FromSoftware is the master of its craft, so much so that its games spawned a new genre – the Soulslike. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a Soulslike through and through, and while we've seen many indie games taking inspiration from the Dark Souls creator, I think it's great a triple-A game of this magnitude is so happy to wear its inspiration on its sleeve. With rumours currently abound regarding its reveal, I think the sequel should take things even further.
FromSoftware games are characterised by tough combat, respawning enemies, levels interlinked through unlockable shortcuts, and absolutely unhinged boss designs. Jedi: Fallen Order has everything but the wild bosses, which is a little disappointing considering the scope for weird creatures in the Star Wars universe. You get to fight some grumpy aliens, so that will do for now.
Combat is lifted straight out of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It's not nearly as polished as that beautiful dance of swords, but it's a nice change of pace to the tried-and-true Star Wars formula of windmilling a lightsaber about like one of those inflatable things you see outside used car lots. Fallen Order's focus on posture bars and the rhythm of each individual action takes the best elements of FromSoftware's finest combat system, and I hope Respawn only polishes it further in the coming sequel.
The similarities don't end there. Meditation points are just bonfires – a rose by any other name and all that. The lore behind them makes sense – we know that Jedi meditate – but why they respawn all the enemies is left unexplained. It's lifted straight out of the Souls series, and I respect that the devs didn't try to shoehorn in some explanation. It's a video game, this is just how it works, don't think about it too much and have fun.
The level design is also very Soulslike. Each planet is a semi-open world that you gradually unlock as you learn more Force abilities. None are quite as interlocked as Bloodborne's Central Yharnam, and BD-1's map means you don't need to memorise everything, but it's still amazing to see devs building interesting playgrounds for us that aren’t always willing to hold our hand.
All of these systems work well in Fallen Order, but I think the sequel should go even harder and take more from FromSoftware's award-winning formula. I don't mean the weird NPCs who just emit a sinister chuckle and lines of cryptic dialogue, or platforming so janky the very floor constitutes a formidable foe, that stuff can stay in Anor Londo. Seriously, fuck those crossbow knights.
Mainly, Respawn needs to get weird with the bosses. Fighting the Second Sister is Fallen Order at its best, and I'd love more duels with humanoid enemies that allow a proper clash of sabers – nothing beats that sizzle sound – but where's my boss fight inside a Sarlacc? Where's my battle against a giant sentient Wroshyr tree? Why don't I have to kill the Force apparitions of my own tormented past? Adding more boss fights like those with the Second Sister would also be great, and allow the game’s lightsaber combat to really shine.
Star Wars has all manner of weird and horrifying beasties, and while I'm not expecting any of them to exist on the same level of cosmic horror boasted by Mergo's Wet Nurse or the Gaping Dragon, I want something more interesting than big spiders and ogres. There's a whole galaxy of Sith, Jedi, and unimaginable monstrosities to fight, so let me at 'em.
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