Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Brought Me Back to Star Wars

Games Features Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Brought Me Back to Star Wars

Some of my earliest memories are holding a bottle of glue while my cousins built models of the Millenium Falcon and AT-ATs or helping them hang up boxed action figures to line their walls. Like many, I played my Star Wars VHS tapes until they literally could not be played anymore. I love Star Wars; I always have. That said, I’m not up to date on everything that has come out over the last several years.

There have been 10 seasons of TV, not to mention the countless comic series from Marvel Comics and IDW, with multiple series of books that range from exploring Padme and Leia to telling new stories in The High Republic, all that have come out since The Rise of Skywalker. Somewhere in all of that, I got lost.

Don’t get me wrong; having so many different stories in Star Wars isn’t a bad thing. There are spy thrillers, heist stories, and the timeline of the galaxy far far away is extending with the High Republic. But like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there is just too much for me to keep pace with. If I’m lucky, I can work in maybe one show a quarter that isn’t something I’m reviewing as a critic. Reading time is even slimmer. And my lack of time has impacted my love for a franchise that I hold near and dear to my heart. There is too much and no matter how many times I tell myself I’m going to jump in, it feels like any picture I can get will be incomplete, requiring familiarity with something that I haven’t watched yet. And so, I don’t start at all. 

This isn’t a take on the quality of stories; from what I’ve seen I’ve enjoyed both Andor and Star Wars Visions. Still, it’s overwhelming, and I feel my knowledge of this universe will always be incomplete. Or rather, I felt incomplete until I played Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

With a videogame, you don’t need to have done much else other than play the game before it, and even then, this sequel felt extremely accessible to new players when I played the first three hours of the game back in March. Sure, fans who have lovingly devoured every piece of Star Wars out there will get more from certain story choices and locations, but that extra knowledge isn’t necessary to make the experience great. Unlike the upcoming Ahsoka series or even this most recent season of The Mandalorian, I don’t have to have seen Rebels to have a payoff. I don’t have to know about the High Republic, I can just be Cal and experience his story. 

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is an access point that doesn’t intimidate me with mountains of lore, nor feel wholly dependent on things before it. There isn’t a marketing campaign urging me to watch more and more from Disney+, and if I hadn’t played Jedi: Fallen Order, I could easily do so since the game is on Xbox Game Pass. The bar for entry is to just pick up a controller and play.

I’m not saying I won’t ever watch the Star Wars series or finally get around to listening to the different audiobooks I have downloaded. But it’s become such a huge, sprawling franchise that I need an easy way to jump back in. 

Cal Kestis is that reentry point for me. He’s a character with a slate informed by one game and a limitless future. In Jedi: Survivor you get to play as a jedi with five different fight stances and explore planets across the galaxy. Beyond that, the new Rumor System taps into what I love about the franchise, the way stories live on within the confines of the media created as much as for audiences. As a franchise, the galaxy is held together by stories, legends that persist across the planets about rebels and jedis and that are told through the people who encounter them. The Rumor System taps into this to allow the player to pick up side quests, but for me, it’s a welcome return to a world of stories. 

While I’m entirely overwhelmed by the amount of Star Wars there are right now, their existence makes me think of how many generations will continue to make their first memories with the franchise, or what will make others like me come back to it. I could see Jedi: Survivor work for both. As a videogame, there is a lot to grab onto even outside of the Star Wars of it all. It has stellar combat, killer platforming, and a story that’s accessible to people who aren’t well-versed in Star Wars lore, but still has enough of it to hint at the depth and scope of this universe. And just by getting to play as a jedi, I’m reminded why I love this franchise. More importantly, I remember what it is to feel something new within Star Wars without the burden of spending hours of my time somewhere else first just to appreciate it. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is how I’m coming back to the galaxy far far away, just when I thought I couldn’t. 

Kate Sánchez is a pop culture journalist and co-founder of But Why Tho? A Geek Community.

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