Star Wars: Jedi Survivor Review

Jedi Survivor

by Matt Cabral |

Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Given just a passing glance, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor could easily be mistaken for another “bigger and better” sequel, a more expansive, much prettier follow-up that further fuels the fantasy of inhabiting a lightsaber-swinging badass. But while this ambitious continuation of 2019's Jedi: Fallen Order technically ticks all the expected big sequel boxes, its approach is far more thoughtful and nuanced than simply piling on more of what fans loved the first time around.

This is immediately apparent in its visually-dazzling world, which actually includes fewer explorable planets than its predecessor, but smartly favours cinematic and interactive quality over sheer quantity. Featuring a more open-world design – without being disappointingly barren or arbitrarily bloated –  Survivor's areas are fewer, but also richer, incredibly detailed, bustling with more life, and brimming with gameplay and storytelling opportunities.

This approach organically feeds into the more rewarding navigation, which leverages the larger, more layered world to introduce some of the smartest, most engaging traversal puzzles this side of a dedicated platforming game. The simple act of getting returning, crimson-haired protagonist Cal Kestis from point A to B is an absolute joy, and that's before you consider the optional, potential rewards you might discover upon reaching his destinations.

These plentiful side activities never feel like busy work or fetch quests either, but meaningful detours that help progress your character, complement the story, or maybe even put you face to face with a bounty hunter that's been tracking you. New Force powers, like the ability to tame and mount beasts, adds yet another layer, allowing you to reach previously inaccessible areas for even more goodies.

One of the best single-player, story-driven Star Wars experiences to grace any console or PC.

Of course, this thoughtful design shines brightest during combat encounters, where Cal – now a card-carrying Jedi Knight – builds on his previous expertise with new stances and Force-fueled skills. The former, especially, have been significantly expanded, offering players five dedicated combat stances. Whether you want to slice-and-dice with a lightsaber in each hand or show Darth  Maul how it's done from behind a double-bladed laser staff, there's no shortage of ways to carve your way through the galaxy.

Deliberate, methodical, and brutally lethal, the Kylo Ren-inspired Crossguard stance is our new Stormtrooper-crushing favorite. And while wielding a gun saps some of the melee-focused strategy from encounters, it's hard to deny the intoxicating feel that comes with simultaneously firing a pistol and swinging a lightsaber from behind the new Blaster stance. Further personalization comes courtesy of character-progressing skill trees and a steady accrual of perks.

If Survivor stumbles at all, it's in the cadence of its storytelling. Make no mistake, the game spins an absorbing yarn, one that's more emotional and personal than its predecessor's tale. The return of favourite characters – as well as some welcome new faces – also help evolve Cal, making him a far more compelling protagonist through his more mature connections and relationships.

The problem is with the pacing, as the most meaningful story beats – including some meaty twists and turns – can be spread too thin. This is largely a product of those aforementioned optional activities which, while entertaining, rewarding, and often complementary to the larger narrative, can also pull you from the critical path. Mileage will vary, but don't be surprised if you lose track of key plot threads while sinking hours into the gardening simulation mini-game – yep, that's a thing.

That nitpick aside, Survivor isn't just a stronger game than the original, but an enthralling action-adventure, an early game-of-the-year contender, and one of the best single-player, story-driven Star Wars experiences to grace any console or PC.

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