Everyone’s favorite is back: BD-1, babyyyyyyy. Oh, and Cal Kestis, the Mantis, and the others, too. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor brings back Cal and his crew (kind of) for a new adventure that mixes in some of Star Wars’ latest lore in a fun and exciting way. The last game was solid, but suffered from combat and repetition issues. Let’s dive into whether Survivor is stronger with the Force than Fallen Order was. For the most part, yes!
What’s It About?
Survivor takes place five years after the events of Fallen Order. The Mantis crew has gone their separate ways to find their places in the galaxy, with Cal’s being with Saw Guerrera’s group, fighting the Empire tooth and nail. When a mission on Coruscant goes awry and leaves Cal with only one team member left, mercenary Bode Akuna, he’s forced to seek out his old crew and bring them back together for a much more serious fight.
Cal’s search for parts turns into accidentally unleashing a Jedi from the High Republic, Dagan Gera, from his bacta status. Naturally, Dagan wasn’t the nicest one to find, and his desire to find a hidden planet and rebuild an order to displace the Empire and dominate the galaxy. To stop him, Cal gets Greez, Merrin, Cere, and new allies together for a long story with plenty of excitement and twists.
Why Should I Care?
In almost every sense, Survivor is a marked improvement over Fallen Order. There are enhancements all over the place, from combat, the map, fast travel, cooperation with your team, and even customization options for Cal, BD, and your weapons. Still, the game suffers from a lot going on that stops key areas, such as combat and story pacing, from achieving absolute greatness.
Combat and traversal was the most frustratingly exciting duo of everything. In many ways, it was so much fun to fight and move around. The lightsaber options were solid and it wasn’t so hard to generate Skill Points to unlock enhanced abilities for my preferences (a double-bladed + dual wield saber combination with Force abilities focused on health, Force capacity, and telekinesis). It played smoothly, particularly when building up combinations, and it was super fun to destroy enemies with a lightsaber or throw them off cliffs. The same goes for traveling around. Fast travel was one of the best additions to the game because it removed a ton of backtracking that I absolutely couldn’t stand in Fallen Order. Most locations also weren’t nearly as confusing to navigate, though that popped up from time to time. But with all that said, it was still easy to be incredibly frustrated. Well-timed parries were rendered meaningless when you’d get smashed anyway, or the game would nullify your attempt by having four other enemies shooting at you and you wouldn’t have an opportunity to block it without making yourself open to the melee attack you were trying to prevent. Or, when scaling buildings or cliffs, simply falling off? I’d press no buttons and simply just fall off. Or a jump would just erratically go much more left than I want, or not nearly long enough. I lost more health points to just falling off a cliff than to almost anything else.
One of the newer gameplay features is fighting with your team members, meaning Bode or Merrin. It’s a great option and can definitely help you get out of a jam, but I would have liked to have seen this get more attention. Some missions allow you to bring either of them, but Merrin is the only one that joins you during free roam on a single planet. With some story adjustments, I feel there could have been much better value out of this feature and it would have enhanced the story along the way. I enjoyed most of the story, but it doesn’t feel as tight as Fallen Order. With Survivor, the inclusion of High Republic lore is nice and gives some fresher life into the franchise (particularly if you haven’t dived into the comics or books, like I haven’t). But the game just would not end. Some missions would take a couple hours to complete, not even out of difficulty, but because there was so much involved. Then it got into a situation where it seemed like ok, that’s it, the game is over. Then it did it again. Then it did it again. AND AGAIN. They made some fine choices, and some odd ones, but it felt more like a chore than I was expecting. However, it does succeed in giving good dives into the core characters and showing growth within Cal. This game succeeded in making me care more about him as a character, which Fallen Order didn’t do as much for me.
There are some other tasks and quests throughout the game that are fun to go through and I liked revisiting after I beat the game. Some payoffs were worth it, expanding my Force or Health capacity, or adding to BD’s slicing. Others were simply for cosmetic purposes, which was fine. I had enough fun putting together a preferred look for Cal and my lightsaber, but the best was BD-1’s color scheme (a nice dark purple with black accents). The weapon customizations are among the weakest, as it’s hard to see much beyond the blade color and emitter. It’s easy enough to skip, as are some tasks, like gardening. I really did not care for the gardening, but collecting fish was worth it if only to get more time with Scuba Steve, or, uh, Skoova Steve and his wild stories. And Turgle. We stan Turgle, along with most everyone else.
The last item to touch upon here is the game’s performance reliability. It’s a fairly large game and tends to be stable, but be mindful of crashes. I had the game completely crash four times and freeze one other time. When it crashed, I normally lost all progress since my last visit to a meditation point, even though it seemed like completing a quest would have auto-saved, but no. It wasn’t an incredibly prevalent issue, but happened often enough in key moments that it made me scared of whether it would happen. It’s not the best feeling.
What Makes This Worth My Time and Money?
If you want to beat up on a lot of enemies with a lightsaber and the Force, then it’s worth it for that because you get to do a lot of it. The game has its frustrations and relies on stretching out the story too much, but ultimately gives a good experience that will leave you with some morality questions. Survivor is a solid improvement over Fallen Order and gives a great and desirable opportunity to finish up Cal’s story with one more game.