Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.
This section was a long one, even by my standards, so I hope you’ve got a drink at the ready as we could be here for a little while! Last time we left Cal and the gang on Kashyyyk, having determined that the next destination was Dathomir. Cal had defeated the Ninth Sister, befriended a shyyyo bird I named Buckbeak, and after listening to another recording of Master Cordova, had made it back to the Mantis. Upon loading into the game, Cal was standing outside the ship and got a couple of lines of dialogue from Cere and Greez, mostly just discussing the situation on Kashyyyk. At the galaxy map I was all ready to set course for Dathomir when Greez suggested we backtrack to Zeffo – he thought there might be some loot worth getting in the wreckage of the crashed ship. Despite wanting to get on with the story, the return to Bogano last time proved very fruitful so I decided to go along with it.
The flight to Zeffo was uneventful, and after landing at the usual spot, Cal spoke to Cere and Greez again. It turned out that Cere had once been a Jedi seeker – using her skills to locate Force-sensitives for the Jedi Order. Teaching Trilla what she knew led to the latter becoming a particularly successful Jedi-hunter. Cal headed in what I hoped was the direction of the Venator’s wreckage. At one point I got turned around in the ice caves, and it took a little while to find my way out. Another duo of bounty hunters beset Cal near the entrance to the first tomb, and this was another tough fight.
I didn’t go back into the tomb; I’m not even sure if the tombs were still accessible, but even if they were there’s no point. Eventually Cal made it to the wreckage of the Venator-class ship, and to be fair there was a lot we hadn’t explored here. Last time Cal basically looked over about 10% of the ship en route to the Imperial excavation site, and after escaping Trilla and the tomb was captured by the bounty hunters, precluding a return to the crashed ship. This time, I ignored the route that led to the dig site and proceeded deeper into the wrecked ship. The ship is sitting in a large body of water, and now able to dive below the surface, Cal found a hidden chest. An ice slide then led further into the ship, seemingly through one of its engines. The ship still had some power – during the slide Cal had to avoid some dangerous-looking electrical columns and vents.
Inside the wreck, Cal spoke briefly to BD-1 about his earlier life. As a Jedi padawan he lived aboard a Venator-class ship with Master Tapal; demolishing them as a scrapyard worker on Bracca was hard for him. There were several Force echoes amongst the wreckage, telling the story of a Jedi Master and her apprentice who were attacked and killed during Order 66. Cal eventually found their remains.
Also in the wreck were a number of troopers, including a Purge trooper. Once again, I have no idea how the troopers got to be in the parts of the level where they were. For Cal to get there took a lot of climbing, swimming, swinging, and using Force powers, so it kind of makes no sense that Stormtroopers would be able to be in these hidden areas in my opinion. There was another bounty hunter to fight in the wreck too, and I’m increasingly convinced that the bounty hunter attacks are not scripted and their locations are random. As usual I found the bounty hunter fight difficult, but was eventually able to prevail.
The reward for half an hour’s worth of exploration was meagre – a few customisation options, which were mostly lightsaber parts, and a single new stim for BD-1. Additional stim-packs are useful, there’s no denying that. But Zeffo is a large level and the Venator wreck took time to navigate; I was hoping for something more, I suppose. After collecting the stim-pack upgrade there was also the matter of making a safe return to the Mantis which was all the way on the other side of the level.
While exiting the Venator wreck I spotted a smaller area off to the side of the main crash site that I also explored. Inside was a holo-recording of a Clone Trooper commander, and another bounty hunter to fight. These guys definitely have it out for Cal! This section was thankfully smaller and took less time to explore, but also contained nothing of value. A couple of Force echoes added to the story of the Jedi Master and padawan, but that was it. I headed back to the Mantis via the ice caves as I remembered that there was a cable-car in there.
Aside from one annoying puzzle which involved moving a box, wall-running, and jumping to cross a gap, the Venator wreck was an easy enough level. And it was a nice change of scenery from Jedi: Fallen Order’s previous levels, as well as being somewhat reminiscent of Rey’s exploration of the wrecked Star Destroyer on Jakku in The Force Awakens. After backtracking through the ice caves and fending off a few more Stormtroopers, Cal made it back to the Mantis. Cere piped up, suggesting another diversion back to Bogano, but as I’m fairly confident I got everything worth having last time I decided to ignore her and go to Dathomir this time. I was itching to continue the story – even if I wasn’t excited at the prospect of battling those Night Brothers again!
