Earlier in this series I pointed out how Fallen Order didn’t make us endure one or two chapters of the story before allowing us to have a lightsaber. But here we are nearing the endgame and suddenly the writer feels the need to slam on the brakes and have us spend a couple of hours working to re-acquire a lightsaber.
To a certain extent, I can understand the need for this sequence within the story. Cal has just reached his crisis point and confronted his inner demons. The skeletons are out of his closet, and he’s finally unleashed the emotional outburst he’s been bottling up for the last five years. Having him construct a new lightsaber is a really good way to symbolize his internal struggle. His old self is broken, and to get over his emotional baggage he needs to build something new. Star Wars has always been great at literalizing internal struggles like this.
On the other hand, this timing is a little weird. We’ve now been rejected at the doorstep of the Dathomir temple for the third time. Cal’s breakdown feels like something that should happen at the end of a temple. What I’d expect is that the “treasure” inside the temple is some kind of knowledge that transforms him. The way this is structured, it feels like he has his personal crisis on his way to something else.
This isn’t inherently wrong or anything, it’s just a little odd. I can’t escape the notion that we’re looking at some seams left behind by cut content or last-minute rewrites. I’ll come back and pull on this thread of cut content later in the series, but for now let’s just head for the Jedi world of…
This snow world was apparently a major Jedi stronghold. It’s where they mine the Kyber Crystals used to construct lightsabers. I’m a casual movies-only fan, so I’ve never heard of it, but according to the Wiki this place is a big deal in the EU. The core of this planet was made of Kyber Crystals, which were mined to construct the first two death stars. Then the planet was converted into Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens.
Which suggests that – at this point in history – this planet should be crawling with Imperial forces. There should be an extensive mining operation here since they’re currently building Death Star 1.0. Also, unless the Empire is made entirely of idiots, there ought to be some troops keeping an eye on this place in case a few Jedi stragglers wander inSpoiler: There are. Kinda..
But for whatever reason, the place seems deserted. This is lucky, since Cal doesn’t have a lightsaber.
Confusingly, Cere gives Cal her lightsaber as he disembarks. Now, it’s natural for the player to assume that she’s loaning us her saber so we can get through the caverns ahead. But this doesn’t seem to be the case. Cal very obviously puts her lightsaber in his pocket, and then for the next forty minutes of gameplay when you hit the attack button he looks down at his belt in confusion because he seems to think he doesn’t have one.
Why? Why doesn’t he just use Cere’s saber until he can get his own fixed?
Is That a Lightsaber in Your Pocket?
This wouldn’t be a problem, but the game throws a couple of probe droids at you and you need to fight them with only force powers. I wouldn’t mind doing this, but I feel stupid doing it when I know I have a working lightsaber in my pocket. Did the story explicitly say that Cere’s lightsaber is broken and I somehow missed it? I went through the game three times and I like to think I wouldn’t miss a detail like that, but I have no idea why Cal couldn’t use it on the way.
At the end of a lot of platforming and puzzle-solving, Cal finally gets a fresh crystal. He then combines his lightsaber with Cere’s, so he can switch between normal saber mode, dual-saber modeLike Dath Maul had in Phantom Menace., and twin saber modeLike Anakin used briefly in Attack of the Clones.. That explains why he brought Cere’s lightsaber, but it doesn’t explain why he wouldn’t use her lightsaber on the way here.
(I have this personal headcanon that Cere lent him the lightsaber to defend himself on the way, and facepalmed when he didn’t use it and instead came back with their two lightsabers stuck together. She didn’t have the heart to tell him how stupid he’d been or that he owed her a lightsaber.)
I’m very curious what color Cere’s lightsaber would have been if Cal had bothered to turn it on. We have to assume that her original lightsaber was confiscated when she was captured. Did she recover that lightsaber? Did she build a new one? Is this a red one she acquired during her escape? I’d love to know. It’s wrapped in leather straps and looks a bit “earthy”, so I suspect that this is intended to be her original lightsaber. A Sith saber would no doubt be gleaming polished metal. Earth tones are for those hippie Jedi types. So the odds are good that this saber would have been green or blueI remember that in some works, the green / blue lightsabers denote what KIND of Jedi you are. Is that still a thing, or was that idea killed in the purge when Disney took over?.
