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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a long-awaited third-person action-adventure sequel to the ever-popular Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. As a lifelong Star Wars franchise fan and a passionate Fallen Order player, I couldn’t wait for the sequel. Indeed, swinging a lightsaber around and slaying foe using an arry of Force powers is a recipe for hours of good fun. I figured: what could go wrong? It was right after I began the game that I realized the Force wasn’t with me.
From a pure visual standpoint, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a gorgeous-looking game. I got to visit six different locations, and each was breathtakingly beautiful in its unique way. Despite being vast, the environments didn’t feel desolate or empty. Instead, the planets made me feel like the galaxy was teeming with life.
The incredible backdrops of Coruscant gave me a sense of scale and made me feel like I was standing on the crust of a giant ecumenopolis with billions of citizens. Jedha, a desert planet, made me almost feel the grit of the sand thanks to its incredible desert storms, half-buried buildings, and scorpion-like creatures lurking beneath.
The story of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor takes place about five years after the first game’s events. It continues the first entry’s dark tone, which makes sense since the story is set in the most traumatic period for citizens of the former Republic (my personal favorite). The Jedi Order was subjected to the infamous purge ordered by Chancellor Palpatine. The game’s protagonist, Cal Kestis, is one of the few survivors who made it thanks to his master’s sacrifice. Haunted by the survivor’s guilt and the loss of his comrades, the young Jedi apprentice must tread carefully in a galaxy ruled under the imperial boot.
After a botched mission on Coruscant, Cal’s ship gets badly damaged during escape, and he makes an emergency stop at the planet Koboh. There, he begins to uncover ancient secrets of the Jedi Order from the era of the High Empire. During his adventures on the planet, he soon learns of the existence of the planet Tanalor inside the dreaded Koboh Abyss nebula. Tanalor is a planet of significant importance due to its location, making it a small hidden utopia perfect for the forces of resistance.
Tethering on a delicate line between the Light and the Dark side of the Force is a temptation every Jedi must go through at some point in their life, and seeing how Cal fights with his inner demons was exciting. His resolve to reform the Jedi Order and tear down the Empire never left him, but I noticed that his burning passion subsided somewhat, taking a more mature shape at times.
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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor took the gameplay from the first entry and gave us a significant upgrade. The combat system has a distinct souls-like feeling, as it required me to learn the game’s innards and how opponents work to defeat them best. I was almost pre-planning fights as I encountered them, scanning strengths and weaknesses with each group of enemies.
The game gave me five combat stances in total. For each, Cal wields his lightsaber in a radically different way. The Dual Wield stance, my favorite by far, allowed me to fight aggressively and toss multiple blades at separate enemies. On the other hand, Crossguard Stance had me wield the lightsaber more akin to a giant Claymore sword and fight accordingly. My swings were sluggish, but the damage I did more than compensated for it.
The platforming pieces were very satisfying, providing me with some needed respite from combat and exploration. Graphically, I enjoyed the sequences on Jedha the most, while I appreciated the technical aspect of the vertical traversal on Koboh’s Shattered Moon base and Koboh Observatory. In the early parts of the game, I used simple maneuvers. Later in the game, I learned more advanced techniques, giving me diversity and making the platforming experience progressively more fun.
The graphical brilliance of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor was, unfortunately, marred by constant visual bugs. Screen tearing was the least of my problems, as I encountered numerous frame drops throughout the game. The drops were especially prevalent on Coruscant for some reason, which is the first planet I was on, giving me a poor first impression of the game. Moving on to Koboh, several locations there also seemed to kill framerate for me, especially those around bodies of water.
The first performance patch did improve framerates a little bit for me, but not by much. The performance area is where Star Wars Jedi: Survivor falls flat on its face, and its issues seep into other aspects of the game. Both combat and platforming were impacted by it, sometimes significantly enough that it made the experience much less enjoyable. Certain Force Tear platforming challenges are almost impossible for me to complete due to the low frame rates in certain sections.
Verdict – An action-adventure masterpiece marred by technical problems
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a small masterpiece of a game in which every Star Wars fan should find some enjoyment. Excellent story narration, gorgeous graphics, and level design promise hours of fun, if not only for the abysmal game performance. This is the single biggest flaw of the game, and it impacts the gameplay experience on all levels. The developers should patch the game eventually, making it the polished masterpiece that it deserves to be. But still, until such a time comes, I must also consider bad performance when rating the game.