After landing, Cal spoke to Greez and Cere. Greez was frightened of Dathomir and insisted on staying aboard the ship, but Cere was standing just outside. Greez told Cal to go easy on Cere following the revelation about Trilla, and in this conversation dropped a nice little easter egg about a “castle on Takodana” that makes great cocktails – a reference to Maz Kanata from the sequel trilogy. Outside the ship I spotted a rock formation that I hadn’t seen last time – it looked like it could be a shortcut into the level but there was no way to climb it. Before heading off to get back to the crumbling bridge that thwarted Cal’s first attempt to explore Dathomir, Cere wanted to chat. She basically warned Cal to be careful, and in an optional conversation they spoke about Cal healing his connection to the Force. Despite their differences, Cere appears in this moment to care for Cal and act as his mentor.
The path through Dathomir to the bridge was familiar to me after having spent time here earlier in the game. After that debacle, I was half-hoping that the double-bladed lightsaber upgrade Cal acquired on that trip would prove itself useful at some point. Unfortunately it didn’t; aside from a single special move that Cal could learn (throwing the double-bladed weapon around him in a wide circle) it seems to make no difference, and Cal could have stuck with using the single-bladed variant. That first visit to Dathomir was thus a complete waste of time, and detracts from what has otherwise been a decent story. The wanderer Cal met last time is still standing on the bridge in the same spot, and it’s as if no time has passed at all. As I said previously, I’m happy with a linear game that requires me to take a specific path. Jedi: Fallen Order is clearly this kind of game. But with that being the case, the game should not have presented itself as one with optional routes – pretending to offer player choice where none exists is clearly an attempt to mimic more open titles (like the older Knights of the Old Republic games as well as modern open-world ones) but without the substance to back it up. Instead of Dathomir feeling like an intimidating place to visit at this point in the game, it ended up feeling like yet another backtrack, and the first part of the level’s layout was very familiar as I’d spent a lot of time scouting it out looking for a way across the bridge.
I had unlocked a couple of shortcuts on my first visit to Dathomir, and it only took a few minutes to get back to the bridge. The wanderer was still there, but as we’d exhausted the conversation options last time, he had nothing left to say to Cal. Double-jumping across the gap that halted his progress last time led to Cal being confronted by three Night Brother archers, and after taking them out a cut-scene triggered which saw another Night Brother attack a wooden platform on the bridge, sending it and Cal crashing down. This next sliding section has to be the worst in the game so far, and seems to have a major glitch or bug. A short slide after the cut-scene ends with Cal needing to double-jump across a gap to continue sliding, but for some reason this jump proved impossible. No matter how many times I tried, aiming Cal was impossible. He’d end up leaping off to one side, and the rare time he didn’t the double-jump wasn’t enough to clear the gap. At one point Cal even got stuck on a branch above the slide, unable to move or progress further.
This slide was way harder than it needed to be. And the double-jump feature is to blame – for some reason, what was happening was that Cal would jump up from the slide and immediately double-jump, despite the fact that I was only pressing the button once. This meant he lacked the momentum to clear the gap in the slide, and pressing the button a second time did nothing as the game believed he had already double-jumped. I tried switching over to the keyboard and mouse input, but the same issue occurred. I quit the game and re-loaded my save file, but the issue persisted. I was eventually able to clear the gap and continue down the slide, but it took over thirty attempts. Luckily, as I’d seen while stuck in the scenery, there was a meditation spot near the bottom of the slide. After checkpointing, I was tempted to take a break after all the fuss with that stupid slide, but I decided to press on as I was curious to see more of the story and we hadn’t actually done anything of consequence on Dathomir yet. Around the next corner and through a gap in the wall, the Night Sister who confronted Cal last time was back.
The Night Sister reminds me of Visas Marr from Knights of the Old Republic II, something about the hooded robes and mysterious Force abilities, I think. But that’s incidental. She is furious at Cal, as she believes it was the Jedi who attacked her people (as I think we covered last time, I think this was something included in the Clone Wars television series, but I haven’t seen it). She said she wants to exact revenge for the attack, and used her Force-magic to raise a number of zombified Night Sisters to attack Cal.
These Night Sister zombies weren’t hard to defeat one-on-one, but as is often the case with zombies in video games – and in the wider genre of zombie fiction – en masse they were much harder opponents. The Night Sister is able to raise several at a time, and over the next section of the level Cal would be beset by multiple groups of these non-sentient enemies. Despite the fact that the game’s databank describes them as “mummified”, they absolutely behave like typical fast-moving zombies, so that’s what I’m calling them.
