Platforms: PC, PS5 (reviewed), Xbox Series X/S
Release Date: April 28, 2023
The force is strong with Star Wars: Jedi Survivor. This sequel to 2019’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has everything that made its predecessor great while offering new gameplay elements and further developing the main character’s quest. It’s a rousing action-adventure game that reminded me why I fell in love with Star Wars in the first place.
Jedi Survivor is significant on two fronts. It’s arguably the least divisive piece of Star Wars media since it gives fans exactly what they expect from the franchise. Secondly, it’s only available for current-gen systems. Though it has some technical issues, Jedi Fallen Order takes advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X’s hardware to deliver a true “next-gen” experience.
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor is one of 2023’s best releases and the best Star Wars game yet. Read my full review to find out why.
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor review: Story
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor takes place several years after Jedi: Fallen Order. As before, you play as Cal Kestis as he continues his ongoing battle against the Galactic Empire and his quest to reunite the surviving Jedi. Cal’s obsession to complete these goals caused his comrades from the previous game to go their separate ways. Now, Cal — along with his trusted droid BD-1 — must bring them back together to stop a new threat to the galaxy.
The story has the same thrills and massive setpieces the Star Wars franchise is known for. Though the narrative is darker than usual Star Wars fare, there are still plenty of moments of levity thanks to some of the sillier aliens and droids you run into. The plot expands what we know about the Jedi and reveals some of the events that happened between Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope. It’s a crucial story for those invested in the new Star Wars lore established since Disney purchased the series.
While there are big stakes involved, Jedi Survivor’s narrative is anchored by Cal’s personal journey and his relationships. This is exemplified in the gameplay during sections where you’re joined by a companion. Both the writing and voice acting are earnest and make the fantastical characters feel believable. This further enhances Jedi Survivor’s cinematic quality.
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor review: Gameplay
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor retains the same basic gameplay of the original. As an action-adventure game, it has a balanced mix of combat, platforming, exploration and puzzles. You’re never engaged in any one activity for long, which ensures that things never get boring or repetitive.
As a Jedi, you’ll fight enemies with your trusted lightsaber. The lightsaber can cut foes down but it can also be used to deflect blaster shots. Striking feels good and impactful, as does parrying and deflecting. Once you master the basics, you'll feel like a real Jedi.
There are various lightsabers and stances, each of which is useful for dealing with different situations. For example, a double-bladed lightsaber is best for battling multiple foes while the cross-guard blade is perfect for one-on-one encounters. You can switch lightsabers on the fly, which is great when opponents change their attack patterns.
As you defeat enemies and progress through the game, you’ll earn skill points, which you can use to unlock new abilities within the game’s skill trees. This includes new lightsaber attacks, force powers and more. Each skill tree has multiple branches and you can unlock skills to suit your particular play style. You can focus on defense and attack if you like dispensing enemies at close range. Conversely, unlocking force powers gives you abilities like force push or mind control. I dabbled in everything, but the ability to be specific with your upgrades is appreciated.
Like the Dark Souls games that Jedi Survivor takes its inspiration from, enemies respawn when you rest at the various meditation points scattered across the levels. If you die, you’ll return to the last meditation point you visited. You’ll also get a chance to take out the enemy that killed you to retrieve whatever experience points you had when you died. Foes are also tougher than in a normal action-adventure game. As such, it’s best to strike deliberately and not button mash. These light “Soulsborne” aspects are one of the game’s highlights, though these elements aren’t as refined as in Elden Ring, for example.
When you’re not chopping baddies in half, you’ll traverse the world using your Jedi abilities. You’ll climb mountains and buildings or use a tether to swing over large gaps. Platforming sections are reminiscent of those seen in games like Uncharted and Tomb Raider, only with force powers mixed in for good measure. Some are also quite challenging, especially when you’re trying to reach a seemingly unreachable treasure chest.
Speaking about exploration, each of the worlds you visit is expansive. It’s a real joy finding shortcuts that help you easily access previously visited areas. Exploring is almost always worth your time as you’ll find treasure boxes or other loot that rewards you with customization items, tech or relics used for bartering and more. While each planet is large, you won’t feel overwhelmed exploring them, thanks to a handy map system that keeps you on the right track.
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor review: Customization
Jedi Survivor doesn’t skimp on customization options. Sure, customization is merely cosmetic, but if you want add some flair to Cal's style, you’ll have a field day here.
You can adorn Cal with a variety of different outfits and even give him different hair and beard styles. There are different lightsaber hilts and even various colors for the blade. You can even customize your droid companion’s appearance.
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor review: Visuals and sound
Jedi Survivor runs on the last-gen Unreal Engine 4, but that doesn’t prevent it from featuring jaw-dropping graphics. This is no doubt due to the fact the game is only available on current-gen systems and can therefore take advantage of their respective hardware. The previous game looked fantastic but its sequel manages to outdo it in the visual department.
Whether it’s a lush alien forest or an abandoned lunar colony, every environment brims with detail. The same holds true for all of the friendly and not-so-friendly aliens you encounter. It really feels like you’re in the middle of a Star Wars movie. I experienced some technical hiccups inherent to the Unreal Engine; namely some pop-in from the environment and textures not loading, but I’m sure future patches can remedy this.
The John Williams-inspired soundtrack also makes the game feel authentically Star Wars. There’s a good mix of new tracks specific to this title along with classic motifs. Sound design is also exceptional and true to its source. Hearing laser blasts or a lightsaber igniting instantly makes you recall the movies.
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor review: Verdict
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor is one of the best games of 2023 so far. It delivers solid gameplay, a captivating story and stunning visuals. Though it’s admittedly more of what we got in 2019, it’s hard to complain about something that’s so expertly crafted and satisfying to play. Once some of the visual issues I experienced are ironed out, this will be an almost flawless game.
With mixed reactions to recent Star Wars-related media, Star Wars: Jedi Survivor stands as a beacon of hope for the popular franchise. It gives fans and players exactly what they want — namely fun Jedi-focused adventures in a beloved galaxy far, far away. If you’ve been disappointed by Mandalorian season 3 or feel Andor went too dark, Jedi Survivor provides a suitable palate cleanser. This is what Star Wars is about.