When I was a kid, I would often play half a game, whether that was experiencing the wonders of Bionicle through an unintentional roguelite perspective thanks to serial renting, or just passing the pad between my friends as we each tried to beat levels of whatever PlayStation platformer they had bought last. I often experienced the same levels over and over, and missed others entirely. I couldn’t always play an entire game myself, so watching someone else play was the next best thing.

The advent of online gaming removed this type of play from my lifestyle. Instead of passing a controller around at a friend’s house, we played multiplayer games from the comfort of our own homes. Whether co-op or fighting against each other, it was all play all the time. There was no downtime, no rest, just a constant barrage of action, whether that be shooting zombies in Left 4 Dead or guiding flourishing empires in Civilization 5.

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Battle royales were the next gaming boom, and I got hooked big time – as you can probably tell from my constant Apex Legends features. Now with anywhere from 60 to 150 players in a single match, you can squad up with your mates, and there’s no pad to pass. The downtime you once spent watching the game is now spent waiting for lobbies to fill or chatting as you idly loot in the early stages – or if you’re a scrub like me, watching your mates scramble to get your banner so they can revive you. But there’s something I miss about sitting down and watching a friend play the game. When I’m feeling nostalgic, YouTube let’s plays are there to remind me of the glory days.

Cal Kestis with a purple lightsaber in Jedi: Fallen Order.

I started playing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order ahead of the release of its sequel, and while I enjoyed some elements of it, it wasn’t quite doing it for me. The combat was good but exploration felt stilted, the characters interesting but the wallrunning paled in comparison to Titanfall. I just wasn’t invested enough to warrant that much time. At my age, you learn to abandon games that aren’t quite doing it for you to play something that you actually enjoy, but I tried something different with Fallen Order. I watched a YouTube let’s play.

I’ve never been into let’s plays, mostly because YouTubers annoy me too much. I’m sure if I searched and searched, I could find someone who doesn’t utterly repel me, but, again, that’s a big time investment for something I’m fine without. However, my search included a result named STAR WARS JEDI FALLEN ORDER Gameplay Walkthrough Part 1 FULL GAME [4K 60FPS PC ULTRA] No Commentary. It was clearly SEO bait to try to game the YouTube algorithm, but those last two words caught my attention. No commentary.

It’s not a genre of YouTube video I was familiar with. I assumed let’s plays were all filled with the kinds of obnoxious white men who you see hitting headlines for making derogatory comments about women. The uploader of this video may well be an obnoxious white man who hit headlines for making derogatory comments about women, but you wouldn’t know it from watching. They just play the game, beat the bosses, collect all the bits and pieces, and show you what you could have played.

It felt like watching over my friend’s shoulder as a kid. I got all the story beats, saw all the locations, and even got a feel for the boss fights without playing more than a couple of hours for myself. Watching someone play through a game you’re sort-of-maybe interested in is a chilled affair. I can take a break during boring sections, look at my phone in a dull period of backtracking, or even play another game while Star Wars continues in the background. Something chill, like EV training my Pokemon or grinding my latest roguelike obsession on my Switch, but the point is that none of these require my full attention – and neither does Fallen Order.

cal kestis and bd-1 making a health stim in fallen order
via Respawn

There’s stuff I missed, sure, there was no thrill of discovery and I have little idea of how the combat feels past the opening levels, but I got enough of a taste for a game that I would have maybe-liked to satisfy my curiosity. Without this voiceless walkthrough, I would never have seen the Darth Vader reveal or understood the stakes at the beginning of the sequel.

As it happens, I fell off Survivor early, too, thanks to a combination of boredom and Zelda. Maybe I’ll come back to it someday. Maybe these games are just not for me. Or maybe I’ll see if MKIceAndFire has uploaded their walkthrough yet.

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