather slowly, where you can be blocked more easily. On the other hand, the blaster stance gives Cal some necessary range. Altogether, it is hard to beat the gameplay that holds up so well in Jedi Survivor, only slightly but necessarily improving over the original to become the best-feeling Jedi combat in gaming history.

Performance Is a Stormtrooper-Level Hit-or-Miss

Jedi Survivor’s release dropped older consoles in favor of the current-gen PS5 and Xbox Series only. With this change, you would’ve thought it would lead to better performance, but that isn’t necessarily the case. I still found that the frame rate dropped, even on the enhanced 60 frames-per-second Performance Mode, which was sometimes lackluster.

And even if you opt for the Resolution Mode, the visuals are impressive, for sure, but not always consistent. Worse, the frame rate struggles considerably here, not even hitting 30 FPS at times.

There were also the usual issues of camera angles being off in certain close-quarter fights and the resolution looking downright worse than some Switch games at times on the Performance Mode. Even still, this is a beautiful game, and when it runs well, such as in cinematic events or cutscenes, there’s no denying how stunning Jedi Survivor can look.

Unbelievable Depth of Customization

While the overall gameplay is primarily the same in Jedi Survivor, one element that continuously astonishes is the customization department. If you want Cal Kestis to be your own creation, you can somewhat do that. Hair, clothing, lightsaber, BD-1 options, and more unlock throughout your adventure as you explore.

Jedi Survivor A Worthwhile Star Wars Story
Image Credit: Electronic Arts.

With this, you can create a lightsaber that looks pristine and from the High Republic Era while dripping Cal in a mullet and cowboy mustache from the Wild West if you want to for whatever reason. This customization goes even deeper, letting you toy around with the lightsaber stance skills and Force powers trees to make this game surprisingly personalized to each player.

A Worthwhile Star Wars Story

At the heart of Jedi Survivor is its storyline, which is far better than what was found in the original. If you were disappointed by the lack of cutscenes and character moments in the first game, this sequel makes up for that. In addition, the story is far more impactful and intriguing to the overarching universe without diving into spoilers.

The integration of the High Republic backstory also acts as an introduction to a part of Star Wars history that is fascinating and rich. As you might expect, there are plenty of twists and surprises, but, unfortunately, most are telegraphed way too much within the context of everything.

It is pretty easy to read where the story is going ahead of time, but even still, that isn’t a massive problem since the characters are what matters the most.

Cal feels much more fully fleshed out as a character this time; the Mantis crew is all the better with the new addition and scene-stealer Bode, and other side characters, like the walking meme Turgle, are equally incredible. There is so much to love about the well-written and talented cast.

Planetary Exploration Leaves Something to Be Desired

Even though the story has its impact and weight, the locations you visit are a bit disappointing, especially compared to the first game. Though most planets are deeper and wider, giving a light, open-world feel to exploration, the new locations of Koboh, Jedha, and others are relatively stereotypical Star Wars planets.

One of the few exceptions is the opening area on Coruscant, where the urban neon environments and dark undercity streets give off a much-needed break from the wilderness of everywhere else. But this is short-lived, making much of the game feel repetitive with the same old forest or desert areas.

This lack of variety in locations is helped somewhat tow rds the end of Jedi Survivor. However, it doesn’t wholly alleviate how the exploration still feels padded out a bit too much to make this game a significantly and unnecessarily longer experience than the original.

The side quests, known as rumors, and windy, confusing exploration paths are numerous but don’t usually add anything worthwhile to the game’s content. That said, the characters and story constantly keep the player engaged and wanting to traverse through the environments to see this fantastic tale of Cal Kestis and the crew of the Mantis through to the end.

Rating: 8.5/10 SPECS

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is currently available on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC via Steam and EA Origin.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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