Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Review – Wonderful Adventure For The Wanderlust

Respawn, as a developer team, has been defined by their excellent shooters. Titanfall, which lives on as Apex Legends, remains a beloved series. So it was interesting to see them tackle a Star Wars game that isn’t a shooter- and purposely so too- with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order back in 2019.

Four years later, we now its sequel, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. A continuation of the story focusing on Cal Kestis and his crew, Jedi: Survivor builds upon the solid foundations of its predecessor with its fascinating blend of cinematic action, platforming adventure and a huge inspiration from soulslikes.

What we get here is an expansive adventure that rewards the sightseers and the wanderlust to go out and explore this slice of the galaxy far, far away.


Before we start off, let’s first address a thing I had concerns with when playing Jedi: Survivor, the performance. I finished the game without the day-1 patch. On consoles, in particular the PS5, performance sans patch was choppy.

Without the day-1 patch, you’ll run across many locations where the framerate just dips, like in areas with a lot of flame and particles. Large open areas also see a performance dip. Playing on performance mode which targets 60 fps will see the framerate go down to around 30 fps a lot of times, sometimes even worse.

I did check back and see the affected areas with framerate dips after the day-1 patch is installed and it seems to be performing better- if it dips, it’s only to around 30 fps. I wish it was a solid lock at 60 fps, but hey, the current version of the game at launch is much more playable than what I and other reviewers went through.

Considering Jedi: Fallen Order’s launch woes, I feel it’s a point that folks may start asking. Though your mileage may vary, I have no idea if the PC version continues to suffer the stutter issues seen in recent AAA releases.

As far as presentation goes, Jedi: Survivor gives players a fantastic, and authentic, lense of the Star Wars galaxy. It’s the transition phase where the Empire is still in the process of wiping every Jedi off the face of the universe. Though somehow Cal Kestis (and a few others) survived- hence the title.

The starting level of Coruscant gives a glimpse of neon dystopia that used to be the capital of the High Republic, though it’s a shame it’s a one-off.

Most of Jedi: Survivor is spent in less bustling locales, the main two being the lush frontiers of Koboh and the sand dunes of Jedha. Koboh in particular is one expansive world, a mining town teeming with flora and fauna but also rattled by raiders. The plains are filled with some empty spaces that you can now call mounts, but there’s always something that catches the eye that makes you go “ooh, I wonder what’s there”.

There is a sense of place in the worlds you visit. From the derelict and run-down buildings of former settlements to the hidden remnants of the High Republic, there is a considerate effort in the worldbuilding aspect that should you delve deeper into the lore the world makes sense outside of just video game levels, more or less.

Jedi: Survivor can be a looker at times, but it’s also easy to spot where they cut corners or where the tech has not caught up yet to really give the game world a sense of realism. Hair and cloth clipping are there as usual for most games, but I’m surprised to see interactable environmental objects have visible elements clip. Stare at one of the many circular platforms or foot-operated lifts and you’ll spot them.

While the graphical assets can be remarkably detailed it’s still easy to be reminded that this is still a video game. Well, until the black borders suddenly appear as it plays a cinematic.

On that note, I don’t mind cinematic cutscenes being there, but it’s always jarring to see not only the sudden appearance of the cinematic crop, but also the game’s framerate drop (when playing in performance mode). Maybe it’s just me preferring those seamless game-to-cutscene-to-game transitions, because I don’t like it when it’s not seamless.

Also, reports of the demise of the shimmy-through-the-narrow-walls-to-hide-load-screens-as-the-game-loads-a-new-area trick in this 9th generation of consoles are widely exaggerated. Jedi: Surivior still uses a lot of that shimmy. At least not all of them are to hide loading screens, as some of them are just quick shimmies. I rather have seamless shimmies than stare at a loading screen.

As far audio and music goes, Jedi: Survivor is great. All the audio sound effects and cues you’d expect from Star Wars are here and accounted for. The lightsaber goes zwoom-zwoom. The blasters’ distinct pew-pews. The beep-boops of droids. You name it.

It goes to the voice acting as well. You can overhear enemies chatting about stuff. Like Stormtroopers being relatable people despite them serving a totalitarian fascist regime. Separatist Droids from the Clone Wars make an appearance here and these chatterboxes are exactly what you expect them to be: really, really annoying in an endearing way.

