Updated: Dec 4, 2020
SPOILER WARNING - This post contains a TON of spoilers. I have spoken.
When I was thinking about what I wanted to write regarding Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, I really wanted to avoid the typical review format. One morning, I was in a Slack chat with a friend who is currently playing through the game and he brought up a particularly defining moment when I realized what I wanted to write about. I realized I wanted to write about how much I loved the story. This story was pieced together with fantastic pacing. Each big moment paid off incredibly well in a very satisfying way. I do have a few critiques here and there but I really just wanted to express my love for the game.
Jedi Fallen Order was exactly what I wanted from a Star Wars story. I loved the game and the story it told. Sure, Fallen Order feels very familiar. That’s because it’s a melting pot of previously executed, successful game mechanics and story arcs. The way I described the game to my friends was Jedi Uncharted meets Dark Souls. Even though Fallen Order is a giant mix of previously applied game mechanics from other games, it still feels like a breath of fresh air for the Star Wars franchise. I always thought that the new Disney movie trilogy tried to do too much when it came to telling their story. The movies had way too many things going on for far too many characters. This led to a barely there emotional attachment to any of the main characters and underdeveloped, underused characters like Captain Phasma. Jedi Fallen Order did not have this problem. There is only one main character, Cal Kestis. A Jedi padawan in hiding just trying to stay alive who inevitably embarks on an amazing journey that reaches the various worlds of the Star Wars Universe. The story starts off by letting the player know that these are tough times. It’s been roughly five years since the infamous Order 66. The opening cutscene shows a thunderous planet Bracca littered with fallen destroyer ships which help provide a somber feeling of where we are currently in this Star Wars story.
The beginning was a perfect way to prepare the player for the journey and story that is about to unfold. It is here we meet the jarring yet powerful villains of the story, Trilla Sudari the Second Sister and Masana Tide the Ninth Sister, both who were once Jedi Padawans but were forcefully turned to the dark side via some form of torture indoctrination. In a scene where the Sisters are trying to find this rumored Jedi in hiding on Bracca, Cal witnesses one of his friends named Prauf ruthlessly executed. What makes this particular scene somewhat emotional is Prauf trying to protect Cal by selflessly standing up by calling out the Empire on their callous treatment of workers. It’s very emotional, very tragic, and very powerful.
These opening moments do a tremendous job preparing the player by setting the tone of the Star Wars story that is about to unfold.
Cal Kestis is voiced by Cameron Monaghan who does a mostly decent job with his voiceover work for the character. I do think that Cal is a bit boring and feels pretty generic. This is my only gripe, albeit minor, when considering the grand scheme of the entire game. He has the power to experience the past of an object's owner by using the force. This is utilized very well as a storytelling tool. At one point, Trilla knows this and throws her lightsaber for Cal to catch which leads to a flashback cutscene in which we see from Trilla’s perspective, being tortured and ultimately turning to the dark side directly in front of Cere. It was one of my favorite moments of the game. Cal is joined by a small crew which includes his cute little sidekick droid, BD-1. His main crew is Greez Dritus and Cere Junda who fly around on their ship aptly named the Mantis. In the final act you are joined by a sorceress from Dathomir named Merrin.
Cere Junda is voiced by Debra Wilson who pretty much provides the most powerful performance of any character within the game. Her story is one of extreme loss and sadness. Once a Jedi Knight, she wound up being caught and giving up her padawan’s location. Her padawan was Trilla Suduri who is also known as the Second Sister. In one particularly compelling scene. The empire forces Cere to witness Trilla succumb to the dark side. Cere is overcome with emotion and we see just how powerful she was with the force. Cere rips her self from the bondage of the empire torture machine and gets away. After that she decides to cut herself off from the force which presents itself as a pseudonym for the questioning of faith. The scenes of torture are little rough but nothing like say the Saw movies. In the final mission, Cere shows off her ability which is such an amazing sight to see. The build up to the mission that takes place throughout the entire game, pays off extremely well.
Greez is voiced by Daniel Roebuck. The large headed, four armed alien is impressively animated by the Respawn team. He has a huge mouth and four arms which are animated to near perfection during his cutscenes. Greez likes to crack jokes, he previously had a gambling problem, and is thrusted into the story as the reluctant side kick that is there to provide some comedic relief. I really enjoyed his nonchalant attitude. It provided a nice break from the heavy handedness of the story. He worked for Cere during the Clone Wars and pilots the ship named The Mantis. His character and role works with Cal and Cere fairly well as far as dialogue is concerned. He seems to be there just enough that he doesn’t annoy you. I actually think it would have been nice to have had a little more Greez.
