Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is an action-adventure game that follows up on the story of 2019’s game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. It takes place at a point in the Star Wars canon when the Empire still reigns supreme; Darth Vader is still on the prowl; and only a handful of rogue Jedi are around to stand against the forces of evil.
It’s five years since the action of Fallen Order, and gamers step into the role of a young guy named Cal Kestis, the same hero we met in the previous game. He’s a fairly powerful Jedi at this point (and Survivor lets you retain all of Cal’s heretofor-fought-for skills) but he still has a lot to learn.
Cal’s fellow battlers from the first game—the gifted crew of the Mantis—have disbanded and gone their separate ways. But after a daring escape from Imperial authorities, Cal seeks repairs for his ship and stumbles upon some information that could be of vital importance to many in desperate need of a safe place.
Cal discovers a centuries-old Jedi droid, left inactive in a rocky cavern deep underground. It carries clues about a Jedi refuge called Tanalorr, a planet that is said to be either a myth or impossible to reach.
This isn’t, however, just a matter of following some clear clues to a secret hideaway. The mystery is hard to unfold. And not only are deadly Imperial forces found at every turn, but there’s also a very powerful (and slightly mad) one-armed Jedi who’s seeking this ancient refuge as well. And he’ll destroy anyone who blocks his path.
Cal and his faithful droid BD-1 must regather the crew of the Mantis, piece together the mysterious ancient clues and somehow face off with seemingly insurmountable foes and lightsaber-swinging enemies.
Even though Cal begins the game with impressive Force powers and lightsaber abilities, players are called upon to continue to learn and strengthen their skill sets. They must master challenging block-parry-and-strike combat moves. And then they’ll work at not only strategizing for what combination of abilities will work best against a given opponent, but also reading that foe’s movements for open attack points.
The game includes new lightsaber stances to master as well—including double blade, crossguard, duel wield and others—each with its own strength for specific combat situations. Upgradable Force powers augment battles and puzzle solving.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a solid game filled with wall-running, explosion-filled, cinematic action; challenging and strategic combat; and puzzle-solving exploration. But perhaps its greatest strength is its story. This is a character-focused tale that includes story twists, betrayals, unexpected emotional losses and even a bit of romance.
The game explores the concepts of pushing through your fears, the pain of losing loved ones and staying loyal to family members—all juxtaposed against the dangers of world controlled by oppressive power.
We hear a use or two of “d–n,” “a–” and “b–tard,” but Survivor’s T-rating is primarily due to the game’s combat and deadliness. Violent clashes are a regular part of play. Players use lightsabers in melee combat and blasters against robots and humanoid enemies.
There’s no blood but battles result in glowing slashes across bodies, cries of pain and the lopping off of robotic and human limbs. Characters are impaled by the glowing lightsabers and pushed off high platforms. Someone’s head is slashed off in battle. (In that case, however, the actual separation from the body is kept just off screen.)
Things blow up as ships with powerful weapons blaze away at people and the surrounding scenery.
People are betrayed by a trusted friend. A beloved character is killed. Some romantic interactions result in a kiss. One character, Merrin, is nicknamed the Desert Ghost and called a “witch,” and she uses a specialized power that’s connected to rituals and relics. (She winkingly mentions that she might recharge by drinking someone’s blood.) And, of course, the Force is a magic-like power, as well, one that’s used to move people and objects and deliver intense, gripping pain in some cases.
Star Wars offers a lot of big, sweeping stories these days. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a smallish part of that bigger canon. But it packs a big emotional punch for gamers who don’t mind some zapping and at times deadly lightsaber action.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.