Cameron Monaghan (“Shameless”) returns as Cal Kestis, a Jedi Knight who has been sent into hiding by Order 66, working with Saw Gerrera (the character played by Forest Whitaker in “Rogue One”) in the Resistance when the game opens. “Jedi: Survivor” takes place five years after the action of “Fallen Order,” which puts it nine years before the Battle of Yavin, detailed in “Star Wars: A New Hope.” That also puts it four years before the action of “Andor” and around the same time as the Disney+ show “Obi-Wan.” Got that? Briefly, it’s not a great time to be a Jedi, and things get worse when Cal’s team is killed on a mission on Coruscant, leaving him even more on the run, his pal Bode (Noshir Dalal) one of his few allies remaining.
The intense action of the prologue of “Jedi: Survivor” leads Cal to a planet called Koboh, where he seeks out a character named Greez (Daniel Roebuck). The bulk of the first several hours of the game will take place on Koboh which is one of the most remarkable open-world settings in years. There’s essentially a home base in a town called Rambler’s Reach where you land your ship the Mantis and can interact with merchants, locals, and even plant seeds you find elsewhere. The narrative of “Jedi: Survivor” sends Cal and his team to other planets, reuniting him with characters that fans will find familiar alongside some new ones. It’s a rich piece of storytelling about a warrior searching to find his way back to the front while also encountering the impact of the Empire’s tyranny, including Jedis who have given into the dark side. There are fantastically detailed supporting characters, including Debra Wilson as Jedi Master Cere Junda and a Nightsister named Merrin (Tina Ivlev) who becomes one of Cal’s closest allies.
The storytelling is much richer than an average Star Wars game, but what really elevates “Jedi: Survivor” is the gameplay. It’s largely melee-based combat, heavily relying on parrying and using different lightsaber stances to defeat tougher enemies. A game like this often succeeds because of the way it doles out power to the player. At the start, you’re just a kid with a lightsaber. As the story unfolds, the player unlocks five different lightsaber stances, including a wicked dual wield, one that includes a blaster in the left hand, and even the powerful crossguard stance used by Kylo Ren in the last trilogy. While a different stance can give an advantage with certain enemies, they’re largely just one of many customizable aspects of “Jedi: Survivor.” Pick your favorite stances—two can be equipped at a time and easily alternated—and the game unlocks skill points and perks which can be used to give Cal even more power. It’s a perfectly calibrated system that takes Cal from a simple warrior to a Jedi Master under your guidance.