Trilla, the Second Sister is voiced by Elizabeth Grullon who gives a chilling performance as the main protagonist. Her snarky and condescending delivery provides a feeling of warranted overconfidence. She’s a tortured soul. Once a Jedi padawan now a pawn of the evil empire who's only job is to hunt down Jedi in hiding. She’s ruthless yet beautiful. I think the only issue with her character is she’s basically a cookie cutter bad guy. Tragic backstory? Check. Clever monologging? Check. Seemingly impossible to defeat? Check. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because I think her performance out shines the clichés. By the end of the game you get to see her begin to lose it to some extent. The years of personal conflict beginning to finally grab a hold of her and break her down.
In the early part of the game we find Cal and company on the planet of Kashyyyk which is currently fighting off the empire. From the moment of landing on the planet, as Cal, the player is able to climb one of the famous AT-ATs and commandeer the walker. This was such a cool moment because I can’t ever really remember being this up close and personal with an AT-AT in any movie or game. Cal eventually gets inside and the player gets to actually pilot one it! After getting control, Cal shoots down another AT-AT. Eventually we meet Saw Gerrera who you may remember from Rogue One. The piloting of the AT-AT is short lived because an empire ship that Cal shoots down crashes into him. The fact that the AT-AT is such an iconic Star Wars thing made this moment so satisfying in the end.
One of the most impactful and emotional scenes happens during a flashback to Cal as a much younger padawan being trained by Jedi Master Jaro Tapal. In the middle of a training exercise, Cal is speaking with Jar when he suddenly is hit with a bout of dizziness. As Jaro holds his head, we can see behind him that a clone trooper is receiving Order 66 from the Emperor. As the trooper readied his blaster, Jaro quickly recovers from his dizzy spell and kills the trooper with two fast lightsaber swings. As a young Cal, the player is forced to run to the escape pods as they know something terrible has happened. During this escape, the Star Wars dramatic orchestral music thumps as the iconic empire siren blares in the background. In the middle of all this, you can watch from above while in the vents as Jaro hacks and slashes through clone troopers. At one point there is a scene where behind a window, Cal sees Jaro chop, stab, spin, and force pull his way through them. It was just a great series of events that lead to the dramatic and tragic final scene. As Jaro is fighting off clone troopers waiting for Cal to get the escape pod doors open, he’s hit with multiple blasts. Cal freezes them with the force and they escape together. Young Cal is helpless and can do nothing but hold his master and watch him die. The reason this scene is so heartbreaking is because it helps explain Cal’s struggles as he has been blaming himself for the death of his Master. This moment was one of the best in the game by far.
The biggest payoff was the ending. In the end, Cal defeats Trilla after a dubious and difficult boss fight. Cere winds up facing Trilla and admitting to her that she had failed her. The somber moment is felt throughout this scene thanks to the performances by each actress. Years of hatred that filled Trilla began to subdue when she finally was able to realize the pain and responsibility Cere had felt. In that last moment of Trilla’s realization, she begins to choke and the sound of heavy footsteps can be heard. With the sound of deep bass vibrating we see from above, Darth Vader appears. Trilla is cut down from behind and killed. Cere tries to jump and attack but with one simply swipe of his hand, like a human brushing off an annoying bug, Darth Vader swats her with the force and she falls off the platform to her demise or so we thought at that time. This was the one time that I could ever recall when Darth Vader’s true power of the force is shown. He’s blocking giant pieces of metal structure with one hand, lifting the metal floor piece by piece and sending them
Fallen Order is a fantastic game and the story is a huge reason for that. Yes, the combat is crisp and super satisfying. Yes, graphically it looks fantastic. It’s the story that genuinely made me fall in love with the game. Partly because I was so disappointed with Episode 8 and Episode 9 and partly because we just haven’t seen a good single player Star Wars game since what, The Force Unleashed 1 and 2? Those games were fun and entertaining but were never considered canon. Fallen Order’s story is one hundred percent canon. I’m really excited to see how Disney decides to tie this into the main story or even maybe a movie. I’m pretty convinced there will be a sequel given how the game ended. Respawn did such an amazing job with Fallen Order that it has easily become one of my favorite Star Wars stories since probably Rogue One.
What did you all think of Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order? Let me know in the comments below!