Bigger in every way, it's the small intimate moments that stuck with us in this blockbuster sequel.
Survival. It’s right there in the title card. If there’s a key theme, narrative arc or overriding ethos to the core of Jedi: Survivor - it’s this.
How do you hold onto a sense of identity when you’re trying to survive? What do you do when the bad guys have won? How do you carve out a space for family and community when fascism has touched every planet and system in known space.
What would you sacrifice and what would you trade to feel safe and secure?
Those are some heavy philosophical themes for the brand new blockbuster effort from EA’s Respawn entertainment to try to unpack, yet like ‘ Star Wars: Andor’, Survivor is up to the challenge of exploring how Fascism damages those around it - and how those combating it can still hold onto their sense of identity, purpose and community in the face of overwhelming odds.
Survivor once again pops you into the shoes of Jedi Knight, Cal Kentis. No longer the bumbling rookie that we first met in ‘Fallen Order’, Cal has spent the last 5 years in a long protracted guerilla war with the Empire.
Battle after battle has left Cal separated from his former comrades on the Mantis, all of whom have scattered into the winds in their own attempt to survive the encroaching fascism of the empire.
Despite all of Cal’s heroics, we know where this story is heading. Jed Survivor exists within the mammoth Star Wars canon and takes place 5 years before the events of the film Rogue One. The Empire will build their Death Star. No one will stop their advance until the adventures of Luke Skywalker.
Cal Kestis is fighting a losing battle; and like the audience, he knows it.
After a misguided attempt to gather Imperial intelligence data goes sideways on the city-planet of Coruscant (a flashy and bombastic opening intro sequence for the game), Cat Kestis crash-lands on the backwater planet of Koboh, and makes his way to the rundown settlement of Rambler’s Reach for ship repairs.
It’s here, in the crumbling ruins of a struggling frontier town where the game truly begins.
Cal Kestis reunites with old friend Greez Dritus (now owner of the ramshackle watering hole Pyloon’s Saloon in the center of the Reach) and unintentionally finds himself in the role of protector and guardian of the struggling town.
EXPLORATION AND COMMUNITY BUILDING
While there are big struggles going on in the foreground of Jedi: Survivor (a hunt for mysterious force powered Mcguffins, a conflict with territorial raiders, the promise of a planet shrouded from the empire) - it’s the exploration of Koboh’s many winding paths and the small stories of the Rambler’s Reach community that have stayed with me.
Koboh is a character unto itself. A mysterious frontier planet on the edge of the galaxy, filled with debris from both the clone wars and the golden days of the Jedi Order.
Hordes of prospectors flocked to Koboh in brighter days, lured by the hopes of striking it rich by mining out the planet’s treasured Priorite shards. Today; Koboh is a ghost-town, many prospectors have lost their lives to the angry alien fauna and territorial raiders that dot its sprawling landscape.
And what a planet it is.
Cal’s first few steps out onto the planet’s surface are carefully orchestrated to evoke maximum wonder. Here is Cal at the edge of a cliff-face, staring out at the massive, sprawling natural environment ahead of him.
A giant dinosaur like alien towers over the scenery; broken down mineshafts, caves and exciting ruins dot the landscape. It’s the same feeling that ‘Breath of the Wild’ or ‘Oblivion’ capture in their opening moments. ‘All of this is yours to explore’.
FINDING YOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE
Cal’s arrival is also an unintentional catalyst for the revival of Koboh.
Throughout his travels, Cal will stumble across down on their luck prospectors and adventurers throughout the galaxy, offering them shelter and security at Pyloon’s Saloon.
What starts as a rundown, busted dive bar soon turns into a thriving oasis of community in the face of the encroaching empire.
All sorts find their home at Pyloon’s; there’s the treasured fan favourite frog-like Turgle - a bumbling schemer, voiced brilliantly by Richard Horvitz of Invader Zim fame; old bumbling couple Gulu and Gido heckle and roast the town’s inhabitants; and the sound artist Asha Javi and her droid DJ companion DD-EC take up shop on the front-bar stage.
It’s a quick reminder how a community can manage to tenuously thrive at the fringes of oppression - and it provides a palpable reason for Cal Kestis to keep fighting; to find a home for those who need refuge from the Empire until it’s safe again.
A copy of STAR WARS JEDI SURVIVOR on PC and PlayStation 5 was provided to SIFTER for the purpose of this review.