Star Wars Jedi, Fallen Order review: Full of Force
(XO/PS4/PC) ★★★★ Age: 16+
Good news: Fallen Order hasn't been besmirched by pernicious lootboxes as was its predecessor, Battlefront II. Bad news: er, not that much actually, unless you count the limp storytelling and teeth-grinding backtracking that dominates the latter half of this lone-Jedi tale.
That's just a reflection of how low expectations were set by recent Star Wars games published by EA. Developed by Respawn (Titanfall, Apex Legends), Fallen Order inhabits several personalities - one minute, it's the acrobatic traversal of Uncharted, the next the rhythmic parry-and-counter combat of Dark Souls, then it tries a bit of Zelda-esque puzzle-dungeoning.
It anchors this melting pot of influences in a striking world of snowy mountain paths, dank caverns and tangled jungle. Overlaid with stirring Star Wars audio flourishes, Fallen Order makes a terrific first impression. Cal the Jedi chases a MacGuffin from planet to planet, engaging in lightsabre combat, dabbling in the Force and clambering around elaborate platforms.
Alas, the narrative - find the lost Jedis, something-something, evil Emperor Palpatine, yadda-yadda - makes little headway, projected as it is on to the blank slate that is Cal's milquetoast personality. It matters little at the outset as you're beguiled by stunning vistas and engaging gameplay.
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But it fails to drive you on later, as the quest drives you back through long levels you've already explored.
(XO/PS4/PC/Sw) ★★★★ Age: 18+
So Satan is really an Irishman? That's one of the least surprising elements of Afterparty, the latest millennial-morality talkie from the people who brought us 2016's terrific Oxenfree.
Two new university graduates wake up in Hell, clueless as to why they died and stuck in an afterlife loop of purgatorial torture followed (naturally!) by drinking at bars with Beelzebub and his demons. Like Oxenfree, what ensues is a stream of quickfire, snarky dialogue exchanges in which the duo poke reflectively at their inner-past lives in the way you might a rotten tooth.
It's funny, dark and laced with pathos. But mostly funny. Who wouldn't want the chance to drink Satan under the table (even if the voice actor is actually a bloke from Maryland who almost but can't quite nail the Irish accent)?