After 17 years perfecting its formula, developer Traveller’s Tales has returned to the game that started it all and decided to redo LEGO Star Wars. But ‘redo’ doesn’t do justice to the ambition here. This is a completely new game, recreating not only the original trilogy of films in LEGO form, but all nine films from the yellow text of A New Hope, through the “I am the senate” posturing of the prequel trilogy to the final shot from The Rise of Skywalker (complete with a brilliantly cutting sight gag). It’s all here. Not just the action sequences you know and love, but the towns, forests, and swamps around them, all bustling with LEGO-ised life and absolutely packed with Star Wars lore, puzzles, and challenges. When a game goes all-in like this, Yoda was right. It’s do, or do not; there is no try. And Traveller’s Tales really, really did it.
Release date: April 5, 2022
Platform(s): PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
The result is frequently amazing but varies considerably in its feel and challenge. So let’s start with the film recreations, as that’s what you’ll be enjoying from the off, where you begin with 1977’s Episode IV: A New Hope. The film scenes you play are extremely authentic, fleshing out fleeting moments with sympathetic game-ified sections as you copy the famous moves of Luke, Obi-Wan, and Rey (and the other 377 unlockable LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga characters for that matter). Even with this authenticity, it’s sprinkled with extremely silly humor that draws frequent, genuine belly-laughs. Lando Calrissian’s ‘Helloooo’ not being aimed at Princess Leia here is just *chef’s kiss* brilliant.
The game recreates the dogfights and shootouts with fluidity, precision, and detail as you shoot off Stormtroopers’ hats (rewarding headshots before you then finish them with a blast to the face, which does feel a bit off given the family-friendly nature of everything else), scattering bricks and LEGO studs with immaculate physics, and marveling at the ray-traced reflections which are the best I’ve seen on console. The game is super-smooth for the vast majority of the time, with just a few areas dropping frames, though all the cinematics are oddly juddery on this PS5 version.
Every set-piece worth including has been recreated here in supremely playable fashion, from the Death Star trench run to podracing and even navigating building-high waves to the ruins of Death Star II. And once the classic trilogy’s done, you can play through the prequels or the recent Skywalker trilogy and unlock those as you go. But that brings me to one of my few criticisms, and that’s the complexity of what you actually have to do. The game is clearly designed to appeal to younger players and older fans alike, but the vast majority of gameplay is just a bit too simple for little old grown-up me. Tap four d-pad directions to open this door, rotate two bezels to open that one. Smash everything. While the end-game content (which I’ll come to shortly) does require significantly more thinking for the most part, the film levels themselves are pretty shallow.
That said, for it to be simple to play and understand given the complexity of what’s actually being processed here is remarkable. Wayfinding is flawlessly implemented with glowing trails – gold for objective, blue for side-mission – switching between characters is quick and easy, and even moving between worlds is simple thanks to the game giving you complete freedom, while auto-selecting the destination you actually need next with every new press of the confirm button. It’s a masterclass in game design.
Granted, it takes a while to work out how to buy new characters and their various costumes, working out what you need to do to get the stud multipliers (which should be your number one priority rather than spending studs early on), and indeed realizing it’s better to replay everything later when you’re better equipped, rather than struggle around, smashing everything in an early level for half an hour just to get ‘True Jedi’ status for one Kyber Brick when you can do that in literally 5 seconds when you’ve got all the multipliers active. Approach the first play-through as pure fun before the collecting work begins and you’ll have an absolute blast playing through the films, thanks to the sky-high production values and superb original scripting. They’re brilliantly entertaining and worth the entrance fee alone.
So what happens when they’re done? Well, playing through each film takes two to three hours, but the game then encourages you to play the levels again in Free Play using other characters you’ve unlocked, with their different abilities. It also encourages you to explore the sprawling open areas, all with the aim of collecting Minikits, blue Kyber Blocks, characters, ships and Data Cards. There are weeks of gameplay here if you want to 100% it, and if you take your time, this could last you all year. But whether you can stomach the busywork will depend on your own disposition. After originally enjoying the extra challenge of exploration over the main levels, I’ve found it’s become a bit of a slog over the last two days. For every well-designed puzzle or challenge for a gamer of 30+ years’ experience, there are five or six that have clearly been designed for a child to complete. With over 1,100 Kyber bricks to find or earn, the chances of them all being riveting were always going to be slim, but collecting them all does sadly get boring, and there are arguably better things you could do with your time.
But if you don’t care for completionism, everything here will just be bewilderingly, joyously authentic, and appear as literally a whole galaxy of Star Wars fun. Every character and ship has an authentic backstory you can read, and characters sometimes refer to one another as they’re paired up in your party. Side missions take you to other planets in elaborate fetch quests that take in X-Wing dogfights, scavenger hunts, and ambushes, then back again to pick up another prize of a Kyber Brick or a new ship.
Two droids are better than one
And there’s one more thing that will make this a near essential purchase for parents: The split-screen two-player mode is simply wonderful. Appearing impressively close to the single-player visuals, you can either stay close and work as a team, or go off and do your own thing in any hub area. So one player might be rearranging a confectioner’s shelving layout while another is breaking into the bank vault through an open window, or riding a Fathier through the streets in a checkpoint race. Parents and children can enjoy the entire game together, or bickering siblings can play apart, exploring the hub areas separately. Barring the occasional bug or crash (and I’ve experienced a few), it works beautifully and is a massive reason to buy the game if you have someone else to play it with too.
Creating LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has clearly been a labor of love. You might clench your teeth at the thought that all this effort and authenticity went into a LEGO game and not a serious ‘game of the film’ offering, but the sheer ambition of the project and how that potential has been realised so convincingly is a beautiful thing. It’s funny, playable, technically stupendous, massive and immensely authentic, it’s just a shame it feels so shallow and childish at times. But it’s important to remember LEGO is a toy, and so is this. A lovely, high quality one that’s wholesome and fun. And anyway, even grown-ups will play with Star Wars toys. Just watch them.