This section of the game, as Cal tackled the lower levels of Dathomir, felt once again like the game was being padded out. Nothing in this area contributed to the story; there were no major puzzles and only one boss fight. Cal’s journey across the game has had several of these moments – detours which neither added to his personal story nor the overall story of the game. The entire objective of this section – which probably took a good hour to complete – was to get back to the section of the bridge where Cal fell and thus access the tomb. While it was at least a new, unexplored area and one that didn’t involve a lot of backtracking, it wasn’t particularly interesting, and the enemy types thrown at Cal were the same two Night Brothers – the melee and archer variants – and the zombified Night Sisters.
I mentioned a boss fight, and this was a big one. Earlier, Cal had spotted a large creature flying around, and after progressing as far as possible through the lower levels, eventually ended up facing a room that was very clearly a “boss fight arena”. It even had a meditation spot directly preceding it! On the far wall was a dead Night Brother and what looked like a section Cal would be able to climb. While investigating, the winged monster Cal had spotted earlier arrived – this must be its nest. The fight was difficult as the monster had a number of moves at its disposal, including unblockable attacks and a screech that could temporarily stop Cal from moving. It could also fly quickly from one side of the arena to the other, and its size meant its attacks had a broad range, making them hard to dodge.
The creature – which I thought resembled a giant owl – was hard to take down. Eventually, when its health bar was around three-quarters depleted, it fled the area and Cal thought he’d won. He’s clearly not a gamer, because if he was he’d know that the monster was sure to be back! The Night Brother that Cal had begun to examine before being interrupted turned out to have special gloves that made it easier to climb walls – but only walls with a certain pattern, of course. Cal was thus able to climb out of the arena and on to the next part of the level. I found these gloves worked very well, but at several points there were glitches where Cal was able to use them to climb invisible walls. One time this led to getting stuck in the scenery and I had to again quit the game and re-load my save.
The monster did eventually come back, and in a scripted sequence grabbed Cal and took off flying through the air. This section saw Cal and the monster fight in the air, with Cal having to jump onto its back several times – these moments required split-second timing and perfect accuracy, neither of which are my speciality, so this section took multiple tries! Eventually the monster and Cal crashed back to the ground, and the monster was finally dead. As an aside, I often find myself feeling sorry for creatures like this in games – it was just minding its own business when Cal showed up, after all. It’s for this reason that I was never interested in games like Monster Hunter World – I just don’t want to harass and kill monsters for no reason!
With the boss defeated, this section didn’t have much more to offer. Cal had to make his way back up to the surface, and some Night Brothers stood in the way, as did a long, winding, and complicated route. There were a couple of Force echoes which seemed to imply that the wanderer had crash-landed here in a ship and was taken prisoner by the Night Brothers. There were also a couple of customisation options in chests.
At one point Cal entered what was described as the Night Brothers’ village. This section contained another slide – thankfully an easier one than the one that led here from the surface – and a number of enemies to battle. Presumably being a Night Brother is more fun than it first appears if the way around their village is by slide. Cal was finally making his way up, back toward the surface, when he had a very ominous conversation with Cere on the radio. Apparently Greez, who has locked himself aboard the Mantis, insisted he’s seen something or someone snooping around the ship. This wasn’t an optional conversation; it triggered automatically as Cal made his way through the level. I was sure that this would lead to consequences later! In a chest in this area I unlocked another paint job for the Mantis. Despite enjoying its yellow design, I chose to apply this mostly-black variant just for a change of pace.
The climb up from the Night Brother village overlooked the Mantis, as you can see from the screenshot above. But this was still a long way from where Cal needed to be, and I was beginning to get frustrated with this incredibly long detour. Fortunately, however, Cal did eventually make it back around the level, unlocking a shortcut back down to the lower level (as if I’m going back there on purpose) in the process.
Back at the bridge, the wanderer was gone and the three Night Brother archers had respawned. Defeating them was not particularly difficult, but one of them fired an unblockable shot that, because of where I was standing in that moment, knocked Cal off the bridge and back onto the glitchy slide. Well there was no way I was going through all that again, and after failing to jump back up to the bridge, I re-loaded the game for the third time in this session. Luckily there was a checkpoint in the area just before the bridge – but I’d loaded in here three times now, and the same three Night Brothers appeared each time as the game always loads the same enemies in the same areas. I wondered to myself how many darn times I’d have to complete this one fight! This time I made it across the bridge without falling and to my surprise there were no enemies in the area. It was a straight shot from here to the entrance to the tomb.
