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Cat’s Cradle: Star Wars and the Environment

In 2019, game studio Respawn Entertainment surprised fans and critics alike with "Jedi Fallen Order." This single-player Metroidvania game is set between Episodes III and IV of Star Wars, following former Padawan Cal Kestis on a quest to reconnect to the force. 

This year, the follow-up, "Jedi Survivor," is coming to the current generation of consoles. Featuring Cal as the lead again, the game aims to build on its predecessor by adding more elements to the original, including more alien fauna.

Star Wars is known for its megafauna, such as Rancor and Sarlacc. Deeply tied to this is the often violent imbalance of power that sees the main characters killing these animals

The main characters and the animals are typically placed in arena fights or moments where the animals threaten the main cast. This is recreated throughout "Jedi Fallen Order," as animals pose the main threat to the hero and often sideline the main threat, the Empire.

This changes near the game's the halfway point when you encounter the rare Shyyyo bird of Kashyyyk. The bird is the sole protector of the Origin Tree of Kashyyyk, which marks the ecological epicenter of life on the planet.

What follows is a tenuous relationship between you and the animal. You discover your common threat is the invading Imperial forces, resulting in Cal helping and being helped by the megafauna.

This thread is an element of the ecological narrative that runs throughout the Star Wars films: the intersection between civilization and natural environments that take on stratified forms of tension. 

This can be seen in the dianoga, which lives in the trash compactor of the Death Star. The animal had adapted to eons of space travel to find shelter within the waste systems of large spaceships. The Empire's presence is not only placed on the lives of the characters but the natural world itself. 

This only becomes more apparent in the role of the Empire in the deforestation and harvesting of resources across the galaxy. Though this theme is explored further in other Star Wars media, it moves to the forefront of the narrative in Jedi Fallen Order.

Cal's journey allows him to reconnect to the force and shows that environments are not limited to constructed or natural spaces. Instead, they are a complex series of histories and lives occupying a space. 

This can be seen in a moment on Cal's ship where he engages with a force echo of a guitar. A scene reminiscent of Luke or Rey's training, the moment serves to highlight that nature is not a singular place but a connective web. 

The force is a manifestation of this connection in the physical environment. This can be seen with force pushes and visions demonstrating the mind's intention on the environment. 

In a similar tension formed by the Jedi and the Sith, we see a recognition of space and the encroachment upon it. Force, in both senses of the word, represents the preservation and destruction of natural environments within the Star Wars universe.

Through the lens of Star Wars, viewers can rethink their relationship to nature and nature's relationship to them. Jedi Fallen Order is just another example of this connection fleshed out in an interactive narrative, as the bonds between Jedi and nature demonstrate the complexity of life. 

Benjamin Ervin is a senior studying English literature and writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Benjamin know by emailing him

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