Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order as well as for other iterations of the Star Wars franchise.
Welcome to the next part of my playthrough of Jedi: Fallen Order. I had a couple of other things I wanted to write about over the last couple of days, including Star Trek’s Comic-Con @Home event, so I apologise to those of you who were waiting for this! After the last play session had some interesting story elements, but was let down by frustrating gameplay and a long section that felt like it was simply there to pad the game’s runtime, I was hoping for something different and exciting – and I definitely found it! After Cal broke his lightsaber in the tomb on Dathomir following a confrontation with a dark vision of his old Master, Cere took him to a strange snowbound planet – the first truly new location since our first visit to Kashyyyk way back in Part 6 of this playthrough. Cere handed Cal her own lightsaber, and he was ready to set off into the snow in search of something to repair or replace his broken weapon…
Speaking with Cere aboard the Mantis revealed that this planet was called Ilum – a name I vaguely recognised from the Star Wars galaxy. After looking into it, it turns out that Ilum was the planet that the First Order would ultimately convert into Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens, though in this era (remember that Jedi: Fallen Order is taking place about fifteen years before the original trilogy) there was no sign of the famous laser! Ilum was a wintry environment, similar in some respects to Zeffo but with much more snow and ice. After being initially excited at the prospect of visiting a wholly new planet for the first time in ages, the terrain was actually quite samey. If you’ve ever been in a strong blizzard you’ll know it can sometimes make the environment seem like it’s monochrome – and Ilum definitely had that feel to it as Cal set out from the Mantis.
Ilum has a Jedi Temple, and getting there through the blizzard was Cal’s objective. It felt like the task he was to complete was a little vague at first – yes he had to fix his lightsaber, but how? And what did he expect to find on Ilum to help him with that task? A few extra lines of dialogue would have fixed this – and it’s not the first time I’ve said that during my playthrough. With the new climbing ability that he’d acquired on Dathomir, Cal was able to scale ice walls, and climbed to the top of a large frozen area. In this section was a Force echo of a former Jedi Master. It turned out that the Jedi came to Ilum as part of some kind of trial or ritual, as well as to gather kyber crystals – the mysterious objects that power lightsabers, and which would later be co-opted to power the Death Star’s weaponry.
Inside the entrance to the Jedi Temple – which was little more than an icy cavern, really – was a puzzle to complete. The archway leading further inside had iced over, and there were three doors that had to be opened letting in “magnified light” which had to be refracted through a large crystal in order to melt the ice and gain access. This puzzle wasn’t too hard, but it took me a moment to realise that the doors – which had to be opened by pulling a chain – didn’t need to be permanently opened; Cal simply needed to hold the chain long enough to melt the ice.
I don’t think the giant crystal in this area was supposed to be a kyber crystal (which I always want to spell Khyber, with an H, like the mountain pass and region of Pakistan) if it was, Cal could’ve just broken a piece off and been on his merry way! Cere made a big deal of giving Cal her lightsaber, so I expected to be traversing this region armed. However, Cere’s lightsaber doesn’t work – another thing that a line or two of dialogue should have explained – so Cal remained unarmed despite carrying two weapons. The in-game databank said that Cere sold parts of the weapon to pay for Greez’s gambling debts, and I guess that could also explain how she’s been able to keep him on the payroll for what seems to be a long time, which was a question raised earlier in the game for me.
Melting the ice wall let Cal explore further into the Temple, and as I said this was really just a cave with a few statues in it. It seems like the Jedi offered up some pretty tough challenges – this cave was meant to be traversed by apprentices and children, but it seems like a difficult task for them! There were a lot of sheer drops, and several places where it took a moment to figure out what was the right path. Just inside the entrance to the Temple was a meditation spot, and I’d been saving up Cal’s skill points – spending three meant that BD-1’s stim-packs now totally refill Cal’s health no matter how low it gets, which seems like it will be a very useful upgrade! The ice cave on Zeffo – which is actually fairly similar to this section in appearance – contained a number of monsters to fight, and with no lightsaber I was wondering what this cavern would throw at Cal and how to avoid it. So far, though, there had been no enemies at all – just silence. Cal came upon a section of water to swim through to access the next part of the cavern.
