There was a time when TT Games
’ LEGO Anything
series featured voiceless characters comedically spoofing the licences upon which they were based. These were funner, funnier times, when simplicity and an urge to get the player playing
were key drivers behind the full experience. Now, however, we see the studio backed in much more robust ways. Fully-voiced releases based on the biggest of IP sporting larger budgets and a visual outlay that would make the best engineers at Nvidia
stand up and take notice, have become the TT Games LEGO norm, and I’m not sure we’re all the better for it.
Still, if you take anything
from this review of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
, take this: OG trilogy aside, this is *probably* the best representation of the franchise in some time, and yes that takes into account all the (newer) movies and peripheral TV shows at the moment.
Controversial statement aside, what you’re getting out of the bricked gate with LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
is content. Lots and lots of content. So much so that I found on occasion it became a bit muddy with choice and navigation. You have each saga (read: film entry) to play through in the sequences that you prefer, as far as starting points. So Episode I
, Episode IV
or Episode VII
, with everything else locked. In my instance, and against better judgement, I went from Episode I first and decided to play right through. (And it should be noted that you can almost sprint between key story beats and knock out each Episode’s story in about 30 minutes to an hour.) But for each movie you’ll find story missions housed on planetary hubs that offer up small sandbox playspaces filled
to the brim with side missions and hidden goodies or Easter Eggs
(this is an Easter Egg hunter’s dream of a game). Like, hours and hours worth.
Naturally, story content aside, the meat of the experience is in exploring each of these hubs, which range from the franchise overused Tatooine
and beyond. And each space has been generously designed from both a LEGO and franchise perspective, serving up some of the prettiest Star Wars locales in gaming to date.
"Humour and a different way to convey the Star Wars journey is replaced here with a slightly more railed delivery of each saga, which I found less compelling than OG LEGO games experiences...”
Across the whole experience I found a very lite-on like-for-like delivery of those key story beats from each Episode as far as narrative representation is concerned, which sat a bit at odds with how TT used to do things. Moreover, the inclusion of voiced characters, as mentioned in my intro, added a bit to this diminished side of the whole product in this writer's opinion. Humour and a different way to convey the Star Wars journey is replaced here with a slightly more railed delivery of each (episodic) saga, which I found less compelling than OG LEGO games experiences.
Still, that’s likely the very protective Star Wars nerd in me coming out. And I can’t help but be transparent about suffering from a serious bout of jaded cloud yelling when it comes to Disney
’s treatment of the franchise since taking over, and TT Games plays with this very chagrin. But this is a videogame we’re here to chat about, and that content positive I mentioned above is the key reason to pick this up if you haven’t already. I had the game for a weekend before embargo, but there’s so much content I felt at odds trying to review it off a limited amount of playtime, and if you’re reading this now, which is Aussie Easter school holidays, I’d be remiss not to plug its fantastic co-op option where playing with your kids or any kids in your care is concerned. It’s definitely a family-fun outing that delivers when it comes to cooperative engagement. And the puzzles are mostly constructed around the idea of help and a two-heads-are-better-than-one mandate as far as design is concerned.
"The game still serves up a feast of unique gameplay experiences, not always tied to direct combat or puzzle-solving...”
That said, puzzle-solving is, at best, pedestrian and usually just involves legwork rather than a massaging of the old grey matter; find an item here, stand on that switch there, the person you seek is usually seen over by the very big glowing thing off in the distance -- the thing you can’t possibly miss
. That sort of thing. Of course, the game still serves up a feast of unique gameplay experiences, not always tied to direct combat or puzzle-solving. You’ll often find yourself escaping in small vehicle sections of the game (including a pretty fun Pod Racer moment), while more grande gameplay gestures come in the form of tower defence or tried, tested and loved X-wing trench runs, among others. None of these is incredibly deep, and sit more as fan-service than anything. But they’re fun distractions on the whole and keep what could otherwise have been a laborious affair, somewhat interesting.
We got a bit lambasted for decrying the simple challenge of Nintendo
’s recent Kirby
title, Kirby and the Forgotten Land
, but we’re gonna take a similar stance here which is to say the overall experience of the game rests far too much on the side of zero challenge. And, like, the “it’s for kids argument” can’t stand given how many grown-up Star Wars and LEGO fans there are out in the world, and before we get piled on again, maybe the solution would be to at least offer up a “Hardcore (or Jedi Master) Mode” for those of us wanting to use the game’s admittedly cool systems (some Force powers feel lifted straight out of The Force Unleashed
, in the best possible way) to live a LEGO Star Wars Jedi Knight
And what this leaves us with is a game more than willing to service fans, poke fun at the IP upon which it’s based and deliver starship loads of content for. It’s just very easy and bite-sized in the grand scheme of it all. None of the cool ideas are ever fully fleshed out and it tends to feel one-note after a while. I get it if you’re a crazed brick collector, as that’s what these games are designed around, but as a gaming experience outside of co-op, I found it, as Vader
would say: “all too easy”.