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When everything goes right, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor evokes the classic movies. Cal slashes down Stormtroopers with his array of lightsaber stances, flicking between blaster shots and spinning a double-ended saber straight through foes. Touching your ship down on planets transitions with a screen wipe that’ll make even the hardest of hearts nostalgic, and you’ll grow to love new and returning members of the cast as if they were penned by Lucas himself in the ‘70s.

When everything is right, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is an excellent Star Wars game. But it never quite graduates past that. Behind the lightsaber sounds and force puzzles, removed from the context that this is the galaxy far, far away, Jedi: Survivor is definitely functional, but not always fun.

The story takes place several years after the events of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Cal’s crew has mostly gone their own ways, save for BD-1 of course, and Cal is still searching the galaxy, looking for a way to rebuild the Jedi Order away from the Empire’s clutches. A tip points him towards Koboh, where old friend Greez happens to have settled down, and suddenly Cal gets wrapped up in a story of an ancient former Jedi warrior, and a potential paradise beyond the Empire’s reach.

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Cal’s quest eventually brings in new and returning characters from Fallen Order, and the story gets underway as the team rides the Mantis to and from several different planets for new clues, keys, and abilities to help them reach their goal. It’s a straightforward enough formula for a linear adventure, but Jedi: Survivor clearly wants to be a Metroidvania game.

Metroidvania games involve a lot of coming back to a central location and unlocking new pathways, and Jedi: Survivor does do that, at least. When you first visit Koboh’s town and Pyloon’s Saloon, owned by Greez, it feels like a solid homebase to return to, but you probably won’t expect how often you’ll be returning. Koboh definitely feels like a dense place with plenty to find on return visits, but most of it is gated harder than you might expect.

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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is better than Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

It might not seem like a big deal, but Jedi: Survivor is a big improvement on its predecessor. If you enjoyed that game, you’ll love this.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is worse than Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Wo Long just understands how a parry – or in this case, a deflect – should feel. A flashy visual indicator, a loud ping sound, your character reacts and dances around the enemy. Jedi: Survivor almost does this right against normal enemies – even if it somehow feels a bit soft – but against bigger monsters? Just not enough feedback.

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Essentially, you complete missions on Koboh, visit another planet, visit Koboh, visit a moon or something, visit Koboh – sometimes you’ll be given a choice of two planets you can look at before returning to Koboh. And so on, and so forth. Koboh isn’t the most inspiring planet – it’s fairly bland to look at, even if it does suit the Star Wars atmosphere – and one of the other planets you’ll spend a decent chunk of time exploring is a desert. Despite the atmosphere, you’ll spend a lot of time either staring at rocks, or futuristic space-station interiors – usually a ruined one. I hate to say it, but it’s boring.

The surface of Koboh has several wide open spaces, but when exploring you tend to get funneled into a more linear path anyway. You can run off of the beaten track at times, but the only things you’ll find are cosmetic items or one of the game’s several unique currencies.

Gear and gold management is too often unsatisfying and annoying in RPGs, so I have to praise Jedi: Survivor for continuing to do away with it. You can customize Cal, his lightsaber, blaster, and BD-1 to your heart’s content, with new cosmetic items found all over the world. The drawback is that venturing into an optional area guarantees your reward will only be a cosmetic item or – if you’re lucky – one of the game’s various currencies.

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Money isn’t dropped entirely, but it’s unique to each shop you visit instead. Priorite Shards, Jedah Scrolls, Datadiscs, Bounty Tokens – each type of currency you find can unlock unique perks, cosmetics, or bonuses at the respective shop attributed to that currency. Currencies are usually found in select locations – you’ll be finding Jedah Scrolls in the latter desert sections, for example – so it is an effective incentive to scour each of the more linear sections you delve into, as shops often hold unique items or power ups, like extra perk slots, or blaster functions.

Those functions are handy too, as the faster you get access to more combat options, the better the game is. You can absolutely play the entire game with a single lightsaber stance and the basic selection of moves, but combat is much more interesting when you can swap things out. It’s often awkward to take care of distant foes without parrying laser blasts or using the Force, but the Blaster stance takes care of that, giving Cal an off-hand gun to zap foes with, along with his single lightsaber.

You can equip two stances at once and swap between them mid-battle or even mid-combo. Some are better for speedy flourishes, like the double lightsaber, some are built for power, like the dual lightsaber, and then the Crossguard stance is ideal for slow, heavy attacks. Though, given how long attack animations often take, you’ll probably want to go for speed, so you can get those dodges and parries off without getting locked into a long animation.

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Generally, the combat isn’t as satisfying as I want it to be. Parrying still feels unclear against larger monsters, as they’ll never react to being parried, only your health will just simply not go down. As a result, I’m looking at my HP to ensure I’m doing okay more often than I am focusing on the battle. Fighting a group of enemies is frustrating in the early game too, before you unlock abilities to more easily take care of distant foes and group enemies together. It gets better, as games with skill trees always do, and thankfully you can reslot your skill points at any time – which you really should do to experiment with the highest level lightsaber skills available in each stance.

When you’ve got those high-level moves and are pulling off stunts only a trained Jedi can, combat shines, if briefly. And that applies to the game as a whole – when it is at its best, it’s full of setpieces, great action, and fun platforming sequences. At its worst, it’s a series of similar corridors and hallways – whether that’s in a ship or a rocky desert – where progress feels intensely slow and incremental. Hours can go by where you dedicate yourself to the critical path, and still feel like nothing much has actually happened, or little progress has been made.

Sliced up and condensed, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor could’ve been a linear and action-packed Star Wars adventure, but as it stands, it’s just too sparse. The truly great moments are found hidden between long stretches of running across a rocky wasteland while killing a few low-level Stormtroopers, and unless you’re truly dedicated to Cal’s adventure and the Star Wars universe, that won’t be enough to keep you from feeling bored.

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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is an improvement on Fallen Order, and while the highs are high, much of the game can feel monotonous or unsatisfying. One thing is certain: Respawn is inching closer than ever to making an excellent Star Wars game.

Score: 7/10

  • Story and narrative: 7/10
  • Technical performance: 6/10
  • Art: 7/10
  • Audio and music: 8/10
  • Mechanics and systems: 7/10

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor technical breakdown

While the game does include a Performance mode that targets 60fps, you’ll often see it drop far below that, and even below the range for VRR. So even if you’ve invested in a fancy display, it won’t entirely mitigate the problems Jedi: Survivor has with its framerate. It can also have a fairly picture quality in this mode at times as the resolution and upscaling attempt to cope with the framerate.

Despite that though, Jedi: Survivor plays very well, and a Quality mode toggle is present for anyone wishing for a more stable experience on consoles. Character physics and platforming also feels smoother and less “janky” than the original game, which is another plus.

Version tested: PS5