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May the 4th be with you all, and this is a good time to be a Star Wars fan (here I speak with some authority). Not only do we have several good TV shows to occupy ourselves and more on the way, but we also got a new Star Wars game. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is the follow-up to Fallen Order, an action-adventure title with Soulslike flavor and a lot of Star Wars fanservice. Jedi: Survivor is all of that and a bit more.
This isn’t a full review because I haven’t finished the game yet — honestly, I’ve been playing it to enjoy at a leisurely pace rather than to get through the story. Well, that and I had to do battle with this game’s horrendous PC port before I could play. So this will be more of my impressions of Jedi: Survivor so far. And since I’m not beholden to making something timeless, I can complain a bit about the tech issues the game suffered from for the first few days.
The journey to playtime
I won’t bore everyone with a minute and overly dramatic retelling of how my PCs (yes, multiple) and I struggled just to get Jedi: Survivor working. I’ll keep this relatively brief. Long story short: It started with the download. I played on PC and it basically downloaded in bursts. The Steam progress bar looked like a cutout of a mountain range. I downloaded it on both my home and work PCs to test it, and this was the same across both PCs, despite the fact they have separate internet connections.
I’ll take the blame for the initial graphical slowdown — I neglected to undertake my usual practice of fiddling with the graphics settings for 20 minutes before playing. So sitting through the opening cutscene took quite some time — and by the way, why is the cutscene of what is basically Cal Kestis taking a cab ride scored like it’s an epic battle?
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Anyway, I would have forgiven the game all of this were it not for the fact that the game crashed on my work PC when I tried to adjust any of the graphics settings. When I first started playing the game, it would crash when I tried to tweak any of them, and they were locked at Epic to begin with. By the time the first patch rolled out, it was just crashing if I tried to turn off ray tracing. That eventually tapered off with a driver update, though the game still doesn’t run well on my work PC.
Most of these problems vanished a few days after launch. Also, I managed to get the game to run perfectly on my home gaming PC, which I built — though I did have to scale the games back to medium settings, but I will take that in exchange for surpassing 30fps. I still have the strange downloading issue with the gargantuan patches, but it seems that I finally won the battle against Jedi: Survivor’s PC port.
So is Jedi: Survivor good?
One of my major complaints about Fallen Order is that, despite it being set in one of the most fraught, desperate times in the Star Wars timeline, the story is about something pretty irrelevant. For lack of a better way of putting it, the majority of it was more of a Tomb Raider game than it was about a desperate former Padawan trying to hide from an Empire that wants to erase him.
In Jedi: Survivor, the story makes more of an effort to focus on the immediacy of Cal’s dilemma. Given that he can no more stop using the Force than he can hack off his own limb, it’s very difficult for him to hide from the Empire. When he gets a line on what might the ultimate hideaway — a lost planet protected by a treacherous stretch of space — he leaps at the thought that he could help himself and other Force users dying under the Empire’s watch.
Jedi: Survivor has also solidified one of my opinions: Cal Kestis is one of my favorite new Star Wars characters. He’s no Grogu, but he’s up there. The sequel gives him a bit more room to show his personality, as he’s no longer in a breathless race against a dogged adversary to obtain a mystical artifact. Well, he is, but he’s more sedate about it than he was in the last game. One of the things I like most about him is that he treats the droids in the Star Wars universe like sentient beings, having banter with some and showing concern if they’re mistreated. Cal’s just a good egg, and I want to see him succeed.
Another thing I appreciate is the art design. Survivor has a more space western aesthetic to it sometimes — Cal hooks his thumbs in his belt often during cutscenes, for example. This is reflected in the design of the main hub on Koboh, which has a “this town ain’t big enough” kinda vibe. It’s not the first time Star Wars has gone Western, but I always appreciate it when they do.
I still have some leftover problems with the gameplay. For starters, I think they should junk the Soulslike elements. I get it — Soulslikes are very popular. But the enemies respawning whenever you top up your health at a checkpoint doesn’t really make sense to me in-game. Also, while they’ve added more layers to the lightsaber combat, any time I hit an enemy while playing one of the faster styles it doesn’t feel like I connect. Those are problems, but they don’t diminish my enjoyment of the game that much.
I’m also not sold on some of the game’s antagonists. Say what you will about the Second Sister in the previous game, but at least she had a straightforward motive. I’m not exactly sure yet what the villains of this game are trying to achieve. Also, I won’t spoil, but one character turns on Cal so fast that it left my head spinning. I actually wondered what it was I missed, because I had no idea what his problem was with me and my Jedi friend.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a great game so far, and I look forward to seeing how it shapes up as I finish the second half. It feels good to be playing a Star Wars game right now — well, post-PC issues, that is.
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