Anyway, you also get to pick your lightsaber color. There are lots of choices, but like 90% of players I just choose Mace Windu purple. Windu wasn’t the coolest character in the movies, but he was played by the coolest actor in the entire franchise.
Well, we have a lightsaber again. I guess it’s time for us to have yet another go at the temple on Dathomir. Except, it’s actually time for another silly conversation with Holo-Cordova. BD-1 begins playing this message just before Cal builds his new saber.
Cordova Strikes Back
This is a pep talk where Cordova talks about how much he trusts BD-1 to find the right person to go on this ridiculous scavenger hunt and by extension, how much he believes in Cal. This is a final affirmation that Cal is the right person for this job.
So… is this message tied to a specific location as the others have been? Did Cordova know that our journey would feature a detour that takes us specifically to this place? If Cordova knew we were going to end up here, and if he knew he would trust us implicitly, then why didn’t he just leave the holocron here? Or back on Bogano? But if he didn’t, then who is this pep talk for? Was he trying to inspire his robot?
Yes, it’s true that we can’t obtain the holocron without the Astrum, but that’s only because Cordova put it in a location that required the Astrum. If he was prescient enough to foresee this particular branch in the story, then he also should have been able to foresee that most of his plan was a risky, violent, and nonsensical diversion.
He could see the future well enough to know that his successor would stand here at some point in their journey, but not enough to see that the journey itself was pointless?
I get the intent here. Back on the ship, Cal and Cere had a big conversation about resisting the Dark Side. Cal ended the conversation by saying he’s finally going to figure out who he really is. (By going on this lightsaber pilgrimage.) At the end, things looked bleak and it seemed like he was about to freeze to death. But then he got a fresh dose of hope and finished the job. This is who he is. I suppose this is equivalent to the moment when Luke threw away his lightsaber at the end of RotJ. He’s passed the test, and found his true self.
So now that Cal has passed his internal test, I guess BD-1 has decided that he’s really THE ONE? But that doesn’t unlock any memories that are useful to this quest.
I like the writer’s intent here, but it doesn’t work for me because I always spend these scenes trying to figure out when Cordova recorded these messages, in what order, how he intended this to work, and what triggers them in the present. I realize we’re in a drama-first setting here, but come on.
A Needless and Petty Gripe
Since the story slammed on the brakes an hour ago, I figure I may as well use this time to air a grievance that’s too trivial and small-minded to be worth discussing while the plot is moving. Specifically, I dislike how this author has named their characters.
Don’t get me wrong, the names themselves are fine. They mostly follow the familiar three-syllable pattern. It doesn’t apply to all names in this universe, but a fast-and-dirty way to generate Star Wars names is to have two names that add up to three syllables. Say a bunch of them together and you can feel the rhythm of the naming style: Mace Windu, Count Duku, Han Solo, Darth Vader, Kit Fisto, Jyn Erso, Nute Gunray, Rune Haako, Swoo Jeffo, Boba Fett, Jengo Fett, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Jimmy Smits.
This game gives us lots of names that fit the patternParticularly our leads Cal Kestis, Cere Junda, and Greez Dritus.. My problem is that too many names start with the same letter.
This is something I strive to avoid in my own novels. If you’re going to be throwing a lot of names at the audience, then you can really help them to keep everything straight by having the names begin with different first letters. Sauron / Saruman is the classic violation of this idea, and the world is full of first-time readers that were confused by having two major villains that had such similar-looking names.
In this game, the good Jedi are Cere, Cal, and Cordova. The only two named characters on Dathomir are Malicos and Merrin. The secondary Jedi characters are Tapal and Trilla. Greez and Sorc Tormo are the only two people that don’t have easily-confused namesBD-1 is also easy to remember, but if you’re getting droid names confused with people names then I think you’ve got problems that can’t be fixed by changing letters.. I didn’t get the names confused while playing, but I did have a hard time remembering anyone’s name. I feel like using more unique first letters would have been a big help.
