I’ve been looking forward to this since they originally announced it – a new Star Wars game that is a Souls-like made by a pretty competent developer. While I’m not a massive Star Wars fan, I do like the franchise and a lot of the aesthetic and lore it can bring to the table for a game like this is pretty cool.
This is one of those “it’s a mixed bag” situations, well, maybe I should say it WAS one until it stayed one and became not one from that fact. The game fails in a lot of objective technical ways that are extremely noticeable throughout, it also fails in more subjective ways. At the same time, there are some fantastic set pieces and sequences (such as a short bit where you have to swim over to a mud covered AT-AT while it’s on the assault to try and climb up and take it over) but I guess really I’d have to lean more heavily in the direction of it’s bad rather than “mixed”. The good moments simply don’t make up for all the problems here.
First off; what kind of game are you looking for? They promoted this as a Souls style game both in their way of talking about it and in pretty much all of the video content shown in promotional material/allowed by streamers/reviewers pre-release. It really isn’t one though aside a few mechanics (resting at a bonfire-equivalent and bringing enemies back to life though you never need to rest because you can level up without doing that anyway, dying in 2 fucking hits, etc) and is really more of an Uncharted game where Nathan Drake has a lightsaber instead of a gun.
This Uncharted problem is the case for three main reasons;
1. The game is almost all set in ancient temples like they thought they were making Tomb Raider. These ancient temples also consist of really awkward design making them annoying to navigate and often have stupid puzzle rooms you are required to complete to progress. Remember when Luke had to push giant balls around in an ancient mossy temple into giant ball holders to open more areas that had more giant balls to push into more giant ball holders?
2. The game is almost entirely an action-platformer like Tomb Raider and Uncharted, rather than anything else. Everything is jumping challenges constantly, wall running constantly, timing jumps constantly. Remember in Souls when 99% of the game was jumping from platform to platform?
3. The combat does, in some ways, try to mimic souls – but it fails to do so thanks to the sluggishness of the response. You’re better off just spamming attack than you are trying to actually play “properly”. If you parry then 90% of the time the enemy just auto blocks your counter attack anyway. If you block the enemy just hits you through the block because the block didn’t “turn on” in time no matter how early you were holding it down (and no, I don’t mean chip damage while blocking). Every enemy is designed like they are in Souls with combos that chain into you being hit a billion times without any chance to evade/block after the first hit but even if you parry half the time they just keep attacking or, as I said, they just block immediately anyway – both things making the parry/counterattack system useless yet what the game relies on you using to progress.
It’s not a Souls game at all, but it is a very mediocre action-adventure game heavily focused on platforming and a broken combat system. In that respect it’s totally fine, I didn’t hate playing it or anything but the broken parry system really does fuck up combat no matter how good you are at it and that becomes irritating very fast.
The story is bland – I’d probably blame the cast and settings for this the most rather than the actual writing itself. It’s written like Star Wars so it’s a bit simple but that’s totally fine. The problem really is everyone in that story is fucking lame and gives you nothing to like about them. The MC is generic but tolerable, despite being only 13% of the population EVERY named character aside the MC that is a ‘human’ is black for some reason and mostly female (even the antagonist), the wookies look hilariously awful, the clothing sucks – I mean you run around in a fucking poncho the whole game so even design wise there’s nothing memorable about anybody, and even the character stories suck. Black woman jedi took on a black girl who talks like an upper class European woman as a padiwan and the padiwan went to the dark side because the black woman jedi did a thing or some shit and for the same reason the black woman jedi turned her back on the force as a whole. Who cares? Also the black woman’s character design is actually like seriously creepy to look at – and the thing is it’s modeled pretty fucking accurately off of this ‘person’ from Mad TV back in the day who is just as much of a monstrosity in real life – arguably worse and more terrifying looking than her video game counterpart.
The 4 planets are all generic adventure game shit with literal temples designed like generic adventure game shit too. What is extremely sad about this is the game STARTS in a great way – while it focuses entirely on platforming (setting you up to know whats coming, at least) it takes place on a planet that is entirely for scavenging parts for the Empire from damaged ships/repairing their ships/etc. The visuals are stunning and even though you just run around on the debris of massive space ships for half an hour it still feels good because its in this awesome Star Wars setting while in the distance you can see a fucking star destroyer being taken apart. It’s cool. The writing here is better too, ultimately with the death of the only endearing character as the start of the story. This is not one of the 4 planets in the game. This is gone after you finish the intro of the game. No other planet is like it either. Forest with forest-y houses. Desert with desert-y houses (and “Magick” and “Witches”, which I guess are both canon things in Star Wars because it’s retarded shit for children at it’s core). Cold place with snow and loads of retarded SLIP N SLIDE sections which require you to automatically slide down these shitty swervy paths and do pixel perfect jumps without warning to grab near-invisible ropes and shit. Boggy planet named literally Bogano with bog-like houses. That’s it. That’s the entirety of the planets to explore and you simply go back and forth 800 times between them.