This was quite cleverly done – there were several hydrothermal vents which obviously explained how there could be areas of liquid water in an otherwise-frozen environment. But Cal must’ve got very cold swimming through this water! The next area of the cavern contained a shocking and ominous revelation – probe droids were present on Ilum! Luckily BD-1 had acquired the skill to hack into them some time ago, and Cal was also able to use Force pull and Force push on them to defeat them – but how had the Empire found him here? A radio call to Cere and Greez led to the two of them worrying that the Mantis was being tracked.
There were a number of statues in the cavern, and these were kind of creepy – hooded and faceless figures in Jedi robes. They reminded me of the statues seen on Jedha in Rogue One, which similarly had a ghostly vibe. Perhaps this is because – as Cal says at one point – knowing that the Jedi are gone makes it feel like being surrounded by ghosts. Any hooded figure with a shrouded face plays on deep-rooted cultural and historical fears of figures like the Grim Reaper, or even the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and I think that’s part of why they felt so haunting and eerie in this section of the game. Credit to the developers for achieving that sensation – it made progressing through the caverns very tense indeed, something that married well with Cal being essentially unarmed and defenceless.
After heading deeper into the cavern and defeating another couple of probe droids, Cal spotted a glittering object. While making his way through a narrow crevice, the ice below him gave out and he fell into another pool of water. Clearly freezing cold (and suffering from hypothermia) he had a vision of his younger self leading him out of the water in what was a very strange, ethereal moment in the game.
Inspired by the vision, Cal forced himself to climb out of the icy water and collapsed – but the kyber crystal was close. He stumbled his way toward a large crystal formation and plucked the tip from one of the pointy shards – this was the glimmer that he’d seen that led him to this part of the cave. As he held the small piece of crystal in his hand it broke in two. Cal broke down, believing he’d failed and that his quest was over. And at this point perhaps someone knew more about Star Wars’ wider lore or expanded universe (the stuff not included in the films) might’ve known what was happening or why Cal became so dejected… but I didn’t.
There was a line earlier in the level about how the “crystal chooses the Jedi” and not vice versa (kind of like wands in the Harry Potter series, I guess). So perhaps Cal was upset that the crystal that chose him was broken. But he’s sat in a cavern literally surrounded by giant crystals, and with a small amount of effort could have broken off another piece using the Force or even just with his bare hands. So I don’t really understand this moment, and just taking what we know from the game without interjecting with lore from other Star Wars properties, it didn’t make sense and didn’t feel sufficiently explained.
Are the other crystals in the cavern not also kyber crystals? What happens if a Jedi chooses his own crystal instead of using one which chose him? Cal has been using Master Tapal’s lightsaber (containing Tapal’s crystal, presumably) very effectively for the entire game up till now, so it doesn’t seem like it’s the case that crystals are somehow bound to one Jedi. If a Jedi is chosen by a crystal but then loses or breaks that crystal, can they come back and get another one? And since Cal is literally still in the cavern surrounded by other crystals, can’t he just take another one – or wait for another one to choose him? I feel like this moment, which was the most emotional in the story so far, needed more explaining. Luckily, what came next washed a lot of that disappointment away and cranked up the emotion.
As Cal sat feeling sorry for himself at the foot of the crystal formation, Master Cordova’s voice could be heard. BD-1 had made it to the cavern and Cal was very pleased to be reunited with him – having told BD-1 not to follow him as he fell into the icy water a moment ago. BD-1 played a recording from Master Cordova in which he discusses failure. Master Cordova sensed “the doom of the Jedi Order” – perhaps this was the moment of Order 66. He locked BD-1’s memories with an encryption that could only be broken if the droid made a trusted connection with someone new; BD-1 has chosen Cal, and told him (in beeps and trills, of course) that he believes in him.
Inspired by this, Cal gets up. It isn’t over yet! Somehow – and again I’m not sure how – he pressed and squished the two shards of the crystal back together, forming a single, working crystal. This next part was fun – I had eight different colour options for the fixed crystal. I chose pink (or magenta as the game calls it) and after a short cut-scene, Cal had his weapon back.
