The dust has long settled, given that EA’s Star Wars title, Jedi – Fallen Order is now not far off four years old.

Not to mention the fact that it’s recently been graced with a well-received sequel, with Jedi – Survivor proving to be both a critical and commercial success thus far.

Which makes it the perfect time to revisit and review what worked and what didn’t quite succeed in the original game.

Set between movies Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope – taking place roughly five years after the former – the story of Jedi – Fallen Order concentrates on Cal Kestis, a survivor of Order 66’s Jedi purge.

Cal is just trying to live a normal life, working as a scrapper on the planet Bracca, where he’s part of a crew salvaging ships from the Clone Wars.

When an Imperial Probe Droid catches Cal using the Force to save a friend from a fatal accident, Inquisitors are despatched to Bracca to capture him.

Rescued by another former Jedi – Cere Junda, who’s cut herself off from the Force entirely after a deeply traumatic experience – and her friend, Greeze Dritus, Cal is soon asked to help open an ancient vault.

Along the way, the ragtag group grows, with the adorable – and very helpful – droid BD-1 joining what becomes a found family.

The story is genuinely fantastic; the second half in particular is a riveting tale that takes players on an incredibly dramatic and involving adventure – with at least one surprising cameo and more than one heel/face turn along the way.

If we were assessing Fallen Order on its story alone, it’d be unequivocally positive in review terms.

Yet it falls down in several areas of its gameplay. Fallen Order isn’t an open world game, though it may look like it at first glance.

It actually has the structure of a Metroidvania, which is one of my favourite genres – but it hampers itself with one of the most crucial elements of any Metroidvania: the map.

As Metroidvania titles rely on lots of backtracking – to revisit areas that were previously unaccessible before you unlock certain items or powers – the map needs to be clear so that you know where you’ve missed and where to go next, as well as where to go back to.

Though the map is highly thematic – being a holographic projection that Cal accesses when needed – its lack of clarity and the twisty turny nature of the levels renders it near impossible to use in many stages.

It can be incredibly frustrating to find that one ledge or gap that you’ve missed, or even to find your way back to your ship – which you’re constantly asked to do once you’ve bested a level’s boss.

Along with this are the numerous physics puzzles, which again wouldn’t see you going round in circles so much if the map itself was worth a damn.

There’s not enough assistance given in the map for these puzzles to be anything but an exercise in frustration much of the time, though they do prove satisfying if you do manage to solve them without resorting to outside assistance such as YouTube videos or a guide.

Also an issue is that the various planets you visit often don’t feel like proper environments, let alone worlds – they just seem like chunks of video game levels plonked into a backdrop.

Until the last few stages of the game, these planets really do just feel like very old school video game levels, rather than living, breathing worlds.

That said – and a few annoying pieces of level design aside – the general platforming and parkour is often well done, with traversal being a particular joy once you’ve unlocked more Jedi abilities.

Even this has a negative aspect though, with the frequent use of slides in the environment – and ensuing instant deaths – proving to be an annoyance rather than a fun or engaging challenge.

Combat is very Souls-esque, though at least the difficulty in the timing of strikes and blocks can be dialled down, for those of us who just don’t find the specific subgenre of Soulslikes to be anything but an exercise in frustration.

There’s a great deal of freedom in using your various Force abilities and combat stances the way you want to in any given combat encounter, which does help to liven things up quite a bit.

Maddeningly though, using meditation points – which save your game – will cause enemies to respawn if you rest and regain your health, another aspect cribbed from Soulslikes. This makes backtracking even more tedious, as you’ll frequently need to take down the same enemies time and time again, rather than just being able to make your way back through a stage unhindered.

Boss fights tend to be big, challenging and visually impressive affairs; by the game’s stunning climax, these are a real highlight of the experience.

There’s a great deal to like in Jedi – Fallen Order, even if many aspects fall short (and I didn’t even mention the horrifically bad Wookiees on Kashyyyk!).

Cal Kestis is a great character, in what does eventually become a riveting story – that you won’t be able to walk away from; it’s a shame that numerous gameplay and design quirks make the first half of the game such a slog, however.

Thankfully, the developers did take on board a lot of the feedback for the sequel, which is a much more consistently enjoyable game, featuring welcome accessibility options and an improvement to that damn map (even though it’s still not perfect).

What’s more, it’s great to report that the brilliance of Jedi – Fallen Order’s narrative is built upon wonderfully, right from the start of the second game.

So – despite Fallen Order being a bit of an acquired taste for much of its first half, it’s well worth sticking with for its stunning storyline and focus on its endearing, found family characters – each of which are performed to perfection by a supremely talented cast of actors.

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