The story is really also just kind of non-existent. I tried to follow it but honestly it barely exists. You just go from planet to planet (and more often than not, back and forth between the same ones because there ARE ONLY 4 TOTAL PLANETS IN THE GAME and you see all of them in the first couple of hours) because it says to, and once you go to the planet (for the 8th time) you go through its swervy very overly unnaturally vertical maze of a landscape from a generic fantasy game rather than Star Wars and usually through yet another fucking temple of some kind fighting off Tomb Raider boss enemies, rats that kill you in 2 hits, dealing with forced-sliding sections and 8 minute elevator rides, and rarely fighting some stormtroopers if you’re lucky.
This is a barely identifable Star Wars property – and that really kills it. The times you’re daeling with the Empire are actually pretty cool. There are some good sequences and overall the Imperial aesthetic has always been awesome. Running around in a prison run by stormtroopers for their enslaved wookies wasn’t terrible and exploring the crashed remains of a star destroyer was visually great. Fighting stormtroopers is also a lot more enjoyable than the rest of the combat – and yet, just like the Empire in general and locations featuring any of their construction, ever seeing them is pretty rare. The vast majority of the game, I mean like 90% of it, is fighting generic wildlife you’d find as early-grind MMO quest monsters to kill 15 of in some old temple or forest. Oddly those creatures kill you way faster than stormtroopers and also take way way way more damage to kill.
Furthering the problems of this game are the load times. Every planet is EXTREMELY vertically designed – so unnaturally that it comes off as a purposeful joke, as satire about lazy and cheap game design, and yet it is all genuine. The reason they designed it this way is so that they could fit in loads of loading zones masked by elevators – and boy, do they ever. There are a shit ton of vertical 30 second to 1 minute+ elevator rides all over every world, even ones that are 99% just some nature area there just happens to be an Imperial elevator built in too for you to ride for an hour to load the next area.
The one world with less verticality (though still plenty, including an elevator that LEADS TO 1 ROOM WITH 1 POINTLESS CRATE WITH A COSMETIC ITEM and takes A FULL MINUTE TO LOAD not just going down but AGAIN when you go back up to leave it) would be Kashyyyk and it, instead, replaced elevators with the entire game freezing up for anywhere from 8 to 30 seconds at a time. Completely freezing and in the same exact locations every time. Those locations? About every 3 minutes while in that world you’ll run into another one.
You’d think with these loads you’d at least get a good looking game that runs smoothly, but no. The FPS has loads of problems constantly (again, worst of all on Kashyyyk which BARELY manages to run on my PS4 slim) and textures seem to take upwards of 10 minutes to finally pop in. More amazing is the fact that during cutscenes characters will not exist while speaking and while they’re supposed be on camera – then they FINALLY load in, popping in out of nowhere with magic, after several lines of the camera focused on emptiness. This is a regular occurrence. And when they do pop in, they are smooth all over and blurry because the texture isn’t loaded still either. Beyond that, the textures just look ugly anyway, even when fully loaded in everything looks like a late PS3 game at best, especially character models which are all very smeary and smooth.
It is appalling that the game was released like this, it might be one of the most broken recent AAA titles in terms of basic technical issues. Its fucking ridiculous, maybe it runs better on PC or PS4 Pro but I doubt it’s a huge difference and it still wouldn’t excuse how fucked it is here.
The one thing I can say was actually really good is that my favorite thing in Star Wars is stormtroopers and whenever they try to showcase them as just normal dudes it is always great in the franchise as a whole – this is the one thing the game does excel at. No joke, it’s extremely endearing every time you are around them. If they don’t know you’re there they have some good dialogue among one another; sometimes joking around, sometimes being scared because they’re fairly new to the force (hehe), sometimes feeling desperation about the war never ending, sometimes bragging about killing some local beast, stuff like that. When they do know you are there they are also done very believably, some yell out support for their squadmates, some are cocky, some clearly PRETEND to be cocky, some are terrified and will react (just verbally) if you save them for last after killing all their comrades, some will let out some yell of excitement about managing to actually hurt a Jedi if they hit you, etc. It’s pretty cool and fun. However, it’s rare, due to the rarity of the troopers in the first place.
All in all, while it has huge problems, I’d like to say the game is still “fine” at worst but I don’t really know if it’d be true. The problem is all those issues over and over again in the same 4 smallish locations with no real variation or progress or story or anything ends up very tiring and just a total chore rather than as entertainment. Do I hate it or think it’s shit? It’s hard to say no but I’d say it’s just extremely mediocre. It still has good stuff in it and running around with force powers and a lightsaber (especially a dual one like Maul’s which you can do) feels fucking cool. It’s just sad it feels like they only were able to finish a quarter of the game in time for release and that they seemingly just swapped their assets into stuff they had set aside for a generic jungle adventure platformer title.
Then again, you befriend a giant forest beast by pulling out a thing from its wing and fly around on it like this is some kind of Lord of the Rings game or something and it goes for almost 2 minutes while “showing off” the horrible graphics that haven’t loaded textures in yet for most of it to just drop you off at the next shitty platform puzzle section on the same planet for the 90th time so you can see a horrendous monster of a woman tell you some stupid shit you don’t care about. So I don’t really know how to feel. I don’t know if I’m missing something because I’m amazed by the near perfect across the board scores on every platform and massive praise by every reviewer.
If it’s like $10-15 bucks go ahead and get it, it’s worth the value at that point – anything higher and I’d recommend against it. $20 max if you REALLY want to play something with a lightsaber.