This can be customised later at a workbench, but I see no reason to change from pink. Orange had been fun up till now, though! Cal used parts from Cere’s lightsaber and Master Tapal’s to form the new weapon. In addition to being double-bladed, it can now also be pulled apart and duel-wielded, giving Cal a new kind of attack – one that looks pretty darn cool too. I took this opportunity to further customise the weapon before leaving the cavern, including giving it a shiny red colour for the hilt.
In addition to blue and green, which are available in the base game, and orange, which I had from buying the deluxe edition, the colours now available for Cal’s weapon are: purple, pink/magenta, yellow, a pale blue or teal, and a darker cobalt colour. The weapon can be symmetrical, looking the same at both ends, or each end can be different. I haven’t unlocked anywhere near all of the options yet, and there must be hundreds of possibilities for how the finished saber can look.
After tinkering with the saber for a while, I was satisfied and ready to get back to the ship. But of course it wasn’t going to be a simple case of backtracking! The probe droids we’d seen earlier weren’t the only Imperials on Ilum – the Empire had a whole base here with legions of troopers. When the probe droids spotted Cal they presumably scrambled their forces, and on the way out, Cal ran head-first into an Imperial mining facility! There were a number of troopers to defeat here, and more kept dropping in by ship. Cal put his new weapon through its paces, and eventually prevailed!
In this area, the Empire seemed to be digging a long, deep trench. Given that Ilum would later become Starkiller Base, I wonder if this trench is meant to be the beginnings of that. In The Force Awakens, Starkiller Base had a huge trench that cleaved the planet in two, and this was where the super-laser was mounted. I think these two things are connected, and if so it was a great little reference to the sequel trilogy. Beyond the landing pad was a doorway that BD-1 was able to hack. Inside was a whole squad K2SO-type security droids – the ones I’ve had trouble with on other levels.
Thankfully they didn’t all attack at once, and after a long fight Cal was able to take them out. Off to one side, in some yellow storage containers, BD-1 and Cal found huge numbers of kyber crystals – the Empire is mining them. He reported his findings to Cere back on the Mantis, and she and Greez got the ship ready for takeoff. The only accessible door in this room led back into the cavern, and from here Cal was mostly backtracking to get back to the ship – though the cavern was now packed with troopers.
Cal had to battle his way through the cavern, which contained probe droids, K2SO droids, Purge troopers, and a variety of regular troopers too. It was a hard fight, not so much because of any one individual opponent – this wasn’t a boss battle, after all – but because of the numbers Cal was up against. On the radio, Cere checked in to tell Cal that the Empire was bringing in reinforcements, including by Star Destroyer from neighbouring systems. Though this part of the level wasn’t timed (at least it didn’t seem to be) it was still a very tense sequence as Cal raced back to the ship!
After surviving the cavern, Cal was back at the archway where we’d melted the ice earlier. There was a meditation spot here which I used before progressing – though Cal had no more skill points to use. Unless more options open up on the skill tree, by the way, I think I’ve chosen all of the ones that seem useful to me. Perhaps that’s just because we’re entering the latter part of the game. Before exiting the temple and getting back to the surface of Ilum, there was a Snowtrooper! These guys were seen in The Empire Strikes Back and it makes perfect sense that they’d be here on another snowbound planet. It was a great little bit of nostalgia.
Back on the surface, the blizzard had almost fully cleared. It looked like a straight shot back to the Mantis, but from behind a rocky outcrop came not one but two AT-STs. They attacked Cal in tandem, and it was difficult to separate them long enough to attack one without getting blown up or blasted by the second! Eventually I brought the first one down, and from there the second one was less of a challenge.
Cal sprinted back to the Mantis – Imperial reinforcements were inbound and if he didn’t get back before the Star Destroyers arrived it might’ve been impossible to leave the planet! All that tension and buildup… was kind of spoilt by Greez and Cere just standing there on the Mantis when Cal arrived. I even had to walk over to the holotable (Cal can’t run on the Mantis) and manually choose a destination. After Cere had been so jumpy, rushing Cal to race back to the ship before they’re all blown to smithereens by the Empire, this was just anticlimactic and completely snapped me out of what had been one of the most exciting parts of the story so far.
