The journey is the rewardPreface
I’m writing this review after finishing the game on ‘Jedi Master’ difficulty. I spent around 35hrs in my first playthrough. Unlocked all but one achievement, due to the holo map bug.
Currently on my second playthrough on ‘Jedi Grand Master’. Totaling approx. 45hrs.
I am not a native English speaker, so please excuse for any mishaps in that regard.
A bit on my background. The first movie I watched in theatres was the original ‘Return of the Jedi’ as a 10-year-old. I played X-Wing, Rebel Assault, KotoR, Jedi Academy, Force Unleashed I&II, all LEGO Star Wars games, original Battlefront I&II, Battlefront I&II relaunch. Naturally, I watched all movies and the shows available in my area and read quite a bit about the lore.
I guess it’s fair to say I’m kind of a Star Wars nerd, given there are lots of people that know way more about the lore than me.
I broke down my review in story, gameplay and visuals/audio. I try not to spoil anything major, unless marked.Story
The story is, in my view, the single best narrative ever to be featured in a Star Wars game. Why? Well first because it takes place within the canon. You stumble across so many things you heard or watched before - names, places and events. And I’m not only talking about the major events like ‘Order 66’.
The game puts you on a path to become a Jedi and manages to make it feel just like that. When you think of the struggles Luke Skywalker had to go through, the game does an excellent job to resemble this journey.
In the end it is still about good versus evil, but here the journey is the reward.Gameplay
Light saber fights feel EXTREMELY satisfying once you learn the important things. Those things being parry and dodge. You won’t enjoy the fights just trying to hack and slay through enemies. You’ll get hit often and you are going to die as many times by going berserk. As Yoda put it ‘A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.’ Once you know how to effectively use your skills, the fights will be so enjoyable that you hardly pass on any enemies.
I found the learning curve a bit steep in the first 1 or 2 hours of actual missions, but if you hang on, it’ll get more and more enjoyable.
Boss fights can be tough if you come unprepared. Meaning you should spent some time getting important upgrades and learn to master your skills. It never broke continuity for me to take side paths and ignore the main objectives for a while.
Traversing the planets involves a lot of parkour, getting to all the collectibles even more. The good thing though is that there is quite some room for errors. You don’t have to time all jumps perfectly within milliseconds; the game is pretty generous in that regard.
The game takes inspirations from Dark Souls, Tomb Raider and, at least for me, also from Assassin’s Creed. The combat takes a lot from Dark Souls without being a pain in the behind, the save point system is similar as well. Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed definitely come to mind when parkouring and the fights also remind me of Odyssey’s melee.
The use of force is what makes this game unique though. The force, as we know, surrounds us and everything constantly. When in combat, while parkouring and during your explorations of the different planets. You won’t be able to complete missions, get all collectibles or simply go from A to B without the force. This is the true Jedi feeling.
There is no fast travel. And that is a good thing. It supports the idea of having to overcome everything this universe throws at you. Forgot to grab a single chest in the farthest corner of a map? Well you need to get there on your own. No magic fast travel, no way to beam (different universe). One could argue that this is only due to the fact that the developers were lazy and tried to artificially stretch playtime. Could be. But I take it as part of the journey this young padawan must take. There is actually one spot that has fast travel, but it’s part of the story and therefore plausible.
Customization is limited to light saber, part of your clothing, your companion and the ship. That’s it and I am more than happy with this. For me, it would simply break the immersion if you’d be able to wear, let’s say Luke’s outfit or dress up as a storm trooper. The customization is always authentic. Paint jobs for your companion is something that fits the story unlike wearing Lando’s cape would be.Visuals & Audio
The game looks amazing. But to be honest, this has never been a major selling point for me. I still play games from 10 or 15 years back, obviously not for the graphics but for the story. If you are into stunning visuals, I think it’s fair to say that this game does an excellent job.
More important to me are music and voice acting. In those regards, the game knocked it out of the park. The music could as well have been created by the great John Williams. The composers took the original themes and created some unique variations yet still connected to the movies. Whether you are traversing the planets or in combat, the soundtrack just fits any given situation and environment.
Voice acting delivers the complete range from dramatic to funny without being stupid at any point. Named enemies and your crew deliver something new every time you face or meet them. Other NPC’s are limited to certain lines, which is nothing I would really complain about.Conclusion
The game delivers in every aspect. Great story, exciting gameplay, awesome visuals and audio. There are bugs, of course. I ran into a couple, nothing game breaking though. The holo map bug is annoying for any achievement hunter, yet I ‘plan’ to avoid that one in my second playthrough.
I would rate the game a 4.7 out of 5, there are some technical issues and some parts of the open world just don’t fit the universe, looking at you mud slides.
Yet for me this is still the game of the year.