LEGO comes in many different varieties, but people who play with them can be divided into two groups: those who want to build specific models of their favorite things and those who simply want to go wild and make unique sets, creations, or sculptures. These little colorful bricks truly unleash our inner architect and give us the tools to make some awesome pieces of art if we set our minds to it.
LEGO video games, on the other hand, are more straightforward and are usually humorous platformers that take place in LEGO-built worlds. Due to their structure, they don’t normally capture the essence of what it feels like to play with them in real-life, but LEGO Bricktales does. More than just another LEGO game, Bricktales also tests your creativity, logic, and architecture skills in physics-based puzzles that will delight but also leave you scratching your head at times. It’s a lighthearted game with plenty of charm that lets you literally shape the world around you.
Immersive LEGO Worlds
Bricktales features a simple story that sees you helping your grandfather rebuild his theme park on the verge of shutting down. In order to do so you need to travel to five different worlds, help the people there with whatever problems they have, and acquire happiness crystals to power up a mysterious machine that instantly upgrades the park and its various rides. It’s a very simple premise, sure, but what really keeps you invested in what’s next are its puzzles and challenges that you need to solve throughout each level.
Before getting to that, I will say the humor in Bricktales is like that of other LEGO titles so expect a lot of sarcasm, smart quips, and even some attitude from the denizens you meet. Even your sidekick robot who lets you perform special abilities during your exploration also has something to say every now and then and keeps the mood friendly and lighthearted even if some of the conversations you have are not particularly memorable.
- Creative puzzles that challenge you to figure out their solutions;
- Rich worlds to explore and discover;
- The feeling you get when you play with LEGO but in a video game
- Controls and camera angles add difficulty to building;
- No hints mean you may spend a lot of time on the trickier puzzles.
While its story may be average, Bricktales truly showcases the ability LEGO has to create entire worlds and atmospheres through each level you visit. The medieval world, for example, features a forest that feels mysterious and immersive due in part to how it is built. Even its soothing soundtrack does its part to make you forget its trees and mushrooms are actually built out of cold plastic bricks. Other worlds showcase impressive structures like massive pyramids, roller coasters, and sprawling cities that will make anyone wonder how much time it would actually take to build such sets in real life.
Playing with Physics
And that’s the thing. Bricktales is about building up the world around you so the challenges you will encounter will force you build things to move forward, sometimes by fixing a part of the environment. You are still progressing through the story, after all, so you will sometimes need to get to someone by building a bridge over a large gap, build a fire escape to ascend a building, or simply build an elaborate throne for a cocky king to gain his happiness crystal. These puzzles are the core of the game and give you the ability to be creative but also think hard on what it is you are building.
The liberating thing about these puzzles is that you can build whatever you want as long as you meet a few parameters. Each puzzle will offer you a different set of blocks to work with, so the solution is whatever you make that checks off every box. Getting there is the fun part, but it is also one of the hardest parts of the game if you get stuck and can’t seem to figure out how to make something balance, not break, or endure the test of physics.
Despite its flaws, LEGO Bricktales is a game many will love as it lets you experience the magic of LEGO without needing to go out and buy your own plastic bricks to play with.
Certain puzzles will require you to also run a simulation to ensure your structure is sturdy and stays intact when weight is applied. This lets you act like an architect and pinpoint where your structure falls apart. Maybe you didn’t have enough support to sustain a flat brick or maybe you forgot to connect more bricks together to create a stronger foundation. Bricktales never tells you where you made a mistakes but lets you discover this on your own creating an experience that is rewarding when you discover your eureka moment, but can also get infuriating if you can’t get past your mental roadblock.
Here is where the game feels a bit unbalanced. Some puzzles are devilish physics challenges that require you to work with an odd selection of bricks that you normally wouldn’t want to touch, but others are decorative in nature and a lot more forgiving. Because there is no hint system whatsoever, certain puzzles can drag and really require a lot of careful planning, trial and error, and even just luck to solve. You will wonder what the target audience is for this game when you realize you are an adult who just spent 30 minutes figuring out how to build a bridge.
One of the other frustrating parts about building anything in the game is that you are constantly fighting with the controls and camera angles. It’s nearly impossible to have a smooth building session because your LEGO piece will never snap where you want it to. There are too many possible surfaces where a piece can go so when you move a piece over your partially built structure, chances are the game will select the wrong spot or the camera will prevent you from getting close to your intended destination. Some puzzles are hard enough on their own so these wonky controls exacerbate the issue.
Exploration and Creativity
When you are not solving puzzles, Bricktales also includes a few collectibles scattered around the worlds you visit and plenty of outfits for your character to unlock. Affording these also requires you to locate hidden treasure chests that will require the use of special abilities to reach so you won’t always be able to get everything during your first visit. The game definitely encourages you to go back to previous worlds to see what areas your new powers open up.
In fact, just because you solve a puzzle and build a cool stone bridge the first time doesn’t mean you are done building. Bricktales also offers a sandbox mode that lets you go back to the creations you did and work on them even more with additional pieces of all shapes and colors. This, of course, is entirely optional but it also gives the game that feeling of experimentation you would normally get when you play with LEGO for real. Being able to customize something you made and see it instantly change in the same world you are exploring is a great feeling.
Our reviews are featured on Metacritic.
Overall, LEGO Bricktales challenges you to think both outside and inside the box, logically and creatively, when building things and solving its many puzzles. Its colorful worlds, clever dialogue, and unique challenges will keep you building until the end even though its controls and camera will be a struggle when precision is required to snap everything together. Despite these flaws, LEGO Bricktales is a game many will love as it lets you experience the magic of LEGO without needing to go out and buy your own plastic bricks to play with.
Giancarlo Saldana | Gamepressure.com