The cast of characters you meet has excellent performances as well, delivered by a diverse pool of voice talents with different accents. You get your American and British people that makes up the majority of the people in this galaxy, but you’ll also get to meet at least one Australian, a Scot, a Richard Horvitz and a voice that definitely reminds me of people from parts around here in Southeast Asia. And no, I’m not referring to the Jawas but they’re there too.

There is one thing I find off, and it’s our hero, Cal Kestis. I know he’s supposed to be a Jedi Knight and all but I just don’t find the actor’s performance for the character captivating. The time I feel Cal feels most alive is when he’s about to die- the screams of pain when getting hit or bonked are perfect. He should be in pain more often, physically and emotionally. And due to that, in the more dramatic cinematics his presence is felt. It’s just the usual gameplay moments where Cal can seem rather uninterested when he’s talking.

I don’t have any issue with Cal as a character though. For the most part, I really feel Cal is just a silent protagonist that occasionally chats with his droid sidekick or the folks in town now and again. And that’s okay because the rest of the cast shines really bright to compensate.

The soundtrack has that orchestral flair that is unique to Star Wars. The composers do a remarkable job to create new music that sounds in line with the famous score by John Williams- that air of whimsy, striking and memorable orchestra you’d expect from Star Wars is all here.

But there is a fascinating surprise. Once you progress far enough you may find a way to have music played in Pyloon’s Saloon. These are apparently real bands and artists but using stage names fit for the Star Wars galaxy. I can confirm that Mongolian throat singing is back.


The Star Wars Jedi series has a fascinating blend of genre mixing I have yet to see other games attempt. It has cinematic action sequences with lavish cutscenes where you basically are just watching a blockbuster movie.

There are parts where you are just moving and traversing around the world using platforming abilities and gadgets. It has vague Metroidvania elements- there’s no mandatory backtracking, but you are encouraged to re-explore all the past areas once you unlock new abilities. And it has a lot of soulslike elements, so much that I would rather have it be presented in a list here:

  • Labyrinth level layouts that loop upon themselves ever so often
  • Shortcuts to find and open
  • Lifts with foot switches
  • Meditation areas act as bonfires where you can “level up” (spend skill points)
  • Limited heals, only replenish if you rest at a meditation spot
  • Enemies respawn when you rest at a bonfire
  • There’s a game over screen but instead of “YOU DIED” it says, rather fittingly, “RESPAWN”
  • Current XP bar is dropped at the location of previous death and must be collected or it’s gone the next time you die (Unspent skill points are not lost)
  • Sneaky enemy placements (behind line of sight, hiding at blind corners, etc.)
  • Crystal Lizards-esque creature that rewards loot if you can kill them fast enough before they disappear
  • Methodical combat where most attack animations can’t be cancelled out into a dodge and there’s a block bar (posture)
  • Memorable, epic boss battles

It’s important to note here that one thing the Star Wars Jedi series didn’t take from soulslikes is having a punishing difficulty.

The game doesn’t punish you hard for mistakes, and on the normal Jedi Knight difficulty you will likely be able to complete the game with not much trouble say for at least one boss fight.

And even then, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor lets you adjust difficulty at any time- turn down the game to Story Mode if you just need to pass that one boss- or crank it up to Jedi Master should you want to feel the suffering like it’s a soulslike.

But here’s the thing: cranking up the difficulty is completely optional.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor uses its soulslike inspo not to make a purposefully difficult game. And it’s inspiring to see an example of one. It shows that soulslikes can have difficulty options as a straightforward option.

That simple change of not saying “YOU DIED” or any kind of message that inform you of your demise and failure, but have it say “RESPAWN” as to ask you to pick yourself up and try again (and doubles as a reminder of who made this game) is reflective of this philosophy.

No disrespect to other games that goes hard on the From Software route, I think those games with their punishing difficulty are valid. But the Star Wars Jedi series validates the opinion of folks who want difficulty options available in a soulslike experience. It’s possible to make an accessible soulslike. With plenty of accessibility options on offer.

“Makes You Feel Like A Jedi”

Instead of making you suffer and experience difficulty, the Star Wars Jedi series’ soulslike elements are used to enhance the fantasy of being a Jedi, the mystical psychic laser-sword-wielding monk warriors of the Star Wars galaxy.

A Jedi with a lightsaber is deadly against mooks, as Cal easily auto-blocks projectiles from mooks like a low-level Stormtrooper or an old recommissioned Seperatist Droid. And his lightsaber attacks deal quick work on them as well, with basically a one-hit kill.

