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    dkirschner's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PC)

    [June 10, 2021 07:04:56 AM]
    This shattered my expectations. My little Star Wars obsessed brother had been talking it up and I played half an hour at his house recently and got more interested. My first impressions were, "Wow, this feels like Dark Souls with a light saber." The basic combat controls and the flow of combat are similar. As I played more, I thought, "Wow, this feels like Tomb Raider too," because you spend a lot of time with solid environmental puzzles (really, some of these were head-scratchers! great puzzle difficulty) and exploring tombs. Then, as the game really gets rolling, I realized this was an excellent, unique Star Wars game with smart influences.

    I'm not big into Star Wars. I like it, but stopped paying attention when Disney started rolling movies out every year. My knowledge of it was enough to understand basically where the story fit into the timeline though. It's interesting how Star Wars can take for granted that most people will be at least somewhat familiar with its world, story, and characters, and I try to imagine what the game would be like for someone with zero background in the franchise. It would still be fun, but would probably lack depth (and I know I missed depth, compared to my brother for example, who was going on and on about events and things as I blankly nodded along).

    The story this game tells is compelling. You play as Cal, a force user who escaped the Jedi purge (when the Empire activated all the clones to kill their Jedi masters). Cal has been in hiding but uses the Force to save a friend, which is detected by the Empire, and the Inquisitors come to hunt you for the rest of the game as you go on the run with some trusty crew on the trail of an old Jedi master who was looking to restore the order.

    You'll travel from planet to planet on this quest and for me the game got better as it went along. At first, it felt slow. I was getting used to the controls (admittedly, I've only completed one Soulsborne game and wasn't great at it) and the characters mostly seemed like cardboard cutouts. It took time for their personalities and stories to emerge and for me to care about them, and in the end I enjoyed their growth.

    Another reason it felt slow at first is because on the first planet, I discovered a special enemy, some three-eyed frog boss. There is maybe one of these bosses per planet. This thing annihilated me. Remember, I had just started and was learning the controls and basic combat mechanics. Well, like in Dark Souls, when you die, you lose your experience. Sort of. Your experience stays with the enemy that killed you and you can get it back by landing an attack on that enemy. If you die before you attack the enemy, your experience is gone for good. But, this is a generous system! Only one time did I die before recovering my experience. To the frog boss, I died about 30 times. So within my first few hours of playing, half of my time was spent on this frog boss. This made me think, "My god, this game is going to be hard, and I'm only playing on normal." But 30 deaths later, I had gotten pretty damn good at dodging, targeting, slowing time, attacking, reading the frog boss, and I killed it. It felt awesome. I never died that much again, though there were plenty of difficult encounters that required several attempts (the first time I fought some of the Purge Trooper varieties and the Second Sister in particular).

    The first planet also introduces you to the level design, which I think can be described as "sprawling and complex." There are a lot of obstacles that you can systematically pass throughout the game as you gain new abilities, and on that first planet, I spent a lot of time trying to get to places that I didn't have the abilities to get to yet. I wish I had known that there was no way to get that chest! (I never did figure out how to get that chest.) Paths connect in surprising ways and there are a lot of shortcuts to open.

    Some of the planets you visit look incredible, and some have like self-contained stories. On Kashyyyk, you help resistance fighters in your search for a special wookie, and fight through a giant forest, with a badass set piece and boss fights at the end (set pieces and boss fights are exhilarating throughout). On Dathomir, my favorite, you learn about the history of the Night Sisters and Night Brothers who live(d) there, what's become of them, and meet some really strong characters.

    By the time you get to explore Dathomir for real (you can go earlier in the game I think, but I skipped it early and just went later when you have to), you'll have unlocked all your Force abilities and most other abilities. The Force abilities make the game stand out among its influences. They are really fun to use, and you can get a bit creative with them. Storm Troopers serve as wonderful fodder to abuse, and when I realized that I could Force Push them off cliffs, I never stopped smiling when I did it. The best was when I pushed four of them off at once. Running around deflecting blaster bolts, pulling enemies toward you and impaling them, switching your light saber from a single blade to a double blade to take on groups, and doing all the other badass things that Jedi do never, ever got old. And, by the end of the game, you probably will have gotten most everything on the skill tree.

    I did a good amount of exploring and took my time admiring the planets and killing all of their inhabitants. Exploration in this game rewards you nicely with experience, which is always a motivating factor for me. It also rewards you with information and lore (neat), secrets (rare but useful, increase life and Force) and chests (so, so many chests). I think the chests are like a fan service because, besides giving some experience, they all just have cosmetic items in them so that you can customize your clothing, ship paint, lightsaber parts, and so on. I care nothing for any of that, so the fact that there are SO MANY chests (literally over 40 on some planets) was disappointing. I would have liked more of the story/lore collectibles than the customization ones. That's about the only minor gripe I have.

    Highly, highly recommend this one. I like it even better than Nier: Automata, which I thought was going to be the Best of Summer when I started. Nope, quickly displaced by Fallen Order!

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    Status

    dkirschner's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Saturday 5 June, 2021

    GameLog closed on: Thursday 10 June, 2021

    Opinion
    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Dark Souls-y. Good, challenging combat so far! Killer set pieces. ---------- Incredible. Great story, challenging puzzles, loved it.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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