I'll preface this review by saying that I'm hesitant to call myself a Star Wars fan. Through a combination of being born in the early 90's, having a dad who was really more of a Star Trek guy, and not having the patience for movies as an adult, I've only seen Episodes I - III. I haven't watched The Mandalorian. I don't even get why people are so into Baby Yoda, aside from "Baby Yoda" being a great punchline to 40+ years of Star Wars. My most in-depth knowledge of Star Wars lore comes from a Weird Al Yankovic parody of "American Pie" called "The Saga Begins".
Despite all this, I love a good Star Wars game. In fact, I have been known to love a not-so-good Star Wars game. My first exposure to Star Wars as a video game was the Episode I podracing game, followed shortly after by Jedi Power Battles. I'm willing to bet that my friend Nathan and I played more of the Clone Wars game for GameCube than the vast majority of people who owned it. I even had a weird fascination with Bounty Hunter. However, the games that cemented Star Wars' status as "good video game universe" in my mind were Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Battlefront II -- the original one, not the more recent one. Boy, video game names are a mess!
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is also kind of a mess of a name, but I'm happy to say that the game is, overall, absolutely not a mess. It feels tight, polished, and moves at a brisk pace. Even as someone not familiar with Dark Souls or much Star Wars, I found myself engaged and enjoying the game all the way through.
Well, almost all the way through -- I should mention that, after completing the first world, I chose to drop the difficult down to the easiest setting. This is my first experience with any sort of Souls-like game, and I found my ass being thoroughly kicked after leaving Bogano and heading to Dathomir. Granted, Dathomir is an optional stop that seems much more difficult than Zeffo, the planet on the critical path, but I frankly wasn't enjoying the difficulty. My experience was much better after bumping it down, and the game doesn't punish you for doing so. I appreciate that Jedi didn't force me to get good, because my time is limited and I probably would've just started playing something else.
Combat is deep, engaging, and can quickly become overwhelming when you're facing a mixture of ranged and melee enemies. Blocking is absolutely required in this game: it feels like the natural progression of the Arkham-style "press X to hit and Y to dodge" combat. My skill improved toward the end of the game, and though I was still playing on easy, I was taking less damage and blocking/dodging more accurately. The difficulty of encounters is a nice, smooth ramp -- well, besides that optional Dathomir stop.
The holo-map system leaves nothing to the imagination, and I could see players either appreciating this, or strongly disliking it. Personally, I like that the game is very clear about what I can and can't do. There's no time wasted trying to figure out if there's some way I can make that jump, or if I simply need to return with an ability that's unlocked later in the game.
Speaking of abilities, the movement in this game is fun! Respawn doesn't quite hit Titanfall levels of rocketing yourself through levels, but it's satisfying to combine wall-running and rope-jumping and all the other ways the game lets you traverse its (very!) large environments. The visual language used to denote areas where these abilities can be used is consistent and easy to spot. I never found myself "stuck" for more than a minute or two, and when I was, it was usually in a fast-moving section when I was unsure where the game was trying to direct me.
However, the size of the levels can be a little daunting. Although you do unlock shortcuts as you progress through levels, it can take a long time to trek from your ship all the way to the end of the level just to unlock a cosmetic collectible from a chest. At the end of my playthrough, I found myself close to 100% completion, but backtracking through levels to hunt for missing collectibles seemed daunting and uninteresting. The ability to fast travel to previously-used meditation circles would help immensely.
I've read other reviews that mention bugs, and I did encounter a few: first, I swung on a rope to a side area of a level that didn't load all the way. I had to find invisible climbing walls through trial and error in order to make it back to the normally-loaded play area. This was fixed by simply saving, closing the game entirely, and restarting it. I also experienced one hard crash during combat where I lost about five minutes of progress. Overall, my experience was mostly unaffected by bugs.
Jedi: Fallen Order is one of those games that you're probably safe to recommend to anyone who likes video games and doesn't hate Star Wars. It's not particularly groundbreaking, but it looks great, plays well, and is fun to the end.