There were two paths available, one which led directly to the tomb and one off to the side. Off to the side was only a chest, and after picking up another customisation piece I headed into the tomb. To my surprise, there was nothing in here. In a large room, Cal walked to the back where there was a wall or door that contained carvings – these looked like the Zeffo script we’d seen elsewhere. But as Cal “interacted” with the wall, nothing seemed to happen.
An audio log from Master Cordova provided a little more information – the Night Sisters allowed him to access the tomb, which he described as hidden and secluded, but he felt it was a dark place. Checking the holomap confirmed that this door was blocked, and with nothing else to see inside the room I turned to leave. There was a meditation spot right by the blocked doorway – strangely I hadn’t seen it on the way in. I decided to make use of it before heading outside to see what I’d missed, though Cal didn’t have any points to use. However, exiting the meditation spot didn’t bring me back to the tomb – it was another flashback of Cal in his youth!
I absolutely love the way this was done. Jedi: Fallen Order has used one of its most basic features – the checkpoint-save – to pull a complete surprise on players. As Cal knelt down to meditate I had no inkling of what was about to transpire! When I got over the initial shock, however, it seemed obvious that in a place of darkness, Cal was going to see a very dark vision – could this be the day of Order 66? Unlike previous flashbacks, where Cal was in a bland grey training room, he first appeared in a cabin aboard a ship, and curiously I could see what looked like a Jedi holocron (just like the one we’re chasing) on one of the beds.
Where previous flashbacks had been fairly short, designed to show Cal a new skill (or rather, to re-learn an old one), this section was long. It also contained the first difficult puzzle since arriving on Dathomir – in the training room Cal had to use all of his skills from wall-running to double-jumping to get from the ground to Master Tapal’s location in a room high above. And my goodness was this just the dumbest puzzle! It wasn’t bad per se, it was just not at all obvious where to go at one point. Cal had to jump from a floating platform and hang onto part of the wall of the room, but the wall was grey and the hand-hold was also grey, meaning it wasn’t obvious where to jump or what to aim for when Cal reached that point. The jumps between platforms and especially at the wall-running section were also right on the limit of Cal’s abilities, meaning each jump had to be timed perfectly to avoid Cal falling to the floor and having to repeat the whole obstacle course. On the plus side, I got a taste of what it must be like to be a Jedi padawan… suffice to say I would’ve failed padawan school.
After eventually completing this obstacle course, Cal arrived in the upper room where Master Tapal was waiting. Here it was revealed that they’ve been on or in orbit of Bracca for some time – presumably why Cal went there during or after Order 66. Bracca had been secured – presumably from forces loyal to General Grievous and the separatists – and the ship was getting ready to move to another destination. However, the Clone Trooper in the room received new orders, and we heard the familiar line from Revenge of the Sith: “Execute Order 66”.
Despite being momentarily overwhelmed by sensing the deaths of many Jedi through the Force, Master Tapal was able to defeat the lone trooper. He encouraged a frightened Cal to make his way to the escape pods, promising to rendezvous there after taking care of business. The next section of the game saw Cal make that journey, and he had to fight Clones who had been his friend moments earlier.
The Clones were no harder to defeat than Stormtroopers; despite being young in this sequence, Cal was armed with a lightsaber (blue this time) and just as capable of standing up against the troopers as he has been in the rest of the game. Making it through the ship was thus not an issue from a gameplay point of view – in fact I expected Cal’s youth, and the lack of BD-1 to carry stims – to make it harder than it was.
A particularly cool sequence saw Master Tapal take out a whole squadron of Clones in a corridor below Cal, who was using the ship’s Jefferies tubes to avoid detection en route to the escape pods. Escaping the ship, while it posed no real challenge from a gameplay perspective, was one of the most tense and exciting in the game so far. It really felt as though Cal had mere moments to get away from the ship and the violent Clones, and his own shock at was happening came through in the animation and voice performance perfectly. At one point Cal had to climb through a turbolift shaft and lost his lightsaber – this explains why he uses Master Tapal’s saber instead of his own.
Upon reaching the escape pods, we saw Cal witness his Master’s death. A squadron of troopers blasted away at Master Tapal, and though Cal was able to open the escape pod and help him inside, it was too late and he died in Cal’s arms. His last words to Cal were to wait for a signal from the Jedi Council – despite everything that transpired, Master Tapal still had hope that some Jedi would survive and be able to help Cal. The escape pod launched, and Master Tapal had his revenge as the ship exploded – this is perhaps why we see an exploding Venator-class ship on the game’s title screen.
