Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review
- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
Jedi Survivor is a phenomenal game that builds on the strengths of its predecessor, even if not all of its narrative choices pan out.
- Developers: Respawn Entertainment
- Publishers: Electronic Arts
- Release Date: April 28, 2023
- Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X & Series S, and PC
- Predecessor: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
- Tested On: Xbox Series X
- Refined Combat
- Lightsaber Stances
- New Traversal Mechanics
- Quality-of- Life Improvements
- Intriguing Cast of Characters
- Fantastic Art Direction
- Somewhat Predictable Narrative
- Lackluster Map Design
- Performance Issues
As someone who’s a die-hard fan of many classic Star Wars titles like Knights Of The Old Republic and Republic Commando, I was very happy to see the success of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. It quickly became one of my favorite games of the last generation, and I was very excited to get my hands on the sequel.
And I was right to be excited because Star Wars Jedi: Survivor carefully expands upon the foundations established by its predecessor, and delivers an experience that is superior in every way, even if it does have some notable flaws.
Story And Setting
The story pulls no punches from the get-go, and you are immediately dumped in the middle of the action as our protagonist Cal Kestis, who is now part of the resistance, is helping lead an assault on the Imperial district of the planet Coruscant. What I love about the opening act is how mature Cal has become over the five years since the events of the first game, and that information is easily visualized here by the excellent performance of his actor, Cameron Monaghan.
We obviously won’t spoil what happens during the assault, but we are soon reunited with our friends and crew of the Mantis, such as the former Jedi, Cere Junda, and the captain himself, Greez Dritus. There’s also a new companion in the form of Bode Akuna, who grows on you over the course of the campaign.
We also once again meet up with the former Nightsister Merrin, whom many fans might remember as a supporting character from Fallen Order. The romance between Cal and Merrin is explored in much more detail in the sequel.
What impressed me was how much the game prioritizes characterization this time around, rather than delving too deep into the lore of the universe. It allows us to reacquaint ourselves with our lead again, as he contends with the responsibility of being a Jedi Knight, and we see how he has grown tired of pushing back against the onslaught of the Empire.
The game continuously sprinkles in heart-to-heart conversations with the crew during the starting few hours about why they decided to split up with Cal for over five years. And while those moments are pretty heartfelt and personal, many of the other narrative beats are not so fleshed out. The plot delves into a few too manycliché, and you can see plot twists coming from a mile away. Everything is well written though, so it’s not all bad.
The gameplay of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor remains similar to its predecessor, but Respawn has managed to elevate it to new heights with a largely expanded focus on exploration as well as the combat taking a more dynamic approach.
To explain it in more detail, the most notable features introduced with the sequel are the five fighting stances (three of which carry over from the last game), a broader emphasis on maneuverability using the grappling hook, and a plethora of new skills to unlock.
The two new stances are the Cross Guard Stance and the Blaster Stance, and both of these provide you with new opportunities to exploit your enemies during combat. The Cross Guard Stance allows you to land slower, but deadlier, attacks with your lightsaber, while the Blaster Stance provides you with the option to both eliminate enemies from afar and also pick them off at close range.
Out of all five stances, my favorite instantly became the dual-wield one as it allowed me to channel my inner Ahsoka Tano by slicing away at enemies without hesitation. But of course, this also meant I had to be careful since, despite the leeway you get with this stance, it also makes you more susceptible to incoming enemy attacks. In a similar situation, if one uses the hard-hitting Cross Guard stance, it slows down the attack animations and leaves you vulnerable for longer.
Exploration is encouraged much more in this sequel, and most of the areas are designed to be sandbox environments where players can freely explore locations such as ruins, and take on side quests as they see fit. But while that is great and all, I can’t help but feel disappointed at the fact that the map design remains largely the same apart from a few quality-of-life changes made to them. These changes include the ability to fast travel between Meditation Circles, as well as a directional path on the hologram map which points you in the direction of your objectives.
But again, it just becomes so infuriating to navigate during puzzle sections or try to locate nearby secrets with the map having that same convoluted design in the sequel. It’s not that the multi-layered holographic design is bad or anything, I just wished Respawn took into account how it does a poor job at guiding you, especially since this is a complaint that many fans already had with the prequel.
One major addition that does work wonders for the game is the new traversal system, as Cal is now able to use a grappling hook to slingshot himself across large gaps and gain access to hard-to-reach places. Its usefulness further shines in the various dungeons, where you will need to carefully complete traversal puzzles in a timely manner to progress forward.
It also works hand-in-hand with his wall-running ability and parkour, and while on the subject of maneuverability, you’ll be glad to know that the new air dash skill gives you a new way to cross large gaps in the environment as well as reposition yourself during combat. Using all of these traversal mechanics in conjunction makes the exploration so rewarding, that the actual act of doing so outweighs any criticism I might have of the maps.
Most importantly though, I adore the fact that Cal retains most of his skills and abilities from the first game as most other video game sequels tend to make the protagonist feel weaker in the time that has passed since the previous installment. With Jedi Survivor, that does Cal Kestis actually feels like a Jedi that has been training his skills and is now more competent than ever.
Speaking of growing as a character, the newly introduced visual customization features can provide a distinctive look for Cal, making him unique for every player. From changing his facial hair to even his hairstyle, you can find tons of customization options out in the wild.
Visuals And Performance
While the graphical fidelity of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is nothing too extraordinary, what makes the game truly stand out is the details in the naturalistic environments, and that particular Star Wars flair when it comes to the flora and fauna. There’s also a greater emphasis on the setpieces, many of which could have been ripped straight out of an Uncharted game, with their beautiful presentation and focus on spectacle.
Nevertheless, while the game excels in the visuals department, unfortunately, it leaves much to be desired on the performance side of things, at least for now since the game has issues on both consoles and PC. This is also considering the fact that the game was primarily designed to be a next-gen title. Even on an Nvidia RTX 3060Ti, it struggles to maintain a solid 60FPS framerate on a mix between medium and high settings preset.
I played on the Xbox Series X with a focus on performance, and there were still several framerate drops during combat encounters as well as during key boss fights. EA has promised to fix many of these issues with the Day One patch, but many of these issues will require much more time in my opinion.
Whether you’re a fan of third-person action-adventure games or just a fan of the Star Wars universe in general, there is something here for everyone. Because Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a brilliant sequel that manages to make several improvements to an already existing formula, and almost comes close to perfecting it.
When talking about the gameplay, the new combat stances add some much-needed level of depth to the combat, the grappling hook and the Air Dash make traversal more enjoyable. The larger maps are also really fun to explore, even if they can get a bit confusing to traverse because of the confusing holographic map that returns from the last game.
I also really appreciate the focus on writing, and I’m glad to see that Cal is actually a well-realized character now. It was great to see the whole crew again and meet the new characters, but I could have done with a less tropey plot. It’s not bad, but I would have liked to be surprised.
All in all, this is an incredibly solid game and an excellent second entry in the journey of the Jedi Knight Cal Kestis.
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