Cere could have been Sere. Merrin could have been Nerrin or Zerrin. Cordova could have been named Stoop Doltor to reflect his special style of obstructionist stupidity.
The Empire Strikes Again
The Empire attacks the Jedi temple. Cere worries that they’re being tracked or followed somehow, but I like to think that the Empire left those two probe droids behind to keep an eye on the place, and this invasion is the result of us blowing them up. That makes the Empire feel smart in a way that, “The magical technology that everyone uses and has no firm rules has decided to screw us today” does not.
Although, if I was running the Inquisition and someone informed me that we’d lost a couple of probe droids at the sacred Jedi lightsaber-building temple, I wouldn’t just send a bunch of troopers. I’d pound the big red SITH AGENTS button until every single person in a black cloak and an impractical helmet was headed for Ilum.
Cal carves up a couple of metric tons of stormtroopers, followed by a couple of AT-STs. The combat is pretty dense and I could tell the developer was really encouraging me to go to town after the long no-saber drought. That’s a nice gesture, but I was eager to get back to the temple on Dathomir. Which means that all of these cannon fodder mooks felt like more unwelcome distractions. I guess your mileage may vary.
A Temple of Caves?
I will say that this section of the game is the least immersive of them all. Like I said earlier in this series, troopers are sometimes stationed on platforms that can be accessed via doors or elevators, but all too often they’re guarding a position that has no strategic value and is unreachable without jetpacks or Jedi powers.
Here on Ilum, not only are the troopers guarding unreachable nothing, the environments themselves don’t make a lick of sense. Check out this image:
On the other planets, we’d encounter these narrow twisted beams that look like tree roots. At the time, I assumed they were tree roots. That makes sense on Dathomir and Kashyyyk, since knotty roots are a big part of the style in those locations. But here on Ilum, there aren’t any trees visible anywhere on the landscape. And even if there were, it doesn’t make sense to have them coming out of the walls of a cave inside a temple. But if these things aren’t roots, then what the hell are they?
The whole thing just feels sort of thoughtless and none of it feels integrated with the world. It’s like the level designers were just told to make trooper-infested obstacle courses and we’d texture them later once we found out where the game was going to be set.
Did the Jedi really bring busloads of padawans to balance on frozen tree roots over bottomless pits so they could wall-run over to a narrow ledge? I get that they were always massively irresponsible with the children in their care, but this is ridiculous. Even ignoring the inevitable casualties, getting a large group through one of these rooms would take bloody ages. The front of this place looks like a temple, but the inside is just natural caves and crumbling ice. It doesn’t feel sensible or lived-in. It’s also lacking the serenity and grandeur that I would expect from a “Jedi Temple”.
Did every single pilgrim have to scale the face of the building? I don’t mind the idea that the place is frozen over in a way that makes traversal difficult / interesting for our protagonist, but there’s no hint that this place was ever navigable on foot. It made the whole place feel very videogame-y. This Jedi temple just doesn’t have the Star Wars “feel” I’d expect from a Jedi Temple.
But hang on, what is that supposed to mean? What is the Star Wars “feel”? Are we talking story tropes? Music? Art style? Themes? Would I like this section more if the writer added the cantina music and Leia in a metal bikini? What am I asking for here?
We can talk about that, but these days we can’t get anywhere near the topic of the “Star Wars feel” without having a long, bitter, and needlessly hostile argument about The Last Jedi.
Since the plot is currently spinning its wheels, I think now is a good time to stop and explore this question. Hopefully without so much rancor.
 Spoiler: There are. Kinda.
 Like Dath Maul had in Phantom Menace.
 Like Anakin used briefly in Attack of the Clones.
 I remember that in some works, the green / blue lightsabers denote what KIND of Jedi you are. Is that still a thing, or was that idea killed in the purge when Disney took over?
 Particularly our leads Cal Kestis, Cere Junda, and Greez Dritus.
 BD-1 is also easy to remember, but if you’re getting droid names confused with people names then I think you’ve got problems that can’t be fixed by changing letters.
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