Tougher enemies are interesting to fight as well, as you have to time your combos so that you don’t over-commit and leave yourself open, and well-timed blocks create parries that diminish the block bar, which when depleted opens up an opportunity to combo them to death.

Combat often puts you against overwhelming numbers. And it can get overwhelming when the same enemy can do frequent enough unblockable attacks to make you panic, while every other mooks in the area try to sneak a cheeky hit on you to make you panic even more. There are multiple options to deal with this, from a whole lightsaber stance designed for crowd control to using Force powers. Expect this to be a source of challenge, or annoyance.

Boss fights against humanoid enemies, especially one-on-ones, are the best. When you are equally matched it feels like this enthralling dance between mortal enemies where every call gets a response. Essentially, it’s like what you see when you go to theatres to watch a Star Wars movie, with you on the controls. It very often clicks with me, and very often I just feel I know what I’m doing right and wrong and am being equitably rewarded and punished during each dance number.

Fighting against non-humanoid enemies like creatures can be a hit-and-miss for me though.

Controls feel closer to home to the Team Ninja brand of soulslikes rather than From Software’s, where the face buttons are for attacks. And fascinatingly the camera does a good job of tracking the action that you don’t need to babysit the right analog stick as often. As a matter of fact, you probably be better off not locking on on most enemies, especially when dealing with overwhelming numbers so you can easily block or attack different enemies at a time. You can remap most of the controls to your liking, which is plus points for accessibility.

While you can gain XP, you’re only spending it on Skill Points which mostly consist of adding more tools to your toolkit of moves. You’re not incrementally getting stronger, you’re getting more options to be your stronger self. Well, that, and some permanent boost to maximum HP and Force bars, which are the only exceptions to this. Other than that, you’re not seeing numbers go up in any way. All loot are cosmetics.

You can also equip perks to further fine-tune your playstyle to your liking. However, I find this feature rather lacking. You have limited slots- more can be found through exploring. And the first few perks are so good I just don’t bother messing about with the other perks found throughout the game, which offers various trade-offs. Some perks use too many slots that you can’t equip them right away and have to, hopefully, find where to get them. It’s by far the weakest aspect of Jedi: Survivor’s gameplay mechanics. At least to me, who doesn’t go too in-depth into the combat system. Players who fashion themselves as combo masters might want to mess around with it.

Swing That Laser Sword

For Jedi: Survivor, Cal picks up new tricks in the form of new stances. Aside from the Single and Double-bladed stances from Jedi: Fallen Order, Jedi: Survivor adds Dual-Wield as a full stance together with Blaster and Crossguard.

Crossguard is the lightsaber with the weird light prongs first seen wielded by Kylo Ren. It looked weird in the movies, but only in this game I realised it’s a dual-handed heavy sword. Cal moves slower but hits harder with an emphasis on defence. Crossguard is for those who are big into parries and big damage- but you’ll need to compensate for the lack of mobility and slow attacks.

As for the Blaster, well, Cal gets a gun. A Jedi, using guns? Cal even remarks it’s taboo but here we are seeing this ginger man slinging his piece like it’s high noon and twirling it around all cowboy-like when the dust settles as if this isn’t his first rodeo. Cal’s lightsaber swings are more pokey in this stance, reminiscent of a fencing blade, and together with a blaster in the off-hand this stance lets you reach far targets better before closing in to do bigger hits.

As for the Dual-Wield, as the name implies Cal uses two separate sabers that hits fast. It’s the stance to go unga bunga with. And not just a special move you do in an epic moment this time around.

With five stances to choose from, you still can only equip two at a time. And you have the option to use any combination of the two that you like. So for folks looking to master the combat system, you have more toys to play with.

Cal & BD-1

But Jedi: Survivor isn’t all about combat. The combat is good, but I think the biggest fun factor that comes in this game is the adventure and exploration aspects.

There are story missions that will take place in linear but intricately designed levels that adhere to the soulslikes design principles (always loop around, plenty of shortcuts).

However, the more I play Jedi: Survivor, the more it reminds me of the good platforming adventure games of the past, something akin, not necessarily one-to-one, to the Ratchet & Clank series. Plenty of goons to deal with, a lot of creative platforming sequences, story moments that are lightly interspersed between the moment-to-moment action. Puzzles involving moving platforms or physics objects. Lots of use of gadgets, and a good number of times getting lost and confuzzled on where to go next.

