This excerpt contains spoilers for the ending of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
As appropriate, I begin this discussion of the Star Wars game with Luke’s warm approach: the games’ endings are quite often a bit cheesy. The usual structure is an extremely difficult final level, a final boss fight, a cutscene that sums it all up, then roll the credits. There is nothing wrong with this structure, but it seems to be difficult to fix. The latter levels are often the motto, relying on numbers or cheap tricks to challenge, and the game’s final boss isn’t necessarily the best or most memorable.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order mostly follows the mold. There’s nothing overly bossy about the last part of the game, although I found its imprecise controls to beat me during the last matchup and I ended up lowering the difficulty out of frustration. Your nemesis is defeated, you settle for the traditional cutscene, then JFO tugs the rug from under you.
This is where we go directly into clear spoiler territory, buddies. You can’t say I didn’t warn you!
The final showdown is between Jedi hero Cal Kestis and the Inquisitor’s Second Sister, our friend Palpatine’s elite Jedi hunters you may know from Rebels or Obi-Wan Kenobi’s TV shows. Their mission is to sweep away the remnants of the Jedi Order and kill or recruit anyone who shows signs of Force power.
The Second Sister is actually Trilla Suduri, a former student of Cere Junda, the woman who drew Cal to his mission in the first place. (The quest is to find a fancy Jedi memory card with a list of Force-sensitive children.) This is one of the many revelations that occur throughout the game, such as Cere being a Jedi herself, though racked with guilt for failing to protect her apprentice. . While Trilla seems to have given herself entirely to evil, both Cal and Cere express hope that she can be saved.
As expected, Cal has no intention of killing her, and Cere rushes in to apologize for allowing the Empire to kidnap her. Trilla’s face softens and you see the telltale signs of a redemption arc.
Then Darth Vader shows up.
This is an incredibly effective entrance. While JFO features many familiar Star Wars traps and locations, it’s also happy to do its thing and stay extremely light on existing characters, with Saw Gerrera being the only one to make an appearance. This makes Vader’s appearance both surprising and impressive, especially compared to the festival of nostalgic lure that is the sequel to the Star Wars trilogy.
Vader quickly dispatches a terrified Trilla, and when she rushes in to avenge her apprentice, he dismissively throws Cere into the lava pit. When his attention is focused on Cal, JFO transfers control back to you.
It’s as scary as it is unexpected. Recent Star Wars media has done a fantastic job of showing how terrifying and powerful Vader really is, especially the final scene of Rogue One 1. Barely a Jedi, Cal spent most of the game gradually regaining the abilities he possessed as a Padawan. His fight with Trilla is portrayed as a desperate one that he just emerges victorious from. In the final level, you see Cere in action against the deadly Purge Soldiers, which she deals with much easier than Cal. Vader killed them both in a matter of moments and now you have to fight him.
In fact, it is something of a trick. After a few unsuccessful attacks, combat moves into quick-event territory for some frantic button-pounding before you run for your life, relying on Jedi acrobatic parkour that makes up a large part of the game’s exploration. It’s short, only a few minutes between the QTE cutscenes, but dramatic, with Vader tearing up the pavements you traverse with force, chasing you with the relentless inevitability of a slasher movie villain.
It’s an important reminder of what makes JFO work. While Dark Souls-inspired lightsaber combat is a huge part of the game, Uncharted-style puzzles and platforming are just as prominent. It contextualizes combat and helps market Cal as a man who only fights out of necessity, something Star Wars often struggles with due to its insistence on casting the Jedi as war leaders. It also avoids the typical game-ending pitfall of taking the game with different actions and systems and culminating in violence.
You soon run straight into Vader again (how dare he know the fastest routes through his own base) and Cal is badly injured, only saved by the heroism of fellow droid/true game star BD-1 and the sudden reappearance of Waxy. (Sidenote: If someone in Star Wars is thrown off a building or into a pit, lava, or belly of a giant monster, just assume they survive. I expect Mace Windu to reappear any day now.)
This is a big moment for Cere. When we first meet her, she shut herself off from the Force to avoid going to the Dark Side (she once succumbed when she realized the Empire had tortured and turned Trilla). After awakening his abilities, he faces a real test of his determination. Full of anger and hatred, she lunges at Vader, forcing him to his knees, but with Cal’s encouragement, she backs off the edge, defending them both from Vader rather than knocking him down and allowing them to escape.
Safely back on his ship, the entire crew assembles and Cal makes the decision to destroy the Jedi memory in order to keep it out of Imperial hands and let the children aboard live their lives. It’s one of the most perfect game endings I’ve ever experienced and the pinnacle of Star Wars. It is a victory over evil, but at a great price. At the same time, it is full of hope and family warmth, satisfying, but leaving you hungry for more.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order isn’t my favorite game, heck, it’s not even my favorite Star Wars game (that’s KotOR 2 if you’re wondering) but it not only avoids falling on the final hurdle, it crosses the finish line in style . As Donlan recently pointed out, Respawn knows how to make a damn good single-player campaign, and with JFO, they’ve created a worthy chapter in the Star Wars saga.
Wait, what do you mean Jedi Survivor is delayed?