The gang even had time for a chat as Cal boarded the ship. He told them about BD-1’s memory wipe, and expressed his thanks for believing in him. It was a sweet moment – or it would have been had the timing been different. I expected a cut-scene like the escape from Dathomir, with the Mantis pulling away as Stormtroopers chased Cal, escaping the system in the nick of time to avoid the Star Destroyers… but none of that transpired. If Cere hadn’t been on the radio telling Cal to run because of how imminently doomed they all were it would’ve been fine – but the rapid switch in tone from “run, Cal, run!” to “we’ve got loads of time to stand and chat” was incredibly jarring.
The obvious destination was Dathomir. I saw no point in any more backtracking, and I wanted to resolve the situation there to continue the story. With the course laid in the Mantis took off and arrived at Dathomir moments later. After a short bit of banter with the crew, which included the revelation that they’re on the bounty hunter guild’s most wanted list, Cal headed out. With the climbing gloves, he could climb up the ramp I noticed last time and use that as a shortcut to get back to the bridge leading to the dark tomb. There were a few zombified Night Sisters to battle en route, but nothing Cal and his new weapon couldn’t handle.
At the entrance to the temple was another bounty hunter ambush. A hunter and a droid were both present and again this was an annoying fight. Eventually, however, Cal was able to get the better of both of them (apparently Force pushing over a cliff still works if you use it on a guy with a jetpack…) and enter the tomb. There were no enemies to fight inside, and Cal used the meditation spot before re-entering the dark vision he had of Master Tapal.
Master Tapal began by taunting Cal again, and then the duel was on. Once again I was expecting a difficult boss battle, yet once again I was wrong. Though I had control of Cal during this sequence, he had no health bar and nor did Master Tapal. After a brief duel it became obvious that the only way out of the vision was to take it peacefully – not fighting back or trying to strike at Tapal.
By choosing the peaceful path – which is, of course, the Jedi way – the vision of Tapal relented and ended the fight. Cal told his former Master that he would honour his teachings and remember his sacrifice, letting go of his guilt. The vision of Tapal then disappeared, and the pathway to the next part of the tomb finally opened.
Having completed the vision-quest, Cal was able to access the rest of the tomb. He had beaten the darkness in the tomb – and within himself. I’m never sure with things like this whether what transpired was taking place in Cal’s head, whether it was something more real, something based in the Force, etc. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter, it’s just something to ponder. I tend to assume for a vision like this that it’s in his head, perhaps amplified by the Force, but not something tangible.
Beyond the doorway were several Night Brothers. They weren’t particularly difficult to dispatch, and it was nice to try the duel-wielding move on them. Seeing Cal pull his double-bladed weapon apart and use both pieces independently is very cool. It’s certainly not something I’ve seen in Star Wars before. The Night Brothers in this area had a marking painted on their chests – the same one we saw as a scar on Taron Malicos. Interestingly, when I went back to look at screenshots of the previous visits to Dathomir, the Night Brothers all had that same symbol – though many were faded. The paint on those in the tomb was much fresher.
After entering this area, the Night Sister appeared. Her name is Merrin. Instead of just attacking this time, she spoke to Cal, which gave him a chance to reason with her. Malicos lied to her, he said, and the Jedi weren’t conquerors who would have wanted to wipe out her people.
The two realise they have something in common – Cal may be the last Jedi, and Merrin may be the last Night Sister. Malicos had promised her revenge in exchange for sharing the secrets of the tomb, but instead he became corrupted by the dark side. The two formed an alliance (albeit one of convenience) to take down Malicos. Cal didn’t have far to go for this confrontation. Down a wide hallway, Malicos was waiting. He stood on a circular platform which had a sheer drop into red mist on all sides – it reminded me so much of the Bowser fights in Super Mario 64… and that’s the third thing in Jedi: Fallen Order which seems to draw on that game, after the slides and the underwater chests! I never expected to get even one thing in a game like this to remind me of Super Mario 64, let alone three.
