Since his appearance in the 2019 game Jedi: Fallen Order, Cal Kestis and his companions from the Mantis ship became one of the most beloved characters by fans of Star Wars. We couldn’t wait to see you on a new adventure. That wish came true much sooner than expected. Less than four years later —a great record considering the development times of this type of video game— Star Wars Jedi: Survivor came into our hands and in this review we will discover if it lives up to expectations.
Being an exclusive title for PC and current generation consoles, many expected a huge technical leap from its predecessor. In many ways it is, but it can also be disappointing in terms of performance. The new story is not bad at all and offers many epic and emotional moments, but we also felt that it had much more potential.
This story begins several years after the events of the first game. The crew of the Mantis ship have scattered across the galaxy following their own goals. Cal and BD-1 now work with Saw Gerrera in his fight against the Empire. But the young Jedi is frustrated with the few results they are achieving. While visiting his friend Greez in Koboh, Cal accidentally learns old secrets from the High Republic era and finally feels that he can make a difference. But in pursuing that dream, he risks losing himself to the Dark Side.
A galaxy full of nice faces
The greatest strength that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has is in its wonderful characters. Cal, BD-1, Cere, Greez and Merrin are just as charismatic as they were in Fallen Order. Now that they have followed their own dreams and know more about the galaxy, they are more interesting.
Of course, the biggest spotlight is on Cal. His obsession with reuniting his family, confronting the Empire, and his doubts about the future follow a well-known path in this kind of narrative. Fortunately, his personality and the relationship he has with his friends make him stand out positively.
There are also new faces that are quite nice. Ancient droid Zee, dramatic fisherman Skoova, scheming bounty hunter Caij Vanda, and clumsy Turgle—who plays the less irritating Jar Jar Binks—won our hearts. Some of them are tied to optional activities like gardening, collecting songs, collecting rewards, or playing on the holoboard.
It is a pity that more important characters for the plot are not so interesting. Cal’s new partner, Bode Akuna, only becomes relevant towards the end of the story. There is also a new villain that is a bit disappointing.
From the High Republic with love
It was a great success to tie the history of the video game with the era of the High Republic, which existed 200 years before the events of the films. This allows a wider audience to become familiar with a narrative space that has been explored almost exclusively in novels and comics. It’s a real treat for fans to get a look at the temples, uniforms, and characters from that era.
Dagan Gera was a character with a lot of potential. He is a High Republic Jedi who has been drawn to the Dark Side and awakens in a world very different from the one he left behind. It’s too bad he’s ultimately just a generic villain with boring motivations. One big positive about him is that he has a disability and that doesn’t stop him from being a challenge when we face him..
Fortunately, Dagan Gera’s obsession does work well on a thematic level. Like many other recent video games, the story of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is primarily about dueling. It not only refers to the pain we feel when we lose someone we love, but when we fail in a purpose or discover that something we always wanted is unattainable.. There are several characters who are carried away by rage and fear when that happens and that moves them to the Dark Side.
This game has a great thematic coherence, but despite that its plot is somewhat weak. The motivations of some key characters feel a bit forced and their reactions to some events don’t fit with the gravity of the situation. There are two cameos by popular Star Wars characters—one in-story and one at the end of an optional mission—that are nothing more than ‘fanservice’.
If the game’s story works, it’s thanks to the strength of its characters and its themes, not the plot itself. His development is not very good.
Elegant skills for a more civilized age
In this review we also want to emphasize the other great strength of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, its combat and movement systems. Controlling Cal Kestis is even more fun than in the previous game thanks to new combat stances, customization options, and starting the adventure with skills we learned in Fallen Order like double jumping and wall running..
The settings are designed to make the most of Cal’s abilities. Koboh and Jedah —which are semi-open worlds— are full of details and secrets that encourage us to explore every corner. The map does a fantastic job of letting us know which routes we can follow and which ones are blocked until we unlock a new ability.. The rewards are also a great incentive for exploration. Say goodbye to the ugly ponchos from the previous game. Here we have all kinds of new outfits, hairstyles, beard styles for Cal, colors and skins for BD-1. The different parts for the Lightsaber also return, but this time they are much more colorful.
We can also find improvements to health and Strength, as well as advantages with which we can make a ‘build’ according to our style of play. Some of these are found in High Republic chambers, puzzle sections that somewhat reminded us of the sanctuaries in Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Other locations we visit—such as Coruscant, Nova Garon, and the destroyed moon of Koboh—are more linear settings that put our platforming skills to the test. Despite the different biomes in Koboh—deserts, swamps, mountains, and abandoned bases— we miss more variety of worlds. Jedah, for example, is nothing more than a vast desert with some ruins that are too similar to each other. In general, there are many sections that do not serve to develop the plot or explore new playable possibilities, so they feel like filler.
Another issue we have with the gameplay, albeit a minor one, is the inability to switch between all stances at any time. We can only have two equipped and it is not possible to alternate them in the middle of a combo. We understand the reason for this. The developers probably wanted us to focus on just a couple of them and only change them if we lost a fight and wanted to use a more suitable one. It is true that we can overcome any combat with any pose, but we would have preferred a more open system.
The Dark Side of Ray Tracing
In this review we also have to talk about the most negative aspect of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, its lousy performance. We play on PlayStation 5 and there is no doubt that the game looks visually beautiful. Ray tracing is present in both performance and graphics quality modes and makes environments much more attractive, especially when there are bodies of water and reflective surfaces.
Sadly, that makes the game unable to maintain a stable fps (frames of animation per second) rate. In performance mode it is common to see 60 fps cut in half in certain parts of open arenas or when there are a lot of effects on screen. There is also a presence of ‘screen tearing’. Graphics quality mode is a bit more stable, but there are also constant drops below 30 fps.
I wish that was the only glitch in the game, but we found constant ‘bugs’, especially in the collision with geography, and we suffered from complete game crashes. We continued to encounter these issues even a week after its release, when Jedi: Survivor had already received a couple of patches. We also know that the situation for players on PC is not better..
We do not doubt that Respawn Entertainment is working to solve all this. Hopefully things will be much better by the time you read this review.
Is Star Wars: Jedi Survivor a good game?
Have you already looked at the rating we gave you? Despite what many may believe, a rating below 8/10 is not bad. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has a lot of problems, but none of that stopped us from spending 20+ very exciting and fun hours while preparing this review.. If you liked the first game, are a Star Wars fan, or want a Tomb Raider or Uncharted style title with better platforming, we highly recommend it.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor In Summary
It is true that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has many performance problems, that its narrative could be better and that it lacks some variety in its settings, but none of this prevented us from spending two dozen hours full of excitement and fun. Its fantastic combat system and level design that take full advantage of Cal Kestis’ abilities make it well worth the effort and some of the drawbacks are easy to ignore. If EA and Respawn manage to solve their technical problems through patches, we will not hesitate to consider it one of the best Star Wars games.