There is a really good 3D map in the game that slightly nudges you in the right direction. And for story-related puzzles, there are hints to get you back on track but thankfully, you have to consent first. No NPC is going to tell you the solution outright.

On that note, the whole game is hands-off to let you play the game. You don’t see overly bright-yellow objects that make it obvious where to jump to next, so you’ll be using your head (for thinking and for scratching) to find your way through the critical path.

Also, platforming feels fun because it doesn’t feel like you just pressing forward and jump while the brain turns off. Controls feel fluid and loose, enough to make you pay attention that you have to steer Cal around to make all these jumps.

Some of the platforming moves you do feel whack- continuously double-jumping on a marked wall until you jump high enough to reach the top of said wall feels like a bug when I first start doing it and apparently it’s a feature. Similar to how you can double-jump to the same wall that you are wall-riding to restart the wall-ride but at a higher part of the wall. Then you unlock more abilities like the dash, which also unlocks air-dashing, and now you’re doing three-button jumping like a proper platformer. It’s proper fun.

The platforming isn’t perfect. There are times when I was stuck at a place I don’t think was intentionally where I was supposed to be able to stand. And the air-dash doesn’t have enough air control so it’s easy to overshoot your jumps, especially when you try to reach a zip-line. But it’s fun. Enough to make me remember the good old days as a kid playing fun platformers.

Potato-Free Open World

And the biggest draw of Jedi: Survivor is the exploration. For the most part of the game, Cal and his buddy droid BD-1 will be on planet Koboh, and it’s a wide-open area for you to explore. Fascinatingly, the world doesn’t feel like an open-world game. It’s big enough that you can summon mounts to go around Koboh and Jedha. And you can fast travel at different meditation points on the same planet. Yet none of the levels uses the formulaic potato open-world design that gamers are tired of these days.

You don’t go out seeking towers to find clearly marked activities, or take on side quests per se. Instead, the game lets you roam around and find points of interest, or talk to people in the cantina to find leads and rumours to cool places you might want to check out. And there’s no detective vision that outlines where a mission is or where a collectible is. None of that.

You can miss a collectible and have that as an excuse to double back and explore previous levels again. And when you figure the solution to a puzzle or the series of platforming tricks you need to do to get that elusive box open, it feels earned.

What makes Koboh (and Jedha) fun to explore is you don’t know what to expect if you go inside that cave, or visit that ruin. Will there be enemies? Is there treasure to be found? Who knows. In the early game, exploration is all about feeding that curiosity, giving you that sense of wanderlust, that sense of wonder where you want to be wandering about in hopes of finding something wonderful.

And you know what makes it even more wonderful? Most of the rewards for exploring are just cosmetics. And the collectibles? To be traded in to unlock cosmetics. You’re not out here grinding to be stronger on purpose and finding gear with better numbers, no. There are no “numbers-go-up” stat increases. Even when you earn the HP and Force bars increase the game deliberately does not show numbers. And when you “level up”, you only gain skill points not specific stat increases. The lightsabers and blaster do the same exact damage from hour 1 to the credits roll. Jedi: Survivor is not a loot game.

When I stumbled on a detour that seems really difficult to get but I managed to reach a hidden part in the Derelict Dam to stumble on a crate, only for it to unlock a freaking mullet as a hairstyle option, I was ecstatic. Not because I find mullets to be hilariously silly and cool at the same time, but because I felt that it was worth figuring out how to get to that chest in the first place. I never let Cal shave off that mullet ever since that, clipping over some jackets be damned he looks silly in cutscenes with that hair, and yet I still wanted to look around and see what other cosmetics that are lay hidden around the galaxy.

This specific feeling is also reminiscent of good platforming adventure games of the past. And I love that Jedi: Survivor went in this path rather than being open world.

When you combine these three pillars at the core of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, I find it as a game like no other right now. A combination of platforming adventure, cinematic action spectacle of a big-budget AAA scale, and soulslike that is not defined by difficulty. It’s a potent mix of elements that you don’t get often, and what I want to see more from a single-player game.


When the credits rolled for me in Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, I spent 33 hours with an 81% complete save. I definitely spent a lot of time dilly-dallying the story just so I can go and search for more beard options for Cal- let’s say about 10 hours or so on side content.

This game is huge. It may lack in planet diversity, but the two major planets you’ll be exploring are rife with secrets and discoveries.

