In praise of the brilliant ending of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

This article contains spoilers for the ending of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Rather appropriately, I begin this discussion of a Star Wars game with a lukewarm approach: game endings are often a bit rubbish. The usual structure is one last extra-hard level, one final boss fight, one cutscene to wrap it all up, and then the credits roll. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this framework, but it seems hard to get right. These last few levels are often a slog, relying on the weight of numbers or cheap tricks to present a challenge, and a game’s final boss isn’t necessarily the best or most memorable.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order follows the template, for the most part. There’s nothing too overbearing about the last section of the game, though I found its imprecise controls got the better of me during the final duel and I ended up dropping a difficulty level in frustration. Your enemy is defeated, you prepare for the traditional cutscene, and then JFO pulls the rug out from under you.

This is where we enter explicit spoiler territory, friends. You can’t say I didn’t warn you!

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

The final duel in question is between Jedi protagonist Cal Kestis and the Second Sister of the Inquisitorius, our friend Palpatine’s elite Jedi hunters, who you may know from the TV shows Rebels or Obi-Wan Kenobi. Their job is to clean up what’s left of the Jedi Order and kill or recruit anyone they find showing signs of Force powers.

The second sister is actually Trilla Suduri, the former apprentice of Cere Junda, the woman who pulled Cal along on his quest in the first place. (The quest is to find a fancy Jedi flashcard with a list of Force-sensitive children.) It’s one of several revelations you get throughout the game, like Cere actually being a Jedi, albeit a guilt-ridden one. for his failure to protect his student. Though Trilla appears to have completely given herself over to evil, Cal and Cere express hope that she can be saved.

As you might expect, Cal has no intention of killing her and Cere rushes to apologize to her for allowing her to be taken by the Empire. Trilla’s face softens and you see the telltale signs of a redemption arc.

Then Darth Vader appears.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

It’s an incredibly effective entry. While JFO features many familiar Star Wars traps and locations, it’s also happy to do its own thing and stays remarkably light on existing characters, with Saw Gerrera being the only one to make an appearance. It makes Vader’s appearance surprising and impactful, especially compared to the nostalgic bait-fest that is the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

Vader quickly dispatches a terrified Trilla, and as she rushes to avenge her student, he throws Cere into a pit of lava with a dismissive wave of his hand. As your attention turns to Cal, JFO hands control back to you.

It’s as frightening as it is unexpected. Recent Star Wars media has done a fantastic job of conveying just how frightening and powerful Vader really is, particularly the final scene of Rogue One. Cal is barely a Jedi, having spent most of the game gradually regaining the abilities he had as a Padawan. His fight against Trilla is portrayed as a desperate one, from which he only manages to emerge victorious. During the final level, you see Cere in action against the deadly Purge Troopers, who she deals with far more easily than Cal would. Vader killed them both in moments and now you have to fight him.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

In fact, it’s kind of a ruse. After a few ineffective strikes, the fight goes into quick event territory for a bit of frantic button-banging before you’re running for your life, relying on the acrobatic Jedi parkour that makes up much of the exploration side of the game. It’s brief, just a few minutes between scenes with QTE, but dramatic, with Vader destroying the catwalks you’re forcefully traversing as he pursues you with the relentless inevitability of a horror movie villain.

It’s an important reminder of what makes JFO tick. While the Dark Souls-influenced lightsaber fighting is a big part of the game, the puzzle and Uncharted-style platforming are equally prominent. It contextualizes combat and helps sell Cal as a man who only fights out of necessity, something Star Wars often struggles with due to his insistence on casting Jedi in the role of leaders in wartime. This also avoids the common game-ending pitfall of taking a game with a variety of different activities and systems and making the climax totally violent.

Before long, you’re running straight into Vader again (how dare he know the fastest routes through his own base) and Cal is gravely injured, save only by the heroics of the droid companion/real game star BD-1 and the sudden reappearance. from Cere. (Note: if someone in Star Wars is thrown off a building, or into a pit, lava, or the belly of a giant monster, just assume they survived. I expect Mace Windu to show up again any day now.)

This is Cere’s character’s big moment. When we first meet her, she broke away from the Force to avoid falling to the dark side (she succumbed once when she realized that the Empire had tortured and turned Trilla). Having awakened her abilities, she now faces the true test of her determination. . Filled with rage and rage, she attacks Vader, forcing him to his knees, but with Cal’s encouragement, she backs off the edge, defending the two of them from Vader rather than knocking him down and allowing their escape.

Safely back on the ship, the entire crew gathers and Cal makes the decision to destroy the Jedi memory stick to keep it out of the Empire’s hands and allow the children to have their own lives. It’s one of the most perfect game endings I’ve ever experienced and the peak of Star Wars. It is a victory against evil, but at a great cost. At the same time, it’s hopeful and full of found familiar warmth, satisfying but leaving you hungry for more.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order isn’t my favorite game, dammit, nor is it my favorite Star Wars game (that’s KotOR 2 if you’re wondering), but not only does it avoid falling into the final hurdle, but it crosses the final line at great style. As Donlan recently noted, Respawn knows how to create a very good single-player campaign and with JFO they have created a worthy chapter in the Star Wars saga.

Wait, what do you mean, Jedi Survivor late?

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