Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review - A Voice Actor's Take
In a Galaxy Far Far Away... A Voice Actor Finally Wrote His Review
As a voice actor, I have a different take on reviewing things and I really look for and recognize different aspects of games that other reviewers may not. And hey, this is just my opinion so I recommend checking the game out to form your own. I'm changing the format of my blogs to better conceptualize things and they will now cover the following facets of games: Gameplay Performace, Story, and Voice Acting. Let me know in the comments if you like this setup.
This review is Spoiler & Drama Free for your reading pleasure! Enjoy!
A franchise that has enveloped and enthralled generations of nerds everywhere has come back with a sequel to the beloved first iteration of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. This sector of the Star Wars Universe has always been darker but this sequel really brings some extra depth to characters in addition to the GOT vibes that I won't spoil for you now. The game opens up with a fantastic and whimsical recap of the first game. Hitting all of the fine plot points so you do not have to go back and replay the first, though I HIGHLY recommend you do. (10/10 game right there!)
The Return of Cal Kestis (Gameplay Performance)
I'll come out and be honest. I'm NOT a huge Star Wars fan. I appreciate it for what it is in the entertainment world but space exploration has never been a huge appeal to me with the exception of the Mass Effects games. That being said, I love these styles of games that bring something I'm not that interested in and make it an overtly enjoyable experience... for the most part.
Cal Kestis comes back with most of his powers. Thank GOD! I know I'm not the only one that is annoyed when sequels take away everything you did in the first game. Jedi: Survivor sets you up from the beginning with feeling like the badass Jedi you are. Force-throwing enemies off of rooftops with ease!
Speaking of ease, there is a solid pool of difficulty settings that you can change throughout the game. I played on Jedi Master and boy howdy, were some of those boss fights rough. I admittedly changed the difficulty setting on one specific boss where you are shoehorned into playing as a different character than Cal and it makes it exhausting to not be as built to your playstyle and fight someone who would certainly give Cal a run for his money. Other than that the game balances a souls-like play style without being soul-breaking. (If you can't tell I don't like Souls games as they break me down a little too much) Did I die a lot in Jedi: Survivor? Absolutely. Did I enjoy coming back each time? For the most part when performance issues weren't the cause of my death.
That being said the overall performance of the game is...meh, unfortunately. I played this on PS5 and there are a couple of graphic modes you can use. Performance mode with 60 FPS and a slight drop in graphic resolution and then there is Graphics Mode with a drop to 30 FPS and up to 4k resolution.
With Performance mode on, I noticed a pretty big hit to the environment textures and the amount of flowy hair that Cal has while jumping around. The 60 FPS does make combat noticeably smoother and that is almost required as Combat can be a bit clanky at times compared to how smooth Fallen Order felt when I first played it.
Both modes did have a couple of big flaws though, and that was... Cal's face. For some reason, Cal's face never wants to render correctly on either mode, especially during 90% of the cut scenes. Everyone else seemed fine for the most part but the main character not rendering is very noticeable.
Combat is interesting. There are times when everything runs smoothly and you feel like the strong Jedi you should be, but there are times a small delay in a button you push causes you to get one-shotted. Besides that though, combat has its fluid moments where patience is key, and having five different Lightsaber stances to play with (2 equipped at a time) can bring some cool dynamics to combat. Force abilities are as strong as ever and extremely fun to play with and launch enemies big and small across the map.
One thing I believe was a missed opportunity was the customization options. There are a TON of customization options for Cal's hair and beard, clothing, and even the lightsaber, but they are all aesthetic only. If the lightsaber customizations added some depth to your playstyle with different attributes, then I think it would have added even more to the combat experience.
Traversal and exploration are mostly smooth and you get some very cool abilities in the story that make it a joy to jump around everywhere. Thankfully traversal deaths don't absolutely destroy your progress, because it can happen... A LOT.
Speaking of destroyed progress. Do you know what else can do that? Crashes! This game crashed so often that I almost just stopped playing through it. Every hour or two a crash typically happened.
The reason for any of the issues in the game stems from one thing. The worlds are HUGE and DETAILED! Respawn really went out of their way to make some of the planets you are on absolutely gigantic. They are filled with collectibles, people, secret encounters and enemies, and more! I think I spent 20+ hours on Koboh (the first exploration world) before moving on and still had a ton of other areas that I couldn't get to due to not having specific abilities yet that you get while playing through the story.
It's Greezy Baby!!!! (Story)
The story of Jedi: Survivor takes place 5 years after Jedi: Fallen Order. Cal, being one of the last remaining Jedi, is still being pursued by the Empire and causing all kinds of issues for them. This is immediately understood in the first opening area of Coruscant. The story sees Cal have some new faces and allies which is explained later in the story as to why the crew went down their own paths after Fallen Order.
The story really pushes Cal's emotional states and you really see some great character depth as you move throughout the campaign. Emotions are not a Jedi's best friend but are still useful in the destitute world they are surviving in.
The characters in Star Wars: Jedi Survivor are wonderful. Every side character you meet in or near the Saloon on Koboh is fun and unique. You really get a sense the world is alive due to the surface depth and the number of characters. Of course the classic cast of characters from the first game return over time with my personal favorite's being Cal's trusty sidekick BD-1 and Greez. BD even sits next to you when you meditate at Essences. So adorable!
Side note, Merrin returns and is still way cooler than Cal in every sense.
The enemies in Jedi: Survivor are dynamic from the grunt droids to the large mid-level and final bosses. Heck, you can fight a Rancor and get murdered 32 times, what's not to love? The side conversations and overall banter of the enemies are also fantastic. Sending a droid off a cliff with a force push and it yelling "Not Faaaiiiirrrrr" as it falls never stops being funny.
The Ability to Speak Does Not Make You Intelligent
- Qui-Gon Jinn (Voice Acting)
Behind this wonderful cast of characters is the cast of voice actors. Cameron Monaghan reprises his role as Cal Kestis and man, what a wonderful job he does. From the Motion Capture (Mocap), with the exception of the face rendering, to the acting itself, he really brought a degree of depth to Cal in this game that wasn't there in the first one due to Cal being so young. I can't find a flaw in any of the performances really. They played their characters well and not a single line took you out of the experience and the world. As I previously noted, even the grunt, run-of-the-mill droids had lines that created an experience in the world depending on how you dispatched them. And that level of detail is not dismissed or unappreciated. Emily Schweber and her casting team did a fantastic job of bringing in some wonderful voices and big names for even the smallest of characters.
I really wish I could say more about the acting, but I would much rather you experience the emotion and drama that these wonderful performers brought to the story for yourself and go play the game. If you can get past the myriad of technical and graphical issues, there really is a beautiful game that has parts that are fun to experience and that really want to rise to the top. A third game will be coming out and I hope they hear the community, fix these bugs in development, and continue to make what could arguably be the best trilogy in the Star Wars media universe.