LEGO has often presented itself as a product of imagination. Users have always been encouraged to build things their way. Whether the final result is whatever's on the box or something entirely different, LEGO bricks are versatile enough to allow kids and adults to make their own entertainment. LEGO Bricktales has that same spirit and, for the most part, it brings that same spirit of creative fun.
Creativity in building
LEGO Bricktales puts players in the role of a young minifigure person looking to help his grandfather clean up his mess of a lab. To help get the machinery in the lab working, the idea is to visit various worlds, help whoever's there, and collect Happiness Crystals, which act as a power source. This aspect of the game is a delight, as developer ClockStone has built a variety of eye-catching landscapes that come across as gorgeous dioramas.
The main key to progression involves building certain objects to help you overcome obstacles. Sometimes, you'll find that a bridge is down or you need a flying machine to reach a distant area. Upon hitting these areas, players are prompted to build a required object, but the charm in LEGO Bricktales is that what the object ultimately looks like is mostly up to the player. All the game supplies them with is a basic blueprint and a handful of bricks. In fact, there's barely a blueprint, as most builds require players to simply play things by ear and assemble something that just works. The game mainly provides a handful of tutorials at the start of the adventure, teaching users the basics of how to build and how to test their results.
If you're one of those strictly-by-the-book builders, this aspect of the game is going to drive you nuts. There's no hint system in place and if you hit a wall, you can't even take a sledgehammer to it, because there isn't a button for that. Instead, you need to disassemble everything piece-by-piece. For a certain type of person, LEGO Bricktales is aggravating.
LEGO Bricktales is instead aimed at the creative player, someone who sticks pieces together with little rhyme or reason. The important thing is, whatever is put together works. At the end of the building phase, players must hit the Simulate button to make sure their creation operates. This is another fun instance in itself, just to marvel at a Picasso-type sculpture that somehow operates perfectly.
A builder's patience
While the idea of building objects in a 3D space is fun, in practice, it can take a lot of work to snap pieces together. That's mostly because of an unintuitive interface. The isometric building interface can turn messy fast, as it's hard to tell where pieces are lined up, even when your camera is zoomed in. There were several instances where I'd try and line up a piece, only to zoom in and find out that I had placed it far away. The result adds a lot of unnecessary time to builds and makes the whole process that much more frustrating.
Overall, I found a lot of the movement in LEGO Bricktales to be unwieldly. Whether it's walking around the world or trying to target snaps, something about the game's movement felt off. The game adds mechanics like ground pounds over the course of the adventure, but there doesn't feel like there's any impact to these moves. I would imagine a part of that is because of the fragile nature of flat LEGO bricks, but I still didn't really get much out of the game's movement systems.
Something to build on
Developer ClockStone gave this a good effort, but there wasn't enough in LEGO Bricktales to keep me feeling interested. Even the story, which is typically a franchise strong suit felt underwhelming with half-hearted humor and nothing really memorable. That's not to say there isn't a foundation for something better in the future. The concept of using LEGO building to progress and doing it in your own way is a strong one, but without better tools, like blueprints and the like, the novelty wears off quickly. For now, LEGO Bricktales is a fun curiosity and little more than that.
This review is based on a Steam digital code provided by the publisher. LEGO Bricktales is available now on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch for $29.99 USD. The game is rated E.
- Creative concept
- LEGO builds are entirely up to the player
- Intuitive tutorials
- Colorful diorama-like landscapes
- Targeting and movement systems feel off
- Dull story with half-hearted humor
- No blueprints to assist with more complex builds