The escape pod was presumably bound for Bracca, or else ended up there shortly after, as we know the ship was in that system. How Cal came to hide out, where he landed, and other questions are unanswered, but perhaps we’ll learn more later in the game. However, none of that really matters – this moment is the heart of Cal’s backstory. Order 66 led to the death of his Master, and he feels a great sense of guilt. Not only survivor’s guilt, but that he couldn’t do anything to save him, that he wasn’t quick enough or skilled enough. As the flashback ended, a new vision began. In a dark, shadowy arena, Master Tapal confronted a fully-grown Cal, saying that it was his fault he died, and that he was weak and a traitor. Cal duelled the vision of Tapal, and unfortunately this serious moment was somewhat spoilt by a silly visual glitch – Master Tapal’s head seemed to twist unnaturally.
The duel between them was short; I expected a boss battle but it was really just a couple of blows. As Cal struck his Master with his lightsaber a cut-scene triggered. Cal plunged his blade into Tapal, who says that his blood is on Cal’s hands, as it always had been. This is a representation of Cal’s feelings of guilt, amplified by the dark side of the Force – or at least that’s how I interpreted this vision.
Snapping out of the vision, Cal realised in the real world that he’d been holding his lightsaber tightly – and crushed the crystal inside in his hands. The weapon was now broken; regular button-pressing wouldn’t activate it. With no way into the tomb, and now unarmed and unable to defend himself, a dejected Cal left the tomb. The wanderer was waiting outside, and revealed himself to be a former Jedi. Just as I was wondering how I’d be able to fight him with no weapon, the Night Sister appeared.
The wanderer – whose real name is Taron Malicos – seemed to be armed with two lightsabers. Either that or he has a very ornate belt buckle! I wondered if Cal would be able to steal one or might even be given one, but it turns out that years on Dathomir have turned Malicos to the dark side. He even controls at least one faction of Night Brothers. He attempted to recruit Cal into whatever cult he has going on, which angered the Night Sister as she believed all Jedi need to die as punishment for the attack on her coven. After a brief conversation, the Night Sister raised another group of undead, and the race was on for Cal to make it back to the Mantis!
I didn’t see what happened to Malicos in all the confusion. He may have escaped – and it seems like, from a story point of view at least, Cal will still have to deal with him somehow. My immediate concern, however, was that Cal was unarmed and now being pursued by the largest group of zombies seen so far. These zombies can jump, meaning crossing the bridge provided no safety. More zombies appeared as Cal raced back through the level, barking at Greez and Cere to prepare the Mantis for takeoff. The ramp I spotted before was a shortcut – and I was able to utilise it to return to the Mantis with the zombies in hot pursuit!
Cal made it back to the ship in one piece, and though a number of zombies tried to climb aboard, Greez was able to take off and flee the planet. Cere and Cal sat down for a heartfelt conversation, as Cal revealed his broken lightsaber to her. Cal was sure he could have saved Master Tapal – all the guilt he’s felt for years came spilling out. Cere responded by telling Cal that she cut herself off from the Force because in order to escape the Empire she gave in to the dark side. The pull of the dark side is something every Jedi will have to deal with, she says. Learning about the holocron snapped her out of her rage and anger at the Empire and at herself – providing her with hope that there could be a brighter future.
What will happen next is unclear. The Mantis flew to a snowy location that I initially thought may be Zeffo, but now I’m sure is not, and after landing Cere told Cal it was time to build himself a new lightsaber. She offered him her own, and he took it. This planet may be some kind of Jedi training ground – Cere was a former Jedi seeker, after all. After landing on the snowbound planet, I checkpointed my progress and stepped away from the game.
So this was a very long session, with some quite frustrating points but a great story. Jedi: Fallen Order has taken Cal – and me along with him – on a rollercoaster ride so far. Conquering his fears and guilt seem to be the key to entering the tomb – but first Cal will need to rebuild his broken weapon. Hopefully the Zeffo Astrium will be worthwhile when he finally gets it. I’m assuming that won’t be our final visit to Dathomir. Not only does Cal need to access the tomb, but both the Night Sister and Malicos need to be confronted to conclude that section of the story satisfactorily.
Join me next time and we’ll see what happens next – and where we are!
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is out now on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the copyright of Respawn Entertainment and Electronic Arts. The Star Wars franchise is the copyright of Lucasfilm and Disney. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.