‘Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’: Two steps forward, one step back



Caption – Cal Kestis fighting a lightsaber wielding enemy shown in the trailers for Jedi: Survivor.

Brian Vera, Staff writer

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the long awaited sequel to Jedi: Fallen Order that was released Apr. 28, 2023 for Windows, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. Survivor offers a superior experience with its combat, customization, and exploration, but it does not live up to the story of Fallen Order and the performance is lacking for a game made for the latest generation of video game systems, especially with its $70 price tag.

Taking place five years after the first installment, Cal Kestis, played by Cameron Monaghan, has continued his fight against the Galactic Empire without the Mantis crew. When he discovers a hidden planet that could protect those who are persecuted by the Empire, Cal and the crew of the Mantis must be together once more to race against a mysterious Jedi from the past who wants the planet for himself.

The story of Jedi: Survivor is minimal with sparse cutscenes, preventing the new characters from having any breathing room for the players to connect, especially with the antagonists. It was not until the third act of the game that the story became interesting, with big moments for the original Mantis crew and new character Bode Akuna.

Combat is largely the same with its hack-and-slash style, but the difficulty in Jedi: Survivor is contrived, overwhelming the player with many enemies at once. This would not be an issue if it were not for an update to dodging. Instead of performing a roll that recovers quickly, Cal now does a lunge that staggers him for a moment, leaving him very vulnerable to follow up attacks without the ability to dodge them.

Three new styles of attack are introduced, along with the single and double-bladed lightsaber forms returning. Dual-wielding lightsabers are now its own form rather than a special attack, being a fast and aggressive style of play. The crossguard is the opposite of dual wielding, attacking and guarding is very slow but rewarding with its high damage. Each style has its strengths depending on what enemy is being dealt with, making the player experiment with each stance to find the best one for a given situation.

New force powers are also introduced, with highlights being lift, slam, and confusion. Lift and slam can be used on objects in the environment to enter new areas or in combat as a way to prevent enemies from moving. Confusion, a staple ability in Star Wars, is used on enemies to make them attack each other. These abilities, just like Force push and pull could in Fallen Order, can be upgraded in the skill tree to make them more powerful.

Environments in Fallen Order always looked unnatural, being structured more like video game levels with linear paths and oddly placed structures for the players to travel across. The level design in Survivor makes each planet feel like actual locations instead of a video game, creating a more immersive experience.

Two planets in particular are unlike anything in Fallen Order. They are large, open levels filled with non-player characters (NPCs). Some NPCs have shops that have cosmetic items or new abilities in exchange for collectible items found across every planet. Other NPCs offer side quests that lead to treasure or other rewards.

Occasionally, the game would even crash when loading in the bigger levels. The performance of the game is disappointing when playing on a powerful machine like the PS5…

This review is based on the PS5 version of the game. Unfortunately, the PS5 version has noticeable frame drops when exploring larger areas and long load times when exiting certain buildings. Occasionally, the game would even crash when loading in the bigger levels. The performance of the game is disappointing when playing on a powerful machine like the PS5, but it is still playable.

Cosmetic customization has greatly expanded in comparison to the first game. Instead of the options being limited to ponchos, players are now able to change Cal’s hair and clothing, along with the ability to customize the individual parts of BD-1 and Cal’s weapons. The increased amount of options let players make Cal more of their own character.

Although Jedi: Survivor evolved the exploration, combat stances and abilities, it falls short on its story and balancing of challenge in comparison to the first installment of the series.