After crossing over to the arena, Malicos seemed happy to see Cal return. He tried once again to convince Cal to join him, and talked at length about how reviving the Jedi Order would be a waste of time – the Order failed, he said, stifled by tradition and its own past successes. As with Luke in The Last Jedi who said similarly critical things of the Jedi Order in its last days before the rise of the Empire, Malicos isn’t exactly wrong. The whole story of the rise of the Sith in the prequels is on the back of Jedi hubris, believing themselves to be better than they were. Regardless of how I may feel about the Jedi, Cal rejected everything Malicos has to say. And it’s clear, of course, that Malicos’ idea of a replacement for the Jedi would put him firmly in control. He had been wholly corrupted by the dark side after years on Dathomir. A duel began.
I said way back in Part 4 of this series, when Cal first met “the wanderer” – aka Malicos – that I was sure they’d end up fighting. It’s nice to be right sometimes! This was a difficult fight – up there with the duel against Trilla on Zeffo. Malicos had a number of Force powers at his disposal, but more than that it was very hard to land a blow on him. He kept his guard up, and hitting him required split-second timing. He was also immune to things like Force push – which of course makes sense.
Merrin showed up during the duel, and at a couple of scripted moments used her magic to attack Malicos. When Cal had finally ground his health down, Merrin stepped in and used her magic one final time, entombing Malicos in the ground in a cut-scene that reminded me of a horror film called Drag Me To Hell.
With the battle over, Merrin and Cal had another chance to talk. Interestingly, Merrin is unaware of the Empire – or any galactic affairs beyond what was happening on Dathomir. Cal explained that he’s searching for the Zeffo Astrium, an object which will help him access a list of Force-sensitive children. He told Merrin he wants to save them from the Empire, a cause she can get behind. The Astrium wasn’t far away, and after jumping over a couple more platforms, Cal finally found it.
Merrin returned as Cal found what he was looking for. She was very happy for him, as the Astrium may be able to save the children and revive the Jedi Order. But she is still alone; nothing can revive her people the way the Astrium and the holocron might for the Jedi. Cal and Merrin connected over their shared experiences as the last of their kind. Cal also referenced what Prauf said to him at the beginning of the game – in the aftermath of the Master Tapal vision he’s also taking on board what Prauf told him too. To my surprise, Merrin said she would join Cal on his mission. I don’t think she will be a constant companion as Cal goes on quests – Jedi: Fallen Order isn’t that kind of game – but she will perhaps hang out on the Mantis, be available to talk to, and participate in cut-scenes.
Merrin told Cal she’ll meet him back at the ship, leaving Cal once again to backtrack through the level. Fortunately this tomb was small compared to the two on Zeffo, but there were no shortcuts to get back outside. A couple of large monsters had spawned in the tomb, and Merrin sat to one side as Cal took them on alone. In these moments, Jedi: Fallen Order feels like a typical game and not an interactive Star Wars experience, and it can make suspending my disbelief more difficult. However, taking on the monsters wasn’t a huge challenge this time.
I like that we can see Merrin’s face now that she’s taken down her hood. It humanises her – despite the ash-grey skin – and we can see her more emotive and expressive. I still think she reminds me of Visas Marr from Knights of the Old Republic II, though! Merrin apparently didn’t tell her zombified Night Sisters that she and Cal are allies now, as several attacked him on his way back to the ship. However, these fights weren’t particularly challenging. Back aboard the Mantis, Cal introduced Merrin to the crew. They were standoffish at first, and they don’t trust her – but they do trust Cal, so Merrin was welcomed aboard. The next destination is Bogano – back to the vault. But I chose to save my game at this point and save Bogano for next time. Exploring two planets is enough for one session!
So this was another long one! Repairing the lightsaber was great, and despite Ilum being kind of bland, it was nice to finally get to see a different planet after hopping between the same three worlds for a long while. The emotional moment with BD-1 in the cavern was incredibly sweet, and I’m even more in love with the cute little droid than I already was. In fact the story of this entire section was great – the only part I didn’t like was the kyber crystal breaking and the lack of explanation for why that was an issue.
I feel certain the trip to Bogano won’t go smoothly – but join me next time to find out!
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.