Along the way, you’ll be discovering cosmetics for Cal and BD-1. Do you like your fashion souls? Well, you can glam up Cal, his lightsaber and blaster as well as BD-1 with various customisation options. Cal gets wild hair and beard options. And the lightsaber, blaster and BD-1 all have different components that you can mix and match. With many, many options for colour. Cal can’t dye his hair though, so why not turn that clean pretty boy from Jedi: Fallen Order into a redheaded redneck with a mullet and an overgrown moustache?

And I didn’t mention anything about the secrets you will encounter from exploring. It’s worth taking a detour from the story.

Speaking of the story, it starts strong and ends strong. But with the nature of the story, the plot takes a backseat for long periods of time before it gets interesting, or some truly fascinating development starts to hit. The plot is predictable, and there are a few bits where I find the story is contrived, but overall it makes sense for this Star Wars time period, after the fall of the High Republic and the Jedi Order, and the start of the Empire but before the Rebels rise up to fight.

Also, you can totally jump into Jedi: Survivor without playing Jedi: Fallen Order. Sure, you’ll miss some references but the story stands on its own, and there’s enough banter with the returning cast as well as a story recap to get you up to speed on how the dynamics between these characters are.

The supporting cast that surrounds Cal is stellar and with Cal being a drab of a character as he is, it has in turn given the spotlight to his friends, who really help make this journey a special one. I don’t know any of the returning characters, and immediately fell enamoured with them all. The new folks you meet in Koboh are a delectable bunch too. Shoutout to my boy Turgle who’s doing his best, and has got me into watching chaotic clips of Psychonauts’ Raz out of context again.

There are two optional side activities that you can partake in, one of them can entirely be missed. One is Holotactics, which is an auto battler mini-game. The other is gardening, where you can scour the galaxy for seeds and then plant them in a garden and arrange them to your liking. Forget fishing mini-games, the only fishy thing you do is lend an ear to wee ol’ Skoova’s tall tales and be enthralled by his way of words which some folks may or may not be able to follow.

You can explore the galaxy to 100% completion once you’re done with the story, or start a New Game+ with New Journey+. You get some new cosmetics plus new perks that remixes the enemy placements as well as increasing the total damage output for Cal and enemies.

Also, photo mode is available at launch which is awesome. However, the camera doesn’t take account of you inverting the controls in the options menu which is less awesome.

Personal Enjoyment

I jumped into Star Wars Jedi: Survivor as a lapsed Star Wars fan (I stopped keeping up after The Force Awakens, it’s been that long), didn’t play Jedi: Fallen Order, but only recently put a lot of time into soulslikes (in particular Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty).

My expectations were that I would feel so-so with the story, and the gameplay would be interesting but won’t be to my liking. I was right on the former, but dead wrong on the latter.

I’ve heard Jedi: Fallen Order compared to God Of War by way of Dark Souls in the past. And to me in 2019, that doesn’t seem fun. Here in 2023, after putting down time to play some actual soulslikes, I find that intriguing.

But I’m blown away by how fun it is to go somewhere, not knowing what to expect and what to find, and be pleasantly surprised by what I get at the end of the journey. In a way, the meta-experience in that this is how I went through Jedi: Survivor matches up. That journey of discovery, especially the first time you enter an area, is captivating.

Plus, Jedi: Survivor that the degree of separation between a platforming adventure game like the Ratchet & Clank series and a soulslike like Dark Souls isn’t far apart. That isn’t a piece of knowledge I expect to discover when playing this and I am pleasantly surprised. There are still single-player games that harken back to the classical formula of exploration, and it still works today in 2023, arguably much better than the much-used open world philosophy most games do nowadays.


Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a platforming adventure romp that you should give a go, especially for fans of Star Wars. If you’re not, then don’t be intimidated as the self-contained story is easy to follow along for everyone.

A satisfying combat system, fun traversal and platforming, and a vast world ripe for exploring will keep players of all kinds keep playing until the end and beyond.

If you’re looking for an adventure to get lost in the next month or so, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor offers you a frontier of discovery. It’s a game made for the wanderlust who wonders when and where is the next wonderful world to explore. This is it. This is the way.

Reviewed on PS5. Review copy provided by the publisher


Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is a platforming adventure romp that you should give a go, especially for fans of Star Wars

It's a game made for the wanderlust who wonders when and where is the next wonderful world to explore. This is it.

  • Presentation 7.5
  • Gameplay 9.5
  • Content 9
  • Personal Enjoyment 10

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